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Frequently Asked Questions

Here is a list of our Frequently Asked Questions divided into 5 categories: General, Graduation, Graduate School, Transferring, and Our Psychology Department. A full list of these questions is also available in .pdf format. If you have a question that is not on the list, please email the psychology advisor.

  1. General
  2. Graduation
  3. Graduate School
  4. Transferring
  5. Our Psychology Department

22. What is academic advisement, and how does it work in the Department of Psychology?

Academic advining is based on the student-advisor mutual relationship, focusing on the personal and academic goals of the student and how those goals can be achieved. Based on the strengths and abilities of the student, the advisor aides in helping the student understand the steps required for the successful completing of his/her degree. It is up to the indvidual student to seek out assistance in this regard, which will ultimately determine his/her academic success.

Student Responsibilities:

  • Prepare for advising appointments: note any questions or concerns and bring necessary materials
  • Develop resourcefulness: use additional resources for guidance on academic and career matters
  • Take self-ownership of education: make fully informed choices and take responsibility for decisions

Advisor Responsibilities:

  • Assist student in determinig life goals, career options, and higher educational aspirations
  • Listen to academic concerns and needs of the student
  • Refer students to appropriate resources for guidance on academic and career matters

23. What is a "colloquium?"

A colloquium (plural = "colloquia") is typically a presentation of research, with a question and answer period at the end. Colloquia are excellent opportunities to learn about research in psychology and interact with students and professionals also interested in the field. It's a lot like going to a lecture. You sit and listen to someone give a presentation about some current research he or she is doing. You'll hear how the project was set up, what the results were, and the speaker's interpretation of those results. Then the people in the audience can ask questions, offer criticisms, etc. and the presenter will respond. Colloquia usually last about 1.5 to 2 hours (you can always slip out early if you have to).

A nice thing about attending these presentations is that you gain exposure to the various types of research within Psychology, and with this information, you can begin to form your own opinion about what's good and bad research, and about what you're interested in. It'll basically give you a head start in developing your own thoughts about Psychology. Finally, these colloquia come up pretty often; sometimes we'll go for several weeks having one every Friday. The people that speak are "brought in" as guests to UNR usually by one of the graduate programs (Clinical Psychology, Experimental Psychology, or Behavior Analysis), and so their presentation will usually come from the same general perspective that program. Different people are interested in different things (especially within Psychology, which is extremely divided as a discipline), so if you go to a few colloquia you are likely to experience widely varying kinds of ideas. If your email address is included on the Psychology advisor's list, you will receive notice whenever a colloquium is being held. If you would like to be included on this list, just email the advisor.

24. How do the "direct learning" courses work?

The "direct learning" element is a requirement for both tracks of the psychology major beginning with the 1997-1998 catalog. There are basically two types of courses that will fulfill this requirement: field experience and research experience. As the name suggests, these are not lecture-based courses. Rather, you actually get hands on training and experience in delivering services, conducting research, or both. The department considers these experiences to be crucial in developing students of psychology; further, they are very important, and likely necessary, for getting into graduate school in psychology. The courses that fulfill the "direct learning" requirement are: PSY 275 & 375: Undergraduate Research, PSY 439: Field Experience in the Teaching of Psychology, PSY 440: Field Experience in Behavior Analysis, PSY 447: Field Experience in Geropsychology, and PSY 448: Geropsychology Independent Study. Field experience (PSY 439, 440, & 447) is basically work for credit. It gives you applied experience working in the field of psychology with specific populations. For example, in PSY 447 you work with older adults; in PSY 440 you work with profoundly developmentally disabled adults, moderately developmentally disabled adults and children, autistic children, mentally ill adults, or in an organizational setting; and in PSY 439 you work as a proctor to aid students enrolled in PSY 101. Research experience (PSY 275, 375, & 448) is helping graduate students and professors do psychological research for credit. You will learn how to plan, design, and implement experiments, analyze data, etc. as it is actually happening. You could engage in a wide variety of activities depending on whose lab you become a part of. Both are very useful activities, and it is recommended that you take part in both while an undergraduate, if you have time. How that time is spent also depends on what your later goals are: some graduate programs would like you to take more applied experience before you enter their programs (often terminal Masters programs), while others would like you to have done a lot of undergraduate research (typically Ph.D. programs). Also, it can never hurt to get information from the programs to which you intend to apply for graduate school and see what they would like you to have done as an undergraduate. As mentioned above, these are not lecture classes; you actually work with the population for a particular number of hours per week. Also, since these are variable credit courses, you can choose sign up for 1, 2, or 3 credits. The formula is as follows: for fall and spring semesters, for each credit you sign up for, you are committing to 3 hours per week of work or research. So, if you sign up for 3 credits, you would have to work 9 hours per week for the semester. During the summer, since the semesters are shorter, you work more hours per week. However, the total number of hours you will work over the course will be the same as during the regular semester. So, how do you get signed up? If you look in the course schedule, you will notice that these courses are listed, but they required instructor permission to register. In all cases with "direct learning" courses, you will have to speak with the professor before signing up. To sign up for research experience: Unless you already have a relationship with the professor you want to work with, the best resource is the bulletin board on the north end of the 4th floor of the Mack Social Science Building. It says "Psychology--Research and Field Experience Opportunities", and has a bunch of flyers on it. Each flyer is from a professor who needs research assistants in his or her lab. So find one that sounds interesting to you and make a call. If you end up working for that professor, that professor will let the Psychology Department know you have consent, and it will be entered in MyNevada. Another good way to find a research assistant position is to look at the Faculty portion of this website. It lists the professors and their research interests, and allows you to e-mail the professors directly. To sign up for field experience: Look up the course number in which you are interested in the course schedule (note that there are several sections of PSY 440). The footnotes in the course schedule tell you what the specific topic and/or population of that section of field experience will be, as well as the name of the professor who runs that project. Then, you will have to contact those professors in order to find out what kinds of things you will be doing, and whether or not they have slots open for more students. These professors will also let the Psychology Department know you have consent, and it will be entered in MyNevada. Finally, don't be confused by the footnotes in the course schedule for 440: when it says "course meets first few weeks only", that only means that the time published in the course schedule is only for the first meeting or two. After that, you will set up an individualized training and work schedule for the rest of the semester.

