Explore the Human Mind with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology

Earn a psychology degree at Loras and graduate with a solid foundation in holistic psychological study. Gain rich experiential learning through real-world internships and research labs where you can put your knowledge to work in understanding the human experience.

Staffed by six full-time Ph.D. faculty members with diverse interests and backgrounds, the Psychology curriculum meets the standards for undergraduate education endorsed by the American Psychological Association. Students gain a solid foundation of knowledge in the traditional areas of psychological study, and are also able to engage in experiential learning through internships and in research labs. Furthermore, students are able to learn about more contemporary psychological disciplines such as Positive Psychology, Cross-cultural Psychology and Psychology of the Arts.

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Psychology majors at Loras College will be active in their educational experience. In Developmental Psychology students raise a virtual child, in Abnormal Psychology students produce video role-plays on various disorders, in Social Psychology students design and conduct original research into group behavior, and in Physiological Psychology students host brain awareness activities for local school children. Faculty utilize video clips, demonstrations, technology, guest speakers, research projects, and current news to further deepen understanding and critical discussion of class material.

While the faculty offer the traditional array of core psychology courses, a student will also find courses in Psychology and the Arts, Cross-cultural Psychology, Drugs and Human Behavior, Introduction to Clinical Psychology, Positive Psychology, Psychology of Stress and Coping, and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Students also have numerous opportunities to gain knowledge and develop and refine skills and abilities outside of the traditional classroom. Our students have interned in a multitude of settings, including schools, treatment centers, social service agencies, correction facilities and local businesses. Students also have the opportunity to work together to design original research and then travel to present their completed research projects at local and regional conferences. Loras also hosts an active chapter of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in psychology.

Psychology students are also engaged throughout the campus community. They have studied abroad in Australia, Ireland, Portugal, and Spain; served in leadership positions in Student Senate and the College Activities Board; raised money for Dance Marathon; participated in service trips to Kentucky and Honduras; are members of a variety of athletic and performance arts groups; and are members in a wide range of other student organizations.

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Student Learning Outcomes
Student Learning Outcomes – Psychology
1. Demonstrate a knowledge of psychological concepts & theories
2. Exercise critical thinking skills applied to scientific methods relevant to psychology.
3. Apply ethical standards to evaluate science/practice
4. Demonstrate scientific writing, using APA style.
5. Deliver effective presentations of information.
6. Apply psychology to career goals
Major Requirements

Division of Teacher Education & Behavioral Sciences
Leonard Decker, Ph.D., Chair

Requirements for the major in Psychology (B.A.):
To be eligible for admission to the psychology major students must receive a grade of C- or better in both L.PSY-101 and a foundational mathematics course. A 2.00 GPA in psychology courses completed at Loras College is required for a major. All psychology majors are also required to take a comprehensive examination in psychology during the semester in which they enroll in L.PSY-490. To maintain adequate progress toward a psychology major and to prepare for the psychology comprehensive, we strongly recommend that prospective psychology majors do the following: Take L.PSY-101 during the first year; L.PSY-211 and 212 in their second year and no later than the junior year; L.PSY-331 during the junior year; and L.PSY-490 during either the junior or senior year.

Students seeking to add psychology as a second major to an existing major may substitute the two course statistics and research methods sequence from their first major for L.PSY­211 and L.PSY-212. Students need permission of the chair of the Division of Behavioral Sciences to take L.PSY-211, 212, or 490 at another institution. Majors pursuing a semester away from Loras College (e.g. study abroad) may schedule this semester any time from the second semester of the sophomore year to the second semester of the senior year; these students should consult with a psychology advisor to adjust their schedules accordingly. Career plans for psychology majors may include graduate school, business and industry (a business minor is strongly recommended), medical school, law school, teaching, or semiprofessional positions in a psychological setting or closely related fields.

