Why study psychology?

Students who study psychology will focus on understanding research relating to why people behave, feel and think the way they do, while gaining skills and experience to work in human service or research settings.

  • Expert professors, who each lead active social science research, support students’ individual interests within the psychological field when picking classes and research projects.
  • Half of psychologists work in counseling or clinical areas, while the remainder spread across areas as diverse as neuropsychology, human factors in product development and psychometrics.
  • Students engage in psychology study abroad, get involved in research and gain hands-on experience in a practicum.

AU Psychology Club in Parade

Academics at AU

Related Pre-Professional Programs


Course Descriptions

Major Map





Latest News

Augustana University student Lara Matuck ‘25, of São Paulo, Brazil, is a biology major with a pre-veterinarian concentration and psychology minor. She is interning this summer at Good Life Farms in Canton, South Dakota, which is owned and operated by AU faculty.

Augustana University will offer neuroscience as a minor beginning in the fall of 2022 — adding to the list of interdisciplinary academic programs being developed as part of Augustana’s strategic plan Viking Bold: The Journey to 2030.


Psychology students in class


Graduates pursue careers in business as advertising or human resources directors, as well as in human services, such as child life specialty, mental health, social and medical services and religious ministries. Many also enter graduate school in licensed psychology, counseling, law and occupational therapy.

Opportunities in psychology

Hands-On Learning  


Research experience in psychology is valuable for attaining faculty recommendations, acceptance into graduate school and relevant experience for a variety of careers. Students who participate in research have opportunities to present their work at the Arthur Olson Student Research Symposium as well as at professional conferences such as the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago, Illinois.

The psychology department’s research program recommends the following:

Faculty-directed research opportunities include:

  • Dr. Qijuan Fang’s Developmental Psychology Lab studies the effect of attachment, bullying, and social media on adolescent mental health; diversity/multicultural research; and psychometric studies. 
  • Dr. Lindsay Howard’s Clinical Psychology Lab studies sociocultural models of disordered eating using ecological momentary assessment (EMA).
  • Dr. Ben Jeppsen’s Counseling Psychology Lab studies the relationship between prayer and mental health. How is the way that we pray related to depression and anxiety? 
  • Dr. Shannon Proskch’s Cognitive Neuroscience Lab studies the neural mechanisms of music cognition with a particular interest in rhythm perception, music & movement, and social interaction.
  • Dr. Anne Zell’s Social Psychology Lab studies motivated reasoning and moral tradeoffs, narcissism and psychopathy, and social comparison.


Students gain a greater understanding of psychology when they can observe it being applied in real-world settings. The Psychology Department strongly encourages students to gain hands-on experience relevant to their future career through volunteering, working or doing a practicum. These experiences help students to learn about themselves, discern their vocation, and build a strong resume. Students interested in practicum should complete the practicum application and make an appointment to talk with Dr. Jeppsen.

Practicum opportunities include:

  • Avera or Southeastern Behavioral Health
  • Children's Inn
  • Volunteers of America
  • Helpline Center
  • Arch Residential Treatment Center
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • LifeScape

Recommendation Letters

Applications for internships, jobs, and graduate programs often require letters of recommendation. Students seeking recommendation letters from faculty members in the Psychology Department should use this Letter of Recommendation Request Form.

Courses & Organizations

Students majoring in psychology have considerable flexibility to take electives that allow them to tailor their education to their career goals. 

Psychology students can choose an optional emphasis in these areas:

  • Business/human resources
  • Counseling/clinical
  • Neuroscience
  • Social services
  • Research

Psychology also pairs well with a variety of other majors, so many psychology students choose to complete a double major. 

An interdisciplinary minor, such as children & youth, or neuroscience, or aging studies, often complements a psychology major.  

Psychology students often participate in: 

  • Psychology Club
  • Lost & Found
  • Serving And Learning Together (SALT)
  • Viking Advisor
  • Psi Chi International Honor Society