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The Psychology Degree

Psychology is a science that embraces both biological and social sciences. It is a science concerned with establishing principles and laws regarding the ways in which people think and behave. Some of the sub-fields within psychology are cognitive, social, personality, developmental, educational, clinical, physiological, health, and industrial. In all of these areas knowledge is established through the scientific study of human behavior.

The orientation of the Carnegie Mellon Psychology curriculum is toward developing highly skilled and knowledgeable graduates. About half of our graduates go on to graduate or professional school. The remainder seek to expand their problem-oriented skills so that job opportunities beyond those typically open to liberal arts students are available. Majors in the department are expected not only to learn about findings already established by psychologists, but also to become proficient in the investigation and analysis of behavior. This includes observing behavior, formulating hypotheses, designing experiments to test these hypotheses, running experiments, performing statistical analyses, and writing reports. The department has many resources for students to use in acquiring these skills. For instance, students interested in child development may be involved in the child development laboratory and observational facilities which are a part of the Carnegie Mellon Children's School . Students interested in environmental or health psychology might have opportunities to work in applied settings, and all Psychology majors have access to extensive computer facilities for data analysis and simulation work. The department also has a new state of the art set of undergraduate research laboratories. In addition to formal class work, students are encouraged to participate in research projects and field work via a number of opportunities available to them. They may register for Independent Reading in Psychology, Independent Research in Psychology, or an Internship in Clinical Psychology. In the Independent Research course, the student may work on an ongoing research project or develop and carry out a new research project with a faculty member.

There is university and departmental funding available to help support student-initiated research projects and student travel to present research results at scientific meetings and conferences. In the Readings course, the student reads extensively on a particular topic. The faculty member and student meet to discuss the readings, and the student writes a paper on the topic selected. The Psychology Department Website (, Graduate Catalog and Undergraduate Research Brochure provide descriptions of faculty research interests that the student can use in determining who should be approached to supervise a particular research or reading project. Clinical internships are available with a variety of settings including the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic (the teaching hospital of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh). During the internship, students get first-hand experience with different clinical populations. In an additional semester of clinical internship the student may either pursue the clinical experience in more depth or work in a different clinical or community setting. Finally, outstanding students are invited to participate in an Honors Program during their senior year. Over the course of their senior year, these students develop and carry out an original research project under faculty supervision.

The Neuroscience Degree