You've finally made it....your SENIOR year!! Congratulations!! As you look back, you think about how fast it has gone and realize that now is the time for you to begin preparation for the next step in your life whether it is continuing on in graduate school or entering the workforce. Some helpful information can be found below as you prepare for the final phase of your undergraduate life.
- Preparing for Graduation
- PSYCH 490 Course Descriptions
- Career & Graduate School
- Psychology Exit Survey
There are some key things you will want to do as you prepare for your final semester at PSU.
1. When you have scheduled for your final semester at PSU, you will want to plan a meeting with your advisor to review your degree audit to ensure that you have met all the requirements with your planned schedule. It is best to schedule this appointment immediately after you have completed your schedule so that problems can be caught while seats are still available in courses. For more information about scheduling an advising meeting please visit our Advising Office page.
Remember: Be sure to check with any double majors or minors you may have as well to ensure they will be completed with your schedule. If they are not appearing on your degree audit, you will want to contact the academic department.
2. Once you have scheduled your final semester and double checked it with your advisor(s), you are ready to go onto eLion and click on "Graduating This Semester" to file your intent to graduate. Typically you will want to do this during the Free Drop/Add period of the semester you plan to graduate although there is a specific timeframe listed on the Academic Calendar. If you do not file your intent to graduate within that timeframe, your name and other information may not be printed in the graduation program.
NOTE: If you realize you forgot to file your intent or missed the eLion window, please stop by the Advising Office immediately. There is a deadline for us to be able to add you.
For students who only have 1-2 more classes to complete and wish to "Walk" in the graduation ceremony, please stop by the Advising Office to fill out the form for permission to participate in the ceremonies. Students who "walk" do NOT receive their diploma until the semester they officially complete all degree requirements. "Walking" allows students who had made plans to graduate and have family who has already made travel arrangements the opportunity to still proceed through the ceremony as if they were graduating despite not having completed the required coursework.
3. While you are on eLion to file your intent to graduate, be sure to UPDATE both your Local and Permanent Addresses. This will be important to ensure that you receive your graduation packet, your diploma (Summer and Fall semesters), etc
4. If you had financed your education via loans, you will want to ensure that you complete the Loan Exit interview. If this is not completed, you will not receive your diploma. You can find the link to this via eLion.
CommencementBack to top
Many of your questions concerning Commencement may be found on the Commencement website. Here you will find current and future dates of commencement not only at University Park but at other campus locations as well. You will also find information for your family in terms of special accommodations if needed as well as travel and lodging information.
Prior to graduation, you will want to make sure your Local and Permanent addresses are up to date on eLion. Current addresses are needed to ensure you receive your Graduation Packet from Liberal Arts (NOTE: Liberal Arts typically does not send out these packets until a week or two before graduation). These packets provide you instructions on graduation and include a "name card" you must bring with you to the ceremony.
For students graduating during the Fall or Summer semesters, your diploma will be mailed to your permanent address. When you participate in the Spring ceremony your diploma will be handed out to you after the ceremony is complete. All minor certificates or double majors earned will be together at the one graduation site.
To obtain your regalia and announcements for graduation ceremony, you will want to visit the Penn State Bookstore. Be sure to allow a minimum of 2-3 weeks for the printing of your announcements. For more information on the regalia for the ceremony please visit the Commencement website.
Many students will graduate with distinction showing their hard work and dedication throughout their undergraduate career. Each year the GPA needed to earn each distinction is recalculated based on the previous graduate class. This distinction is acknowledged in the ceremony program, not on the diploma.
PSYCH 490 DescriptionsBack to top
PSYCH 490 can be viewed as your final destination within the Psychology degree program. It is an all encompassing course that integrates your years of gained knowledge from your coursework and allows you to apply your knowledge in a small more intimate classroom setting. You can find a brief course description for PSYCH 490 in the Blue Book. In this class you will review research literature around a specific topic of study. Each semester the topics available will change. Although it may be tempting to choose a section based on time, be sure to choose a topic most interesting to you.
