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Frequently Asked Questions – Advising

How do I leverage the skills that I learned majoring in psychology?

Besides being a STEM major and a hub science, an education in psychology offers students a chance to develop key skills that can help them in the workplace or in pursuit of advanced degrees. These skills include:

  • Understanding research data, graphs, and tables. Psychology majors know how to “read” research results and to interpret graphs, tables, and other data displays. This knack can come in very handy in the workplace.
  • Evaluating claims about behavior. What factors motivate people? Psychology majors spend four or so years thinking about what personal and environmental variables influence people’s choices where their actions are concerned. Such knowledge is invaluable for sales, marketing, and related business pursuits.
  • Synthesizing information from diverse sources. Psychology students know how to find information to bolster their claims. They are used to culling data points from library, journal, and online sources (being critical and appropriately wary of the latter) in order to make a case or to offer an explanation for why people behave the way they do.
  • Effective communication. Psychology majors not only know how to read critically, they also learn to write persuasively. Their written communications can be formal or informal. They also have experience giving professional presentations, which means they can tailor their comments to the knowledge-level of their audience, whether professional peers or lay people.
  • Team work. Many psychology students have worked on teams in the course of their studies. These are often research teams or project groups. Being able to work well with others is an essential skill for the workplace or grad program.
  • Starting and finishing projects. Work life and post-graduate education are less structured than college life. There are many projects that need to be conceived and executed. Psychology majors are used to juggling many balls in the air at once, which means they are quite capable of finishing what they start.
  • Exhibiting persistence. Few students pass through college without some stress, whether personal or educational. Psychology majors often learn the importance of persistence—to keep on keeping on—in spite of the pitfalls and setbacks they encounter. Persistence is resistance to the foibles of work and life; its importance should not be underestimated.
  • Tolerant of ambiguity. Human behavior, like life, is complex, and not everything that causes people to do one thing over another can be accounted for easily. When ready reasons for something are unclear, psychology majors don’t give up or give in—they are curious and patient, continuing to search for the answer.
  • Amiable skepticism. Students of psychology are used to examining inferences and claims with a colder eye, one aimed at discerning truth from falsehood or, lately, facts from alternative facts. When doing so, they are open-minded but not easily convinced when justification is lacking.
  • Ethically responsible. Psychology majors know right from wrong; they don’t take ethical or moral shortcuts, nor do they fail to call out wrongs or questionable actions.

So, psychology majors, consider how these skills can be leveraged to advance your future.

  • Note: This is a slightly edited (with permission) version of an original blog by Dr. Dana Dunn (Moravian College) from Psychology Today that was posted on May 12, 2017.

Why are BIOL 227 and 228 requirements for the psychology degree?

  • The general undergraduate psychology degree is meant to do several things. First, the program is designed in a generalist fashion because students pursue many different paths upon graduation. It is important for tasks like taking the GRE that one have a background in many aspects of psychology. The department diversifies the requirements to provide the student with a wide degree of knowledge in the psychology field. One of those areas is Neuroscience. Neuroscience is an increasingly important field in psychology.
  • Biology studies the structures and functions of living organisms. Although much of psychology focuses on the individual and society and how individuals function within society, psychologists also study the intersection between brain function and behavior. Students pursuing this field must have an in-depth understanding of biological processes. Regardless of whether students intend to pursue a degree in Neuroscience, it is important that they understand the connections between psychological processes and the brain.
  • Many students pursue degrees or careers where having biology provides then with an added edge to success. Additionally, psychology is becoming rapidly more reliant on biology to help explain the processes and motivations that drive our behavior. As scientists, psychologists are responsible for understanding these biological mechanisms that intersect with our research and our clinical practices.

Why are psychology majors required to take two math courses?

  • Math classes are important for a psychology degree as part of a well-rounded education. They are also useful in helping with statistics, another requirement for all psychology majors. In addition to this, if you are planning to go to graduate school, you will need to take the GRE; math classes are very helpful for the math portion of this test. In general, mathematics is an important and integral part of the study of psychology.

Is there an order in which psychology courses should be taken?

  • There is not a specific order for most classes. However, there are a few that are important to take as early as possible, either because they are prerequisites for other classes or because they may be necessary for Research Assistant positions. The classes you need to concentrate on and take in order are: PSYC 101, PSYC 120 (prerequisite = PSYC 101), PSYC 295 (prerequisite = PSYC 101, can be taken at the same time as PSYC 120), and PSYC 321 (prerequisites = PSYC 120 and PSYC 295). Another class to notice is PSYC 487 (Capstone). This class should be taken during your final semester; you CANNOT enroll in this class unless you have successfully completed PSYC 321 with a “C” or better.  DO NOT PUT OFF TAKING PSYC 321.  Take PSYC 295 as early as you can.

