Making the Community Psychology Major Work for You

Community Psychology is a dynamic major that offers students various pathways for academic and professional development. The program and the field are based in psychology, and CP majors should take courses that provide a foundation for and a broad perspective on psychology (see Psychological Foundations courses, below). But the field also draws from theory and practice in sociology, community development, social ecology, public health, anthropology, cultural and performance studies, public policy, social work, and social justice movements. Students should aim to define and develop their own interdisciplinary perspectives and contextual approaches for the study of social problems and the promotion of people’s well-being. Students have freedom to define the major for their own goals and interests, but that means they also have the responsibility for making it meaningful.

Tips for determining what courses to take and when to take them:

There are several courses students are required to take. With exception of BIS 300, however, students are able to take these requirements at any point during their time in IAS. We have developed some helppful "tips" for determining when to take certain courses: 

  1. When possible, take 200-level psychology courses before taking 300-level or 400-level psychology courses. 200-level psychology courses (e.g., BIS 270: Abnormal Psychology, BIS 220: Developmental Psychology) are basic courses meant to provide foundational knowledge that is helpful for doing well in more advanced courses (e.g., BIS 337: Risk and Resilience, BIS 422: clinical Psychology, or other advanced topics courses). If you are entering the program with very little or no background in psychology, these 200-level "intro" courses will also provide a very helpful foundation for BISCP 343: Community Psychology. 
  2. BISCP 343: Community Psychology should be taken before taking any other 300-level psychology course or 400-level psychology courses. This course introduces students to the CP perspective that is incorporated in all specialized and upper-level courses. It is usually not a good idea to take BIS 300 and BISCP 343 at the same time. 
  3. BIS 337: Risk and Resilience should be taken BEFORE BIS 438: Prevention and Promotion; BIS 270: Abnormal Psychology should be taken BEFORE BIS 422: Clinical Psychology. These courses are paired and meant to build upon one another. Therefore, to benefit from the instruction students should take the more basic course prior to taking the more advanced course. 
  4. When possible, take required methods (BIS 312) and statistics (BIS 315) courses early. These courses provide necessary knowledge for understanding 300 and 400-level specialized courses (e.g., BIS 337: Risk and Resilience; BIS 349: Personality Psychology; BISCP 489: Projects in Community Psychology; BIS 490: Program Evaluation), and should ideally be taken prior to the last 3 quarters.  
  5. Check BIS 316: Special Topics in Psychology and BIS 449: Advanced Topics in Psychology for additional psychology courses that are not offered on a regular basis (e.g., Brain and Behavior).   
  6. Note that not all psychology courses have the name psychology in the title. For example, the following courses do not include “psychology” in their title: BIS 337: Risk and Resilience; BIS 435: Interactive Learning Theory and Practice; BIS 438: Prevention and Promotion; BIS 449: Empathy; or, BIS 490: Community-Based Program Evaluation. Also, some courses that are not focused on psychology per se will be very valuable for CP majors, for instance BIS 314: Mapping Communities, or BIS 445: Meanings and Realities of Inequality.    
  7. Remember to take psychology courses. There are many courses cross-listed with community psychology that are not psychology courses, and some subset of these will make sense for particular student goals or interests, but students should also be sure to acquire solid foundations in psychological theory, research and practice. Besides the required BISCP 343 course, students have some choices about which psychology courses they take and the areas of psychology they emphasize (e.g., clinical or developmental), but we recommend that students aim for at least 4 courses from the psychological foundations offerings (these are listed at the end of this page).     

Tips for Preparing for Graduate School and Psychology-Related Careers:

Although many students begin to think about graduate school during their last year at UWB, successful entry into graduate programs requires early thought and preparation. 

  1. Discuss graduate options with psychology and other faculty early on (prior to senior year). 
  2. Save your coursework in your portfolio, and begin thinkin about the portfolio in relation to your career interests and/or goals. 
  3. Start thinking about what courses will be required by or desirable to graduate programs or employers, and plan your schedule accordingly. Many courses offered only once a year (e.g., developmental psychology or personality psychology) may be required for admission to particular graduate programs. Some 400-level courses will provide students the chance to do significant integrative projects that will make grad school applications competitive (e.g., BISCP 489, BIS 438, or BIS 490). These kinds of courses also provide the kinds of interactions with faculty that ground effective letters of recommendation.  
  4. Inquire about internship and research opportunities with faculty and/or the Career Center. 
  5. Attend events sponsored by the Community Psychology Action Support Group, a student organized group that sponsors events related to pursuing careers in psychology. 

Examples of Coursework Pathways Emphasizing Particular Areas Within Psychology: 

Here are three possible coursework pathways within the major that, along with other elective courses related to particular problems, communities, or settings, would help students acquire and articulate a clear skill set and knowledge base for different career interests. These are not meant to be the only pathway options, and some pathways may combine various interests. For example, students interested in early intervention for youth might want to combine and tailor the first and second, or the second and third pathways.

Mental Health/Human Services Path

BIS 220: Developmental Psychology
BIS 270: Abnormal Psychology
BIS 333: Individual and Society (Udell)
BIS 349: Personality Psychology
BIS 359: Ethics in Society
BIS 422: Clinical Psychology
BIS 437: Narrative Psychology
BIS 449: Advanced Topics in Psychology: Empathy

Prevention and Health Promotion Path

BIS 220: Developmental Psychology
BIS 225: Applied Social Psychology
BIS 270: Abnormal Psychology
BIS 314: Topics in Geography: Mapping Communities
BIS 337: Risk and Resilience
BIS 348: Cultural Psychology
BIS 435: Interactive Learning: Theory and Practice
BIS 438: Prevention and Promotion
BIS 445: Meanings and Reality of Inequality
BISCP 489: Projects in Community Psychology

Community Organizing/Community Development Path

BIS 304: Institutions and Social Change
BIS 314: Topics in Geography: Mapping Communities
BIS 318: Performance, Identity, Community, & Everyday Life
BIS 337: Risk and Resilience
BIS 348: Cultural Psychology
BIS 435: Interactive Learning: Theory and Practice
BIS 438: Prevention and Promotion
BIS 445: Meanings and Reality of Inequality
BISCP 489: Projects in Community Psychology

Psychological Foundations Courses

Although psychology will be applied/applicable in a wide variety of IAS courses, and a wide variety of IAS courses will be applicable to psychology and psychologists, we offer a solid range of courses that specifically introduce, develop, and apply psychological theory and research. We strongly recommend that students in the CP major take at least 4 of the following courses (in addition to BISCP 343), and probably more if they plan on graduate study in some area of psychology. Again, it works best if they are taken sequentially (200 before 300 before 400). 

[BCUSP 170: Introductory Psychology taken prior to entering the major]
BIS 220: Developmental Psychology
BIS 225: Applied Social Psychology
BIS 270: Abnormal Psychology
BIS 337: Risk & Resilience
BIS 348: Cultural Psychology
BIS 349: Personality Psychology
BIS 422: Clinical Psychology (take after BIS 270)
BIS 434: Psychology and the Visual Arts
BIS 435: Interactive Learning
BIS 437: Narrative Psychology
BIS 438: Prevention & Promotion (take after BIS 337)
BISCP 489: Projects in Community Psychology

Also, some courses offered under BIS 316 (special topics), BIS 449 (advanced topics), or BIS 490 (senior seminar), particularly BIS 490: Empathy and BIS 490: Program Evaluation.