Although the Psychology Department is one of the largest departments at the University in terms of numbers of students and faculty members, we are still able to keep our average class size small. While our first-year introductory courses are “big” with 65 students, this is small compared to other universities who see upwards of 500 to 1,000 students! These small classes ultimately provide students with individual attention and a more personal student-professor relationship. It also provides for a comfortable environment in which students are expected to share their thoughts, ask questions, and discuss the course material openly.
This comfortable learning environment doesn’t just exist within the classroom, either. At Algoma U, we have an open door policy, and encourage all students to take full advantage of it. Each faculty member in the psychology program is available for the individual advising of students prior to course registration every year to support students in selecting the mandatory courses and prerequisites while also keeping the students’ individual interests and goals in mind. This open-door policy also allows students to seek help and find answers outside of regular class time. Our faculty are available and happy to help, with the objective of engaging students while broadening their overall understanding of psychology. Some faculty even take this open door policy to a new level, using social media as a means to reach out for help. Did you know that all of Dr. Brodbeck’s lectures can be found online on iTunes as podcasts and that he encourages tweeting inside and outside of the classroom to facilitate discussion and to get extra help?! Don’t believe us? Follow him on Twitter @dbrodbeck.
Our psychology program offers two different degrees, tailored to the students’ strengths and interests. The Bachelor of Science (B.Sc. four-year) degree requires students to complete a greater number of biological-based courses compared to the Bachelor of Arts (B.A. four-year) degree. While most students choose to do a four-year degree, there is also three-year Bachelor of Arts degree option available.
In addition to the standard courses on methodology that are required for a psychology degree, we offer courses on a wide range of topics in psychology. The majority of courses that we offer fall under one of two broadly-based categories: those that focus on the social bases of behaviour, and those that focus on the biological bases of behaviour. While students are required to take some courses from each of the two groups, there are plenty of courses to choose from, enabling students to select the courses that are most applicable to their interests and future goals. To find out more information on these groups please view our Academic Calendar (PDF).
While it is widely known that psychology can involve the identification of, and counselling for, abnormal thoughts and behaviours, there are many other areas of psychology that might be less widely known. For example, we offer courses which teach students how and why we are susceptible to visual illusions and why individuals follow group behaviours. Beyond the study of humans, we also offer courses which teach how non-human animals (such as birds and bats) have evolved to find food and communicate in the most efficient manner.
Over the course of your studies in these various courses, you may find a specific area or subject which piques your interest. Students can fully pursue this interest in the fourth-year thesis course. At other universities, students are given a topic to pursue which is in line with their supervisor’s interests, or are assigned to a study already underway or that has been planned in a research laboratory. At Algoma U, we believe in cultivating students’ interests and giving students’ freedom to explore their own ideas. We allow our students to select their own topic, and with assistance from one or more professors, design their own experiment, collect and analyze the data, and finally, present their research at the Algoma University Annual Psychology Thesis Conference. This is the culminating project of your time at Algoma U, and highlights the refined, polished work our undergraduates are capable of producing. It is also no surprise to note, that some of our students’ theses are published – a rarity for undergraduates!
A psychology degree is really a stepping-stone to the next phase of a student’s life. We teach you how to be dedicated, motivated, and to think critically about scientific data, human and non-human behaviour, and science in general. Clearly these are skills that are in demand by a whole host of prospective employers, and will serve you well no matter what you chose to do with your psychology degree. Whether you want to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree or a Bachelor of Science degree, the psychology program at Algoma University will provide you with knowledgeable faculty, hands-on research possibilities, and the comfortable setting of a smaller university in which to explore your potential, broaden your range of interests, and develop your skills.