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Eye on Psi Chi: Fall 2000

Eye on Psi Chi

FALL 2000 | Volume 5 | Number 1


Cutting-Edge Specialties for Graduate Study in Psychology

Lisa Terre, PhD
University of Missouri-Kansas City

Rebecca M. Stoddart, PhD
Saint Mary's College (IN)


Students considering graduate study in psychology often are unaware of the wide variety of program options available to them. Although most students are familiar with traditional specialties such as clinical and counseling psychology, some of the most cutting-edge professional specializations are less well known. Accordingly, the purpose of this special section is to provide students with exposure to five specialties that we believe are particularly exciting. Specifically, the section includes graduate programs in clinical health psychology at the University of Missouri - Kansas City, developmental psychology at Loyola University Chicago, mathematical psychology and computational modeling, cognitive psychology, and cognitive neuroscience at the University of Notre Dame. Clearly, there are other specialty areas and other programs that could have been included. However, our purpose was not to provide an exhaustive list of graduate programs but simply to illustrate some options as a way of increasing students' awareness regarding the range of choices available to them. For those interested in a more complete listing of graduate programs, APA's Graduate Study in Psychology is highly recommended.

1 The articles in this section developed as a result of the Psi Chi symposium, "Alternatives to PhD Clinical and Counseling Programs," held at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, May 5, 2000.

Clinical Health Psychology

Lisa Terre, PhD, University of Missouri-Kansas City

What is Clinical Health Psychology?

Clinical health psychology "applies scientific knowledge of the interrelationships among behavioral, emotional, cognitive, social and biological components in health and disease to the promotion and maintenance of health; the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of illness and disability; and the improvement of the health care system" (Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology [CRSPP], 1997). Clinical health psychologists work in a variety of settings (e.g., medical centers, universities and medical schools, corporations, government agencies) and are involved in a wide range of activities. For instance, clinical health psychologists deal with behavioral risk factors for disease (e.g., obesity, smoking, substance abuse), help medical patients cope with chronic illnesses, assist patients to prepare for stressful medical procedures, and work to reduce barriers to medical care (Belar, 1997; CRSPP, 1997; Committee on Education and Training, 1999).

Clinical Health Psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City

The interdisciplinary doctoral program in clinical health psychology at UMKC is designed to educate professional clinical health psychologists based on a scientist-practitioner model. Students enroll full time in the five-year graduate program. During the first four years, students receive instruction in general principles of psychology, clinical psychology, research design and statistics, and health psychology. In the fifth year of study, students complete a one-year, predoctoral internship.

Who Should Consider the Program?

We normally accept between four to six students each year. Competitive applicants will have strong GPA and GRE scores and show evidence of interest in health psychology research. Because the program is very research oriented, students primarily interested in psychotherapy and clinical or counseling practice would be better served by other programs.

Application information

New students are considered for admission in the fall semester only. All application materials must be submitted by January 15. For application materials, contact UMKC School of Graduate Studies, 343A Administrative Center, Kansas City, MO 64110-2499; (816) 235-1161. For additional information, contact the program director, Dr. Lisa Terre (


Belar, C. (1997). Clinical health psychology: A specialty for the 21st century. Health Psychology, 16, 411-416.

Commission for the Recognition of Specialties and Proficiencies in Professional Psychology (1997). Archival description of clinical health psychology [Online]. Available:

Committee on Education and Training, Division 38 (1999, Summer). What a health psychologist does and how to become one. The Health Psychologist, 21, 16-17. Available online:

Additional Resources

American Psychological Association, Division of Health Psychology (Division 38):;

Society of Behavioral Medicine:

Address correspondence to: Lisa Terre, PhD, Director, Clinical Health Psychology, University of Missouri - Kansas City, 5319 Holmes Street, Kansas City, MO 64110-2499. E-mail:

Developmental Psychology

Catherine A. Haden, PhD, Loyola University Chicago

What is Developmental Psychology?

Developmental psychology is a very broad field concerned with identifying and describing changes in cognitive, emotional, motor, and social skills across the entire life span. As illustrated in Table 1, developmental psychologists are interested in a wide range of questions that help us to know more about human growth and change and the processes that may facilitate or impede this progression. In addition, the work in this field is the source of important insights into various issues of current concern. For example, developmental psychologists who focus on questions about memory have made significant contributions to the recent debates concerning the reliability of children's testimony in legal setting, and the accuracy of adult claims of recovered memories (see Ceci & Bruck, 1995; Ornstein & Haden, 1996, Ornstein & Haden, in press, for reviews). Indeed, developmental psychologists are often called upon to advise parents, teachers, health professionals, attorneys, and legislators.

Developmental Psychology at Loyola University Chicago

The graduate program in Developmental Psychology at Loyola University Chicago is a full-time PhD program designed to promote understanding of basic and applied developmental problems. Students are exposed to a comprehensive analysis of the theories, research methodologies, and research findings that constitute developmental psychology. Five core faculty members and numerous faculty affiliates work closely with students in courses, individual tutorials, and research projects. The program matriculates about 3 to 5 students each year, and currently includes about 20 students working on the doctoral degree.

