Characteristics of Successful Undergraduate Psychology Programs

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Scholarly writings provide guidance for delivery of an undergraduate program in psychology (e.g., APA, 2007; Halpern, 2010). Much of the emphasis in this literature has been on examination of the curriculum (e.g., McGovern, 1993; Stoloff et al., 2010), yet minimal research has been conducted to empirically link the overall undergraduate psychology major experience with outcomes. This article relates program characteristics (including curriculum, resources, and faculty engagement) to student success and satisfaction among students completing psychology major programs at 110 institutions in North America. It provides evidence that important factors that correlate with student success are an institutional focus on undergraduates, frequent experiential learning, and faculty engagement outside of the classroom. Students are more satisfied with programs in which they have more laboratory experiences and where they interact with faculty at student events. Adequate staffing of the psychology major program is important; beneficial activities may suffer when faculty are overwhelmed with too many students or competing obligations.