Psychology

Two x-rays of brain activity.

Undergraduate degrees: BA or BS
Undergraduate minor

Solving the Puzzle of the Mind

Ready to solve the mysteries of the human mind? From cognitive, biological, and developmental psychologies to practices in clinical psychology and psychopathology, the UO’s Department of Psychology will put you at the vanguard of the study of the human mind and behavior.

Get involved with student-run programs, clubs, lectures, and events and get the most out of your scholastic experience. Test out your skills in real-world settings and assist local clinics, shelters, hospitals, and justice centers. Bring your innovative ideas and questions to share with fellow students and faculty members. The field of psychology is broad, deep, and fascinating, and the UO’s program makes it easy for you to choose an area of concentration that’s right for you.

Research is a vital part of the program, and undergraduates have the opportunity to work with the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, the Institute of Neuroscience, numerous organizations throughout Lane County, and in several department laboratories.

Points of Interest

  • Undergraduates have opportunities to engage in hands-on research at the UO’s Child and Family Center, with individual researchers on campus, and with off-campus centers such as the Oregon Research Institute, Oregon Social Learning Center, local women’s shelters, and even the Lane County juvenile justice system.
  • Members of the department’s peer advising program are happy to meet and chat with fellow students and help find answers to their questions.
  • The Lewis Integrative Science Building houses half of the department’s faculty, labs, and graduate students as well as cutting-edge technologies, such as a new MRI machine.
  • In 2013, the department’s main building, Straub Hall, will undergo a remodel with upgrades in sustainable energy use, collaboration space for faculty members with overlapping research areas, and computer lab expansion.  
  • Community-wide practicum opportunities are available for students interested in working with high schools and social justice organizations.
  • Join the department’s honors club, Psi Chi, a society designed to help promote and encourage scholastic achievement in the science of psychology.
  • Research assistant opportunities are a great way to get to know the faculty and gain important career-relevant skills. There are over 25 labs, where students can work alongside researchers and graduate students.

Sample Courses

  • Psychopathology presents a variety of views of the field of abnormal psychology. The course juxtaposes traditional views and a variety of critical postmodern views, which examine assumptions and procedures of the field from a social, cultural, and historical perspective.
  • Imagination looks at topics in human imagination, including creativity, children’s pretend play, fiction writing, imagery, mental time travel, consciousness, dreaming, virtual worlds, and disorders.
  • Psychology of Gender is a critical analysis of sex differences, gender roles, and the effect of gender on traditional issues in psychology. Topics include parenthood, violence, and sexual orientation.
  • Hormones and Behavior delves into the relationships between the brain, endocrine systems, and behavior. Students will study the developmental effects of hormones on the brain, puberty, sexuality, aggression, and stress.
  • Psychology of Trauma focuses on cognitive, neuropsychological, developmental, social, and clinical approaches to understanding trauma. It includes analysis of childhood trauma, sexual assault, domestic violence, terrorism, combat, and natural disasters.

See more courses offered by the Deparment of Psychology.

Immerse Yourself

Hard working psychology undergraduates are encouraged to actively engage in labs and research centers like the UO's Lewis Integrative Science Building and the Center for NeuroImaging, which gives you the opportunity to work in an exceptional research atmosphere. The department also offers practicum and field experience opportunities. In the Community Internship Program, you’ll choose an internship and receive academic credit.

If you’re looking to challenge yourself, consider applying to the departmental honors program. Honors students develop an independent thesis and conduct original research supervised by a departmental committee.

The Student Experience

For Amy Bryant, it was the impressive psychology program and proximity to her Seattle, Washington home that made the UO irresistible. Even with a second major in English, Bryant couldn’t wait to try her hand at conducting psychological research. She joined the Acquiring Minds Lab, volunteered for the HIV Alliance and Kids’ FIRST Center, and studied abroad in Melbourne, Australia. Bryant has enjoyed helping other students in the department as a peer advisor. She plans to pursue a doctorate degree in counseling after gaining experience with AmeriCorps or the Peace Corps.

Sarah Cunningham didn’t waste any time getting involved at the UO and fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a psychologist. With minors in anthropology and women’s and gender studies, Cunningham focused her energy on learning how trauma affects the LGBTQ community. Working in the Acquiring Minds Lab and the Freyd Dynamics Lab, she centered her research on sexual identities, sexual assault, and psychological outcomes. Cunningham was excited to be accepted into the psychology department’s honors program as well as the Psi Chi honors society. After graduate school, she hopes to return to the UO to teach and conduct research.

After transferring from a university in Denver, Sam Marsh found it easy to become a Duck. By pairing concentrations in social psychology and economics, he has developed a keen understanding of how people make decisions on a regular basis. In the Personality and Social Dynamics Lab, Marsh has incorporated his knack for people-watching into his research about perceived power. Apart from cheering with fellow Ducks at football games, he has had a blast helping students in the Peer Advising office. He plans on interning for the state department or for the CIA before attending graduate school and eventually working in international affairs.

Excited to see what the UO had in store for her, Nicole Rios dove into the Clark Honors College, the psychology honors program, and a Spanish minor. She also joined a sorority and Psi Chi, became a peer advisor, and volunteered at IMPACT and Ophelia’s Place. Above all, she appreciated the opportunity to conduct research. “There are so many labs, you’re bound to find one that suits your interests and if you’re interested in a bunch of things, you can work at more than one lab,” says Rios, who studies brain development. She plans to teach bilingual education for Teach for America in Texas before continuing with graduate school and eventually becoming a counselor. 

Featured Faculty

As head undergraduate advisor, Senior Instructor Pamela Birrell enjoys meeting new students and helping them navigate the variety of topics in the psychology department. She directs the Peer Advisor program; teaches classes in culture and mental health, psychopathology, and the psychology of trauma; and runs her own clinic for people who have experienced trauma. In her classes, Birrell inspires students to be critical of the current medical system and to develop new methods for mental health care. “Psychology is a huge field,” she says. “Take some time to explore and don’t be afraid to question and criticize.”

“I felt like I’d won the lottery!” says Associate Professor Sara Hodges describing how she felt when she came to teach at the UO. “I love the fact that the grass outside my window is emerald green in the middle of January.” Surrounded by inspirational colleagues and devoted students, Hodges has enjoyed teaching, running her own lab, and conducting social psychology research on empathetic accuracy. She teaches several courses including an honors class called “Normal People Behaving Badly,” which focuses on the negative decisions that everyone is capable of making.

Career Opportunities

A degree in psychology can lead to many career options. Perhaps you’ll decide to go into counseling or social work. Psychology is useful in medical and health care careers, and has practical applications in teaching and special education. Majoring in psychology is a good stepping-stone for graduate work in medicine, social work, government jobs, and public service positions. Whatever your career choice, studies in psychology will provide a strong foundation for a successful future.

Department of Psychology

Contact Information
541-346-4921
541-346-4911 fax