Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the goal of the department of psychology at Vanguard University?

Within the department of psychology, we strive to provide excellence in instruction and to encourage and support each student in good times and through difficult times. We are committed to try to discern and cooperate with what God is doing in each student. We seek to prepare each student for the next step in the journey, whether that is immediate employment, graduate school, ministry, marriage and family responsibilities, or something else.

Psychology is defined as “the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.” Proceeding from a Christian understanding of humans created in the image of God, the psychology major explores multiple perspectives of human nature, including biological, behavioral, cognitive, social-cultural, and spiritual. Students interested in counseling are introduced to basic theories and methods relevant to providing counseling services. All students learn the skills necessary to conduct research and to carefully evaluate others’ research, with the goal of increasing our understanding of human nature.

What are the five “perspectives” that the department of psychology provides?

Proceeding from a Christian understanding of humans created in the image of God, the psychology major explores multiple perspectives of human nature, including biological, behavioral, cognitive, social-cultural, and spiritual.

In addition to required psychology survey classes and methodology classes, the psychology major requires students to take one class from each “perspective”: Biological Psychology, Behavior Modification or Theories and Principles of Learning, Cognitive Psychology, Social Psychology, and Psychology and Christianity.

What are the course requirements of the psychology major?

  • The traditional psychology major requires a total of sixteen classes:
    • Four survey classes
      • General Psychology
      • Developmental Psychology
      • Abnormal Psychology
      • History and Systems of Psychology
    • Three methodology classes
      • Introduction to Statistical Methods
      • Researched Writing for Psychology Majors
      • Research Methods in Psychology
    • Five “perspectives” classes
      • Biological Psychology
      • Cognitive Psychology
      • Social Psychology
      • Behavior Modification (or) Theories and Principles of Learning
      • Psychology and Christianity
    • One “application” class
      • Field Practicum (or) Psychological Research
    • Three psychology elective classes

What “real world” experience does the psychology major provide?

  • PSYC 460: Field Practicum provides the junior or senior psychology major with applied field settings and opportunities for “hands-on” learning. Field Practicum was designed to provide those students hoping to enter human services professions with opportunities for applied learning in which they can relate “academic” knowledge to real-life situations.Students select an agency where they volunteer a minimum stipulated number of hours per week or semester. In turn, the agency provides “on-location” training and monitors the student’s progress in executing assignments, interactions, and exposure to the profession itself. Look at a selection of volunteer and internship sites.
  • PSYC 350: Theories and Principles of Learning provides “hands-on” training in the use of the principles of operant conditioning to change behavior. The training provided by this class has been instrumental in many of our students obtaining employment in agencies that employ behavioral change strategies. Cornerstone Therapies, for example, states the following: “Our behavior intervention program for children within the autism spectrum is based upon scientifically established principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to improve socially significant behavior.”
  • Many psychology classes bring in experts employed in psychology-related agencies to discuss and demonstrate the skills that their agencies are seeking in their employees. Additionally, psychology classes utilize role-playing in the classroom to provide active learning that includes immediate feedback from the instructor guiding the role playing.

What research experience does the psychology major provide?

An understanding of research methodology allows students to critically evaluate the research of others and to conduct original research of their own. Three classes form the core of the psychology department’s research component of the major: Researched Writing for Psychology Majors, Introduction to Statistical Methods, and Research Methods in Psychology.

PSYC 474 Psychological Research provides “experience in research design, data collection, statistical analysis, research writing, and professional presentation.” Each year, students enrolled in this class conduct professional research, analyze the data that they gather, and present their research at a regional university student conference.

Additionally, individual faculty members provide outstanding students with opportunities to be co-researchers with the faculty members on their ongoing research programs.

Look at some of the research presented at professional conferences by psychology students and faculty.

What areas of expertise do full-time psychology faculty represent?

  • Karen Hummel: Clinical Psychology
  • Claudia Degelman: Marriage and Family Therapy
  • Julie Howard: Clinical Psychology
  • Ludmila Praslova: Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • Noreen Dulin: Social Psychology
  • Carl Renold: Gerontology; Clinical Psychology
  • Douglas Degelman: Learning and Developmental Psychology

What proportion of psychology classes are taught by full-time psychology faculty?

