Psychology (department) of change

New requirements for the psychology major create obstacles for psychology students

Emilia Nolan, Columnist

It has only been a few weeks since classes have begun, and already I am feeling the frustration that comes with beginning a new semester…but it is not just due to the insane amount of homework I have already accumulated.

Rather, I feel the stress of planning my classes around the changes in the psychology and neuroscience departments.

This is only my second year as a Hamline student, but I entered with previous credits. By the end of my first semester in 2018, I was already ready to declare my majors: neuroscience and psychology, as they pretty much go hand-in-hand. 

Not only that, but, according to the US News and World Report and, psychology constitutes one of the five most popular areas of study for Hamline undergraduate students. Naturally, I expected the department to be rather strong because of its popularity; not to mention that it easily correlates with the classes needed in other majors, such as neuroscience, criminology and social justice.

In many ways, I was right! The psychology professors are fantastic, and the classes that are available are challenging but interesting. I could not imagine another university where I could find professors that were as knowledgeable and passionate about the subjects that they teach. 

I went into spring of 2019 completely in love with my psychology classes…until I learned that some of the classes listed on my graduation requirements sheet were disappearing in fall, including Biopsychology, Sensation and Perception and the Honors 5000-level psychology practicum course (which is required for honors students). 

If that were not enough to stress over, the course requirements and structure of both of my majors changed completely, as well. Suddenly, two more required classes were added to the psychology major degree requirements, the domain structure changed and the missing classes were replaced with completely new ones. 

While I think that Hamline is making these changes in an attempt to keep up with the ever-changing subjects of science and psychology, I still believe that the transition could have been smoother.”

— Emilia Nolan

In my neuroscience major, Biology of Human Function was replaced with two semester-long introductory biology classes, Integrated Concepts of Biology I and II. I was expected to take these courses linearly along with the two upper-level biology classes already required.

Since many of my peers and I declared our majors prior to the fall of 2019, the general structure of our majors did not change for us. We still only have to complete General Psychology and a second choice introductory course. 

Yet, now, for our first domain choice of classes in the Psychology major, we can no longer choose; because of the sudden deletion of the courses, we can only take Cognitive Neuroscience (or speak with our advisers about substitution courses to fulfill our degree requirements).

Even worse, I brought in a general biology credit from community college that I was told would transfer as Biology of Human Function. However, because of the change in the biology sequence courses, I cannot start my upper-level biology courses for my major until fall of 2020, as I was just informed this summer that I must take Integrated Concepts of Biology II in order to graduate, which is only offered in the spring. 

Other changes that don’t just concern myself include the introduction of the “Collaboration” credit in the Hamline plan. This basically guarantees that psychology and other social science majors will have to take the course of Victimology, as it, along with Introduction to Global Studies and a few musical courses, are the only classes that hold the plan letter currently.

While I think that Hamline is making these changes in an attempt to keep up with the ever-changing subjects of science and psychology, I still believe that the transition could have been smoother, or that more information could have been provided for the professors and students. When asking one of my advisers recently what I should now take since the Psychology Honors 5000-level course is gone, they simply said “you don’t take anything.”

I know that I am not the only student who will now have to apply careful planning and a plethora of adviser meetings to my schedule to ensure that I graduate on time, but I hope that I am the last. To anyone in the same situation, I still wish them luck!

For now, I guess that you can find me at Augsburg taking ACTC courses.