For your convenience, this web site provides answers to many common advising questions.
Telephone, e-mail, and in-person advising are also available.
Advisors: Lorena Ramos and Perla Perez
Office: Psychology Bldg., Room 101
In-person academic advising is highly recommended for psychology majors or minors. Students are encouraged to see the department's Undergraduate Advisor for questions regarding their degree plans. Although academic advising is available to you, it is ultimately your responsibility to make sure you complete your degree requirements. If you have a question about your degree plan or specific courses, it is best to talk to the Undergraduate Advisor or to someone in the Dean's Office of your College. Don't rely on friends to give you accurate information!
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On-Line Advising Answers Right Now!
Below you will find the answers to many common advising questions about the psychology degree program at UTEP, graduate school, and jobs after graduation.
Frequently Asked Questions
Students pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology have two choice, both of which are offered through the College of Liberal Arts. There is a B.S. (Bachelor of Science) degree in Psychology and a B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) degree in Psychology. If you do well in your studies, either degree should help you find employment or gain entrance into a graduate program.
How, then, do you decide which degree (B.A. or B.S.) to pursue? Your decision should be based on answers to several questions. First, are you attracted to the biological and natural sciences? Did you like biology, chemistry, and mathematics classes in high school? Second, did you do well in your high school science classes and are you likely to do well in more advanced classes here at UTEP? Third, do you plan to pursue a career that requires a background in the "hard" sciences, such as medicine or neuroscience (brain) research? If you answer "yes" to the these questions, then you would be wise to pursue a B.S. in psychology, because it prepares you for the type of career you wish to pursue.
You should pursue a B.A. in psychology if you are attracted to the study of human behavior but not attracted to the study of its biochemical bases. If you pursue a B.A. in psychology, then you will be expected to complete rigorous coursework within the Psychology Department (including coursework in statistics), but rather than take a lot of other science courses, you will need to take more courses in the social sciences, languages, and humanities. If you believe that you would flourish in the latter type of coursework, then you would be wise to pursue a B.A., rather than a B.S. in psychology.
Q2. Why do I have to take Statistics before General Experimental? Why do some courses have General Experimental as a pre-requisite?
Statistics is a prerequisite for General Experimental, because in General Experimental, it is expected that students already know the material from the statistics class. The material in that class builds to a certain extent on material from the statistics class. Taking this class without having had any statistics course would be like almost like taking calculus without ever having learned algebra (or algebra without knowing basic arithmetic). We do not want students to find themselves in classes where they are destined to failure when they could have waited and done just fine; therefore, the prerequisite serves as a protection.
Several upper-division courses have General Experimental as a prerequisite. These generally are classes that involve discussion of complex experiments or data patterns, and where understanding key concepts like interactions of variables and how to identify effects in a graph are critical. Also, studies may be discussed with different designs, where certain control procedures were used or where there were serious confounds, so some previous understanding of the basic designs, control procedures, and potential problems (material in General Experimental) helps a lot.
Answer: Declaring Psychology as a Major
Students may declare psychology as their major on their UTEP application for admission. If students do not declare a major at that time, they are classified as General Studies in either the College of Liberal Arts or the College of Science until they formally declare a major. You must declare a major and file a degree plan upon completion of 60 semester hours, but you are free to change majors at any time during your college career.
Before declaring a major or changing your major, you must be in good academic standing, meaning that you must have a minimum overall grade point average (GPA) of 2.00 and not be under academic probation.
To change to or declare a major in Psychology, first go to the Psychology Department office, Room 112 of the Psychology Bldg., and request a Change of Major form. You will receive further instructions at that time, after which you must take the form to either the College of Liberal Arts (if you are pursuing a B.A. in Psychology) or the College of Science (if you are pursuing a B.S. in Psychology). That Dean's office will complete the form, after which you must take the completed form to the Records Office in the Student Services Building.
EXAMPLE 1: A student is currently an Education major and wants to change to Psychology. The student wants a Bachelor of Science degree.
In this example, the student would first go to the Psychology Department Office and request the Change of Major form. The student would then be required to see the Department’s Undergraduate Advisor to evaluate his or her standing and be advised regarding the new degree plan. After getting the Psychology Department Chair’s signature, the form would be taken to the Dean’s Office of the College of Education for the College signature. Last, the student takes the form to the Dean's Office of the College of Science, which will complete the remainder. The student then takes the completed form to the Records Office in the Academic Services Building.
EXAMPLE 2: A student is currently a Political Science major and wants to change to Psychology. The student wants a Bachelor of Arts degree.
