Brief History of the School of Psychology
The University of Southern Mississippi was founded as Mississippi Normal College in
1910. In 1912, a single course, Psychology, was offered. Subsequently, several psychology
courses were offered, all linked with the original mission of the University, training
In 1940, the Psychology Department was formed. Post World War II, there was a growing
interest in psychology, and the Department grew to five faculty members by the late
1940’s. The 1950’s are marked by considerable growth in psychology offerings at the
University serving not only psychology students, but also graduate students in Education.
Service delivery began in 1953 through the Psychology Clinic, one of the first settings
offering such psychological services in the region. A Masters Degree program was approved
in 1958 with a doctoral program approved in 1960. The first Ph.D.'s were granted in
In approximately 1958, within the newly formed School of Education and Psychology,
the Department of Counseling and Guidance, the precursor of the Department of Counseling
Psychology was formed, issuing its first doctorate in 1962 and establishing itself
as a state and regional leader in the training and preparation of counselor personnel.
Under the leadership of Dr. John Alcorn as the Department Chair, the Department broadened
its scope of training to include rehabilitation and mental health. During the 1970’s,
the focus shifted even more with the emergence of the program in Counseling Psychology
while still maintaining its training in the areas of school counseling and college
Today’s Department of Psychology was born in 1992 through the merger of the Psychology
Department and the Department of Counseling Psychology, with Dr. John Alcorn as its
inaugural Department Chair. By that time, the Department was comprised of approximately
35 faculty members and is a vibrant department comprised of a robust undergraduate
program, four doctoral training programs (Experimental, Clinical, School, and Counseling)
and a terminal Masters Program in Counseling Psychology. The three applied programs,
School, Clinical, and Counseling are all fully accredited by the American Psychological
Association, with the Counseling and Clinical Programs receiving full accreditation
in 1979 and the School Program in 1983. It is believed that the Department of Psychology
is the only department in the country with three fully accredited applied programs
located within the same department.
Beginning in July, 2018, the Department of Psychology became the School of Psychology as part of a university-wide reorganization effort.
The School of Psychology educates the public through the discovery, and creation of
psychological knowledge and the dissemination of that knowledge through scholarship,
teaching, professional service and evidence-based psychological practice. To these
ends, faculty and students in the undergraduate and graduate programs comprise the
learning community through which these endeavors coexist. The School strives to maintain
a collegial environment in which diversity is valued. Furthermore, the faculty, staff,
and students in the School aspire to the highest ethical standards of the profession
in the teaching and research processes and fully support the overarching mission of
The University of Southern Mississippi.
The School of Psychology aspires to transform society through teaching, research,
professional service and professional practice dedicated to the creation, dissemination,
and application of psychological knowledge.
1. Student success and critical thinking
2. Research practices which seek to improve psychological well-being
3. Evidence-based professional practice
4. Diversity, inclusivity and cultural competency
5. Community engagement through affordable and accessible professional service.
Psychology training at The University of Southern Mississippi is based on a generalist
training model. Operating within a liberal arts tradition, the Psychology BS/BA program
introduces students to the content and methods of psychological science while providing
strong training in writing, speaking, and critical thinking. Student learning outcomes
follow the recommendations of the American Psychological Association for undergraduate
programs (APA Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major, 2007) and include:
- Knowledge Base of Psychology: Students demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives,
and empirical findings in psychology.
- Research Methods: Students understand and apply basic research methods, including research design,
data analysis, and interpretation.
- Critical Thinking Skills: Students use critical thinking and, when possible, the scientific approach to solve
- Application of Psychology: Students apply psychological principles to a variety of issues.
- Values in Psychology: Students weigh evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values
that are the underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
- Technological/Information Literacy: Students demonstrate information competence and the ability to use computers in their
- Communication Skills: Students communicate effectively in variety of formats.
- Sociocultural/International Awareness: Students understand and respect diversity.
- Personal Development: Students develop insight into behavior and mental processes and apply self-improvement
- Career Planning and Development: Students emerge from the major with well-developed plans for career or postgraduate
education after graduation.
More information about Graduate Training Goals and Outcomes can be found by visiting
our Graduate Program pages.