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Psychological Science


When most high school students think about psychology, they have a vague idea of wanting to help people,” says Carthage psychology professor Ingrid Tiegel. They envision a career as a counselor or therapist.

Then they come to Carthage, where they’re exposed to research and various other specialties within the field.

“A number of students end up deciding that they want a career in one of the research areas,” Prof. Tiegel says. “Psychology is very, very broad in terms of its emphasis.”

Faculty in the Psychological Science Department at Carthage aim to help students discover which area of psychology best suits their talents, interests and skills. Students are exposed to a classic psychology curriculum that covers the major areas of psychology: developmental, cognitive, biological, and social.

“The strength of a classical psychology program is that it trains students in the experimental methods that are used in those sub areas,” says Prof. Daniel Miller. “We place a heavy emphasis on students being involved in the research enterprise.”

Book Smarts and Street Smarts

“We psychologists often talk about the difference between book knowledge and field experience,” Prof. Tiegel says. “Hopefully you’re getting both of them. You build up a knowledge base about human beings in general, but then also you see how that knowledge base is useful in actual, practical settings.”

Carthage psychology students take courses in experimental psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology, cognition, learning, personality, aging, development and more. Here are some examples:

  • The course Experimental Psychology introduces students to research methods, from designing experiments to interpreting results.

  • In Senior Seminar, students complete a research project, analyze the data, present their findings and produce a publication-quality report.

  • The course Field Work in Psychology sends Carthage students into schools and agencies in the community, where they can “try on” an area of psychology for size. Students have worked with autistic and other special needs children, volunteered in schools or nursing homes, interned in human resources departments, and worked as laboratory assistants.

“We had one student who thought she wanted to go into public relations, but she had a very different idea of what public relations was after she had been in field placement,” Prof. Tiegel says. “She discovered that it wasn’t what she wanted, and that’s very valuable.”

Many options, many choices

Carthage’s Psychological Science Department is small, so students benefit from small classes and strong relationships with their professors. But the department is also very diverse. The department’s professors have very different research interests, giving students further opportunities to explore the diverse aspects of the field.

“We are excellent training for anything you want to do as a psychologist,” Prof. Miller says. “There are those of us who are experimentalists; every student is going to have some experimental exposure. For those students who are more oriented in social service types of work, we have a field work program. Most people perceive psychology as working with other people who have psychology needs, and that’s some of it. But the majority of us are just trying to figure out what normal means. If you can’t figure out what is normal, how are you going to figure out what is not normal?”  

Professors encourage students to explore the many options available to them, such as Carthage’s 3/2 Occupational Therapy program, or a double-major in psychology and social work.

“People who go into Master of Social Work programs often have psychology as an undergraduate major. It’s a faster track to clinical work,” Prof. Tiegel explains. “We have encouraged students to be double-majors in psychology and social work. Our Social Work Program is an accredited undergraduate program, so the students get an array of professional skills, and also get a very solid theoretical background by having a psychology major.”

Carthage psychology graduates have also gone on to further study and careers in research, school counseling, clinical psychology, business and law.

When they first come to psychology, “many students don’t know for sure what they want to do,” Prof. Tiegel says, “and that’s one of the things we think a college undergraduate education is for: To allow students to explore a variety of areas that are linked to a potential career.”


  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Winner of four national magic competitions, psychological science professor Tony Barnhart often performs rope tricks, coin tricks, and card tricks in class to demonstrate the psychological principle of inattentional blindness. “You know exactly what’s happening, and you still fall for it every time,” says Alison Mackey ’17.

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …