Frequently Asked Questions for Psychology Majors

Where is the Psychology Department main office, and who is the Chair/Associate Chair of the department?

The main office for the department is on the 5th floor of Hemphill Hall. Some forms and much useful information can be obtained at this office.  The Chair of the department is Dr. Jeff Aspelmeier. The Associate Chair is Dr. Dayna Hayes

I am not a Major or Minor yet but I have questions about the Major or Minor, who should I talk to?

The Department Chair, Dr. Jeff Aspelmeier, can answer any questions you might have about Major or the Minor.

When do I register?

Your registration time depends on the number of credit hours you have completed. Generally, the more credits you have earned, the earlier you will registers. The registrar's office maintains the list of registration times, which is updated each semester. Keep in mind that it is your responsibility to register when your registration time opens. Failing to do so may result in delays in your graduation.

When can I get advised for registration?

Usually the schedule for the next semester is released about 2 weeks prior to the middle of the semester. Also, Personal Identification Numbers (PIN) are sent to your advisor about two weeks before the actual registration period.  So you need to see your advisor one two weeks before your registration window opens.  If you delay seeing your advisor and getting your PIN, you may miss the opening of your registration window, and that will seriously limit your choice of courses, which could delay your graduation.

How do I get advising?

First, find out who your advisor is. If you are a freshman or a sophomore, then you will be advised by the staff in the Highlander Success Center. You will need to make an appointment with them. Juniors and Seniors (58 or more completed credit hours) will be advised by psychology faculty. Your psychology advisor should be listed your Degree Works in OneCampus. If you do not have an advisor listed please contact the psychology department at or call (540)831-5361 so we can get an advisor assigned to you.

Next, find out your advisor's office hours by contacting your advisor. Note that most faculty do not use Star Fish to schedule appointments, your best bet is to contact your advisor directly. You can then either show up during office hours or email the professor to make an appointment. It is your responsibility to get to your advisor and be advised.

Finally, be sure to show up for your appointment. You should come with copy of your degree works, a list of classes you plan to register for, and a list of requirements you have left to complete before you graduate.    

What do I do if a course I need is full or I am missing prerequisites? How do I get an override?

If a class is full or you don't have the pre-requisite(s), submit an Override Request Form to the department. The form and directions for completing it can be found here. An Override is something we do in the registration system that will then allow you register for the class. Our office cannot just put you in a class (force add), we don't have that particular super power.

For some classes under some circumstance, if you are missing the prerequisite, then we may be able to waive prerequisite for you.

For some classes, we may be able to get you into a class even though enrollment has reached the course max.

- PSYC 222 - We will accept Course Capacity override requests for PSYC 222 if you are a senior and need the class to graduate in semester you are registering for.

- PSYC 301 – We will accept Course Capacity override requests for PSYC 301 if you are a junior or senior who is trying to graduate within the next 2-3 semesters.

- PSYC 302 or 491 – We will accept Course Capacity Override Requests or Prerequisite Overrides for 302 & 491.

- Wait lists will be maintained by the department for full sections of 302 & 491. These lists will be ordered first by need and second by order of receiving request.

- All other PSYC courses – We will only accept Course Capacity overrides if the course is necessary for you to graduate within the semester for which you are registering.

Overrides are processed on a first-come-first-served basis. You should fill out an override as soon as you know you need it.

If possible, we will process your override and give you permission to register for the class. You will get an email notifying you of the status of your override within a day or two. If we give you an override, you will still need to register. Our office can't do that part for you.

If you are missing a prerequisite, you need to fill out the override before registration starts, otherwise your registration could be delayed significantly and the class may fill up.

What is the Electronic Waitlist?

For the classes listed above (except PSYC 302 & 491), when a class is full, you will have the ability to add yourself to the Electronic Waitlist for individual courses through the Online Course Registration System.

- When you look up classes online, full classes will have an option for you to add yourself to the waitlist as long as:       

1. There are spaces on the waitlist. For most classes there are as many spots on the waitlist as there are seats in the class. E.g., a class capped at 50 will have 50 spots on the waitlist.

2. You are not already registered for another section of the class.

3. You are not already on the waitlist for another section of the class

4. You don’t have a time conflict with another class for which you are already registered.

- If you are the first person on the on a waitlist and a seat in the class opens up, you will be notified by email of an opening in the course. You will have 24 hours to register for it.  If you do not register for the course within the 24 hour registration window, you will be dropped from the waitlist and the next student on the waitlist will be notified of an opening.

