USC Upstate psychology program

The psychology program at the University of South Carolina Upstate is designed to serve several groups of students: those planning to major or minor in psychology, those taking psychology courses for elective or cognate credit, and students taking introductory psychology as part of their general education requirements. The curriculum meets the needs of students who are diverse in background, age, educational experience and career goals by introducing students to the methodologies used to study experience and action, facilitating development of communication skills, and providing experiences in critical thinking.

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  • Our program is very student oriented. Each student is assigned their own advisor to help guide them through their college career and for life beyond USC Upstate. Small classes, independent study, internships and the distinction program provide opportunities for students to work closely with faculty, preparing them to move into the work force or to on to graduate study.

  • Some Upstate psychology majors continue on to graduate school to study different branches of psychology such as school psychology, clinical psychology, counseling psychology, cognitive psychology, neuropsychology, industrial and organizational psychology or human factors. Others branch out into fields such as neuroscience, social work, medical school, law school or the ministry. Other students choose to work after graduation and work as case workers for DSS or DJJ, as residential youth counselors, group home coordinators, as victim or patient advocates, in drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs, as employment counselors, in advertising agencies or market research or in college admissions as counselors or recruiters.

    What can I do with a Psychology degree? (PDF)

    If your goal is to become a licensed clinician, there are multiple paths that can be taken to accomplish this goal.

    Some students decide to pursue a master’s program, in social work, clinical mental health counseling, marriage & family therapy, school psychology, clinical psychology, or applied psychology. Some schools nearby with such programs include Garnder-Webb, Western Carolina University, Appalachian State University, Clemson University, Winthrop University, Converse University, Limestone, USC-Aiken, and Francis Marion University. Others may decide to pursue a PsyD or a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, both of which take longer to complete. Generally, a Ph.D. also has a substantial research focus that the other programs do not have. Regardless of the program you pursue, be sure it is accredited appropriately and that it meets state licensure requirements. 

  • Both internship and independent study options are engaged learning opportunities for students to support their goals toward specific career opportunities and attending graduate school.

    The USC Upstate Psychology Department has a thriving internship program. Since 1990, psychology interns have been placed in more than 30 agencies in Upstate South Carolina. Internships count as course credit toward the psychology major electives (PSYC-U499) or the child advocacy minor (CAST-U499).

    Additionally, many students have the opportunity to conduct an independent study project under the supervision of a faculty member for course credit (PSYC-U399). Psychology majors’ independent research is routinely accepted for presentation at local, regional, and national annual conferences such as the SC Upstate Research Symposium, Discover UofSC, Southeastern Psychological Association meeting, Georgia Undergraduate Research in Psychology Conference, and National Conference for Undergraduate Research. Students also have regularly received research awards at these conferences.

  • Students can also get involved by joining the various clubs and national societies associated with the department.

    Psi Chi is the National Honor Society in Psychology and our University’s chapter was installed in 1993. Because this is a national organization it provides excellent networking opportunities and students also have access to scholarships to conduct research. Students can apply to be a member if they are in the top 35% of their class, have completed 3 semesters of college, and have passed at least 9 credit hours of psychology courses at USC Upstate. Interested students should contact Dr. Susan Ruppel or Dr. Scott Meek.

    The Psychology Department also sponsors the USC Upstate Psychology Club, which presents monthly programs with informational topics such as research activities, preparing for graduate school, community service and internship or independent study opportunities. Interested students should contact Dr. Kenneth Barideaux.

    Similarly, Prof. Jodie Martin, the Director of our Child Advocacy Studies program, sponsors the Child Advocacy Club, which presents monthly programs with informational topics, as well as opportunities for outreach and community service. Interested students should contact Prof. Jodie Martin or Dr. Jennifer Gray.

  • Because psychology involves the study of the mind & behavior it is applicable to many other disciplines making it a relevant choice for a minor or cognate courses. For example, psychology can be integrated with most other science and humanities disciplines:

    • Personality & mental state impact the creation of literature and art, and art engagement contributes to mental well-being
    • Cognitive factors help us to understand economy-related decisions & behavior
    • Understanding the human factors that influence behavior may alter how we respond to policies & political leaders
    • Social and cognitive psychological processes are relevant to environmental science as we investigate how our own behaviors impact the sustainability of the environment for our future generations
    • Physical sciences integrate with neuroscience to understand neuron communication and how we are able to sense and understand our physical environment
    • As we learn more about the living brain, we are better able to understand and create artificial intelligence
    • Education is an effort to improve the human mind and psychological principles of learning can inform such practice.

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