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What is psychology?
Psychology is the study of behavior and mental processes. It is a diverse field. If a human does it or thinks it, psychologists study it. Subfields within psychology include:     

  • Cognitive: How people sense, perceive, learn, remember, speak, think, reason and problem-solve     
  • Social: How people think about, interact with, and are influenced by others
  • Biological: How thought and behavior are mediated by the nervous system
  • Comparative: Similarities and differences between humans and other animals
  • Developmental: How our thoughts and behaviors change throughout our lifespan
  • Personality: How individuals have persistent traits that endure throughout a lifetime and how these traits differ from person to person
  • Abnormal: How to describe, predict and modify abnormal behavior and thoughts

Clinical psychologists apply what is learned to help those with mental disorders, but, increasingly, psychology’s application is not limited to those in distress. Psychologists give advice to help people reach their potential, suggest ways to organize work environments to maximize productivity and happiness, help teachers more effectively reach their students, inform the legal system as to the pitfalls of eyewitness testimony, and seek to find ways in which doctors can better communicate the risks and benefits of particular procedures to their patients, to name only a few.

What can you do with a psychology degree?
A degree in psychology assures that you will have developed critical thinking, interpersonal, written and oral communication, statistical, and research skills that are useful in most domains. To become a research or applied psychologist, a Ph.D. (or sometimes a Psy.D.) is a prerequisite. However, a B.A. or B.S. in psychology is desirable to employers in many areas, including advertising, childcare, consulting, customer services, educational services, financial services, government services, human resources, law enforcement, marketing, public relations, management, social services, teaching and, of course, counseling. 

What is special about psychology at Sweet Briar?
Sweet Briar offers both a B.A. and B.S. in psychology. Although all psychology majors gain research experience, the B.S. is specifically designed for students who intend to go to graduate school and need strong research experience. The B.A. is more flexible, allowing students to tailor the major to their own specific interests. The strengths of Sweet Briar’s program rest on a small group of dedicated faculty who teach a wide variety of courses that span the field. Most courses have between 5 and 15 students, assuring a high level of student-faculty interaction. Research and internship opportunities are readily available, and faculty are always happy and willing to mentor motivated students on independent projects. Psychology majors at Sweet Briar are intelligent independent young women who receive a top-notch education in one of science’s most diverse fields.

Mission
As part of Sweet Briar College, the Department of Psychology has as its mission the promotion of intellectual development in the context of a liberal arts and sciences education. We help students understand the methods and major theories of the science of psychology, develop their skills in oral and written communication, quantitative reasoning and computer technology. We encourage an ethic of service in applying psychological knowledge. The psychology department provides an educational experience that sets clear and high expectations for students, promotes self-expression and active learning in the classroom, gives constructive and systematic feedback from faculty and peers, and encourages a sense of community spirit within and beyond the confines of Sweet Briar College.