Figuring Out What Makes People Tick


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The mission of the department of psychology is to prepare students for the study and service of psychology. We seek to empower women to lead and effect positive change in the world by instructing them in the ethical, systematic study of behavior and mental processes, and the application of psychology to community and global issues with the expectation of intellectual engagement and academic excellence.

Psychology Major

Psychology Minor

What can you do with a psychology degree?

Trustee Karen Brakke  | Spelman CollegeKaren Brakke, Ph.D., associate professor and former 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," Brakke 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 RISE program,” said Jones, a 2011 Research Day Oral Presentation winner.

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.”

Alumna Spotlight

Top 10 Scholar 2024: Beulah Andoh

Class of 2024 Top 10 scholar Beulah Andoh, a psychology major from Columbia, Maryland, has distinguished herself as a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta and Psi Chi honor societies.

Her commitment to mental health and diversity is evident through her volunteer work at the National Center for School Mental Health, her research assistance at The Nia Project, and her internship focusing on global diversity, inclusion and belonging at Autodesk.

In Her Own Words . . .
An academic experience Andoh considers pivotal to her success at Spelman is the African Diaspora and the World course. As a first-year student, these classes were her first glimpse into an education that centered her history and experiences. This affirmed her decision to be a Spelmanite and empowered her to pursue a path catering to other girls and women like herself. Her journey as a psychology major allowed her to engage in coursework, research, and career opportunities that aligned with her interests and passions.

After graduation, Andoh will begin her professional career as a human resources analyst at Wells Fargo before pursuing a master’s degree in industrial/organizational psychology. She hopes to cultivate a culturally inclusive environment for Black women and other underrepresented groups in the workplace.

As she embarks on this next journey and reflects on her time at Spelman, Andoh shares the following insights with her past self: everything works out the way it should —rejection is not a missed opportunity but rather a chance to explore an unsought path.

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