The program receives about 40 applications each year, and approximately 25% of the applicants are admitted. Successful applicants typically possess a GPA of 3.5 or higher, GRE scores in the 60th percentile or higher, research experience in some aspect of developmental psychology, and three superior letters of recommendation. Considerable attention is also given to an applicant's ability to articulate research interests and career plans in a succinct personal statement.

Who Should Consider the Program?

As suggested above, the field of developmental psychology affords many options for study and various ways of contributing to human welfare. Most MAs and PhDs in developmental psychology go on to work in academic settings, teaching and doing research. Others are employed in preschool and childcare facilities, schools, hospitals, youth centers, senior citizen facilities, and clinics. Some also design and evaluate intervention programs for private, state, or federal agencies.

Application Information

Application materials, financial aid forms, and graduate catalogues may be obtained from: Program in Developmental Psychology, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626; (773) 508-3001; or by contacting David Mitchell, Graduate Program Director, Developmental Psychology, (773) 508-3001, e-mail: Please note that the application deadline is February 1, and you can apply online.


Ceci, S. J., & Bruck, M. (1995). Jeopardy in the courtroom: A scientific analysis of children's testimony. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Ornstein, P. A., & Haden, C. A. (1996). Remembering and misremembering: The recovered-memory debate [Review of the book Victims of memory: Incest accusations and shattered lives]. American Scientist, 84, 493-494. Full text available online:

Ornstein, P. A., & Haden, C. A. (in press). The development of memory: Towards an understanding of children's testimony. In M. L. Eisen, J. A. Quas, & G. S. Goodman (Eds.), Memory and suggestibility in the forensic interview. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

Santrock, J. W. (1999). Life-span development (7th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Additional Resources

Society for Research in Child Development:

American Psychological Association, Division of Developmental Psychology (Division 7):;

American Psychological Association, Division of Adult Development and Aging (Division 20):;

Address correspondence to: Catherine A. Haden, PhD, Department of Psychology, Loyola University Chicago, 6525 N. Sheridan Road, Chicago, IL 60626. E-mail: 

Mathematical Psychology and Computational Modeling

Michael J. Wenger, PhD, University of Notre Dame

What is Mathematical Psychology and Computational Modeling?

Mathematics and psychology? Some of you may be wondering why anyone would place those two words together in the same sentence, since the only contribution that a lifeless discipline like mathematics can make to psychology is to rob it of all that is truly human. Others may be thinking about that statistics course they took as an exercise in directed forgetting. Still others may be shuddering, since their choice to study psychology was motivated in part by the desire to get away from anything having to with science.

There are a number of reasons for considering the importance of mathematics to psychology: The original accomplishments of our science (including those of Wundt, Fechner, and von Helmholtz) were dependent on mathematics, and some of the foundational advances in psychology (including measurement, scaling, and signal detection theory) required both simple and sophisticated mathematics. But perhaps the best reason for considering the role of mathematics in psychology is in the nature of the phenomena that define psychology--specifically, the fact that they are complex. Mathematical tools and computational models are used to summarize what we know about complex psychological phenomena and to guide research aimed at increasing our knowledge of these phenomena.

Mathematical Psychology and Computational Modeling at University of Notre Dame

The graduate program in quantitative psychology at the University of Notre Dame provides advanced training in statistical methods and the development and testing of quantitative models applicable to complex psychological phenomena. The quantitative area emphasizes a wide range of topics, including traditional analysis of variance and regression, categorical data analysis, longitudinal analysis, structural equation modeling, and stochastic process and dynamical systems modeling (Heath, 2000; Maxwell & Delaney, 1990; Townsend & Ashby, 1983). Quantitative students apply these methods to a topic in a substantive area of psychology, such as cognitive, counseling, or developmental.

Who Should Consider the Program?

While solid backgrounds in mathematics and psychology are desirable, we are most interested in hearing from students who are interested in applying mathematical tools and ideas to interesting questions in psychology.

Application Information

The deadline for application to the graduate program is January 15, and details about application and admission can be found at our website: Please feel free to contact me ( with any questions you might have about our program and the use of mathematics in psychology.


Heath, R. A. (2000). Nonlinear dynamics: Techniques and applications in psychology. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Maxwell, S. E., & Delaney, H. D. (1990). Designing experiments and analyzing data: A model comparison perspective. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Townsend, J. T., & Ashby, F. G. (1983). Stochastic modeling of elementary psychological processes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Additional Resources

The Society for Mathematical Psychology:

Address correspondence to: Michael J. Wenger, PhD, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0399. E-mail:  

Cognitive Psychology

Laura A. Carlson, PhD, University of Notre Dame

What is Cognitive Psychology?

Cognitive psychologists are interested in the basic processes and representations that subserve language, attention, perception, memory, categorization, problem solving, and decision making (for an excellent introduction, see Posner, 1993). Specification of these processes and representations occurs at an abstract level, with the goal being the identification of the necessary and sufficient conditions that give rise to specific cognitive actions. The resulting models can then be evaluated by cognitive neuroscientists studying how processes are carried out within the brain, by researchers in artificial intelligence studying how analogous processes can be carried out on machines, or formalized by mathematical psychologists.

