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Scott Stehouwer teaching a class

About Us

Psychology at Calvin

At Calvin, the Christian pursuit of psychology compels a belief in the uniqueness, the sanctity, and the moral responsibility of each individual person as God’s special creation.


The first psychology class at Calvin College dates back to 1876, the year that the college was founded. This class was offered, however, through the philosophy department. In subsequent years many other psychology courses were introduced, but these classes were offered through the education department. In 1939, all psychology courses were taken out of the philosophy and education departments and offered only through a newly formed psychology department.

Since its founding in 1939, the department, the list of classes it offers, and the number of faculty it employs has grown considerably. The department now employs 12 faculty members and 3 adjuncts, and offers about 25 different courses, as well as a variety of courses during the January Interim. The current staff, facilities, and courses provide an opportunity for students to establish a solid base of knowledge regarding the fundamental concepts of the field, and a chance to explore the various branches of the discipline.


Faculty and students conduct research in many areas of psychology, including alcohol addiction, Alzheimer’s disease, brain development, attention/distractibility, memory, child rearing, faith development, interpersonal relationships and health. Wherever possible, faculty look for opportunities to involve students in their scholarship. In recent years, six psychology majors were awarded McGregor Fellowships, which paid them to be involved in faculty-student collaborative scholarship.

Facilities and equipment

The department maintains its own small library in the student lounge, next to the psychology department office, where a variety of books pertinent to psychological studies can be found. Students are encouraged to use the lounge. Occasionally the lounge will be reserved for a department meeting or seminar.

To support and promote research in psychology, the department has a wide range of facilities and equipment. These are most often used in conjunction with specific classes, but they can be made available for students pursuing independent studies or guided research projects under the supervision of faculty members. An entire block of rooms has been set aside for research use. Some of these rooms contain one-way mirrors for observation of activities in the adjacent rooms. Along interior corridors are small cubicles used for individual testing and interviewing. We also have an EEG (brain-wave) Lab funded through a grant from the National Science Foundation.

The department owns "shuttle boxes" and "Skinner boxes" which can be operated manually or programmed to operate automatically; these are used in the training of small animals. A wide variety of other research-related materials are available, including an extensive selection of group and individual tests. The department also has animal facilities located in the West Michigan Regional Laboratory. This includes a room for housing small animals, a preparation room and nine observation rooms.

The psychology department computer laboratory is found in SB352. It currently has 10 computers (2 Macs and 8 PCs). When it is not being used for specific classes or laboratories, psychology students are encouraged to use it for educational purposes.

Psychology in numbers

12 full-time professors, all with PhDs

25 semester-long courses, with more during the January interim

1 major program and 2 minor programs

6 summer research fellowships awarded to students in recent years

20+ students placed in internships each year

65% of psychology graduates go on to earn advanced degrees

10 research rooms with 9 more in the West Michigan Research Lab, 1 fully-equipped electroencephalograph lab and 1 computer lab just for psychology students