Psychology Program allows students to pursue broad array of career options

Psychology Program allows students to pursue broad array of career options

Psychology Program allows students to pursue broad array of career options


Dr. Afiya Fredericks teaching a class to psychology students.

Dr. Afiya Fredericks teaching a class to psychology students.


UDC’s Psychology Program prepares students for various career paths, from clinical research, public sector and private practice to returning to the classroom as college professors. As one of the largest programs at the University, students and faculty work on NSF grant awards of over $1 million and have presented their research at international conferences—gaining a unique jumpstart on their careers.

Students working toward the Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree are introduced to the science of behavior. They are provided a rigorous foundation in the major theoretical perspectives of psychology and the scientific methodological approaches through experiential learning.

Some of the sub-disciplines of psychology that students are exposed to are developmental, experimental, neuroscience, social, community, clinical, health and abnormal areas.

The Bachelor of Science in Psychology degree prepares students to pursue a career in one of the subfields of psychology or opportunities in government agencies or 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 and social psychology. Others follow further training in related fields such as social work, public health and education.

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

A bonus of being in the District means that students have access to the American Psychological Association, the DC Chapter of the Association of Black Psychologists and the National Institute of Mental Health.

The program faculty are highly qualified professionals actively involved in discipline-related national professional associations and are committed to serving as mentors in an engaging learning environment.

Dr. Afiya Fredericks, assistant professor of psychology, is among the highly committed faculty and staff who have made it their mission to provide research opportunities and broaden students’ perspectives about who they are and what they can become.

“I love the cultural diversity at UDC,” Fredericks said. “Every day, my mind is blown by the rich discourse among students of varying ages from places like Vietnam, Belize and South Carolina, all in the same class. It allows them to grow in a real way.”

Her research interests include understanding the impact of implicit beliefs on motivation and achievement and how to cultivate more inclusive learning environments. She recently received the NSF CAREER grant award for $1.6 million, focused on better understanding how research on implicit beliefs can be leveraged to create more equitable learning environments for minoritized students in STEM.

Fredericks has been immersed in mindset research for over a decade. She is also a co-principal investigator for another NSF collaborative grant of $1.2 million focused on STEM education at minority-serving institutions, along with the University of Texas-San Antonio, University of California-Davis and University of Texas-Austin.

Her research has provided numerous opportunities for students to participate in undergraduate research, work on grants, network and prepare for graduate school and their careers.

“I want my students to know that they are capable of more than they can imagine,” Fredericks said. “I want them to accomplish more than I ever did and do it with purpose and confidence.”

There are currently three active labs led by psychology faculty that support students, including the Implicit Beliefs & Unlimited Potential (IB-UP) Lab: Dr. Afiya Fredericks, PI; the Health within Measures Lab: Dr. Dhymsy Vixamar-Owens, PI; and the Social Development and Identity (SDI) Lab: Dr. Kelli Hill, PI.

Psychology students have been accepted to present their research at national conferences such as the Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minoritized Students (ABRCMS), the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR), the American Psychological Association (APA), the Association for Psychological Science (APS), the Society for Community Research and Action (SCRA) and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP). Many of the students also participated in UDC’s Research Week.

Dr. Benson Cook, professor of counseling and psychology, established a UDC-UC Riverside research pathway where UDC Psychology students are selected to conduct research at the University of California Riverside for ten paid weeks during the summer. This opportunity also allows them to go to any UC school tuition and stipend covered after acceptance into one of their Ph.D. programs.

Students Taylor Robinson and Kemani Hunter participated in the intensive summer research and training experience and received weekly mentoring and support. Both students presented their research at national conferences this year and were financially supported through the program.

The program was designed for rising sophomores, juniors and seniors from UDC interested in pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology.

UDC psychology faculty collaborate with students on manuscripts and publications, with some published before completing their Bachelor of Science degree.

The Psychology Program Coordinator, Dr. Dhymsy Vixamar-Owens, leads the Psych Life Series. She works with professors within the psychology department to share valuable information and engage students in events, making them aware of the different paths in psychology and opportunities to prepare them for life after the B.S. in psychology. Owens has

led workshops on statistical programming in the social sciences and has brought representatives from NIH to share opportunities with our students.

There are organizations and clubs available on campus for students to gain experience, network and support, including:

*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 can pursue independent research (under faculty direction), attend conferences, and submit work for awards or publishing consideration.

*American Counseling Association (ACA) and the American School Counselor Association (ASCA). Membership in ACA and ASCA offers professional development and leadership opportunities as a professional counselor.

UDC offers a Master of Science Degree in Counseling, with a concentration in school counseling. It includes a curriculum of 60 semester hours for the school counseling concentration or 60 semester hours for the clinical mental health counseling. The degree requirements have a thesis option (six credits) or a thesis project option (three credits). The program is accredited by The Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs (CACREP).

Students are prepared to meet the needs of a culturally diverse school community and increase the number of well-trained counseling professionals who can serve students in grades K-12. Students and faculty in the program embrace the approach of healing the whole person, the family and the community at large. Students entering the school counseling specialization complete field experience requirements in early childhood, elementary, middle or high schools.

“UDC prepares students for whatever area of concentration they choose in psychology,” Fredericks said. “Our students have had so many experiences before they leave with the Bachelor of Science in Psychology that they are among the best.”

To learn more about the Psychology Program, please click here and the master’s program in psychology, please click here.