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

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.

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 often present their work at the Arthur Olsen Student Research Symposium, as well as at professional conferences such as the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association in Chicago, Illinois.

The AU Psychology Department recommends the following:

Faculty Laboratories

  • Eating and College Health (EACH), Dr. Lindsay Howard

    Members of the EACH Lab investigate facets of interpersonal interactions within social contexts that contribute to disordered eating and body image issues. Howard’s current research projects investigate social deficits present in mouse models of anorexia nervosa and the efficacy of a peer-led body image intervention on Augustana's campus.

  • Healthy Experiences Across Life (HEAL), Dr. Lucas Hamilton

    With studies on Alzheimer's disease, mental health stigma and social connection, the HEAL laboratory investigates myriad facets of health. Students in Hamilton’s lab will gain expertise in neuropsychological testing, social network analyses and basic socioemotional vignettes alongside standard survey-based methods. 

  • Music, Social Interaction & Cognition (MuSICog), Dr. Shannon Proksch 

    Students in the MuSICog laboratory research the neural dynamics of music cognition -- from lower level beat-processing and rhythm perception to higher-level coordination and social interaction. Proksch is an expert in using electroencephalography (EEG) to record electrical activity in the brain during music listening, mining acoustical or motion capture data to study the rhythms of coordination during human group interaction and/or music-making, and working with survey data regarding social/musical interactions.

  • Counseling Psychology Laboratory, Dr. Benjamin Jeppsen 

    Jeppsen examines the variables that explain the diverse effects of prayer on mental health. This includes level of self disclosure in prayer, interpersonal relational factors, prayer types, trust-based beliefs and locus of control. Students in this lab have contributed to a large meta-analysis on prayer measurement in studies over the last three decades. 

  • Social Psychology Laboratory, Dr. Anne Zell 

    Zell has studied a variety of social psychological phenomena. This includes how narcissism, psychopathy and Machiavellianism relate to student behavior, as well as the benefits of receiving supportive affirming responses when sharing positive personal news on social media. Past research topics have included humility, forgiveness, morality of deception and how receiving praise affects people. 


Students gain a greater understanding of psychology when they can observe it being applied in real-world settings. The Augustana 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. Benjamin 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

Courses & Organizations

Psychology students often pursue other areas of study. The following programs are highly complementary to a psychology degree: 

  • Neuroscience
  • Social work
  • Children & youth
  • Aging studies
  • Medical humanities & society

Psychology students often participate in: 

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