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About Us

Aerial view of Vanderbilt campus

Psychological Sciences at Vanderbilt University integrates strong basic and applied research traditions. We consist of two equally strong departments, the Department of Psychology and Human Development in Peabody College of education and human development and the Department of Psychology in the College of Arts and Science, as well as faculty in allied departments throughout the University. Vanderbilt psychology combines breadth across the traditional domains of academic psychology with depth in specific programs of inquiry likely to contribute to solutions of major scientific, social, and psychological problems.

Vanderbilt University is committed to nurturing scholarly inquiry of the first magnitude in a context that provides teaching of the highest quality. One advantage enjoyed by a private university such as Vanderbilt is that it can pursue scholarly values that transcend the exigencies of the academic marketplace. The Psychological Sciences at Vanderbilt have done exactly that, creating a scholarly community, in which undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty can purse excellence in a stimulating, collegial environment.

Despite considerable similarity and overlap between the two primary departments, each has its own intellectual tradition. The Department of Psychology (in the College of Arts and Science) emphasizes research on adult psychological functioning. Research focuses on adult cognitive abilities; the affective, cognitive, and neuropsychological correlates of psychopathology; and the development, organization, and function of the nervous system as it relates to typical and atypical development.

The Department of Psychology and Human Development (Peabody College) emphasizes research on typical and atypical psychological development. Research focuses on social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development in infants, children, adolescents, and adults – with concentration on family, school, medical, and other critical socio-educational contexts. Special attention accrues to factors that facilitate healthy development and prevent or remediate unhealthy development. Faculty members from both departments share an interest in quantitative psychology and the construction of statistical methods and quantitative models for understanding change.

Faculty members in the Psychological Sciences are nationally recognized for their research. Many faculty members have research grants from agencies such as the National Institute of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Office of Educational Research and Innovation. They chair important committees of professional organizations, including the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Sciences, and the Society for Research in Child Development, and serve as editors for a wide range of prestigious scientific journals. Many have received awards for their research from organizations including the American Psychological Association, American Psychological Sciences, the Association for Retarded Citizens, and the National Institutes of Health. Others are association fellows and members of state and national panels and commissions, including the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation, the National Advisory Council of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the American Psychological Society, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Education, and the National Science Foundation.