Req Course Cr’s
1 L.PSY-101: Introductory Psychology 3
2 L.PSY-211: Research Methods & Statistics I 4
3 L.PSY-212: Research Methods & Statistics II 4
4 L.PSY-331: Physiological Psychology 3
Select one from Req 5
5 L.PSY-231: Sensation & Perception 3
5 L.PSY-332: Learning & Cognition 3
5 L.PSY-333: Motivation & Emotion 3
Select two from Req 6
6 L.PSY-121: Developmental Psychology 3
6 L.PSY-221: Abnormal Psychology 3
6 L.PSY-244: Social Psychology 3
6 L.PSY-225: Personality-AI 3
7 Elective: Additional L.PSY elective 3
8 Elective: Additional L.PSY elective 3
9 Elective: Additional L.PSY elective 3
10 L.PSY-490: Senior Seminar & Portfolio-PJ 3
11 L.PSY-490E: Comprehensive Examination 0
35 total required credits

Requirements for the minor in Psychology:
Students are recommended to take L.PSY-101 before taking any other psychology courses.

Req Course Cr’s
1 L.PSY-101: Introductory Psychology 3
Select one from Req 2
2 L.PSY-231: Sensation and Perception 3
2 L.PSY-331: Physiological Psychology 3
2 L.PSY-332: Learning & Cognition 3
2 L.PSY-333: Motivation & Emotion 3
Select one from Req 3
3 L.PSY-121: Developmental Psychology 3
3 L.PSY-221: Abnormal Psychology 3
3 L.PSY-244: Social Psychology 3
3 L.PSY-225: Personality-AI 3
4 Elective: Additional L.PSY elective 3
5 Elective: Additional L.PSY elective 3
6 Elective: Additional L.PSY elective 3
18 total required credits
Course Descriptions

L.PSY-101: Introductory Psychology

An introduction to the science and practice of psychology as a discipline within the liberal arts. All sections will include an overview and brief history of psychology, basic research methods and statistics, physiological psychology, and human development. Each section will also include three or more of the following topics: learning and/or cognition, social psychology and/or motivation-emotion, abnormal psychology and/or clinical-counseling psychology. 3 credits.

L.PSY-121: Developmental Psychology

A study of human development across the lifespan, with emphasis on the factors influencing physical, cognitive, and emotional development. 3 credits.

L.PSY-131: Psychology of Stress

This course will introduce students to theories and principles related to the sources and effects of stress. Students will learn about different sources of stress and anxiety and how physiological systems are affected by stress. As part of the course, all students will spend one weekend off campus on a two-day silent retreat and will attend presentations outside of the regularly scheduled class times. There will be an additional course fee to cover costs of the retreat and special instructors. 3 credits.

L.PSY-190: The Working Poor

Through a hands-on simulation, readings, class discussions, guest speakers, and media presentations, students will gain a foundational knowledge of the history of the working poor in the U.S., the theories regarding causation and reduction, and the grassroots efforts for change as they relate to the social class referred to as the working poor. Students will build on this foundation by developing a specific knowledge of the working poor in the Dubuque community. 3 credits. January term.

L.PSY-211: Research Methods & Statistics I

An introduction to the use of research strategies and tools of measurement in psychology. The SPSS computer program will be used to introduce basic data handling, descriptive and correlational statistics. Students will be expected to participate in elementary research studies, produce APA-style research papers, and evaluate research literature. Prerequisite: Grade of C- or better in the foundational mathematics requirement, L.PSY-101 or equivalent. 4 credits.

L.PSY-212: Research Methods & Statistics II                                   

This course continues instruction in psychological research by reviewing the basics of the scientific method, ethics, and APA style. Experimental research will then be introduced, along with more advanced inferential statistics. More complex designs, such as meta-analysis and factor analysis will be discussed. Students will again be expected to participate in elementary research studies, produce APA-style research papers, and evaluate research literature. Prerequisites: L.PSY-101 or equivalent and L.PSY-211 (with C- or better). 4 credits.

