Stephen F. Austin State University (SFA) is located in Nacogdoches, “the oldest town in Texas.” Established by the Texas legislature in 1921, SFA opened in 1923 and has developed into a comprehensive regional university with a reputation for academic excellence. The university enrolls approximately 12,000 students during regular semesters and 5,000 in each summer term. In an impressive setting of pine trees and natural beauty, the main campus spans over 400 acres and includes some 28 major instructional buildings and 19 dormitories. SFA is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
The Department of Psychology has 12 full-time faculty representing diverse areas of interest and specialization. We serve approximately 400 undergraduate majors, who can complete a BA or BS degree in psychology. The department offers undergraduate honors courses each semester in support of the SFA University School of Honors. In addition, we have approximately 40 students enrolled in our M.A. graduate program. All of our full-time faculty provide both undergraduate and graduate instruction in their specialty areas and pursue active, student-oriented research programs.
The Department of Psychology is housed in excellent facilities. The Psychology Clinic, which was renovated recently, provides a training resource for our M.A. program in clinical psychology, mental health services to the university and community, and research facilities for the clinical faculty and students. Other examples of resources available to psychology majors include a fully networked computer classroom containing 20 cross-platform work stations, configured with the latest behavioral science software; a recently renovated cognitive psychology laboratory; a human vision research laboratory; and research facilities dedicated to the study of human and animal learning, child development, social and personnel/organizational psychology, and instructional technology. SFA is an Internet2 university.
We have recently revised our graduate curriculum to reflect the department’s increasing emphasis on research and our desire to meet the changing needs of the field of psychology. The primary goal of our M.A. program is to prepare students for admission to doctoral training programs in psychology. We work to recruit the “near misses” to doctoral programs: talented students who have the potential to earn a doctoral degree but need to improve their credentials and/or sharpen their research focus in order to succeed in gaining admission to a doctoral program. To this end, the Department of Psychology offers three M.A. degree tracks, all of which require students to conduct thesis research. An M.A. degree consists of 36-39 credit hours, including thesis work, depending on the degree track selected. The program is generally completed in about two years by full-time students. We are able to provide financial support for the majority of students in the form of 10- to 20-hour per week graduate assistantships.
The Clinical degree track is based on the scientist-practitioner training model, with training in methodology, research, and theory, supplemented by application of clinical skills. Clinical training involves formal lab courses in intellectual assessment and personality assessment, as well as in theories of personality and psychotherapy. Students can then elect to complete a supervised clinical assessment practicum in our Psychology Clinic. In addition, students can obtain psychotherapy and assessment practicum placements at external mental health agencies. Students can also decide to pursue a terminal master’s degree and obtain sufficient supervised practicum experience to sit for the examination to become a Licensed Psychological Associate (LPA). If they pursue a 9-hour graduate minor in Counseling, they also have the option of taking the licensing exam to become a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC). Our terminal clinical graduates have been very successful in obtaining licensure in their first attempt and in finding suitable employment in clinical settings.
Our second most popular degree track is Industrial/Organizational Psychology. The program emphasizes research methodology and statistics, supplemented with applied independent research and an I/O practicum, with either a personnel or organizational emphasis. A nine-hour graduate minor in Management/Marketing is a popular option for our I/O students. Graduates of our I/O program who elect not to pursue doctoral study have been very successful in finding employment opportunities in the corporate world that allow them to apply their graduate training.
The General Experimental track is pursued by students interested in preparing for doctoral study in the major areas of experimental psychology: developmental, cognitive, social, psychometrics, and perception. The faculty in these areas maintain specialized laboratory facilities which can be used by students in their thesis research. As in our other graduate degree tracks, students are encouraged to pursue minors in related fields (e.g., statistics).
For students in any of the three degree tracks who plan to pursue an academic career in teaching and research at a community college, or go on to a Ph.D. program and teach at the university level, the department offers training in the teaching of psychology. This emphasis starts with a preparatory two-hour Seminar in the Teaching of Psychology and culminates in opportunities for select second-year graduate assistants to teach classes with ongoing supervision by faculty members. A number of these students have collaborated with graduate faculty to present instructional research at national and regional teaching conferences. The department has provided financial support whenever possible for any graduate student’s travel expenses to present research at a professional conference.
Our undergraduate program provides several options regarding degree tracks. Our Graduate School Preparatory Track is the traditional psychology major. It includes hands-on, laboratory-based courses consisting of computing technology, experimental design, statistical data analysis, technical writing, and senior-level research instruction in students’ areas of specialization (e.g., perception, personality, cognitive, and learning). All our students have opportunities to participate in research through their classes and to collaborate with faculty on research projects. In fact, students present their own course-related research at end-of-semester departmental research poster competitions. Many students also assist faculty members with research projects that result in presentations at national or regional professional conferences or coauthored publications. Outstanding students can complete an undergraduate thesis project to graduate with Departmental Honors. In addition, students planning to pursue clinical careers can complete an undergraduate psychology practicum at a community mental health agency, under the supervision of a member of the clinical faculty. The goal of this curriculum is to prepare students for competitive graduate programs in psychology. We also offer degree track options to prepare students to pursue graduate studies in fields related to psychology (e.g., counseling), do entry-level work in the field of mental health, or apply psychological principles in business settings.
The department places considerable emphasis on the personal growth and development of its students, and we pride ourselves on the sense of community fostered among our undergraduate majors. We publish a monthly undergraduate newsletter that is delivered electronically to all psychology majors and minors, and anyone else who wishes to subscribe. We have a very active Psi Chi chapter, whose members conduct research projects each year with graduate student and faculty mentors. The department provides financial support for these students to present their research at regional and national conferences. We also have an active Psychology Club, open to all students interested in psychology. The department sponsors an annual banquet at the end of the spring semester for psychology students, parents, faculty, and staff, during which outstanding undergraduate and graduate students receive recognition and Psi Chi inducts its new members.
Kandy J. Stahl, Chair
Department of Psychology
Stephen F. Austin State University
P.O. Box 13046
Nacogdoches, TX 75962
Graduate Program Coordinator
Raymond L. Eastman
Undergraduate Program Coordinator