Special Opportunities for Psychology Majors
There are a number of special academic opportunities available to students at Niagara. Speak with your advisor about additional programs on and off campus.
University Honors Program
"The goal of the Niagara Honors Program is to identify academically talented and motivated students and to assist them in enriching their academic experience by providing the opportunity for intensive individual learning ...." (from the Undergraduate Catalogue). University Honors students must take honors sections of either REL 101 or 103 along with honors courses in three or five general education categories and an honors enhanced course in the major. They are also required to complete an honors thesis in their major. Special recognition, housing arrangements, and scholarship money is available to University Honors students. Consult the University Catalogue or Dr. Michael Barnwell, Honors Program coordinator, for more information.
Departmental Honors Program
Students with an overall QPA of at least 3.25, and a minimum QPA in psychology courses of 3.5 at the end of their junior year, are invited to take part in the Departmental Honors Program. These students will complete a research project during their senior year culminating in a thesis (students receive six hours of credit by completing PSY 406-407, Honors in Psychology I and II). Students in this program and those in the University Honors Program should meet with faculty during their junior year to choose an advisor and topic for the thesis.
Students are invited to participate in the Psychology Club. Members of the club plan a number of activities throughout the year to increase their involvement in the field of psychology. Activities in past semesters have included field trips, guest speakers, fund raisers, socials, etc. Meeting dates and special activities are announced in class and notices are posted in DePaul Hall and other campus sites.
The international psychology honor society, Psi Chi, has a chapter at Niagara. Students with excellent academic records are invited to join Psi Chi. The Psi Chi faculty advisor is Dr. Burt Thompson (DePaul 107). For more information about Psi Chi, contact Dr. Thompson and also visit www.psichi.org.
Department Honor Awards
In early May, graduating students with outstanding academic records are presented awards at the annual College of Arts and Sciences Day of Recognition Ceremony. Students with a GPA in the major of 3.5 and higher receive Honors, and those with a GPA in the major of 3.8 and higher receive Highest Honors. These students receive certificates at the recognition ceremony. The department also selects the winner of the Ebert Award each May. This award is given in memory of Dr. Patricia Ebert, a former member of the psychology faculty. The award is given to the graduating senior who best exemplifies excellence, aptitude, and outstanding achievement in psychology. An award is given to this student at graduation, and their name is engraved in the plaque which is displayed in DePaul Hall.
Students are encouraged to assist faculty in research projects in addition to what is required of them for course credit. Faculty are always in need of students to test subjects, collect and summarize data, get materials from the library, etc. Review the information about each faculty member (on the psychology department website) to see the type of research each professor conducts. Course credit is also available for students participating in research by enrolling in Psy 403, Supervised Research. Students with excellent academic records should take part in the Department Honors Program, as detailed above. Students can support their research projects by applying for money from the Ebert Fund. Money is available to buy research supplies, pay subjects participating in your research, assist with travel money to present your research at a convention, etc. See your advisor or Dr. Donna Thompson for more information about the Ebert Fund.
Psychology 491/492: Practicum in Psychology
The practicum program in the Department of Psychology at Niagara University is designed to provide selected students with first hand experience working in some applied setting in the community. In the past, our students have been placed in a variety of settings including counseling centers, schools, hospitals and prisons to name a few. In exchange for working 6-8 hours a week in such a setting and participating in a weekly seminar along with other practicum interns, the student receives three hours of course credit (1 course unit).
Who May Participate? The program is open to all Niagara university students, although preference is given to psychology majors. The student usually participates in the program during the senior year. However, juniors may be admitted occasionally if openings are available. Depending upon available placement sites, 5-10 students are permitted to take part each fall.
Choosing a Practicum Site. Past practicum placement sites have included Community Missions of Niagara Falls (youth and adult outpatient and inpatient services), Buffalo Psychiatric Center (inpatient and outpatient services), Niagara Falls Memorial Hospital (psychiatric ward), Starpoint Central School District and the Geraldine Mann School (school psychology), Attica Correctional Facility (inmate pre-release group counseling), and the Counseling Center at Niagara (peer counseling and program development) to name just a few sites. In applying for a place in the practicum course, the student may simply indicate rank order preferences among the sites noted above (however, not every site may have an opening during any given semester). Alternatively, students may wish to set up a "self-selected" practicum placement by scouting out a potential placement at some other site on their own. Such a "self-selected" practicum should meet the requirements of the program and involve: "6-8 hours per week of applied, psychology-related experience under the direction of a psychologist or other mental health professional." Self-selected practicum placements must receive department approval.
Co-op Job Opportunities
The Niagara University Cooperative Education Program has been in place since 1991. Through this program, students gain relevant paid employment experience while gaining course credit in their major. Students can complete six credit hours by working full-time for two semesters or the equivalent (PSY 495-496). Co-op positions are arranged through the Co-op Education Department located in the Career Services Office. All contacts with the employer are made through this office.
Psychology majors in the co-op program are assigned a faculty coordinator from the psychology department. The coordinator approves the work assignment, and works with the students in completing a goal statement, an assignment outline, and the writing assignment. Students are also evaluated by their employer.
Examples of recent co-op opportunities for psychology majors:
- National Fuel, Human Resources and Training and Development: Students assist with identifying program issues, develop and evaluate training programs, conduct surveys, produce reports, and summarize data on employee relations, etc.
- Opportunities Unlimited of Niagara in Wheatfield: Students work in direct care of mentally retarded or developmentally disabled adults in the structured day programs.
- Cedars Academy in southern Delaware: A summer program for students interested in working with school aged children who have learning disabilities. Students work with children in building social skills through the various camp activities of camping, art, nature studies, etc.
- Community Missions in Niagara Falls
- Rivershore Adult Care Center in Lewiston
- Prince of Peace Latchkey Program