Psychology majors have more career options than ever before — ranging from traditional graduate programs, to criminal justice, to the world of business.
Gettysburg’s psychology department prepares graduates for these varied careers, with a comprehensive curriculum combining classroom work with two advanced laboratories. The lab requirement is unusual even among peer institutions, said Prof. Kathy Cain.
“At Gettysburg College, psychology majors receive extensive research experience both in their traditional classes and through opportunities beyond their classes,” Cain said. “Our faculty are dedicated and excellent teachers, and they are also active scholars who are committed to involving students in research.”
Graduates find themselves prepared to succeed in an ever-changing job market. And their career paths are as diverse as they are, taking them to the halls of government, the boardrooms of major corporations, and some of the nation’s premier hospitals.
Here’s a look at the ways in which Gettysburg psychology grads contribute to society.
Sara Cooney ’18, Ipsos NYC Marketing Research
“My curiosity in people and in the field of psychology existed before Fall 2014 when I began attending Gettysburg College, but it absolutely flourished as a result of taking psychology courses. The psychology professors at Gettysburg were a large reason that I declared my major and so enjoyed my four years. The professors were not only full of knowledge but were also available, passionate, patient, and kind. Their genuine commitment to my success, as well as that of my classmates, was clear and a big part of what motivated my interest in psychology. They guided me and helped me to reach my full potential while ensuring I gained experiences to enrich an analytical and curious mind, as well as foster collaboration and presentation skills.
“Another thing that is so special about Gettysburg is the network of like-minded individuals one becomes naturally connected to. One of the most noteworthy parts about this connection is that it extends well beyond graduation day. Gettysburg College’s psychology department is a generous network of individuals who are willing to share their time and knowledge with fellow Gettysburgians. In fact, when applying for my job, I had access to two Gettysburg psychology alumni at the company, and they were instrumental in my application process! With the extraordinary professors, peers, and alumni of the psychology department, a Gettysburg psychology degree prepares one for a variety of interesting and promising careers.”
Mary Beth Bielicki ’18, PhD program, Behavioral Neuroscience, University of Delaware, graduate student and research assistant
“When touring colleges, the psychology program at Gettysburg College immediately stood out to me. It was distinctive to me that the major requires a balance between both science-based and humanities-based classes, providing students with unique knowledge in the various facets of psychology: clinical, social, neuroscience, cognitive, etc. Psychology majors at Gettysburg also participate in two advanced laboratory courses. In these courses, I developed and conducted independent research projects and presented my findings in a poster presentation at Gettysburg's annual Celebration Colloquium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity. These opportunities to plan and organize your own research projects as an undergraduate student are not often found in programs at other institutions.
“Furthermore, my neuroscience minor integrated coursework from the psychology, biology, and philosophy departments to advance my scientific knowledge in the field of neuroscience and provided me with hands-on opportunities to utilize the scientific method, analyze current literature, and conduct animal research within the classroom. Finally, as a psychology major I earned the opportunity to enroll in honors research during my senior year. This required me to establish my own research question and experiment, collect and analyze data, and present that research to faculty and students. These characteristics of the major not only guided me in determining which sub-disciplines of psychology I was interested in, but also gave me the opportunity to strengthen my critical thinking, enhance my research skills, and to present and communicate scientific research to the community.”
Doug Kowaleski ’18, PhD program, Social Psychology, SUNY Albany, graduate student and teaching assistant
“My psychology degree from Gettysburg College has undoubtedly prepared me for a successful career in academia by thoroughly preparing me for graduate school. It has provided me with the skills and knowledge necessary to complete coursework, conduct research, and teach at the graduate level. In particular, I have found that earning my degree from Gettysburg has given me an advantage over other graduate students in the realm of research experience.
“At Gettysburg, I was given the opportunity to not only run participants in a lab, but to also design experiments, compile and analyze data, write manuscripts, and disseminate research in conference presentations and published journal articles. These opportunities are what make Gettysburg’s psychology department special: it affords students with numerous hands-on experiences that are essential for succeeding in one’s chosen field – all while challenging them in the classroom as well. My psychology degree from Gettysburg College has prepared me to be the best graduate student I can be. Simply put, with the knowledge, skills, and experiences I gained at Gettysburg, I am well on my way toward a successful career in academia.”
Janet Morgan Riggs, ’77, Gettysburg College president
“My psychology major at Gettysburg prepared me exceptionally well for graduate school, especially since I had far more hands-on research experience—from designing experiments to data analysis to scientific report-writing—than many of my graduate school peers had. The education I received at Gettysburg provided a tremendous foundation for a career as an academic social psychologist. But my psychology background also prepared me for administrative work in ways that I would not have imagined.
“A psychology major provides you with an understanding of human behavior, strong writing skills, an analytical approach to problem-solving, and an understanding of statistics—all of which I’ve found to be enormously useful. I never intended to become an administrator, much less a college president, but over the years administrative opportunities kept presenting themselves and I kept taking them. As I did, I found those basic skills I acquired continued to serve me well. As a college president I often say that I am now an applied social psychologist!”
By Zeb Eckert