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Undergraduate Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Psychology-Specific Questions: Making the most of your college years and preparing for the future

What can I do when I graduate with a major in Psychology?

Many, many things. Although some students choose to go on to graduate school, many choose to enter the workforce. The basic requirement for a wide variety of jobs in the world of business, government, and many other public and private work domains is a college degree. Although there are few jobs that advertise specifically for a person with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, students graduating with a Psychology degree generally get jobs in the business world (employee development and training, customer service, office work, management, sales…), education (if they also pursue a teaching certificate), health care and social services (specific counseling tasks, administration, research…), and in government (law enforcement, probation, administrative work…). However, in order to be truly competitive in the workforce, you should prepare yourself throughout your college years for a career that you would find rewarding by taking classes, both within and outside of psychology, related to your career goal and by developing your job-related skills in out-of-class experiences, such as internships. Registering early, long before your anticipated graduation, with Career Services can also be helpful. Career Services can assist with your career development and provide the guidance to better prepare you for that career. You can register with Career Services through Bronc Career Connection at utpa.edu/careerservices or by contacting Career Services at 956-665-2243 OR 956-665-2243 for more information.

There are many resources available that can help you along the way:

  • For further details on careers available to Psychology graduates, there are two handouts in the Psychology Department office that address this question, including "What Can I Do With a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology" and "Good News for Bachelor's Grads" (which also includes salary data). The UTPA Office of Career Services also has a number of resources (http://ea.panam.edu/careerplacement/) including descriptions of what you can do with any major (click on the "Students" tab on the left, then Job Search Tips, then look at the bottom of the page under "click here for more information").
  • For more information on how to prepare yourself for your career throughout your college years, the article "What Can You Do With a BA in Psychology?" on the Psi Chi website includes a great description on steps you can take.

For more information on potential undergraduate internships, talk both with your Psychology faculty advisor and with a Career Services staff member (665-2243). Individual faculty members in the Psychology Department offer sections of the Internship course on a semester-to-semester basis, but each one handles things differently. Be open to internship opportunities throughout the country. Be aware that most local internships are not paid.

I want to go to graduate school in Psychology. What should I do?

  • Talk to your advisor so that you can have support and assistance from someone knowledgeable in this area!
  • Investigate the different specialty areas of psychology so that you have an idea of which area of psychology you would like to pursue. Do this by talking with your professors and reading relevant information (such as the handout in the Psychology Department office entitled "The Subfields of Psychology & the Job Outlook for Psychology" or information available from the American Psychological Association. A book published by the American Psychological Association titled "Graduate Study in Psychology" provides information about master's and doctoral psychology programs in the nation, including degree requirements, tuitions, fee, availability of assistantship, etc.
  • Prepare yourself for the graduate school experience by participating in research and getting exposure to clinical work in a human services organization in the community (such as through an internship or volunteer work).
  • Study for and take the GRE. Almost all graduate programs require it. University Testing Services administers the GRE at UTPA (Phone: 665-7584).
  • Investigate graduate programs to identify ones that you would like to apply to. There are a number of Master's programs available at UTPA, including a Master's in Clinical Psychology and a Master's in Experimental Psychology that are offered through the Psychology Department. If you are interested in pursuing a doctoral degree or attending another university, consider using well-organized resources such as the book "Graduate Study in Psychology" published by the American Psychological Association or the book "Insider's Guide to Graduate Programs in Clinical and Counseling Psychology."
  • Be aware that most graduate programs require three letters of recommendation to support your application. These should generally be from faculty members who know you well, although a good letter from a work supervisor is also appropriate. Begin to identify early who could provide a letter for you. If you can't think of three faculty who could recommend you, start bringing questions to your professors' office hours so they can become more familiar with you. When you know your professors and they know you, they are more likely to be able to provide a good letter of recommendation for you when the time comes and to be able to keep you informed about opportunities that might be suited for you, such as research opportunities or campus events.

I want to get involved in some research. What should I do?

There are several ways to get involved in research.

  1. You could approach a faculty member who you know has research interests that are interesting to you and ask if you can assist them with their research. If there is not currently an opening with that person, he or she will usually have ideas about which other faculty members are currently conducting research and may be open to additional student assistants.
  2. If you have your own research idea, you could identify a faculty member who works in a related area and ask them to supervise you in conducting your own research. This also works well for students who are doing undergraduate Honors Theses.
  3. You could become active in Psychology Club or Psi Chi. Members in those clubs are sometimes involved in student-initiated research. Undergraduate students sometimes participate in research as volunteer student assistants, for upper-division course credit (PSY 4380), or (rarely) for pay. You must make individual arrangements with a faculty research mentor in order to enroll in PSY 4380.

