Academics: Majors and Programs

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Figuring Out What Makes People Tick (continued)

What can you do with a psychology degree?  Karen Brakke, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Spelman College psychology department ponders the question.  Her answer:  "The answer is, what can’t you do?

 “There are service and research opportunities, from neuroscience up through intervention programs,” Brakke said. “We deal with human behavior and mental processes.  Figuring out how people work is inherently interesting.”

Apparently that answer resonates with many at Spelman, where the psychology department hosts the highest number of majors on campus, with about 450 students, or about 20 percent of the enrollment. 

“Since I was in high school, I have always been interested in why people do the things that they do,” said Maria Jones, C’2011.  “When I came to Spelman during SpelBound and met the professors in the department, it solidified in my mind that psychology was the path that I was meant to take.”

Lots of Career Options

A lot of students come to the department because there are so any different options.  “We teach interaction, research and statistics, problem solving and writing," Brake said.

In addition, there are opportunities for internships.  There are lots of options for research focus. These are good ways to learn how to ask questions and solve problems.

“The entire psychology department is extremely helpful and they take a genuine interest in our success.  They are constantly stressing the importance of research, and I have been hooked since my first experience with the MBRS-RISE program,” said Jones, a 2011 Research Day Oral Presentation winner.   “My desire is to pursue a psychology doctoral degree.  As an aspiring cognitive neuroscientist, the brain activity related to these memory differences especially appeals to me.”

Consider Graduate School

Armed with those skill sets, “many go to grad school where they study neuroscience, developmental psychology, experimental psychology, public health, clinical psychology or school counseling,” Brakke said. “Some go to careers in business or corporate careers. We have graduates who have gone into human services, human resources, teaching, screenwriting school, nursing, medicine and law.  I could go on and on.

“You will learn how to go about figuring out how people tick, and you can use that in a lot of ways.”