Several new specializations enable students to direct their learning according to their individual interests and career goals.

Beginning with the Fall I term, students enrolled in Saint Leo University's psychology degree program may now pursue a specialized track enabling them to focus their studies on specific areas of interest. Students may select from general, clinical/counseling, developmental and experimental tracks.

The general track and the clinical/counseling track are available to students enrolled in the university's online psychology degree program. All four tracks are available on-ground at University Campus and Saint Leo's education centers.

Choosing a specialization

According to Dr. Lara Ault, associate professor of psychology and associate chair of Saint Leo's Department of Social Sciences, the newly defined tracks enable students to fine-tune their course selection specializing in a personal interest, or discovering and nurturing it, while still getting a solid core of psychology courses.

"As students figure out what direction they would like to move toward with their careers, they can choose the courses they need to take to reach those goals – whether it's to land an entry-level position in a mental health and human services setting, to work in a psychology-oriented position in personnel or sales, to get licensed, or go to graduate school."

Regardless of track, all psychology students, online and on-ground, are required to take a core curriculum of five foundational psychology courses. Three to five specialized courses in each track are also required. In addition, students select two specialized elective courses and three general psychology electives.

General track

Available to online psychology students and to on-ground students, the general track is a broad-based liberal arts curriculum for students interested in a holistic understanding of psychology. In addition to the five core curriculum courses, students take courses in abnormal, developmental, social, physiological psychology, and cognitive/learning.

"The general track is the most basic and broadest track, introducing students to all major aspects of psychology and preparing them for a wide variety of positions requiring a bachelor's degree," says Dr. Ault.

Clinical/counseling track

Also available to both online and on-ground students, the clinical/counseling track prepares students for helping fields such as community, veterans' or marital counseling.

"This track is for students who are interested in learning about counseling or moving on to a master's in social work (MSW) program or a licensed mental health master's program," says Dr. Ault.

Students take courses such as: Psychological Tests and Measurements, Forensic Psychology, Human Sexuality, Human Behavior in Crisis, Close Relationships, Community Counseling and Mental Health, Counseling Principles and Practices and Childhood Disorders.

Developmental track

Available on-ground, the developmental track focuses on neonatal, adolescent, and adult development with options for education, school psychology tests and measures, and other areas critical to development.

"This is an excellent track for those interested in education, working with children or the elderly," says Dr. Ault. "We also thought students would be interested in counseling and developmental as they have good job placement in education, child and school psychology, and therapy."

In the developmental track, students take courses including Human Sexuality, Psychology of Parenting, Cognitive Psychology, Educational Psychology and Psychology of Motivation and Emotion.

Experimental track

Offered on-ground, the experimental track is research intensive and requires students to complete an individual research project.

"The experimental track prepares students for professional and graduate school such as occupational therapy, law school, or PhD programs," says Dr. Ault. "It's also well suited for students who might want to work in government or private sector research facilities."

In the experimental track, students take courses such as: Advanced Research Methods (3), Tests and Measures, and History and Systems.

Benefits of specialized coursework

Regarded as one of the most popular college majors because of its relevance to everyday life and focus on human behavior, psychology is a versatile field of study that prepares students for work in diverse work settings.

"Psychology graduates offer the skills, knowledge and attributes employers are looking for," says Dr. Ault. "Saint Leo's psychology program has always provided excellent preparation for a wide array of career options. And now that students have the option to choose a specialized track, they can concentrate on the topics that help prepare them most for their post-graduation goals."

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