I want to do an undergraduate internship. What should I do?

Identify a faculty member who can help you and go to the Career Services office (665-2243). Their cooperative education coordinator helps both undergraduate and graduate students find and get internships. Be open to internship opportunities throughout the country. Be aware that most local internships are not paid. You can receive upper-division academic credit for internship if you make arrangements in advance with your faculty mentor. Staff at Career Services can help you identify an internship site and walk you through the process of applying for and successfully completing the internship. You can design an internship to meet your needs, within the bounds of what the internship site can offer. You should consider what you want to get out of the internship and should then work with the internship site to clearly describe the objectives of the internship and how they would be accomplished. For example, a student interning at MHMR may choose as an objective “become familiar with the roles and activities of all members of a mental health treatment team” and may choose to accomplish that objective by shadowing all members of the treatment team for a certain number of hours per team member. Your faculty mentor and staff at Career Services can help you to outline your internship objectives.

Also, be aware that an internship is not required for a psychology bachelor’s degree. Many internship sites are used to working with college students who are required to do an internship and might ask questions like “How many hours do you need to complete?” expecting that you will have an answer in mind. Communicate with the internship site that you are doing an internship voluntarily (in other words, you are extra motivated!) and negotiate with them the number of hours you would like to complete. Have some idea of how many hours you would like to do before talking with the internship site about it. Some more structured internships require up to 15 to 20 hours per week.

What kind of student clubs are available in Psychology?

The Psychology Club is open to all majors and Psi Chi is a psychology honors society with particular admission requirements. Both clubs often sponsor talks/workshops that are relevant to undergraduate Psychology students. They also raise money to help students attend national psychology conferences, do volunteer community service, and provide students with an opportunity to get to know other interesting students with similar interests.

Questions about GPA/requirements/forms: Making sure you graduate when you want to with the degree that you want.

Who is my advisor?

Students are always welcome to talk to faculty throughout the semester. Most faculty can answer most student questions. For specific advisement questions, including having advisement holds released, Freshmen students are generally advised at the AAM Center (Academic Advisement and Mentoring). Sophomore students are generally advised by the College Professional Guidance Counselors on the second floor of SBSC. Junior and Senior students are advised by Psychology faculty. If you are a Junior or Senior student and have never seen a faculty advisor, come to the Psychology Department office (SBSC 356, 665-3329) to be assigned an advisor. If you have worked with a faculty advisor in the Psychology Department in a previous semester, that person is still your advisor.

I haven't finished my Core requirements yet. Where can I find a list of all the classes that fill those requirements?

The Core requirements and all the classes that fill them are found in the UTPA Undergraduate Catalog and in your Degreeworks account.

What is Degreeworks? Can I find out from Degreeworks what courses I need to take to complete all the requirements for my degree?

Degreeworks is an electronic degree work audit system in the ASSIST. The records of the degree work you have completed are kept in the system. When you log into your Degreeworks account, it will show you the percentage of your degree work that you have completed and the courses you will have yet to take to complete your degree. For a specific deficiency you have yet to fulfill, the system will display all the courses you can take to fill this as yet unfulfilled requirement. You can keep track of your progress in the program by checking out your Degreeworks regularly.

What GPA do I need to graduate?

You need a 2.0 overall GPA as well as a 2.0 in each major and minor.

I heard I need 51 advanced hours for graduation. What does that mean?

Advanced hours (also called upper-division hours) are any classes that are numbered 3000 to 4999. Students are required to have 51 advanced hours for graduation.

How can I tell what the prerequisites are for a class I want to register for?

Psychology class prerequisites are listed in the UTPA Undergraduate Catalog and in ASSIST. For psychology, most courses require PSY 1310 (Introduction to Psychology) as a prerequisite. Other psychology courses with prerequisites you should particularly be aware of include the following:

PSY 2401 Math 1340 or higher and three hours of PSY 1310, Anth 1323, Anth 1324, or Anth 1342
PSY 3325 PSY 1310 and PSY 2401
PSY 3333 Six hours of psychology
PSY 3337 PSY 1310 and junior standing
PSY3338 PSY 1310 and junior standing
PSY 3343 PSY 1310 and PSY 2401
PSY 4302 PSY 1310 and PSY 3383, or Anth 1324, or consent of instructor
PSY 4312 Nine hours of psychology or consent of instructor
PSY 4343 PSY 1310 and a course in perception or memory
PSY 4363 12 Hours of psychology
PSY 4380 PSY 2401 and PSY 3325 and consent of instructor.

