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The psychology department makes the following suggestions and recommendations for a student's course of study. All students should consult their faculty advisers for individual needs in topics and scheduling.
As soon as possible, take the introductory course (PSYC 1300). After this, try to take one or two lower-division courses in the department to gain a deeper understanding of some of the subject areas and methods in psychology.
Starting in your sophomore year, take PSYC 2401 and 2402 (Statistics and Methods I & II). Timing is particularly important if you plan to study abroad during your junior year. Also, 2401 is a prerequisite for several upper-division courses.
Declare psychology as a major after (or during) your enrollment in PSYC 2401. Meet with your adviser immediately to review your selection of past and future courses. If you have not declared a major, but are seriously considering it, ask a member of the department to serve as your informal adviser in this regard. Discuss the possible directions you may take the major; your adviser will suggest companion courses from other disciplines. For example, biology courses are helpful for students interested in almost all areas of psychology, particularly neuroscience and clinical psychology; sociology courses are helpful for students interested in human services.
If you are interested in graduate school in psychology, get involved in research early. Make an appointment with a faculty member to talk about taking PSYC 2161 or 2261 (Lab Experience in Psychology), and strongly consider following this with PSYC 3368 (Supervised Research) if you have already taken Statistics and Methods I. Also, begin to consider summer research opportunities following your sophomore or junior year.
If you are interested in human services, regardless of whether you plan graduate training, you should begin early to find out whether you like the everyday work of helping people. Look for summer employment or volunteer opportunities in settings like children's camps, crisis centers, or day-treatment centers. Enroll in the practicum course (PSYC 3357).
If you are considering applications to graduate programs in psychology or related fields, do more than just one semester of research. At Trinity, you can take Supervised Research more than once and receive credit each time, or you can register for PSYC 3161 or PSYC 3261 (Advanced Research), in order to develop your research skills. You might also consider doing research for a thesis. Also, discuss with your supervising faculty member the possibility of presenting the research at a regional or student conference. Such presentations build good habits and show the kind of initiative and experience that graduate programs value. A number of students have appeared as co-authors on conference papers presented by faculty members, and the students themselves frequently present the paper or poster.
You should be narrowing down the area of psychology that most interests you and continue to take the classes in other departments that complement it, e.g., classes in marketing, management, computer science, biology, chemistry, or sociology.
Begin to consider the type of graduate or professional training you plan to seek and become aware of the availability of financial support, the degree of competition for admission, and the time requirements that characterizes each type. Ph.D. programs in psychology and related fields (neuroscience or cognitive science) offer financial support to the applicants they want to admit and provide stipends for roughly 20 hours per week of work as a teaching or research assistant.
Psy.D. programs, most master's programs, law schools, and medical schools do not offer stipends. Their degree of selectivity varies with the reputation of the program. Psy.D. programs are generally four to six years long. Master's programs are generally two years long. Financial support can sometimes be obtained from government agencies and foundations. The military has training funds for psychologists that are very lucrative but require some service after receiving your degree. For students with top-notch credentials, the National Science Foundation offers 3-year grants. (Nation-wide, two of the 49 grants in psychology in 1997 were given to Trinity graduates. Two additional graduates have earned them more recently.)
Think seriously about whether you want to begin professional training immediately following graduation from Trinity or whether you might want to work for a year or two before going on. If you feel "burned out" or otherwise unmotivated, we suggest that you not apply for immediate admission. If you don't have time for handling well all the details of the application process, including preparation for the GRE, by all means wait a year. Finally, if you have interests in a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology, a year (or ideally two years) in a research position will probably help your application.