In this example, the student would go to the Psychology Department Office and request a Change of Major form. The student would then be required to see the Department’s Undergraduate Advisor to evaluate his or her standing and be advised regarding the new degree plan. After getting the Psychology Department Chair’s signature and an authorizing signature from the Political Science Department, the form would be taken to the Dean’s Office of the College of Liberal Arts for completion. The student would then take the form directly to the Records Office in the Academic Services Building.
Because it may take several weeks to process the form, you may still need advising from the Academic Advising Center or through your former major's department in order to register for the upcoming semester. To avoid complications, you should complete this process early in the semester.
This is probably the # 1 question students have about psychology! The simple answer is 1) get a job, or 2) go to graduate school. It is important to understand that people with bachelor's degrees in psychology are not practicing psychologists or psychiatrists. Although further education is required for these positions, there are interesting jobs for people with bachelor's degrees in psychology. Examples of jobs for which people with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology may be qualified are:
Health-Related or Professional Service Positions
Statistical Computing and/or Reporting
For further career information, contact the Career Services Office, 1st Floor Union West. They can provide employment profiles so you can determine your best bets for jobs based on your skills and interests.
There is no easy answer to this question because it depends, in part, on what you plan to do after graduation. However, two classes that may improve your prospects are PSYC 4317 (Advanced Statistics) and PSYC 4352 (Independent Research). You should also take courses in your areas of interest, the areas most closely related to the type of work or graduate study that you envision pursuing after graduation.
The two largest professional organizations in psychology have websites with extensive information for students, professionals, and laypeople. This includes access to the latest research, employment opportunities, mental health information, and much more.
American Psychological Association (APA)
American Psychological Society (APS)
Applying to Graduate School
Answer: Most graduate programs require, as part of your application package, your scores on the GRE. The GRE is a standardized exam, conceptually similar to the college entrance exams (SAT, ACT). The general exam contains Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytical sections, and your scores on each section contribute to the appeal of your graduate school application. Books and computer software are available to help you prepare, and both include practice exams.
The GRE is now available only in a computerized version. You should contact UTEP's Testing office or the Sylvan Learning Center for more information. In addition to the general test scores, there is a psychology Subject subtest of the GRE that many graduate programs require. Check with the programs to which you are applying to see which exams are required. Although you may achieve good scores the first time you take the GRE, you should plan to take the exam late in your junior year to give you the opportunity to re-take it if you want to improve your scores. Taking the GRE early also ensures that you will have your scores early enough to avoid delays in submitting your graduate school application.
Answer: It is never too early to think about graduate school. Graduate programs evaluate several factors in making admissions decisions. One of the most heavily weighted is the GPA, so you should try to keep that as high as possible even now. A second is the applicant's score on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and it is recommended that you begin preparing during your junior year. A third is research experience. It is never too early to try to get involved with research, and there are several ways to get involved (see Undergraduate Research). A fourth is letters of recommendation; usually three letters are required. Therefore, you need to make sure that at least three faculty members get to know you, which may take time. Typically the strongest letters come from faculty whose lab the applicant works in--therefore, getting involved with research earlier rather than later serves two purposes. (Of course it is important to do a great job in this research context to earn that glowing letter!) Thus, by early in your junior year, you should be actively preparing to apply.
Answer: You should decide whether you are interested in a clinically-oriented or a research-oriented program. Clinically-oriented programs train students to go into positions that involve mental health service provision. These programs typically focus on psychopathology and treatment issues. Examples of clinically-oriented positions are licensed psychotherapists and forensic psychologists. In contrast, research-oriented programs train students to conduct empirical studies, either in laboratories or real-world settings. These programs may emphasize normal psychological functions, such as memory, learning, social behavior, and perception or they may involve the study of abnormal psychology. Like the distinction between the B.A. and the B.S. psychology degree at the undergraduate level, the distinction between a clinically-oriented or a research-oriented degree is an important one and affects the type of job you will be eligible for after graduation. Your decision will naturally influence your selection of potential graduate programs.
Keep in mind that thousands of students, often with excellent credentials, apply to graduate schools. Most programs can only accept a limited number of students each year and can therefore afford to be highly selective. To avoid disappointment and possible delays of your graduate education, you should apply to several programs. The application process is expensive, but so is missing an entire year of education if you are not accepted to the only program to which you applied.
The recommended number of schools to which you should apply will depend on both the type of program and the area of psychology in which you are interested. Before applying to graduate school, talk with a psychology professor whose interests match your own.
Dr. Wood has prepared some very helpful information on applying for graduate school.