Cognitive Psychology at the University of Notre Dame

The cognitive psychology program at the University of Notre Dame offers training in basic research that is informed by issues concerning the formalization and implementation of cognitive models. The faculty are cognitive psychologists with diverse research areas encompassing memory, language, attention, visual perception, and spatial cognition. The faculty also represent a diverse set of approaches that rely on mathematical, neuropsychological, developmental, and behavioral techniques. As such, the program places an emphasis on training students broadly, with up-to-date knowledge on major developments in all areas of cognitive psychology. Students are encouraged to work collaboratively with a number of faculty members and to learn a diverse set of techniques to apply to their area of specialization. There is a strong emphasis on critical thinking and evaluation skills, and to develop these, faculty and students meet regularly as a group to discuss ongoing research projects and research articles of interest. Graduates from the program are competitive for academic positions involving teaching and research, and research positions in lab or business settings.

Who Should Consider the Program?

Successful applicants should have research experience, preferably in cognitive psychology, and have had classes in methodology and statistics. Course work in related disciplines such as linguistics, philosophy, artificial intelligence, and anthropology is a benefit.

Application Information

More details on the program and specific faculty research interests appear at: The Psychology Department home page is: Application materials are available through the graduate school at:


Posner, M. I. (Ed.). (1993). Foundations of cognitive science. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Additional Resources

The Cognitive Science Society:

Address correspondence to: Laura A. Carlson, PhD, Dept. of Psychology, Univ. of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0399. E-mail:

Cognitive Neuroscience

Robert West, PhD, University of Notre Dame

What is Cognitive Neuroscience?

Cognitive neuroscience seeks to understand how the complexities of the human mind are implemented in the functional architecture of the brain. Cognitive neuroscientists employ a multidisciplinary approach in exploring the neurobiological underpinnings of cognition and affect, often building theories within the context of convergent philosophical paradigms (cognitive psychology, computer science, philosophy, psychobiology), experimental methodologies (psychophysics, neuropsychology, computer simulations), and technologies (functional imaging--fMRI, PET; electrophysiology--EEG, ERP, single-cell recording; artificial intelligence; Gazzaniga, 1995).

Given the breadth of cognitive neuroscience, those individuals with doctoral training in this area are currently finding employment in a variety of settings. More and more individuals in the area of cognitive neuroscience are finding positions outside their area or department of formal training. For instance, someone trained in neurology or physics might find a position in a psychology department. Or someone trained in psychology might find a position in a medical research setting. Students who have interests in neuropsychology, cognitive psychology, artificial intelligence, and related areas and are challenged by thinking outside the boundaries of a single domain would find a career in cognitive neuroscience rewarding (Gazzaniga, 1995).

Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Notre Dame

Like many places, this is an exciting time for cognitive neuroscience at the University of Notre Dame. The Department of Psychology offers a PhD in cognitive psychology that includes course work and research experience in cognitive neuroscience. In the department there are currently three faculty who are using event-related brain potentials (ERPs) to explore the neural foundation of cognition in diverse areas such as the interface of language and perception, prospective memory, and visual attention. There is also a biweekly reading group attended by faculty and students from psychology, philosophy, computer science, and engineering that discusses issues related to cognitive science.

Application Information

Additional information related to the PhD in cognitive psychology can be obtained at by e-mail:


Gazzaniga, M. S. (1995). The cognitive neurosciences. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Gazzaniga, M. S. (2000). The new cognitive neurosciences (2nd ed.). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Additional Resources

For more general information related to cognitive neuroscience, individuals may want to explore the following resources:; Cognitive Neuroscience Society); or

Address correspondence to: Robert West, PhD, Department of Psychology, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, IN 46556-0399. E-mail:

Lisa Terre, PhD, earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from Auburn University in 1987. She has served as a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) since 1989. Currently, she is an associate professor of psychology and of medicine and the director of clinical health psychology at UMKC. Dr. Terre's research and clinical interests include health promotion, prevention and treatment of health risk behaviors, illness behavior and health care decision making, psychological factors affecting medical conditions, as well as the relationship between health behaviors and broader psychosocial adjustment.

Rebecca Stoddart, PhD, associate professor of psychology at Saint Mary's College, received her bachelor's degree from Penn State and her master's and doctorate degrees from Southern Illinois University. A Psi Chi faculty advisor at Saint Mary's for many years, Dr. Stoddart has also served on the Psi Chi National Council as Midwestern Vice-President, President-Elect, and President, and is currently Past-President for the 2000-2001 year.

Dr. Stoddart, who specializes in developmental and social psychology, has received numerous awards including the Lilly Open Faculty Fellowship, a SISTAR (Student Independent Study and Research Program) award from the Knight Foundation and Saint Mary's College, and the Maria Pieta Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching. Stoddart has published articles in Teaching of Psychology, Resources in Education, and Journal of Education and Youth.

Copyright 2000 (Vol. 5, Iss. 1) Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology

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