How do I obtain a permission number for a class?

  • The Department of Psychological Science leaves permission number distribution up to the discretion of the instructor. To inquire about obtaining a permission number, students should contact the class instructor directly. It is important to note that permission numbers are not guaranteed.
  • Visit this page for more information on permission numbers.

What are the differences between counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists?


Position Job Description Schooling Required
Counselor Come from a variety of different types of training programs (education, social work, family development etc.). Most have two years of graduate education leading to a master’s degree followed by about 18 months of supervised experience before they are eligible for licensure.
Psychologist PhD psychologists become researchers, professors, and clinicians. Clinical psychologists have an average of about eight years of graduate training in psychology by the time they are licensed to practice independently. If you want to be a professional psychologist in clinical, counseling, school, or other health service areas of psychology, you will also have to complete a 1-year internship as part of your doctoral study in these areas of practice. Some universities and professional schools offer a PsyD degree in lieu of the traditional research doctoral degree PhD or EdD degree.
Psychiatrist Study psychology, neurology, biologically-based disorders, and the use of psychiatric medicines. Psychiatrists prescribe medications. First go to medical school for four years and then enter a three- or four-year residency in Psychiatry.
  • Visit Allegheny College’s web page for more information about different types of helping professions(clinical vs. counseling psych; social worker, school psychologist, etc.). Additionally, for independent practice as a psychologist anywhere in the United States or Canada, you must be licensed for such. Before granting you permission to take the licensing exam, the state licensing board will review your educational background. A doctoral degree does not automatically make you eligible; requirements vary from state to state. At a minimum, states require that the doctorate is in psychology or a field of study “primarily psychological in nature” and that it be from a regionally accredited institution. You also must have had at least 2 years of supervised professional experience. Information about state and provincial licensing requirements can be obtained from the American Association of State and Provincial Psychology Boards (ASPPS).

What do I need to know as a transfer student?

  • If you are a transfer student, you should schedule a meeting with a peer advisor to review your progress in meeting university and department requirements. Like other students, you should prepare for the meeting by:
  • Bringing a current copy of your Degree Progress Report (DPR), which can be found on your myBoiseState account.
  • Preparing a list of questions you would like answered.
  • Reviewing the information on how credits are transferred as well as bring a copy of your evaluation of transfer credits from the Registrar’s Office. Your advisor will discuss your transfer credits with you, review your evaluation from the Registrar’s Office on your transfer credits, and help you understand how your transfer credits will count toward your degree at Boise State.

What is core certification and what does this mean?

  • If you have earned an academic associate degree at a regionally accredited institution, you will be considered “core certified” by Boise State University. This means that you have fulfilled the
    lower-division general education or “core” classes at Boise State and can transfer to Boise State with junior standing. The statement “GENERAL UNIVERSITY CORE MET” will appear on your credit report.
  • If you are transferring from an Idaho school and have not earned an associate degree, you may still be considered “core certified” if your transcript is stamped “core certified” by the Registrar’s Office of your original institution.
  • For a transfer equivalency guide, visit the Registrar’s site and click on Transfers.

How do credits transfer and how can the transfer be contested?

  • Boise State University accepts all academic credits from regionally accredited institutions. There are two types of transfer courses: equivalent and non-equivalent. If a course you took at another college or university is equivalent to a course at Boise State, it will be counted toward your degree as if you had completed the course at Boise State.
  • However, upper-division credit for courses will be based on the course numbering system of your transfer institution, not the Boise State course it has been equated to. Non-equivalent courses are designated on your credit report with an “F” at the end of a course number.
  • At the first stage of transfer credit evaluation, a transfer evaluator will compare the course descriptions at your original institution with the course descriptions at Boise State. Some of the reasons why a course may be transferred as non-equivalent are:
    • Boise State does not offer an equivalent course.
    • There was not enough information in the course description to make a determination.
    • The course is essential and/or specific to your major, and the department needs to determine if it equivalent.
  • If you have taken a course that does not appear on your credit report, that course was non-transferable. A course may be non-transferable if it is below college-level or technical in nature.
  • More information is available at the Registrar’s site on the Transfer and Alternative Credit tab.
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