The College of Education at New Mexico State University has launched a new bachelor's degree program in counseling and community psychology.
The new major focuses on preparing students to become psychology professionals with an emphasis on research and professional psychology practice opportunities.
"We are preparing undergraduate students at the bachelor's level to focus on issues related to mental health, including case management, multicultural awareness and developing interpersonal skills to work with others in particular," said Elsa Arroyos, interim department head of counseling and educational psychology. "The way we have set it up they are eligible, through the degree plan, to become licensed substance abuse counselors. That's definitely one area of preparation that they would be able to pursue upon graduation."
The new degree allows students the chance to double major and prepares them for graduate school. The program's focus on human relations and diversity will allow students to apply these distinctive skills to other fields.
"I think what makes this degree unique is the focus on social justice, multiculturalism and issues of diversity," Arroyos said.
The degree in counseling and community psychology was developed because of student interest and requires 51 credit hours in core courses, including new classes such as an exploration of counseling and community psychology, which is slated to be offered in fall 2014.
"The major also was an opportunity for students to work with practicing psychologists, which is a unique opportunity for students on campus," she said.
After attending an open house to learn about the new degree and meet faculty, current NMSU students are excited about the new degree possibilities.
"What I always planned was to do something in counseling," said Sapphire Haire, a psychology sophomore. "When I first came here, I thought I would get my bachelor's in psychology and go on to counseling and help the community."
The new degree also has interested students who have started in other fields of studies.
"This is something that has interested me before, and I've thought about, but not really looked into the options. It's definitely something I am thinking about switching to," said Alejandro Castaneda, a mechanical engineering sophomore.