Psychology header

The psychology major at Saint Michael's will expose you to psychology in its many forms, from neuroscience, to cognitive, to clinical. As a result, you will find yourself studying a diverse array of subjects like addiction, hunger and eating, media's effect on children, sports psychology, or psychology and the law. Our students are frequently out in the field working in alternative school classrooms, mental health agencies, and crisis centers, or back in campus labs researching issues such as the effects of stress on health, or of video-game playing on thinking skills.

Psychology is concerned with the scientific discovery of principles underlying human thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. The major at St. Mike's emphasizes a thorough development of psychology's critical and analytical tools so that you will become adept at formulating meaningful questions about behavior and at devising valid strategies for answering those questions.

Majoring in psychology will introduce you to a wide variety of specialty areas within the field. Our faculty includes experts on sports psychology, developmental psychology, substance dependence, psychotherapy, and virtual reality. By the time you reach your junior and senior year, you'll have opportunities to apply what you've learned to internships and to research projects. Our Practicum program offers a two-semester internship experience that combines classroom work with in-depth service work at a local community agency.

Psychology Learning Outcomes

Sample Four Year Plan for Psychology Majors*

First Year
Fall Spring
PS 101 General Psychology  PS 200 level Psychology Elective
First Year Seminar Liberal Studies course
Liberal Studies course Liberal Studies course
  Elective    Elective
Fall Spring
PS 213 Psychological Statistics PS 215 Research Methods
PS 200 level Psychology Elective PS 200 level Psychology Elective
Liberal Studies course Liberal Studies course
Elective Elective
Fall Spring
PS 300 level  Psychology Elective PS 300 level Psychology Elective
Psychology Elective  Psychology Elective
Junior Seminar Elective
  Elective    Elective 
Fall Spring
PS 401 History and Issues  Psychology Elective
PS 450  Practicum I PS 460 Practicum II
Elective Elective
Elective Elective

There is a great deal of flexibility in the major electives students can choose and in the semesters in which those courses are taken.  Students are advised to work closely with their academic advisors to create a course plan which satisfies graduation requirements, taking into account individual factors such as career goals, academic interests, and study abroad plans.

* For students who enroll in the fall of 2018.

David Boynton, PhD

Chair and Associate Professor of Psychology
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B.A., Ph.D. in Psychology, University of Maine
Postdoctoral Training in Quantitative Methods, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Areas of Expertise:

Cognitive psychology, with a specialization in judgment and decision making

Courses I Teach:

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology and Law
  • History and Issues
  • Research Methods
  • Positive Psychology

My Saint Michael's:

It was evident from the day I stepped on campus for the first time that Saint Michael’s College students, faculty, and staff are deeply committed to the values of respect for others, care, and excellence. Our students are smart, engaging, and thoughtful, and our instructors are truly top-notch – devoted to providing quality education and, most important, to getting to know and understand their students. Such reciprocity produces a unique and transformational learning environment for students and faculty alike. It's a great place to be.

Renee Carrico, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology
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M.S., Ph.D., University of Massachusetts Amherst
B.S. Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Areas of Expertise:

Cognitive and perceptual-motor development
Development of representation and attention
Children’s media literacy and interactions with media devices
Developmental resilience in contexts of adverse life circumstances

Courses I Teach:

  • Child Development
  • Children and Media
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • The Thinking Child

My Saint Michael's:

One of the aspects I appreciate most about teaching at Saint Michael's is that its small size and community atmosphere support making meaningful personal connections with students, both in and out of the classroom.

Ari Kirshenbaum, PhD

Professor of Psychology, Krikstone Laboratory for the Behavioral Sciences

Contact Professor Kirshenbaum

Saint Edmund's Hall 202B
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Ph.D. University of Montana, Missoula
B.A. University of Colorado, Boulder

Post-Doctoral Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center
Post-Doctoral Scientist, University of Vermont, College of Medicine

Areas of Expertise:

Animal behavior and psychopharmacology

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to Psychology
  • Research Methods II
  • Animal Learning and Behavior
  • Drugs and Behavior

Ronald Miller, PhD

Professor of Psychology

Contact Professor Miller

Saint Edmund's Hall 202A
Box 244
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Ph.D. University of Vermont
B.A., Oberlin College

Areas of Expertise:

Theoretical and philosophical psychology; psychological suffering (psychopathology);  intensive psychotherapy.

Courses I Teach:

  • Abnormal Psychology
  • Personality Theories
  • Senior Seminar in History and Issues
  • Introduction to Clinical Interventions I & II (graduate)
  • The Practice of Intensive Psychotherapy  (graduate)

My Saint Michael's:

Saint Michael’s College has been a wonderful academic home for me these past 30 years. From the moment I joined the full-time faculty in the mid 1980’s I was struck by the great intellectual vitality of the campus. The campus was brimming with interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary discussions of the important questions of our time. I was particularly struck by how these conversations often turned to the implicit or explicit moral issues that were at the foundation of whatever topic was at hand- literary criticism, history of W.W.II, lowering the drinking age, or the wars in Central America and ultimately the Arabian Peninsula. Particularly impressive to me as a person who is not a member of the Catholic Church was the wonderful climate of civil discourse that the Edmundite Order had nurtured at the College, and this continues today.  To me these are the key elements of what make for a quality liberal arts education.