25. Are Psychology majors required to do an internship or a thesis?

No, psychology majors are not required to do an internship or thesis; however, if the catalog you are using requires "direct learning" credits, you will be required to complete research or field experience credits

26. What are "Psi Chi" and the "Psychology Club"?

"Psi Chi" is the national honor society in psychology. It meets on an approximately monthly basis to discuss various issues in the area of psychology. The "Psychology Club" meets simultaneously, and is designed for students who do not yet qualify for Psi Chi membership. The minimum requirements for Psi Chi membership are as follows: Completion of at least 3 semesters of college courses; Completion of at least 9 semester credits within psychology; Registration for major or minor standing in psychology or for a program psychological in nature which is equivalent for such standings. Undergraduates must have a cumulative GPA of 3.00 and rank in the upper 35% of their class in general scholarship. They must also demonstrate superior scholarship in psychology, earning a minimum GPA of 3.00 in psychology courses. Graduate students must maintain an average grade of "B" or better in all graduate courses, including psychology. High standards of personal behavior . Two-thirds affirmative vote of those present at a regular meeting of the chapter. Look for current Psi Chi information on the Psychology bulletin board on the south end of the Mack Social Science Building, fourth floor or check out Psi Chi's web site from the main department web page.

27. I've heard that PSY101 is not taught like a normal class. Can you tell me about it?

Psychology 101 at the University of Nevada is different from any other course you have ever taken (or probably ever will). It does not provide weekly lectures, from which you are expected to take notes and study. Research has shown that the lecture approach is not a very good method for teaching large groups of students. Instead, you will study the textbook and online interactive materials on your own, take many computerized quizzes in our Learning Lab, and participate in small group discussions. To help promote mastery of the material, you will be allowed multiple opportunities to take each quiz. You will also be able to participate in online discussion groups with other students and professional psychologists, both from our department and the community. The course is self-paced to allow you to progress as fast as you'd like (quiz deadlines are in place, however, to prevent you from going too slow!). The bulk of the course consists of you reading and studying the assigned material. When you are confident that you understand the material, make an appointment to take a quiz in the Learning Lab. Proctors will be available in the Learning Lab at all times to assist you with any questions about the quizzes or course material. A small group discussion, consisting of about 5 students and a graduate student serving as discussion leader, will also be required for each chapter. The Psychology 101 teaching staff includes two course directors (department faculty members), a course designer (a graduate student responsible for developing and maintaining the online portions of the course), graduate teaching assistants, and proctors. A proctor is an undergraduate student who has been selected for his or her mastery of the course content, for maturity of judgement, for understanding what it's like to be a beginner, and for sound interpersonal skills. It is the proctor who will assist you in mastering the course content. Graduate teaching assistants monitor and update all student course records, supervise the proctors, and serves as the small-group discussion leaders. The course director plans, manages, modifies, and evaluates the course, and basically does whatever it takes to ensure that learning is always taking place.


University of Nevada, Reno - Department of Psychology/296
1664 N. Virginia Street Reno, Nevada 89557