The psychology major emphasizes the scientific approach to the study of human and animal behavior through the synthesis of the natural and social science aspects of the discipline. In addition to taking content courses in both knowledge bases, students are encouraged to understand and "do" psychology by becoming involved in research. Laboratory courses and the senior thesis enrich our students' understanding of the methods of core areas of psychology and develop the skills of critical thinking and expression. Students will demonstrate an understanding of the interrelatedness of the different fields of psychology, the relationship between psychology and other disciplines, and the application of principles of psychology to solving real-world problems.

To major in psychology you are required to take courses introducing you to the scientific study of mental processes and behavior of both humans and animals, quantitative methods, and research methods; laboratory courses from among developmental, personality, learning, and physiological psychology; and the year-long senior research seminar. The rest of your program is tailored to your individual goals. If you are business-oriented, you may choose such courses as industrial/organizational psychology, social psychology, and motivation. If you hope to become a professional psychologist or counselor, you might include personality, developmental psychology, abnormal psychology, and clinical psychology in your course of study. If you are interested in pursuing a career as a research scientist in psychology you may focus on such courses as learning, cognitive psychology, and behavioral pharmacology.

With a faculty that is actively involved in research and a sophisticated neuroscience and experimental research laboratory, students have the unique opportunity to pursue independent study and research.

Degree Offerings


Regardless of career aspirations, knowledge of psychology can provide excellent preparation for anyone who has a fundamental interest in the behavior, thinking, and feelings of humans and animals. Students who study psychology go on to have careers not only as professional psychologists, therapists, or researchers, but also may enter fields such as law, medicine, business, or education.

As a psychology major, you will be equipped to pursue a career in many different fields. 

Alumni Who Majored in Psychology

Three H-SC psychology majors attended the national meeting of the Association for Psychological Science in Washington, DC in 1998. Here is what they are doing now.

Three students and their professor standing in fornt of their poster presentationBrian Mackey went on to get a Master’s and a PhD from Tulane University. He is a licensed school psychologist and is currently the Director of Operations for 3-C Family Services in Cary, North Carolina. Over the years, he has worked in public and private school systems in Louisiana, New Jersey, and North Carolina. Dr. Mackey has worked extensively with children and adolescents with special needs in the areas of conduct, anxiety, depression, learning disabilities, and self-esteem. His active, child-centered therapeutic techniques are designed to assess and treat the functions of problem behaviors, not just their symptoms. He has also served as an educational advocate, working with parents to ensure that their children are receiving the most appropriate and effective services from the school system.

Baker Wright got his Master’s from East Carolina University and a PhD from Florida State University. He is currently the Director of Clinical Services for  Behavior Management Consultants, Inc. in Tallahassee, Florida. BMC is an Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) consulting firm primarily and exclusively dedicated to improving lives through a better understanding of how behavior works. Specifically, Dr. Wright works with individuals (mostly children and their families) with a range of behavior challenges in a variety of settings including schools, residential facilities, and private family homes. This includes extensive work with children with Autism, consultation with schools and school districts for students with both developmental and emotional disabilities, residential behavior analysis services for inpatient psychiatric programs for adolescents, and consultative work with families of typically developing children.

Tom Davis went on to get a Master’s from East Carolina University and a PhD from Virginia Tech. He is currently a Professor of Psychology at Louisiana State University and is a LSU Distinguished Faculty Award Recipient. He is also Director of the LSU Psychological Services Center. His interests focus on phobias and anxiety in children, and also anxiety and autism. Dr. Davis has published dozens of articles on the diagnosis and treatment of these disorders and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, Behavior Therapy, the Journal of Psychopathology and Behavioral Assessment, and Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.


Well-equipped experimental and physiological psychology labs allow experimentation with live animals as well as computerized on-line experimental control and data collection. A microcomputer lab provides space for instruction in data management, data analysis, and graphics, in addition to on-line searching for information in the professional literature in the field. A new developmental psychology lab provides space for testing of children and permits observation through a one-way mirror. There are ample opportunities for you to pursue independent research under the supervision of one of the departmental faculty.

Internship practicum

An internship and practicum experience in psychology permits interested and qualified students to earn academic credit for working in the field. Here the student gains first-hand work experience in which he has an opportunity to learn how academic knowledge can be applied to the work place. There are both local opportunities for internships, and resources are available to help students find summer internship opportunities in other cities. 


Psi Chi Honor Society

Psi Chi is the national honor society in psychology, open students who show serious involvement with the science of psychology and have excelled academically in course work in this area. Eligibility includes a major in psychology, a 3.25 average in psychology courses, and placement in the top third of his class. Advisor: Dr. Daniel Mossler

Psi Chi National website

Journal of the Sciences

Hampden-Sydney's very own science publication, the Journal of the Sciences, showcases undergraduate scientific work taking place on our campus in the Divisions of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.

Journal of the Sciences

Martin Eschman '24

During the summer of 2023, applied mathematics and psychology major Martin Eschman ’24 took a deep dive into the world of public speaking anxiety for summer research.

Martin Eschman ’24

Psychology Department

Dr. Jennifer E. Vitale, Chair
Professor of Psychology
Wilson Center 202
Hampden-Sydney College | Hampden Sydney, VA 23943
434) 223-6206

Psychology Department Professors
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