L.PSY-221: Abnormal Psychology

An examination of mental disorder in terms of etiology and therapy. Prerequisites: L.PSY­101 or 121; and sophomore standing. 3 credits.

L.PSY-224: Applied Social Psychology-AI

Are social forces affecting your individual decisions? Can one person change an entire community? This course will apply theories and research in social psychology to the examination of these questions. Students will reflect on their personal social experiences, discuss literature written about individual struggles with society, and explore ways to effect positive social change in their communities. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PSY-225: Personality-AI

Introduction to Personality examines the life-long interaction between individual and environment in the forming and periodic reforming of one’s personality. Age-related tasks central to the development of a healthy personality will be highlighted. The interaction among the biological, the psychological, and the socio-cultural will be emphasized in describing and explaining personality. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PSY-227: Culture & Psychopathology-AC

The course material considers mental illness categories in light of the influence of culture on the diagnosis, course and prognosis. Foundational concepts include a consideration of mind/body dualism, the concepts of self and the phenomenon of resilience. The foundational concepts provide a cultural lens for understanding the broader culture of “mental illness” as it occurs around the world. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-1 10, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PSY-231: Sensation & Perception

A study of the physiological mechanisms that are responsible for how our sensory systems operate and how we use these sensory systems to organize perceptions of reality. The emphasis of this class is on the conversion of external stimuli into neural activity. Topics include understanding visual, cutaneous, and auditory processing. Lab included. Prerequisite: L.PSY-101. 3 credits.

L.PSY-242: Industrial-Organizational Behavior

A survey of how psychology principles may be applied to the behavior of people at work. Topics covered include job analysis, selection, performance appraisal, training, work motivation, work teams, leadership and organizational development. Prerequisite: L.PSY­101. Recommended: L.PSY-211 or L.BUS-250. 3 credits.

L.PSY-244: Social Psychology

Social psychology is a subfield of psychology focused on how people interact, influence one another, and make judgments about others. This course is designed to be an introduction to the scientific study of social psychology, primarily for psychology majors or minors. Prerequisite: L.PSY-101. 3 credits.

L.PSY-252: Positive Psychology-AI

Students will examine a variety of human strengths such as love, empathy, and happiness and will explore the factors that influence each strength’s development and expression in their lives. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-1 10, and one course from L.LIB­130, L.LIB-135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PSY-265: Psychology as a Profession

This course is designed to help students explore career options with a psychology major. Students also develop a professional resume and learn about the wealth of resources available to make good career and professional decisions as their academic career progresses. Prerequisite: L.PSY-101 or L.PSY-121. 1 credit.

L.PSY-267: Psychology & the Arts-AA

In this course, students will explore how art is perceived, created, and used. Students will study perception, cultural differences, personality and creativity, and art as therapy. There will be activities designed to enhance creativity. Artistic experience is not required! Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-1 10, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB­135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PSY-278: Cross-Cultural Psychology

This course will utilize theories and concepts from cross-cultural psychology and intercultural communication to take an in-depth look at culture in general and at a variety of micro-cultures, including gender, social class and popular culture. Students will read an assortment of writings focused on cultural diversity and current issues regarding specific cultural groups. 3 credits.

L.PSY-285: Drugs & Human Behavior-AH

This is a course about drugs that alter mood, thought processes and behavior by influencing the functioning of nerve cells (neurons). Students will not need an extensive background in biology, chemistry or psychology to master the material covered in this class. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and a Mathematical Modeling (-FM) course and a college level introductory course in at least one of the following: biology, chemistry, psychology. 3 credits.

L.PSY-323: Psychology of Adulthood & Aging-AI

A survey of modern knowledge about the processes of becoming old (aging) and old age itself. Emphasis is placed on cognitive processes, personality, and mental health. Prerequisites: L.LIB-100, L.LIB-105, L.LIB-110, and one course from L.LIB-130, L.LIB­135, or L.LIB-220. 3 credits.

