Psychology – Bachelor of Science Degree

The Psychology program introduces students to the science of behavior, a science concerned with understanding the factors that affect the behavior of human and non-human species. Students are provided an introduction to a wide range of subfields within the discipline as well as a rigorous foundation in the major theoretical perspectives of psychology and the scientific methodological approaches they utilize. Included among the major sub-disciplines of psychology that students are exposed to are developmental, experimental, neuroscience, quantitative, social, community, clinical, and abnormal. UDC is an ideal laboratory for students studying the discipline of psychology to apply their knowledge and demonstrate their developing skill-sets through applied research and experiential opportunities. Students have direct proximity and access to the American Psychological Association and its 54 interest groups or subdivisions of Psychology, the DC Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists, the National Institute of Mental Health, and numerous public and private sector organizations. Upon completion of the Psychology program, students are prepared for graduate and professional study in the discipline or   other professional areas.  They also possess the skills required for entry level employment in research or psychology-related areas. The program faculty are highly qualified professionals who are actively involved in discipline-related national professional associations, and are committed to serving as mentors in an engaging learning environment. Students in the Psychology program are equipped to discover and develop their specific interests and shape successful career pathways in the field.

Psychology: Vision, Mission,  Goals & Student Learning Objectives


To provide students with an education that challenges their intellect and prepares them to assume productive socially responsible leadership roles in an ever-changing global society.


To integrate instruction, research, and public service, with the intent of developing competent, ethical, and empathic professionals that can think as scientists about behavior and experience which helps them develop skills and values that reflect Psychology as both science and applied field.


  • Prepare students who will have a solid foundation in the discipline of Psychology and its scientific approach.
  • Provide learning experiences through which students develop proficiency in analytical, research, and communication skills.
  • Provide experiential opportunities designed to model professional and career pathways as well as prepare students for emerging job market demands.
  • Prepare students for graduate and professional study in psychology and other professional areas, as well as entry level employment in research or psychology-related area.
  • Produce socially conscious, ethical graduates who are dedicated to improving urban communities and the well-being of residents of the District of Columbia.

Student Learning Objectives

The Student Learning Objectives of the Psychology program are adapted from the American Psychological Association (APA) Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (2013) published by the APA Board of Educational  Affairs.

Upon completion of requirements in the Psychology program, students will be able to:

  • Describe key concepts, principles, and overarching themes in psychology.
  • Interpret, design, and conduct basic psychological research.
  • Apply ethical standards to evaluate psychological science and practice.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in writing, oral communication, and interpersonal relationship skills.
  • Apply psychological content and skills to career goals.


Curriculum and Requirements

Progam of Study

Students must complete 120 credit hours, including 43 credits in the major, degree requirements in other academic units, and elective courses, to earn the Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Seniors have the opportunity to participate in experiential activities and a capstone seminar course that requires an independent research project.

Student Organizations and Activities

The Psychology Club offers students study groups, discussion around issues in psychology and engagement with scholars in the field.

The UDC chapter of Psi Chi, the International Honor Society in Psychology, offers membership to qualified students. Members have the opportunity to pursue independent research (under faculty direction), attend conferences, and submit work for award or publishing consideration. The society’s quarterly magazine, Eye on Psi Chi, keeps the community informed and connected, while the quarterly Psi Chi Journal of Undergraduate Research introduces students to the publishing and review process.

DC Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists ( ABPsi) Student Circle, located primarily on college campuses provides members access to scholarship opportunities, leadership development, professional networks, student support, scholarly writing opportunities, The Psych Discourse News Journal, and The Journal of Black Psychology. Student Circle members also have access to specialized programming at the ABPsi Annual Convention and other events.

Qualified Psychology students compete for selection to participate within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) discipline and the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC-U-STAR), undergraduate student training in academic research honors program.  This program is funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Qualified undergraduate Psychology students can also apply for selection to participate in internships with the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association of Black Psychologists (ABPsi), and other related associations or institutions promoting the discipline of psychology.

Faculty Spotlight

Dr. Kimberly Bell, Assistant Professor of Neuropsychology, has research foci on post-traumatic stress disorder, hostility, depressive symptoms, and heart rate variability as health disparities among African Americans.  She is presently conducting research on two projects: 1) examining nocturnal autonomic nervous system activity, sleep fragmentation, and immune system activity; and 2) a neuroimaging pilot study focusing on health disparities and white matter changes of the brain with respect to anxiety and depressive symptoms.

Dr. Afiya Mbilishaka , Assistant Professor of Clinical  Psychology, research interests focusing on the use of traditional African cultural rituals for contemporary holistic mental health practices. She also conducts research in narrative therapy, racial identity, and “psychohairapy,” using hair as entry point for mental health services in beauty salons and barbershops.

Dr. Sislena Grocer Ledbetter, Assistant Professor, Psychology, has research foci on leadership experiences of African American women and the impact of race, gender, identity expression and social support.  She is also interested in exploring behaviors related to sexual reproductive health and substance abuse in young adults. Her research interest includes exploring ego resilience and school performance in children of current and formerly incarcerated parents.

Dr. Niyana Rasayon, Visiting Associate Professor, is a Behavioral Neuroscientist specializing in mental health conditions, nutrition & neuroplasticity, and chronic brain trauma with a specific focus on African Americans. He is a board certified Fellow and Diplomate in Afrikan Centered-Black Psychology.  In addition, he serves as an expert, both nationally and internationally on select cable broadcasts, internet podcasts on Health, Racism & Perception, Black-Talk radio programs, and he often participates in cross-disciplines related conferences.

Career Pathways and Prospects

The Bachelor of Science in Psychology prepares students to pursue a career in one of the many subfields of psychology, or pursue entry-level opportunities in government agencies or in research or mental health settings. Many graduates continue their education and training in graduate and certificate programs in psychology, pursuing subfields such as:

  • Child Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Forensic Psychology
  • Neuropsychology
  • Social Psychology

Program alumni have completed doctoral programs at Howard University, Johns-Hopkins University, George Washington University, and other notable institutions.

Contact info:

Dr. Shiela Harmon Martin, Chair, Division of Social & Behavioral Sciences
E: | T: 202.274.5787