Frequently Asked Questions

If I am interested in helping people, is the major in Psychological Sciences right for me?

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Psychologists study of human behavior. Often students are familiar with the idea that psychologists help people cope with their problems or with types of mental illness. However, psychology addresses more basic questions like what is the self, what are emotions, how do people make decisions. As such, the study of the psychological sciences is the perfect discipline for understanding people and helping them to improve quality-of-life. Helping people is an admirable ambition and there are many ways that psychologists help people, but, in general, the study of psychology is based in critical thinking skills, scientific reasoning and research skills, and interpersonal skills that extend well beyond the desire to help or the ability to get along with others. If you are seriously considering becoming a professional therapist to help people with mental illness or other life problems, understand that it will require many years of graduate work following the BA or BS in psychological sciences. A successful therapist needs a strong understanding of the scientific method in order to understand current scientific research on mental illness and other life problems as well as to identify effective treatment techniques. Our department is dedicated to helping you develop a scientific research background, and improve your oral and written communication skills during your undergraduate education.  Becoming a clinical or counseling psychologist or a therapist will require more specialized training that typically requires graduate school following the successful completion of the undergraduate degree. Students interested in helping others with a BA or BS degree often find success as a social worker (Sociology/Social Work in SBS) or as a wellness coach (Fitness/Wellness BS in CHHS) which allows students opportunities to help others directly following their undergraduate degree. 

What is the “Psychology Learning Community”?

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The Psychology Residential Learning Community (Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior) is open to first-year students majoring in Psychology.  Residential Learning Communities (RLC) allow students to live with other students sharing the same academic major or special interest. As an Residential Learning Community member, one has the opportunity to attend social and academic programs with other students, interact with faculty outside of the classroom, and get to know an upper division Community Mentor who shares your major or interest area.

Seats in certain high-demand classes will be reserved for first-year students in the Psychology Learning Community. 

Why do I have to take Statistics (PSY 230) and Research Methods (PSY 302w) for a Psychological Sciences degree?

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These are what we consider the “Foundation” courses in the BA or BS in psychological sciences r. Psychological sciences study mind and behavior, and statistics and research methods are the foundation courses to understanding how human behavior and cognitive processes are empirically examined. Thus, these foundational courses will strengthen critical thinking skills, as well as develop one’s understanding of how scientists within the field ask and answer questions. 

What is a "breadth" course in the Psychological Sciences degree program?

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Our curriculum starts out with PSY 101, a general overview of the field of the psychological sciences. Next, come 200-level course that are designed to provide students with even more detail in some of the field's sub-disciplines (we call those “breadth” courses). 

What is a “depth” course in Psychology?

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Depth courses allow students to cover important psychological content in more depth, or detail. Depth courses have specific 200-level requirements, as well as PSY 230 and PSY 302w, the subject matter in a depth course explores more detailed content, expects students to be able to utilize greater knowledge of statistics and research methods, and delves into more specialized topics within that psychological sub-discipline.  

Can any 300-400 level PSY class count as a Depth Course?

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No, only PSY courses that have been given the "Depth" designation by the the Department will count at Depth Courses.  Beginning in Fall 2015 nearly all of the 300- and 400-level courses in the department will be designated as "depth" courses.

What is a capstone course?

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A capstone course covers subject material that is at the interface of two or more sub-disciplines within the psychological sciences and is designed to be a “culminating” experience in the undergraduate degree. Each semester the department offers capstone courses (courses designated with “c”), such as Fieldwork (408c) or Health Psychology (480c) but also special topics capstones (490c) and advanced undergraduate research experience (486c). The undergraduate program committee is in agreement that capstone experiences will have learning outcomes that can be demonstrated and assessed through a variety of experiences in the psychological sciences major. The capstone courses are smaller in enrollment (capped at 20) in order to facilitate seminar like setting. The BA and BS curricula are designed, such that by the time students take a capstone, they have the requisite skills and abilities to demonstrate significant accomplishment of the Department’s five major learning goals. A list of the capstone courses for the coming academic year are posted on our departmental website on the page that describes the undergraduate curriculum.  The list is published 1-2 years in advance so that students can prepare by taking required 200-level courses (if there are any). PSY 230 and PSY 302w are required in advance of the capstone course. 

What is undergraduate research?

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Undergraduates can work with faculty on research projects (usually faculty-led but under some circumstances students can conduct student-initiated research). This is a wonderful opportunity for NAU psychology majors to learn specific and transferrable skills (to either the workplace or graduate school), such as literature review, hypothesis generation, collecting, analyzing, reporting data, poster presentations and more.  NAU psychology faculty researchers investigate a variety of important topics, utilize a variety of methodologies, involve diverse participant populations, and employ many different kinds of research design. Conducting research promotes a host of abilities and skills that employers and graduate programs seek.  The university also has programs for sophomores (Interns to Scholars program) and HURA grants (see NAU Undergraduate Research).

What is a good minor for the major in Psychological Sciences?

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Any minor is a good minor to pair with a major in Psychological Sciences. One of the main reasons a college education is valuable is because it allows students to pursue a variety of interests. Some minors are more closely aligned with our majors: Biology, Criminology and Criminal Justice, Health Sciences, Sociology/Social Work, Environmental Sustainability, and many more.  We in the department cannot conceive of a minor that would not pair well with the major in Psychological Sciences so we would advise you to follow your interests, with perhaps an eye toward your future goals (e.g., if you are planning on applying to medical school, Biology would be a great minor; do you like math and solving problems – perhaps a math and statistics minor; do you think you might like to work in business, then perhaps a minor in business administration. 

I am interested in the PSY 408c Internship experience. What are my options?

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Our PSY 408c Fieldwork Experience capstone course provides students with a supervised internship with one of a number of NAU community partners. Students are prepared and trained for these opportunities through a once-a-week class meeting and receive onsite supervision.  Space in PSY 408c is limited (to 15 students) and therefore, competitive. A Psychological Sciences major may apply for PSY 408 during the semester PRIOR to when he or she is interested.

I am a major in Psychological Sciences with interests……

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Becoming a forensic scientist requires a minimum of the following: a solid clinical psychology training and experience; firm grounding in scientific theory and empirical research, critical thinking, thorough knowledge of social and cultural issues, legal knowledge, excellent writing skills, strong oral presentation skills. At the time there is no single training model for forensic psychologists, but the dominant model continues to be one in which a student obtains a doctoral degree in clinical psychology and then pursues a postdoctoral specialization in forensics. During your regular coursework we recommend that you take PSY 215, Abnormal Psychology and PSY 250, Social Psychology as your “breadth” courses as well as upper division courses in clinical and social psychology. We recommend a CCJ minor, especially CCJ 210, 220 & 380. Here are a few useful links to APA’s Division 41

I completed the prerequisite for PSY___ at a community college, but I still can't enroll. What do I do?

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Contact SBS Academic Services & Advising at 928-523-6540 or email sbs.advisor@nau.edu

I am trying to enroll in a course and when I look it up on LOUIE it shows that seats are available, but I can't enroll? What do I do?

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The most common reason is that the class you are seeking to take during the regular school year are being offered online through the Distance Learning degree programs here at NAU.  For those courses, the seats are reserved for Distance Learning students until the day before the term begins.