Do I really have to have completed the prerequisites before I can enroll for a class?

Yes. The course prerequisites are designed to ensure that you have the preparation you need to be able to succeed in a course. If you try to take a course without having the necessary prerequisites, you will likely not earn a very good grade or will have to put in a great deal of extra effort in order to earn a good grade. Occasionally students are allowed to take a course without having completed the prerequisites first, if they appear to have the preparation necessary through such things as other completion of other courses. This requires the permission of the instructor.

Do I have to have a minor? What minors go with a psychology major?

You have to have either a minor or a double major in order to graduate. Any minor at the University is available to choose from. Ideally, you should choose a minor that interests you and that is related to your eventual career goals. Minors commonly chosen by psychology majors (in alphabetical order) include: Addiction Studies, Anthropology, Biology, Business Administration, Criminal Justice, English, Human Resource Management, Political Science, Spanish, and Sociology.

I want to change my minor. What should I do?

First, file a "Change of Information" form indicating your new minor (you can pick one up at the Psychology Department Office). Then, find out the requirements of your minor and take the required courses. The department your minor is offered in can tell you the requirements, or you can look them up in the Undergraduate Catalog under the department the minor is offered in, or you can check the Psychology Curriculum Guide, which lists requirements for many minors.

How soon do I need to apply for graduation?

You need to apply for graduation by the published deadline in the University Calendar, which is usually approximately nine months before you plan to graduate. This early deadline gives time for the University to process your paperwork in time to notify you if you are missing classes.

I have decided I want to get a double major. What do I need to do?

First, file a "Change of Information" form indicating your new double major (you can pick one up at the Psychology Department Office). Then, find out the requirements of your second major and take the required courses. The Psychology Curriculum Guide lists requirements for many double majors. If you choose Psychology as your "primary major" you continue to get advised by a Psychology faculty member (that person will release your advisement hold). Be aware that if you choose to graduate with one Bachelor's degree and then you decide to return later to UTPA to get a second one, you will need to complete 30 hours in order to be awarded a second bachelor's degree at a second graduation, even if you only need one more class in order to finish the requirements for your second bachelor's degree.

I took a 3-hour Psychological Statistics course elsewhere. Do I need to make up the other credit, since our Statistics course is four credit hours?

No. If you have completed a 3-hour Psychological Statistics course elsewhere, you don't need to take the same class here and the course you already took will count as three hours of Psychology towards your BA. You do not need to make up the "missed" one-hour credit.

I took a class at another university (for example "Experimental Psychology") that I think is the same as a class at UTPA that is required for my major (for example "PSY 3325: Research Methods"). Do I have to take it again here to have it counted towards my degree, or can I count the one I already took?

If you have taken a class elsewhere for college credit that is substantially similar to a required course offered here, there is a good possibility that you can receive credit for the required class at UTPA. If you are unsure about whether the classes are similar, talk to your advisor. If you want to pursue getting credit for the course, make an appointment to talk with the department chair. Bring a description of the course that you took at the other university with you to the appointment, such as a copy of the syllabus or a copy of the course description from the university catalog. You then will fill out a request form for a course substitution and turn it in to the department chair. The department office has an instruction sheet on the steps to complete this process. You can obtain that instruction sheet and find out the details of how to complete that process. The request has to be approved at several levels before the substitution can be implemented. If the course is not very similar to a course at UTPA, you will still receive credit for it here, but it will count as elective credit rather than filling a specific course requirement.

I am double-majoring and the same class is required for both my majors (such as statistics, which is required in both Psychology and Criminal Justice). Do I have to take it twice?

If you are double-majoring and the same class is required for both majors (or if the same class is required for both your major and your minor), you don't have to take the same class twice but you will probably have to take another class instead. If you are in this situation, make an appointment to talk with the Psychology department chair to discuss your options and initiate the necessary paperwork. Do this well in advance of when you plan to graduate so that you know exactly which classes you will need to take and you will have time to take them.

My friend in a different major says that I need to do a "degree plan." What's that and do I need one?

Different departments across campus have different ways of helping guide their students towards graduation. The Psychology department does not require degree plans at this time.