Philosophy and Strengths of the Psychology Department
Our undergraduate psychology program is among the best in the nation.We are a talented, dedicated, and relatively diverse group of faculty who are united by our commitment to undergraduate education and to our view of psychology as a science. We aspire to excellence in the classroom,and we are convinced that discovery-based research opportunities and meaningful internship opportunities are vital to an outstanding undergraduate education in psychology.
From the very first meeting when a student declares a major, we emphasize the value of educational experiences beyond the classroom. Specifically,we encourage students to get involved with research and/or internships during the academic year and summer. These experiences enable students to creatively apply what they have learned in the classroom and develop and maintain enthusiasm for learning in ways not possible through conventional classroom instruction. We have developed an extraordinary record of involving students in interesting and exciting activities outside the classroom (see attached pages).
Educating students is our highest priority and we have an exciting curriculum that starts with foundational courses and ends with small, seminar-based capstone experiences. With 10 full-time faculty members and about 30 graduating majors per year, the department is small enough to offer student close, personal interaction with professors.
All senior majors are required to take the Major Field Test in Psychology, a standardized test created by the Educational Testing Service that measures knowledge in the discipline. Tens of thousands of college students each year take this test. Compared to the national average, our students, as a group, regularly score at the 99th percentile.
- We continue to attract very bright and capable majors. We have had an impressive number of summa cum laude graduates and Phi Beta Kappa inductees.
- Psychology majors are remarkably successful in competing for the best jobs, graduate programs, and fellowships. Three of our recent graduates have won National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship (only 50 such awards are made each year); another won a Howard Hughes Fellowship.
The typical sequence of the major is to take general psychology and then Experimental and Statistical Methods. These serve as the foundation for the remaining courses in the major. Next, students take survey courses that provide them with the strong methodological and theoretical background in the fundamental areas of psychology. Majors cap off their psychology experience with small seminars in which the primary focus is on reading primary literature, independent learning, open discussion of ideas and creative thinking. These capstone experiences, often followed by independent research, prepare our students well for the independent thinking that is required in the real world.
Outstanding Undergraduate Research Opportunities
- About 30 of our students conduct novel research projects each year, and many receive paid fellowships to conduct research during the summer. Over the past four summers, 36 students worked with faculty members on research projects at Furman and another 14 students conducted research at laboratories across the country. We know of no other liberal arts college that can match our record of summer research opportunities for undergraduates.
- Every year from 10 to 30 of our students attend regional and national conferences where they present the results of the research projects they have undertaken with faculty.
- We are fortunate enough to have over $400,000 in endowment funds for supporting our undergraduate research and internship program (e.g., off-campus research experiences, special internship opportunities, and student travel to conferences).
- Many student research projects result in publications. In the past two years, 12 of our students have co-authored papers published in refereed journals.
- With research and equipment grants totaling over $1.5 million (from the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institute of Drug Abuse, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Aging, and NASA) over the last 10 years, the psychology department offers students excellent laboratory and research experiences.
- Our faculty are actively involved in professional organizations that develop, promote, and celebrate undergraduate research. We are especially involved with the Council on Undergraduate Research whose main mission is to promote active engagement in discovery-based research opportunities as excellent educational opportunities and to get funding agencies to realize that first-rate research can be done at primarily undergraduate institutions. Historically, this was a natural science organization and members of our department led the effort to form a psychology division within the Council on Undergraduate Research.
Outstanding Internship Opportunities
- We have a lively academic year and summer internship program. Each summer about 10 to 18 students receive paid internships in career-related areas. Most of these internships are in mental health settings, such as the Addictions Recovery Unit at North Greenville Hospital or working with children who are about to undergo medical procedures in Richland Memorial Hospital or working with neuropsychological patients at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Other internship activities include conducting research with chimpanzees at Yerkes Primate Center (Atlanta) or investigating the cause of genetic birth defects at the Greenwood (SC) Genetics Center.
- Four of our 10 full-time faculty members have received Furman’s Meritorious Teaching Award; one received the American Psychological Foundation Award for Distinguished Teaching in Psychology.
- Our faculty members are active scholars who publish regularly in top journals.
- Our faculty members edit and serve on editorial boards of major journals and serve as ad hoc editors for numerous other journals.
Back to top
- Our faculty members hold or have held important positions in national organizations, including President of the Southeastern Psychological Association, member of the Council of Representatives for the American Psychological Association, and Board of Governors of the National Conference on Undergraduate Research.