University may offer minor in psychology

Students+study+in+the+Electrical+and+Computer+Engineering+Building+in+Champaign%2C+IL.+October+4%2C+2016.

Lily Katz

Students study in the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building in Champaign, IL. October 4, 2016.

By Angelica LaVito, Staff Writer

Students may soon be able to minor in psychology. The Academic Senate unanimously approved a proposal to establish the minor at its Monday meeting.

Enrollment in psychology classes has fluctuated in the past few years, which has caused problems when scheduling and requesting classrooms, according to Dr. Robert Wickesberg, the department’s associate head for undergraduate studies.

For behavioral neuroscience, the class size fluctuated from 245 students to 210 students to 160 students before it rose to 200 students, Wickesberg said. Once enrollment rose, the department struggled to find a larger classroom. He thinks adding a minor could help keep stabilize demand for classes.  

“It just makes life a lot easier for us,” Wickesberg said.

Psychology is already popular with non-majors, according to Gary Wszalek, head academic advisor in psychology. He estimated they represent at least 10 percent of students enrolled in the psychology classes.

Wickesberg and Wszalek said they expect hundreds of student to add the minor if it is approved.

“Whenever we do the major and minors fair, (students) are always disappointed and say, ‘Why don’t you have a minor?” Wszalek said. “I think students will be happy.”

To complete the minor, students would take nine to ten hours of introductory classes, a statistics course and two upper-level psychology courses. Students would not be required to take any lab or service learning courses, which have smaller capacities.

The department of psychology hopes to work with advisors in other colleges to learn which classes would be most useful for specific majors. It will not hire any new advisors for the minor, so the hope is that the advisors from the students’ major would be able to help them. To supplement that support, the department would likely host group advising and peer advising.

Since the minor would not require creating any new classes or positions, it would not cost the University any additional money.

“No new advisors, no new professors, no new nothing,” Wickesberg said. “No money at all.”

The proposal will now go before the University Senates Conference, a group comprised of representatives from the University’s three campuses that reviews all decisions made by each senate. It will then move to the Board of Trustees, who will receive the proposal as a report item but will not have to vote on it.