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Psychology Program

Bachelor of Arts — Program Overview

Do you find yourself asking “why” a lot? Are you a great listener, with a knack for finding out what makes people tick? If so, psychology might be the right major for you. Psychologists are committed to helping people and solving real-world problems, and they do it just about anywhere: in schools, hospitals, the military, non-profit organizations — even athletic teams!


Explore psychology, Franciscan style.

At Briar Cliff, we look at psychology through the lens of our Franciscan mission of service, caring and openness to all. You’ll explore the science behind behavioral and mental processes, and how it applies to solving current issues like violence, addiction and drug abuse.

Get hands-on experience.

Jump into internship opportunities that will give you valuable experience outside the classroom — including at local school districts, hospitals, non-profit organizations and many more. Throughout the year, our psychology students also present at several conferences and participate in Psi Chi, the national psychology honorary society.

Psychology majors can also work side-by-side with professors in the Siouxland Research Center, which partners with public, private and non-profit organizations to conduct affordable research.  

Advance your degree.

Gain an inside track to Briar Cliff's own Master of Science in Behavior Analysis program, which partners with Sioux City's Pier Center for Autism to help people and families with autism. Or, get a solid undergraduate foundation that will prepare you for graduate school beyond BCU.

Prepare for career success.

Our graduates have been hired for entry level positions as counselors, youth workers, adolescent care technicians, early childhood specialists, admissions representatives and probation officers — just to name a few. Others have been accepted into graduate schools to pursue advanced degrees in the field of psychology.

Introduce Yourself →   Schedule a Visit →


Core Psychology Program Courses

MATH 200 - Elementary Statistics

An introduction to the theory and applications of statistics intended for students in business, nursing and the social sciences, but also recommended for students in the liberal arts. Topics include measures of central tendency and variability, probability distributions, confidence intervals, hypothesis testing, linear regression, correlation, analysis of variance and nonparametric statistics. This course is not open to those in a mathematics major. Prerequisite: MATH 10 or recommendation of the department chairperson based upon mathematics assessment Read more »

PSYC 102 - Drugs and Society

This course provides an introduction to the basic physiological, psychological, and behavioral effects of the major drugs of use and abuse: stimulants, depressants, inhalants, psychoactive medications, alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, over-the-counter drugs, opiods, hallucinogens, marijuana, and performance-enhancing drugs. The course will also explore the following issues related to drugs and society: addiction and factors that affect it, prevention of drug abuse, treatment of drug abuse, and policy related to drug use and availability. Read more »

PSYC 110 - Introduction to Psychology

This course is an introduction to fundamental psychological concepts which are derived from applying the scientific method to the study of behavior. Examples of selected topics include: personality development, abnormal behavior and therapy, physiology, motivation and emotions, human development, learning and memory, and social behavior. This course emphasizes theories and theorists as well as relevant applications to everyday living. An introduction to APA style of writing is included. Read more »

PSYC 205 - Introduction to Forensic Psychology

This course will provide students with an overview of the interface between psychology and the legal system. Students will learn about how legal issues and psychological issues weigh in the process of the criminal justice system. Topics under discussion will include the death penalty and the insanity defense, criminal investigation, eyewitness testimony, and how to ensure the most accurate police line-ups. Other topics will include areas such as suspect interrogations and false confessions, the validity of polygraphs, the veracity of child eyewitness accounts, and how to accurately interview young children. Read more »

PSYC 280 - Developmental Psychology

This course focuses on the development of an individual from conception to death. Psychological/physiological growth is studied in terms of cognitive, psychosocial, moral, psychosexual, and thanotological developmental stage theories. A minimum of one behavioral observation and a journal research report written in APA style will be required. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 • Fall, Spring Read more »

PSYC 295 - Experimental Psychology

Emphasizes the study of experimental methodology, research design, and analysis of research data using SPSS. The laboratory sessions provide practical experience in conducting research and learning to communicate research results. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 and MATH 200. (Instructor permission required) Read more »

PSYC 310 - Social Psychology

A comprehensive overview of the field of social psychology which examines the impact of other individuals, groups or social stimuli on individual thinking and behavior. The social influence process is studied through topics such as self-theory, attribution, social cognition, attitudes, aggression, pro-social behavior, attraction and groups. (See SOCY 310.) Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 320 - Psychological Assessment

