The Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Science assembles the talents of more than two dozen faculty members actively engaged in advancing the scientific study of brain, behavior, and cognitive processes. The undergraduate program introduces students to the major areas of contemporary psychology: clinical science, human cognition, developmental psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience. Clinical science studies human personality, emotion, abnormal behavior, and therapeutic treatments. Human cognition includes the study of processes such as perceiving, learning, remembering, attention and awareness, decision making, and the neural mechanisms underlying these processes. Developmental psychology examines human development from conception through adulthood. Social psychology examines interpersonal and intergroup relations and the influence of social conditions on behavior, cognition, and emotion. Neuroscience studies the structure and function of the brain and how nerve cells process sensory information about the environment, mediate decisions, and control motor actions.
The Department of Psychology offers a general program of study for students who desire a broad background in contemporary psychology, as well as an honors program for those who desire greater concentration in psychological science. The Department also offers a variety of other opportunities for undergraduates to gain research experience through active participation in faculty research projects. Research involvement is encouraged as it provides direct experience with the important questions and methods associated with contemporary psychological science.
Recently Offered Courses
Psychology courses include broad introductory lectures, survey courses of the major areas in psychology, and more focused topics taught in both lecture and seminar formats. Recent examples include: General Psychology, Abnormal Psychology; Neuroscience; Personality; Emotion; Perception; Movement; Mind and Brain; Schizophrenia; Depression; Research Methods, The Visual System; Human Sexuality; Introduction to Clinical Psychology; Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Animal Behavior and Evolution; Health Psychology; Developmental Neuroscience. Our courses cluster in the SBS and MNS categories of AXLE.
The Honors Program in Psychological Sciences offers exceptional opportunities for involvement in the process of discovering and developing new knowledge. This program is for Juniors and Seniors and includes special seminars and collaboration with a faculty mentor on an original research project. Applications to the honors program occur at the end of the sophomore year and middle of junior year. Students completing this program receive Honors or High Honors in Psychology on their degree. The honors program especially benefits students planning graduate work in psychology or related fields. Examples of recent honors theses include:
Taylor Boothby, “Is What I Think Really What I Think?: Examining Implicit and Explicit Attitudes Toward Stuttering”
Tori Grice, “The role of Executive Function on Adolescent Affective Problems”
Quela Royster, “Communication Differences in African-American Mother-Child Dyads when Mothers have Varying Degrees of Depressive Symptomology”
Julia Zhu, “Effects of Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (tDCS) on Performance Monitoring and Learning Rate in Schizophrenia”
Other Special Opportunities
Research: Directed Study and Independent Study courses offer additional opportunities for gaining research experience by collaborating with faculty on contemporary research projects. These courses are available for 1 - 3 credit hours. Information about current projects is available from the departmental office and by contacting individual faculty members. Our department also has an excellent track record in assisting students in obtaining summer research fellowships through VUSRP (Vanderbilt University Summer Research Program)
Internships: Starting Spring 2020, students may now earn PSY course credit for internships within the spectrum of psychological science, including, but not limited to, neuroscience, clinical psychology, applied psychology, human development, behavior and performance. Credit is earned for relevant background reading and research, and, the actual work performed at the internship site.
VUPS: The Vanderbilt University Psychology Society is a majors/minors association, but is open to anyone who is interested in psychology. Led by students, VUPS organizes discussions with faculty and guest speakers on issues relevant to psychology majors, has social events, and also coordinates community service projects.
Psi Chi: The Department encourages development of a chapter of Psi Chi, the National Psychology Honorary Society. Membership in Psi Chi is an earned honor that is for life. Psychology majors/minors can apply for membership after completing 3 semesters of college and at least 9 hours of study in psychology, with a minimum GPA of 3.6 in psychology and 3.5 overall.
Combined BA/MA 4+1 Program: The Department offers the opportunity for students to earn a Bachelor’s degree (BA) and a Master’s degree (MA) in five years of study. This is a highly selective program with an intensive research emphasis. It is primarily intended for students who are considering a PhD or MD-PhD in a research-oriented graduate program in psychology, psychiatry, cognitive science, neuroscience, learning sciences, or related disciplines.
The program could also be appropriate for students interested in research-oriented programs in marketing and managerial decision-making offered by some business schools or research-oriented programs in law and human behavior offered by some law schools. The program does not provide applied clinical training.
Vanderbilt’s psychology majors go on to a variety of careers. Many continue research training in psychology at leading graduate schools in psychology and neuroscience; many others pursue professional training in law, medicine, and business; still others gain employment in areas such as teaching, consulting, and social work. A small sample includes:
Briana Francois (BA 2018), a Corps Member at Teach for America.
Sara Berstein (BA 2018), a Marketing Coordinator at Screen Media Ventures, LLC, in New York.
Alexander King (BA 2017), a Financial Advisor at Merrill Lynch in New York.
Zidong Zhao (BA 2016), student in the doctoral program in cognitive neuroscience at Princeton.
Elizabeth Shahnasarian (BA 2016), a Senior Analyst at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) in New York.
Darshi Edirisooriya (BA 2016), a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner at Pediatric Practitioners of Oklahoma
Meghan Collins (BA 2015), a post baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) who is now a graduate student at Yale University.
E. Connor Smallwood (BA 2014), an Optometrist at Tenzca Eye Associates in Ohio.
The path-breaking contributions of Vanderbilt’s A&S Psychology faculty in clinical science, cognitive science, and neuroscience have been internationally recognized. We embrace opportunities to share our knowledge and findings with students in courses, research projects, and informal conversations. We are proud of our dual excellence in teaching and scholarship, and are especially proud of our history of engaging students in research. Comprehensive descriptions of faculty teaching and research interests can be found at the departmental website.
Adriane E. Seiffert, PhD.
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Department of Psychology
534 Wilson Hall
Nashville, TN 37240
Phone: (615) 322-4595