Psychology department grows large in numbers

The psychology major has grown in popularity at Winthrop  by almost 40 percent

Zuri Anderson

Staff Writer

During the 2015-2016 academic year, psychology undergraduate degrees were awarded to 90 students, falling second only to the 198 business administration undergraduate degrees that were conferred.

“Since 2011 period, the number of psychology degrees conferred rose by 36.4 percent,” Joseph Prus, the chair of the psychology department, said.

The psychology department has approximately 300 psychology majors and almost 100 minors. Due to the number of students in the Psychology department, the advising period can be overwhelming for faculty.

“One way the department addresses the issue is to hire students to help with advising, some to help freshmen and sophomores,” junior psychology major Michael Szeman, one of the volunteer advisors said.

Prus also noted the versatility of a psychology degree, which can be used for a career or background in business, law, helping and social professions, dentistry, therapy and medicine. He noted that two South Carolina judges and two attorneys on the Winthrop Board of Trustees have their bachelor’s degree in psychology from Winthrop.

“The study of psychology appeals to those who are naturally curious about the way that people think and behave and how they might influence that,” Prus said.

Because of Winthrop’s size, there are more opportunities for students to build ties to professors, which can provide an avenue for research opportunities. Research Methods is a mandatory Psychology course and offers students research experience.

“[Research opportunities are] something that a lot of universities don’t have. What’ll happen is a lot of undergraduate students in general will apply to these master’s and doctoral programs but not necessarily have research, which is one thing graduate programs look for,” Szeman said.

The Psychology Club and Psi Chi, a psychology national honors society, are good ways for students to become involved in both their line of study and in their community.

The Student Organization and Support Committee is composed of psychology students who work with faculty and offer student perspectives on different changes and initiatives within the department. They also help with hiring new faculty, developing a new senior exit exam, and finding ways to increase student participation for course evaluations.

Szeman decided to pursue psychology because of a high school course he took. Now, he is pursuing a career in industrial organizational psychology, which includes motivating and helping people find careers or jobs based on their interests and skills.

“It’s important to love what you study and to think about ways you apply what you study to the real world. I love it because I can apply it to any aspect in my life, like working with people in my social relationships,” Szeman said.