December 08, 2006

Psychology a popular choice at SIUC, nationwide

by Sun Min

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Following a national trend in higher education, more students are studying psychology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.

According to the Princeton Review, a New York-based higher education services company, psychology is the second most popular major among American undergraduates, next to business administration and management. At SIUC's College of Liberal Arts, psychology ties administration of justice as the most popular major.

Right now there are 475 SIUC students majoring in psychology and during each semester during the last five years, approximately 1,000 students have enrolled in Psychology 102, the department's introductory course. Many of those students also take part in the Psychology Student Association, Psi Chi National Honor Society for Psychology and the Black Psychology Society.

"The study of human behavior has intuitive appeal to many people," said Jane L. Swanson, chair of SIUC's psychology department. "Understanding principles of psychology offers insight into our own behavior, as well as people around us that we interact with every day. Psychology applies to almost every aspect of daily life and to many real world issues and problems."

Swanson believes increasing numbers of SIUC students are choosing psychology as a major because it reflects "their beliefs that psychology is an interesting and useful area of study, and that we as a department have something valuable to offer," she said.

The University's psychology program encompasses a diverse set of interests and specialties and offers four distinct graduate programs: applied psychology; brain and cognitive sciences; clinical psychology (adult and child sub-specialties) and counseling psychology.

Swanson also credits SIUC faculty for attracting more students to the field. "Our Undergraduate Committee, led by assistant professor of psychology Meera Komarraju, plans programs for students, including an orientation for new majors in the fall, a reception for graduating

seniors in the spring and a reception to honor students who perform in the top 5 percent of each psychology class," she said.

Another strength of SIUC's psychology degree is that it incorporates a flexible curriculum. This allows students to get broad exposure to different areas of psychology, but also enables them to choose areas of particular interest.

The department boasts a high placement percentage for graduates in internships, post-doctoral training and professional positions because "we offer opportunities for supervised research, teaching and service experiences and knowledge of psychology is beneficial for many career fields," Swanson said.

Meeting or exceeding the expectations of students is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.