A psychology professor typically works in three capacities at a college or university. First, he or she will likely be responsible for teaching psychology courses at the undergraduate and, often, the graduate level. Second, professors of this type are usually expected to produce original research and publish papers on that research in academic journals. Third, psychology professors may be called on to serve the university or community on committees and boards.
Like most other professors working in post-secondary education, those in the field of psychology typically work in college and university settings. These schools can range from two-year colleges to universities that offer post-graduate studies. Generally, these programs vary in their focus and specialization depending on the psychology department’s educational emphasis.
Large universities may offer a psychology professor more professional research options. While most schools encourage tenured professors to perform such studies and publish academic papers, not all of them require it. Some big schools consider themselves to be research-focused. These schools typically offer PhD programs in psychology.
The psychology departments of most universities usually urge instructors to focus on being good teachers. A psychology professor typically gives lectures to students about psychological theories and practices. These teachers also plan lessons, grade exams and papers, and consult with students. They may be called upon to teach courses that range from undergraduate introductory psychology to specialized, graduate-level courses.
Each psychology professor typically specializes in a particular area of psychological theory and practice. Professors often choose their specialty during their PhD research. For example, professors may focus on psychological disorders, developmental psychology, or even neuroscience as it applies to psychology.
Many large universities have psychology departments that emphasize original research more than teaching. A psychology professor at one of these research-oriented universities will likely be expected to complete studies and publish his or her findings in academic journals. Academic research typically involves collecting and evaluating large amounts of data. This data can take many different forms, including medical or survey research.
A psychology professor will usually write a paper based on his or her research findings. Professors often attempt to get their papers published in well-known and well-respected journals in order to gain prestige. Research-focused universities often emphasize academic prestige. These institutions may withhold tenure if a professor does not meet the research expectations of the department.
Small schools may require more teaching time, and are not usually involved in producing large amounts of scholarly research. Such a college may be less likely to offer a psychology professor the option of earning tenure. These schools typically hire part-time, adjunct, or assistant professors for most of their teaching positions.