Within the traditional undergraduate psychology major, a majority of classes offered are taught by full-time psychology faculty.

Fall 2011: 63% of psychology classes will be taught by full-time psychology faculty.

How are Vanguard psychology graduates employed?

Graduates of Vanguard undergraduate psychology programs enter a wide variety of careers, either directly upon graduation or after further graduate work. Many of these would be characterized as “social services” or “human services” (such as behavioral therapist, residential youth counselor, probation officer, social worker, and child care worker). With additional graduate training, some prepare themselves for work as Marriage and Family Therapists or Psychologists. Here are the specific jobs obtained by some of our graduates.

Look at a list of the specific agencies that have hired recent psychology graduates and the job titles that they have held.

Does the psychology major prepare students for graduate programs in psychology?

The psychology program at Vanguard University provides the foundation for admission to and successful completion of graduate programs in psychology at both the Master’s and doctoral levels.

Look at a list of the specific graduate universities and programs to which our recent graduates have been accepted.

What graduate programs do psychology graduates most commonly pursue?

The most common graduate programs to which our graduates apply are MA/MS programs in Clinical Psychology or Marriage and Family Therapy.

Look at a list of the specific programs to which our recent graduates have been accepted.

What are some common elective psychology classes that have been recently offered?

  • Adolescent Psychology
  • Family Violence
  • Human Sexuality
  • Counseling Theories
  • Counseling Methods
  • Family Psychology
  • Introduction to Human Services
  • Theories of Personality
  • Group Dynamics
  • Emerging Issues in Psychology

Examine syllabi of psychology classes recently offered at Vanguard University.

How does academic advising take place?

Midway through the Fall semester, students complete academic registration for the Spring Semester. Midway through the Spring semester, students complete academic registration for the Summer and Fall semester.

During the two weeks prior to registration, psychology majors contact Ms. Kathleen Durel in the psychology office to schedule an individual appointment with their academic advisor. All psychology majors meet with their academic advisors each semester to review their academic progress and plan their class schedules for the following semester.

Academic advisors in the Department of Psychology are all full-time psychology faculty.

Look at a sample four-year class schedule showing all requirements for graduation with a B.A. in psychology.

Are course syllabi for psychology classes available online?

What books have been recently added to the library’s psychology collection?

How do I find psychology journal articles online?

Vanguard psychology majors have online access to major psychology journal databases.

Find psychology journal articles online and examine the list of psychology journals accessible at Vanguard.

How do I go about requesting letters of recommendation from faculty members?

Is there an honor society in psychology?

Yes! Psi Chi is the international honor society in psychology. Vanguard established a local chapter of Psi Chi in 1994. Membership in Psi Chi is an earned honor which is recognized internationally. Psi Chi provides a forum for sharing information about the field of psychology, learning about educational and career opportunities, and forming meaningful professional networks. In addition, Psi Chi has a significant service component, in which we seek meaningful ways to serve those around us.

Examine the requirements for membership in Psi Chi.

How have graduating seniors in psychology felt about their psychology education at Vanguard?

Each year graduating seniors in psychology fill out an anonymous survey which provides an opportunity to provide feedback on their experiences at Vanguard and, in particular, within the psychology department.

Examine summaries of departmental evaluations by graduating seniors.

Can I ask a current psychology major some questions about the psychology department?

Yes! Each year one psychology major is selected to be available to respond to questions about Vanguard’s psychology major.

Read one psychology major’s description of the psychology major.

What is the School for Professional Studies psychology major?

Vanguard University of Southern California offers a major in Psychology (Emphasis in Human Development) within the School for Professional Studies (SPS) to meet the needs of working adults who have 57 (or more) transferable college credits. Students typically are employed full-time and interested in completing their degrees in the evening while continuing to work. The program’s innovative format allows them to earn their Bachelor’s Degree in a manageable amount of time (approximately 22 months). Classes begin at different times of the year and meet on a year-round basis. Psychology courses are offered in an adult learning compressed time format; all 3-unit classes meet one night per week for five weeks; 4-unit classes meet one night per week for five weeks and include one Saturday class. Full-time psychology faculty teach most of the classes.

Learn more about the SPS Psychology Program!