L.PSY-331: Physiological Psychology

Basics of neuroanatomy and neurophysiology with applications in genetics, motivation, emotion, movement, sleep, sensory processes, and mental disorders and their treatment. Prerequisites: L.PSY-101. Junior or senior standing or permission of instructor required. 3 credits.

L.PSY-332: Learning & Cognition

An overview of how people learn, acquire and use knowledge. Course examines mental processes to include learning, memory, and cognition. Prerequisites: L.PSY-101. Recommended: L.PSY-211. 3 credits.

L.PSY-333: Motivation & Emotion

Contemporary theories of motivation and emotion, empirical approaches to the study of motivation and emotion emphasizing application to humans. Prerequisites: L.PSY-101. 3 credits.

L.PSY-341: Interpersonal Relationships

Psychological study of relationships. Topics include social attraction, intimacy, and interpersonal communication. Special attention will be given to the psychological characteristics of successful relationships. Several theoretical perspectives will be studied, including psychology, sociology, communication, and gender studies. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. 3 credits.

L.PSY-351: Advanced Research Methods

Supervised research in selected topics in psychology. Students are trained as members of a research team in this course that builds on methods introduced in L.PSY-212. Ongoing research projects offer opportunities for the application of research design, statistical analysis, library research, report writing, and presentations at conferences. Admission by written permission of the instructor only. Prerequisite: L.PSY-212. 1 credits.

L.PSY-390: Psychology Peer Assistantship

Students will serve as classroom assistants for psychology professors in introductory psychology or developmental psychology classes. Prerequisites: Instructor approval is required; junior standing is preferred. 1 credit.

L.PSY-394: Internship

Supervised field work in the area of applied psychology. Students should arrange for a field setting the semester before they register. Admission by written permission of instructor only. See internship coordinator for more information. 1 to 3 credits.

L.PSY-441: Introduction to Clinical Psychology

Overview of the methods of psychological assessment including: interviewing, intellectual, neurological, and personality testing; and systems assessment. Overview of theories and techniques of psychotherapy. Prerequisite: L.PSY-101. Junior or senior standing or permission of instructor required. 3 credits.

L.PSY-490: Senior Seminar & Portfolio-PJ

This seminar course is designed to enhance the professional skills of candidates for the Bachelor of Arts in psychology, skills in idea generation, library research, critical reading, ethical decision-making, and oral/written communication. Students will develop these skills by reading and discussing the Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct and by researching, presenting talks, writing papers, and discussing current issues and controversies in psychology. Prerequisites: L.PSY-101, and either L.PSY-211, L.CRJ-323, or L.SOC-332. Requirement: psychology majors, senior standing. 3 credits.

L.PSY-490E: Comprehensive Examination

A placeholder course which indicates attempt and completion of the required comprehensive examination. 0 credits. Pass/fail only.

RELATED COURSES: Criminal Justice, Neuroscience, Social Work

What can I do with a psychology major?

As a psychology student, you will be prepared for a variety of interesting careers (some may require additional degrees and licensing). Here are some examples:

  • Treat psychiatric patients in a hospital or mental health facility
  • Become a school counselor
  • Work out of a private psychiatric or counseling practice
  • Serve inmates and staff in a correctional facility
  • Treat people with substance abuse issues or eating disorders
  • Research and document psychological trends or phenomena
Frequently Asked Questions?
  1. How long will it take me to earn my degree?
    Most students earn their undergraduate degree in four years or less. If you have questions about transferring any previously earned credits or degrees, please see our Transfer Student Information.
  2. How much is tuition?
    Loras is consistently ranked as one of the best universities for return on investment. See our Tuition and Fees.
  3. Is financial aid available?
    Yes! The majority of Loras students receive financial aid. See our Tuition and Fees.
Meet our Professors

Lisa Grinde, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
563.588.7113 |
Dr. Grinde earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University. Her teaching and research interests are in early child development, parent-child relationships in later adulthood and cross-cultural issues.