Anthony Richardson, PhD

Associate Professor of Psychology

Contact Professor Richardson

Saint Edmund's Hall 206
Box 365
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M.A., Ph.D. University of California, Santa Barbara
B.A. University of California, San Diego

Areas of Expertise:

Spatial cognition and human navigation

Courses I Teach:

  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Perception
  • Statistics
  • Spatial Perception and Cognition

My Saint Michael's:

At Saint Michael's, the class sizes allow me to tailor the class to the particular group and spend a substantial amount of time discussing projects with each student on a daily basis. I teach a course called Spatial Perception and Cognition. This class is primarily based on discussing previous research and designing and conducting new experiments to build on previous work. We get to tackle problems that have never been addressed before and make new discoveries. This is immensely rewarding for my students and me. Students are able to use my state of the art immersive virtual reality (VR) lab. The immersive VR system allows users to experience 3D environmental simulations through a Head Mounted Display, and the system also incorporates head orientation and body tracking. Movement is natural and the sense of being inside another world compelling. Such systems are typically found only in larger research institutions.

Melissa VanderKaay Tomasulo, PhD

Director of the Neuroscience Program, Associate Professor of Psychology

Contact Professor Tomasulo

Saint Edmund's Hall 208
Box 381
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Ph.D., Experimental Psychology, Specialization in Health Psychology, The Ohio University
M.S., Experimental Psychology, Specialization in Health Psychology, The Ohio University
B.A., Psychology, Baldwin-Wallace College, Berea, Ohio

Areas of Expertise: 

Psychology of health and illness, in particular the acute and chronic effects of stress on the brain and body; behavioral medicine including the biological, psychological, social, and behavioral moderators of disease pathogenesis.

Courses I Teach:

  • Introduction to Health Science
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Psychology of Health and Illness
  • Research Methods
  • Lifespan Development
  • Neuroscience Senior Seminar

Melissa McDuffie, M.S.

Instructor of Psychology

Contact Professor McDuffie

Saint Edmund's Hall 210
Box 288
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Masters of Science, Augusta College
Bachelors of Science, Presbyterian College

Areas of Expertise

Counseling skills and practice

Courses I Teach:

  • General Psychology
  • Counseling Skills
  • Practicum
I thoroughly enjoy teaching college students. To be able to introduce new ideas and concepts to students and watch them get excited about it is a wonderful thing. The students who excel in my classes are those who focus on how to apply psychological thinking and principles to understanding their own lives and their surrounding world. 

Participate in the Psychology Club

Our Psychology Club provides all students with opportunities to learn more about psychology.  The club sponsors educational workshops which cover a wide variety of topics ranging from “what do school counselors do and how do you become one?” to “NGI – not guilty by reason of insanity - who determines this?” The student-run club raises money to support causes in areas such as autism research.

Become Inducted as a Member of Psi Chi

Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology, has a chapter at Saint Michael’s. To be eligible for Psi Chi consideration, students need senior or rising senior status, at least 20 credits in psychology including PS 101 and PS 213*, a 3.6 GPA overall, and a 3.7 GPA in psychology.

                *Students who have taken MA 120 or MA 140 instead of PS 213 will also be considered eligible, so long as they have taken a total of 20 or more credits in psychology.

After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Psychologist 
  • School Psychologist
  • College Counselor
  • Health Psychologist
  • Behavioral Therapist
  • Occupational Therapist
  • Applied Behavior Analyst
  • Family Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner
  • Speech and Language Pathologist
  • Clinical Social Worker
  • Living Skills Specialist
  • Police Officer
  • Addictions Counselor
  • Youth Worker

Our psychology program builds a foundation of useful knowledge and thinking skills that will prepare you to pursue a wide variety of positions, such as case managers, crisis counselors, research assistants, probation officers, resource counselors, and many more.

Our major also prepares you to enter diverse psychology graduate programs that train individuals for careers from licensed psychologists to university researchers. Many of our graduates enter into various psychology fields including:

  • clinical
  • cognitive or experimental
  • counseling
  • developmental
  • educational or school
  • industrial or organizational
  • physiological
  • social
  • health
  • behavioral neuroscience

Go for a Master's in Clinical Psychology

In addition to the undergraduate psychology program, Saint Michael's offers a master's degree in Clinical Psychology. Opportunities are available for advanced undergraduate students to take courses in the graduate program and to earn credits toward their graduate studies.

Practice through Practicum

Our Practicum program is a unique internship opportunity spanning the fall and spring semesters.  Practicum combines classroom work with 8-10 hours of work a week at a local community agency.  The two-semester commitment affords the agencies the ability to give students greater client responsibility and a more in-depth service experience. Some of the sites our students intern at include:

  • Rockpoint (an alternative high school)
  • Day One (an outpatient alcohol/drug treatment program)
  • The Howard Center (Comprehensive Care Program)
  • Winooski School District (High School)
  • Woodside (a juvenile correctional institution)
  • Vermont Department of Children and Families
  • Outright Vermont (support services for LGBTQA youth)
  • Women Helping Battered Women

Conduct Research

Research experiences are available in a variety of forms and settings.  Opportunities are available to work with faculty on projects in areas such as pro-social/helping behavior, marriage and relationships, cognitive illusions and biases, behavioral neuroscience, health, psychology of religion, impulsivity, geographic navigation, and cross-cultural studies.  Grant-funded research opportunities are available to our students during the academic year or over the summer.

Work in Multiple Lab Facilities

We have three different laboratories:

  • Observational Lab
  • Animal Lab
  • Psychophysiology/Virtual Reality Lab

Present Your Research

Many of our students are invited to national academic and professional conferences to present their work. Psychology majors have recently made presentations at the American Psychological Association’s national meeting, regional meetings of the Eastern Psychological Association and the New England Psychological Association, and to scientists at NASA facilities..

For one recent project, two students and a faculty member used virtual reality simulations to examine how people learn and remember new places. Their work was published in the prestigious journal Computers in Human Behavior. Another project analyzed how stress may affect the immune response in occasional cigarette smokers.  

Learn What Matters