What can you do with a Psychology degree?

From working as a scientist to becoming an entrepreneur, psychology majors have the skillset to succeed in a variety of fields.

“Students who major in psychology today will be encouraging learning, optimizing performance, enhancing productivity, dismantling prejudice, promoting healthy development, and alleviating suffering tomorrow,” said Prof. Kathy Cain, chair of the Psychology department. “In the complicated world we live in, psychology seems more important than ever as a way to understand behavior and as a means of creating better lives for people. Our graduates’ wide knowledge base and strong research skills are relevant in almost every career path.”

Many Gettysburg College graduates choose to continue in psychology, yet graduates also thrive as educators, attorneys, corporate executives, and medical professionals.

Check out what a few of our psychology alumni currently do, and get a more comprehensive view of their professional lives through our LinkedIn and alumni success pages.

Elizabeth Zack ’02, Outreach & Education Specialist at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences at the University of Washington

Elizabeth ZackBeyond Gettysburg:
Postgraduate Diploma in Psychology, University of Melbourne, Australia
Ph.D., Psychology, Georgetown University

“As an Outreach Specialist, I communicate the latest science of child development to those who can act on it, including parents, educators, and policymakers. I’m taking the science of early child development and putting it in the hands of people who can use it. I’ve learned to take complex information and communicate it in a way that is relevant and easy to understand.

Prof. Dan McCall was a supportive mentor and teacher. It was my experience working with him that set me on a path toward graduate school and success as a researcher. It was in his lab that my love for research was born and he continued to support me in my endeavors after Gettysburg. The coursework at Gettysburg taught me to be a critical thinker across a range of subjects.”


Aleksandra Petkova ’14, Ph.D. candidate, Clinical/Developmental Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh

Aleks Petkova“I always knew I wanted to work with children when I entered the field of psychology. I learned how much I love research while working as a research assistant for Prof. Cain and Prof. Richard Russell. I had such diverse research experiences as an undergraduate that I was able to get into my current doctorate program right after graduation. I didn’t understand how unusual that was until I started my program. My psychology major has given me a strong background in critical thinking, logic, and a statistical background that was comparable to my first statistics course in graduate school.”


Sara Myirski ’12, First-year associate at a mid-sized law firm

Sara MyirskiBeyond Gettysburg:
Dickinson School of Law

“I use the skills I learned as an undergrad all the time in law school, it helped me to have the motivation and drive to do well in my classes. The kind of determination ingrained in me as an undergrad helped me become a better law student and a professional. The psychology program improved my ability to work with people. By advancing an understanding of others it fostered more meaningful relationships.  As a lawyer, and in most fields, meaningful relationships are one of the most significant components of being successful.”


Greyson Norcross ’14, Adviser and Assistant to the Director, Pennsylvania College Advising Corps

Greyson NorcrossAt Gettysburg, I took a social lab on aggression and a perception lab. Both of these classes impacted how I view the world and myself. I learned during my perception lab that my sense of smell is extremely limited, almost to the point where I have no sense of smell at all. This in itself was an extremely transformative experience because it made me totally rethink how I view and perceive the world around me. It is a prime example of how there is so much about people that is not obvious at first sight, and to truly understand people, you have to delve deeper than a superficial evaluation of someone.

With this in mind, as a college adviser, I have tried to understand my students to the best of my ability which then allows me to better advise them on what colleges will be the best match and fit and provide the best opportunities for them.”


Abigail Levrini ’02, Clinical Psychologist specializing in Adult ADHD, Speaker, and Author

Abigail LevriniBeyond Gettysburg:
Ph.D. Counseling and School Psychology, Florida State University

“I will never forget my experience in Psychology 101 with the man who would become one of the great mentors in my life, Prof. Paul “Bob” D'Agostino. During orientation students warned me of how tough his course would be and how intense he would become during his lessons. He lived up to the hype, but more than anything it was his passion for the field that came through and lit up the passion in me. I became his research and teaching assistant during my time at Gettysburg. Without him, I don't know that I would have the success that I have today. Sometimes, in my moments of doubt, I still find myself thinking that I know I can keep going because D'Ags would expect nothing less.

If ever you doubt the reputation of Gettysburg to open doors for you, don't. When I was applying to graduate schools for my PhD, my top choices were in the Southeast, thousands of miles from our little Gburg community. When I received a call from the woman who would become the other great mentor in my life, Dr. Frances Prevatt from Florida State University, one of the first things she told me was that one of the things that caught her eye about me was that I went to Gettysburg College.”


Jake Treinish ’13, Associate Scientist in Mammalian Toxicology

Jake TreinishBeyond Gettysburg:
Research Assistant in Neuropsychiatry, University of Pennsylvania
Postbaccalaureate Fellow in epidemiology and neurogenetics, National Institutes of Health

“From the Psychology curriculum, I learned how to properly design an experiment and go through the process of executing a study from start to finish.  This became a vital skillset as I have worked in research since I graduated. Through my specific lab experiences with Dr. Siviy, I learned a variety of animal specific techniques which became directly applicable to my current job.

Dr. Siviy quickly became a mentor to me and I pursued independent research with him outside of my courses on Brain and Behavior & Behavioral Neuroscience. With his help, I was able to get the Jack Shand Research Grant for a summer and I continued that research into the following school year. Even after graduating, Dr. Siviy has helped me and given me advice. I was able to see him last year at the Society for Neuroscience meeting which took place in Washington, D.C.”


Samantha Lee ’16, Alternative Break Trip Coordinator at a non-profit organization

Sam LeeBeyond Gettysburg:
Entering graduate social work program at Georgia State University in Fall 2016

“I chose to study psychology during a Child Psychology class with Prof. Cain. As I continued my time at Gettysburg, I began looking into social work as a future career. It had the perfect mix of the research from my psychology degree and the social justice work from my job at the Center for Public Service (CPS). 

I was connected with the non-profit, Something New on an immersion project through CPS. After that, I worked with the team to bring Something New's youth arts group to Gettysburg and interned with them for two summers before graduating. I was able to relate what I was seeing in the kids’ Something New work to the research I was learning about in school. The work ethic, organization, and ability to work with a team that I acquired has helped me numerous times in my work with Something New.”


Janet Morgan Riggs ’77, President of Gettysburg College

Janet Morgan Riggs '77Beyond Gettysburg:
M.A., Social Psychology, Princeton University
Ph.D., Social Psychology, Princeton University

My psychology major at Gettysburg prepared me exceptionally well for graduate school, especially since I had far more hands-on research experience—from designing experiments to data analysis to scientific report-writing—than many of my graduate school peers had.  The education I received at Gettysburg provided a tremendous foundation for a career as an academic social psychologist.  But my psychology background also prepared me for administrative work in ways that I would not have imagined. 

A psychology major provides you with an understanding of human behavior, strong writing skills, an analytical approach to problem-solving, and an understanding of statistics—all of which I’ve found to be enormously useful.  I never intended to become an administrator, much less a college president, but over the years administrative opportunities kept presenting themselves and I kept taking them.  As I did, I found those basic skills I acquired continued to serve me well.  As a college president I often say that I am now an applied social psychologist!”  

Read more about alums with a psychology major:

Suzanne Hemman York ’99 excels at Converse

Jennifer Arnold Brevoort ’00 makes serious business out of play

Katherine Cornock Terhune ’07 & LinkedIn

Dave Hauser '08 explores the intersections of war, metaphor, and cancer research


Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition. Alumni include Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate, and other distinguished scholars. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.

Contact: Shawna Sherrell, associate director of creative services, 717.337.6812

Posted: Thu, 4 Aug 2016

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