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Grinde teaches Developmental Psychology, Cross-cultural Psychology, Research Methods and Statistics, Psychology of Stress and Coping, and Adulthood and Aging. Her research involves studying the current trends of less time outdoors and more time on technology on young children’s development, as well as adult children’s expectations and feelings of obligations regarding caring for their aging parents. Grinde’s favorite class activity is PlayDay in Developmental Psychology. She brings in bags full of toys and students spend the class period playing — and also critically thinking about and discussing how the different toys promote physical, cognitive, social and emotional development. She always has someone who signs a finger painting and asks her to hang it in her office (next to the artwork from her children).


Mary Johnson, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
563.588.7228 |

Dr. Johnson earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Iowa, with a research background in gender studies and burnout among healthcare workers. She is interested in all aspects of psychology, and mental health issues in particular.

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Johnson is a Licensed Psychologist and a Certified Mental Health Provider with over 30 years of experience providing mental health services to a wide range of people with a unique host of needs. She considers herself a serious advocate for the rights of the mentally ill and is a member of the licensing board for psychologists in the State of Iowa.


Favorite class activities include listening to the wisdom students bring to the educational experience and being endlessly impressed with their intuition and novel ideas.

Jake Kurczek
Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience
563.588.7045 |

Personal Webpage | Lab Webpage

Dr. Kurczek earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa. Following his graduate training, Kurczek completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute at Baycrest Hospital and York University in Toronto, ON, Canada.

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Kurczek currently teaches courses in the neuroscience and psychology programs, including Drugs and Human Behavior (PSY 285), Exploring the brain through TBI (NEU 281) and the Psychology of Stress (PSY 131). His research investigates the interactions and interdependencies among numerous cognitive processes, including language and memory within social contexts. The goals of the lab are to understand how these cognitive processes interact with one another in order to develop interventions in language to help support and improve memory and social -interaction. The research in the lab draws from multiple disciplinary and theoretical stances and utilizes converging methodologies in order to holistically probe the interactions amongst cognitive processes; this should be relevant to students who are interested in psychology, neuroscience or communication sciences and disorders.

Julia Omarzu, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
563.588.7524 |

Dr. Omarzu earned her Ph.D. in Personality and Social Psychology from the University of Iowa and is interested in interdisciplinary applications of social psychology, including how it relates to the fine arts, interpersonal relationships and social stress.

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Omarzu’s current research includes projects involving the restorative potential of visual art, personality and artistic preferences; stereotypes about artists and musicians; and the relationship between creative play and critical thinking ability. Omarzu collaborates with faculty in our art and music programs in advising students who are interested in pursuing careers in art or music therapy and are also interested in psychology education. For several years she has helped organize the Iowa Teachers of Psychology Annual Conference and has published articles on the use of case studies as teaching tools in the psychology classroom.

David Paine
Assistant Professor of Psychology
563.588.7226 |

David Paine is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Loras College. He completed his Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology at Boston University.

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Paine’s research interests include humility, mental health, positive psychology, relational spirituality, religious practice, spiritual struggles, experiential avoidance, disappointment, meaning and the integration of psychology and theology.

Steffanie Schilder, Ph.D. 
Associate Professor of Psychology
563.588.7783 |

Dr. Schilder earned her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her teaching and research interests are clinical in nature. She is interested in mental health diagnoses and cross-cultural issues.

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Schilder teaches in both the undergraduate and graduate programs. In the undergraduate program, she teaches Introductory Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Intro to Clinical Psychology and Human Sexuality. In the graduate program, she teaches Helping Relationships, Social and Cultural Diversity, Marriage and Family, Assessment and other clinical courses. Her research involves studying the impacts that autism has on the family, availability of services and cross-cultural implications of diagnosis and treatment. She enjoys working with students in learning the research process, conducting research and presenting at professional conferences. She has taken students to the national American Psychological Association Convention to present for several years.