The Unofficial Student Site

Our Department

The information on this page, as well as on the rest of this site, is student created. It does not reflect the intentions, ideals, or perspectives of the department itself. While our entire Knowledge Base is wiki-driven, which means that anyone can jump into it and change the words to better reflect their view of reality, this page is only within admin control. The admin welcomes suggestions on how to make this page, as well as any part of this site, more accurate. So please email the admin, Ken Lewis, with any suggestions or feedback. It will take a little time before the words here encompass the experience of the larger student body. To reach those aims, we need your input. Thanks!

The UWG Department of Psychology is in many ways a progressive West Coast institution housed in the conservative Southeast.  The Department draws in students from across the country and the world.

In 1967, members of the “West Georgia College” psychology department contacted Dr. Abraham Maslow at Brandeis University to inquire if he had a student who could develop a psychology program that could bring subjective experience back into the study of psychology. Without hesitation, Maslow recommended Mike Arons.  Mike was hired, and in 1967 the Department began granting Master’s degrees.   Over forty years from that time the University of West Georgia’s Psychology department has graduated thousands of undergraduate and graduate students from around the world.

Today the work of the Department is wide in scope, yet uniquely non-traditional.  Many unsuspecting undergrads take their Psychology 101 course to simply fulfill a requirement, and find that they have discovered something that is alive within them.  Within the words of the professors, they hear the finger pointing not “out there” to texts and authorities, rather “in here” to our own experiences.  With further study they learn that this is what we called “lived experience,” and it is very different than the stories that we habitually overlay over the real.  As their studies progress, they began to see that this emphasis of looking within for psychological understanding, instead of looking outside of themselves, has been explored by a large community of psychologists, and that methods have been developed to do proper research with this emphasis on the “lived experience.”  Many undergrads find that the Department turns them onto the journey of self-understanding.

The Master’s program combines self-discovery with either clinical work or research.  Many students enter the Master’s program in pursuit of self-understanding.  Others come looking for qualitative research methodologies as tools for a more enlightened approach to psychological research.  The program typically lasts between 2-3 years, and during that time many students find that their motivations and life direction change significantly.  With only two required courses, “Human Growth and Potential” and “Foundations of Humanistic Psychology,” there is plenty of space for Master’s student to explore themselves, the psychological tradition, and the diverse aspects of the field.

The Doctoral program is a PhD research program.  The focus is on Humanistic, Transpersonal , and Critical Psychology.  The Doctoral students typical have life experiences outside of academia before they commence their studies.  They come from diverse backgrounds and geographic locations.  Many speak foreign languages, were raised or lived abroad, and thus have a multicultural perspective.  They come with many motivations and interests.  Many are married.  Many had and continue to have successful careers outside of academia.   The tone within the Doctoral cohorts tends to be more mature, more focused, and more structured.  Unlike the Master’s program which only has two required courses (towards the total credit hours required), the PhD program has ten required courses.  There is a clear shift from the openness and playfulness that is inherent in the self-discovery of the Master’s experience to the rigorous, focused doctoral structure.

The goals of the doctoral students are diverse.   While many are hoping to pursue the academic, others are focused on non-profit work in fields like health, mental health, disaster response, social justice, helpingthe disadvantaged, and education.   There are as many unique goals as there are doctoral students.

In Fall 2011, the Master’s program welcomed in about twenty new students.  The Doctoral program 9.

For more about the fascinating history of the Department, see Professor Chris Aanstoos’ version on the Department’s Psychology website.