Think of a career that does NOT involve working with people – a major in Psychology might not help you here. But for careers that DO require you to interact effectively with others, to understand their behaviors and thought processes, and in which you need to work productively with a range of individuals to get a job done, the study of Psychology can be helpful. Jobs in psychology routinely turn up in lists of the “best 10 occupations” or “10 fastest growing career areas.” Psychology is a great choice for a college major, since study in this field provides students with knowledge and skills to enter virtually any career field.
For these reasons, Psychology is often one of the largest programs of study at colleges and universities, and this is true also at Coe. At Coe, students take classes from one of seven professors, all of whom hold the Ph. D. degree and each of whom teaches classes in one or more areas of special training and interest – neuroscience, memory and cognition, abnormal psychology, counseling, health psychology, industrial psychology, social psychology and personality, research design, statistics, psychological testing, and more. The typical Psychology major at Coe takes classes with all, or nearly all, of these dedicated faculty, getting to know them on a personal, as well as professional, level. In surveys of graduating seniors, the most consistent theme reflected in student comments is that “Coe Psychology faculty are so helpful, respectful, and inspiring – they are what makes a Coe education special.”
The Psychology curriculum at Coe is carefully constructed so that students’ research and writing skills develop through a carefully-sequenced set of courses, beginning with Introductory Psychology, followed by Research Methods, Statistics, Biopsychology, and Memory and Cognition. A plentiful array of topical courses are available as choices beyond these “core” courses in the major, and Psychology faculty work individually with each student to choose a particular set of elective courses, depending on each student’s special interests or career objectives. Recent Psychology graduates have entered a wide variety of career fields. Many graduates begin their careers working to provide mental health counseling in both residential and out-patient settings, working in HR departments in corporate settings, and entering careers as researcher and data analysts. Some graduates earn advanced degrees in the field, typically as either as clinical/counseling psychologists or as researchers-academics. However, the sky is the limit with respect to how a major in Psychology can lead to a career – Coe has graduates working as doctors, lawyers, corporate leaders, and even as an animal trainer at Sea World.
Although most Coe Psychology graduates enter the work force upon graduation, many also move on to graduate study – some immediately following graduation but many following a year or two of practical work experience. About 60% of Coe Psychology majors will enter a graduate program within 5 years after graduation. One reason such a high percentage of Coe Psychology majors go on for graduate study is that they are well prepared at Coe to enter and succeed in competitive post-baccalaureate programs. Coe’s traditionally-focused curriculum ensures that ALL Psychology graduates have extensive training in research design, data analysis, analytical problem solving, writing, and oral presentation skills.
Three things stand out as being unique in Coe’s Psychology program. First, the program places a heavy emphasis on the development of research skills, both through the curriculum offered and the ample availability of opportunities for ALL Psychology majors to work one-on-one with a Coe professor in Faculty-Student research. Whether a student’s interests are to enter graduate or professional school or to work in business or education, the chance to do hands-on work with a faculty mentor provides a most valuable learning opportunity for Coe students. In fact, many students elect to undertake more than one faculty-student research project, oftentimes with different professors whose research areas might be quite dissimilar from each other. Whether a student chooses a research experience or not, all Coe Psychology majors have plentiful opportunities to develop their critical thinking skills as they confront topics and issues presented throughout the curriculum.
A second point of distinction for Coe’s Psychology program rests on the fact that Coe resides in a moderately large city – making internship opportunities plentiful and valuable. Although Psychology majors are not required to complete a job-related internship; many do, learning valuable real-world skills in the process. Sometimes these internships lead to job offers following graduation, and sometimes they even help students decide that a particular career is – or perhaps is not – the right direction to pursue for further study or work. Coe’s excellent Career Center teaches interested students how to prepare for an internship, how to make application for such an experience, and what to expect in terms of the work requirements and responsibilities entailed.
Finally, Coe Psychology majors have lots of opportunities to develop leadership skills and networking opportunities. Coe’s Psychology Club is open to any interested student and offers a wide array of learning experiences – all in a social context that is fun, engaging, and inclusive. This student-run group invites former graduates, area psychologists, and noted guests to speak at meetings, and also schedules field trips to area points of interest, such as the Mental Health Institute at Independence, IA. Students learn from each other, and from various experts working in the field of psychology, all in the context of having a good time. Coe is one of the few colleges in Iowa who has been granted the privilege of maintaining a chapter of the national Psychology honorary society, Psi Chi, and each year especially talented Coe Psychology majors are inducted into this prestigious national honor society.