Some example titles of previously held sections of PSYCH 490 include but are not limited to:
- "Creativity and Innovation"
- "Neuroethology: How Animal Brains Make Animal Behavior"
- "Psychological Science in the Media"
- " Developmental Psychopathology"
- "Assessment Centers: Research and Practice"
- "Art, Language, and Creativity in Children"
- "RJP in Managing Work-life Interfaces"
To view current topic descriptions of PSYCH 490 .
When the time has come for scheduling PSYCH 490 there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you must have successfully completed PSYCH 301W and 6.0credits of PSYCH 4xx. These are strict prerequisites to which no exceptions will be made (ie. You CANNOT take the prerequisites concurrently, they must be completed prior to 490). Second, if you are currently 6th semester standing (see your degree audit for semester standing) you will need to contact the Advising Office to enroll as the course is controlled to 7th and 8th semester standing students.
Reminder: Currently there are NO substitutions for PSYCH 490 or PSYCH 105
Planning Careers and Graduate SchoolBack to top
As you enter your senior year, it will be important to begin to think about what is next. Will you be applying to graduate programs to continue your education? Will you choose to join the working force? Regardless of the choice you make for your next step, it will be important to start planning early.
If you are planning on applying to graduate school, you will want to follow a general timeline to ensure you have everything in order for application deadlines.
Graduate School Application Timeline
|September - December (Junior Year)|
|January - May (Junior Year)|
|May - August (Junior Year)|
|August - November (Senior Year)|
|December - January (Senior Year)||
|January - March (Senior Year)||
|March - April (Senior Year)||
|May - August (Senior Year)||
- It is best to begin searching for Research Opportunities by your Junior Year as there is quite a bit of training to get you up and running in a research lab. Many faculty may require a year commitment from you just for this reason. You also may be required to have completed STAT 200 and PSYCH 301W as some of the work the faculty member may have you do will utilize the knowledge you would have gained in theses courses. Each requirement will be worked out one on one with you and the faculty member.
- Students in Psychology are NOT required to do an Internship although they can be a valuable experience in helping you determine a career path. If a student completes an internship for PSYCH 495 credit, up to 3.0 credits can count towards your PSYCH 400-levels (any credits beyond this fulfill elective credits)
- It is important to visit the GRE website if you are planning on post-baccalaureate work. Here you will find information to help you prepare for the GRE's. You will also use their website to schedule your test date and seat. Once you have scheduled your date, you can go back to the website to order a free software program from GRE to help you prepare for the exam.
- Typically a graduate program will request 3 Letters of Recommendation. When asking for Recommendation Letters from faculty, be sure to give them at least 30 days notice. You want to give them enough time to ask questions about your plans as well as review writing samples and your resume so that they can write the most effective recommendation for you. If you plan to take a year off, still discuss your request with the faculty member you will want a recommendation from as they may ask you to give them periodic updates during your hiatus so that when the letters are needed they have the most up-to-date information on you.
- Career Services is not just for searching careers; they also offer guidance in researching graduate programs. A counselor can lead you to graduate school information for you to explore. Career Services also offers an Annual Graduate School Fair so be sure to check their website for the next offering.
Career PlanningBack to top
If you are planning on entering the work force, you will want to begin job exploration. You can look up information on careers, find job postings and resume help through our Career Link page. This page does have many psychology related links but also entails
For more in-depth assistance you will want to visit Career Services. Career Services offers free services to you while you are an undergraduate student. You can meet with a counselor to discuss potential career paths, receive resume help, and even participate in mock interviews. You should also keep an eye out for when the Career Fairs are offered each year.
Exit SurveyBack to top
Each year, graduating seniors are asked to complete a short, online survey concerning their experiences as Psychology majors. The information from this survey is used to evaluate and improve the Psychology program. This request will be sent to your PSU email address.