PSYC 325 - Introduction to Interviewing and Counseling

The course focuses on the development of skills essential to effective professional counseling. Emphasis is on conducting the overall clinical interview, as well as conducting intake interviews, mental status evaluations, a bio-psychosocial history, a mental health history, and a psychological assessment for treatment planning. Finally, students will learn a variety of counseling theories and how techniques from these theories will help guide case formulation and treatment. As part of this course, students will have the opportunity to take part in two mock therapy sessions that will enable them to put their skills to use. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 350 - Child Psychology

A study of the intellectual, socioemotional, educational, and physiological development of the child from conception to adolescence including the impact of environmental/hereditary factors. Emphasis is placed on theory and research with primary focus on the developmental theories of Piaget (Cognitive), Erikson (Psychosocial), Kohlberg (Moral), and Freud (Psychoanalytic). A formal classroom presentation and an APA-style paper on current research in child psychology are required. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 and 280 Read more »

PSYC 352 - Psychopharmacology

An introduction to psychoactive therapeutic drugs and drugs of abuse. The biochemical, physiological, and behavioral effects of each will be considered. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 355 - Adulthood and Aging

This course provides a foundation for understanding psychological development of older people with focus on geriatric assessment and psychological disorders in the aging population. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 360 - Abnormal Psychology

A study of the classification of variant behavior and hypotheses used to explain such behavior. The symptoms, dynamics, treatment, and prognosis of various behavior syndromes will also be considered. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 365 - Human Motivation and Emotion

This course will examine the human principles of motivation and emotion. Special emphasis is given to the influence motivation and emotion principles have on the human learning process. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 380 - Theories of Personality

An advanced level course designed to present, in detail, several theoretical perspectives on the nature of human personality. Included are the Freudian, neo-Freudian, behavioral, cognitive and humanistic-existential models. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 400 - Learning and Memory

The study of the principles of conditioning, learning, and memory in animals and humans. Special emphasis on theoretical foundations and practical applications. Traditional and current theoretical perspectives are evaluated in the light of empirical research evidence. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 405 - Criminal Forensic Psychology

This course provides an introduction to psychological issues related to understanding, assessing, and managing both sexual and violent behaviors. An overview of mental health disorders and their relationship to both types of criminality will be provided. Topics include, but will not be limited to, insanity, psychopathy, serial killing, stalking, women who kill and sexually offend, and treatment strategies aimed at reducing both sexual and physical violence. Finally, the course will focus on methods of assessment currently used to help predict the risk of both sexual and violent re-offending. Prerequisite:PSYC 110, PSYC 205, PSYC 360 Read more »

PSYC 415 - Cognitive Psychology

This course covers the advent of the cognitive revolution, the components of the human information processing system (i.e. detection, attention, pattern recognition and memory), and higher cognitive processes like language and problem solving. Historical and current theories examined in the light of empirical evidence and the usefulness of this perspective will be illustrated in pragmatic areas. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 455 - Applied Behavior Analysis

Applied behavior analysis is a lecture/seminar-based course that introduces the basic concepts of behavior analysis and how they are applied to real world problems. We will discuss a broad range of topics, including: analyzing and evaluating behavior change, reinforcement, shaping, punishment, extinction, stimulus control, generalization and classical conditioning. Prerequisite: PSYC 110 Read more »

PSYC 460 - History and Systems

This course studies the historical contributions of modern psychology. The focus is on the philosophical and biological roots of current theoretical and empirical systems. Consideration is given to the major schools of thought in psychology and their influence on contemporary work in the field. Special emphasis is given to key influential persons who contributed to the early development of the distinct field of psychology. Prerequisite: PSYC 110. (Instructor permission required) Read more »

PSYC 465 - Senior Seminar

A capstone research experience where the student will select a research idea, conduct a literature review on the topic, propose a study, conduct the study, and then present data in both oral and written form. Prerequisite: PSYC 110, PSYC 295 Read more »

Additional Program Requirements

 For additional requirements and curriculum information, download the latest University academic catalog.