Helpful Suggestions for Preparing to Teach Psychology at the College or University Level
Many students in psychology doctorate programs plan to teach in higher education after graduation. Walden University senior contributing faculty member Dr. Silvia Bigatti and contributing faculty member Dr. Melody Moore recently discussed the requirements for teaching in higher education, different settings for teaching in higher education, and different types of teaching positions in higher education.
Types of teaching roles
“There are many different types of teaching roles,” says Dr. Moore. Non-tenured positions include part-time positions, such as adjunct instructors, contributing faculty members, and lecturers. Tenure-track positions are full-time positions. They include assistant and associate professors and full professors. “Colleges and universities have differing criteria for each of these positions,” Dr. Moore explains. For example, core faculty can be part time or full time, and some positions may be non-tenured while others are tenure track.
Types of higher education settings
You can teach in one of these roles in a variety of higher education settings, including fully online universities, community colleges, small liberal arts colleges, historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), state universities/R1 universities, and private universities/Ivy League universities. All of these settings have differing offerings, missions, and opportunities.
Dr. Bigatti shares that many wonderful instructors work at community colleges. Some prospective instructors may prefer the “college town” feel of working at a small liberal arts college. She emphasizes that state universities are focused on research rather than teaching, so this could be an option for students who are more interested in continued research in psychology. Generally, tenure at state universities is earned over five years by meeting rigorous criteria. The private university category includes Ivy League universities but isn’t limited to those few well-known colleges; private universities are located throughout the country.
Dr. Bigatti says, “Walden is a great example of a fully online university.” She adds that there are full-time core faculty members at Walden as well as contributing faculty who teach various courses. While Walden offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree programs online, other online universities may not offer a full range of college degree options.
Additionally, a school’s mission matters. Dr. Bigatti notes, “I know many students are drawn to Walden’s mission of social change.”
How Walden prepares students to become psychology instructors
Dr. Moore and Dr. Bigatti agree that Walden does an excellent job of preparing students in the PhD in Psychology program to teach at the college level. The teaching specialization, Teaching in Psychology, helps students gain the skills and strategies for teaching psychology to adult learners. Other specializations in the doctorate in psychology program, including Educational Psychology, Health Psychology, Research in Psychology, and Social Psychology, also include a core course in teaching psychology.
No matter the specialization, Dr. Moore and Dr. Bigatti say that Walden prepares students for a teaching career in the following ways:
Students in the psychology PhD program become proficient in the content of psychology. The doctoral degree program helps students develop deep knowledge in the field of psychology that they can then share with undergraduate psychology students.
PhD students become proficient in the methods of psychology. Completing a research study is part of the dissertation process.
Walden offers several courses on pedagogy, andragogy, and teaching. These are part of the Teaching in Psychology specialization within the doctoral degree in psychology program, but students in other specializations can take these online courses as well.
A teaching practicum or research practicum is a required course for Walden’s PhD in Psychology program. If you select the teaching practicum, you’ll practice instructional skills and the advanced skills needed to become an effective psychology instructor.
Find out more in a full presentation by Dr. Moore and Dr. Bigatti, including a question-and-answer session.
Walden is the No. 1 granter of PhD in Psychology degrees in the U.S.1 You can pursue a psychology doctorate at Walden even if you have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in a field other than psychology. Choose from one of six specializations to delve into the area of study that most intrigues you. A chair will assist you with the transition from coursework to your dissertation.
Once you’ve enrolled, Walden offers support services to help you progress through your PhD program and meet your educational goals. The Doctoral Degree CoachTM tool offers a map and milestones to help you track your progress. You’ll get reminders of weekly targets, too. Additionally, a comprehensive resource guide will help you find the support you want when you want it.
If you’re ready to begin an online doctoral degree program that can help you effect social change as a psychology instructor in a higher education setting, Walden can provide the education you need to help you accomplish your goals.
Walden University is an accredited institution offering a PhD in Psychology degree program online. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.
Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.
Note on licensure: The PhD in Psychology is not a licensure program and does not prepare an individual to become a licensed psychology professional.
1Source: National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) IPEDS database. Based on the most recent year of completions survey data available, using CIP code 42.01 “Doctorate degree - Psychology, General.” Available at https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/use-the-data. (Retrieved January 2021; may consist of or include provisional release data.)
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