School of Social Science and Human Services (SSHS)

Psychology Major

Psychology seeks to understand human cognition, emotion, experience, and behavior. The Psychology Program at Ramapo College educates students in both the science and profession of psychology. It teaches psychology in a liberal arts context that makes clear the interconnections between psychology and other disciplines, promotes critical reasoning skills, and emphasizes the ethical issues involved in psychological practice and research.

The program nurtures learning by immersing students in a variety of theoretical orientations, research methodologies, and human diversity issues. Students also gain hands-on experience in the practice of psychology through fieldwork or through an independent research project. Students are trained to appropriately apply their psychological knowledge to issues in the world and to become discriminating readers of social and behavioral research.

To attain these goals, the program requires that students complete three basic courses: Introduction to Psychology, Research Methods in Psychology and Data Analysis in Psychology. The remaining requirements are structured around a number of courses that are grouped into six categories. Students are required to take at least one course from each of these categories. This structure allows some flexibility and choice, yet insures that each student will be exposed to content in the areas of social, developmental, experimental, and personality/abnormal psychology. Majors also take a course that presents a cultural or historical perspective on the discipline and an elective course in psychology.

Students experience hands-on, applied experience in psychology through a fieldwork course or an independent research course. In fieldwork courses students generally work in a mental health or educational agency in the community such as a school for special children; in the independent research course they design and implement a piece of original research. The final psychology requirement is a 400-level seminar in the senior year: Advanced Topics in Psychology. Examples of these include “Black Issues in Psychology,” “Psychopathy,” and “Cults.”

Psychology is an appropriate major for a student seeking a career in any one of the human-service professions and for a student planning graduate work in psychology. Graduates may find opportunities for employment in a variety of settings such as community mental health centers, counseling services, substance-abuse programs, geriatric facilities, probation services, and schools for special education. Other opportunities lie in the fields of advertising, consulting, consumer research, criminal justice, education, environmental policy, evaluation research, human factors engineering, marketing, personnel, and product planning.

Faculty in the Psychology program organize an annual Psychology Research Symposium to showcase the importance of student research. Professor Shaziela Ishak coordinates a Child Development Lab that involves students in the research. In 2009, Professor Christian Reich wasawarded a highly-competitive National Institutes of Health grant to construct an electrophysiology lab for his research and for training students in modern neuroscience research. In spring 2013, Ramapo College hosted the annual conference “Understanding Embodiment” of the Interdisciplinary Coalition of North American Phenomenologists, organized by Professor James Morley.

The psychology major is offered by the School of Social Science and Human Services leading to a B.A. degree. A psychology minor is available.