- IMPORTANT: you should be aware that the Electronic Waitlists can be quite long (the larger class, the longer the waitlist), you will not know where on the waitlist you stand, and that there is only a very limited chance that being on the waitlist will result in you getting into a desired class.

- Further, the department WILL NOT be able to tell you where you are positioned on the Electronic Waitlist of a course.

- The Department will monitor waitlists, and if there is sufficient demand for a course and we have space and faculty resources available, the department may open up more seats in a section to students on a waitlist.

- Decisions to open additional seats for a section will likely be made the week before Fall Classes start.

After I fulfill General Education Requirements (Core Curriculum or REAL curriculum) and I complete my psychology requirements, what else do I have to do to finish my degree at RU?

You need 120 hours to graduate, so even if all your general education requirements are met, your psychology requirements are met (that's 37 hours), and you have completed your B.S. requirements (between 6-8 hours) or your B.A. requirements (between 6 and 8 hours), you will still have room for 30-50 hours.  If you want to have a minor or a second major, that's fine, but you don't have to.  All the courses that fall outside the category of major, general education, or B.S./B.A. requirements are called General ELECTIVES and they can be filled by any undergraduate class you want (as long as you have the prerequisites to take it).

Is it better to have a B.A. or a B.S. for graduate school admission?

It doesn't seem to really matter very much, as the degrees mean different things to each school.  It's really much more important to have good grades!  If you want to take a language, that's what you would do for a B.A. degree.  If you want to take some additional math or science (beyond the Gen. Ed. requirements), go for the B.S.

Does a "D" grade count if it's in a required course for the major?

Yes a D counts in most psychology courses.  You have to have at least a 2.25 average in your major (psychology) to graduate. If you get a D, as long as you have other grades that can pull your overall average up to a 2.25, you can count that course. There are two exceptions to this. In PSYC 301 and 302 you must earn a C- or higher for the grade to count. If you earn lower than a C-, then you will have to retake the course before you can graduate.

Is it important to have a minor?

It is helpful to have a minor if you are interested in another area.  For example, if you are thinking you would like to get a job as a manager for a retail store, it might be helpful to have a marketing or business minor to combine with your psychology major. Or, if you are thinking you would like to work as a residential counselor at a group home for adolescents, it might be helpful to have a minor in criminal justice or social work.  A minor makes your experience in college a little more focused and directed, but you should only do it if you really enjoy the other area, because otherwise it can become kind of a burden, rather than a great learning experience.

What can a graduate with a psychology B.S. or B.A. do for employment after graduation?

There are lots of jobs which look for a well-rounded liberal arts graduate (the psychology major is part of that category!). If you want to be a practicing psychologist, you will have to go to graduate school, but lots of entry level jobs are looking for people who are people-savvy, or who understand the principles of behavior and learning. Check out some of the newsletters to see what kinds of jobs there are. Or go to the following website to get some ideas:

Are there any clubs or associations which are related to my major?

There is a psychology club, and they have speakers and meetings about topics of interest to psychology majors. There is also PSI CHI, which is the International Honors Society for Psychology majors.

Is an internship required for psychology majors? What are the requirements for an internship (and why would I want to do one if it's not required)?

The internship opportunity is not a required class, but we do recommend internships for students who meet the requirements and are either planning not to go to graduate school or are planning on going to graduate school so they can work in an applied area such I/O psychology, School Psychology, Occupational Therapy, or an area of mental health (Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Counselor Education/Community Mental Health, Social Work, or marriage and Family Therapy). You qualify to do an internship if you have had at least 75 hours of college level work, 12 hours in psychology, have a 3.0 GPA in psychology, and have a 2.8 overall GPA. Internships taken for a letter grad (not pass/fail) can count as Psychology Electives. Here is more information on internships.

What is an Independent Study (PSYC 498) and should I do one?

Independent Studies are typically meant to give students an opportunity to work with faculty on a research project. Up to 6 credit hours of Independent Study will count toward the major (as an elective) as long as you don't take it pas/fail. Anyone who is considering going to graduate school should consider doing one or two independent study projects. The experiences can be a good way to get strong letters of recommendation for graduate school. These credit hours can count as psychology elective hours. Many faculty have ongoing research projects for which they recruit psychology majors to help conduct research. A list of faculty who are typically willing to do Independent studies can be found here. To register for an independent study, you must arrange the project with a faculty member, complete the Independent Study Proposal form, obtain the appropriate signatures, and submit the form to the registrar's office.