an Associate of Arts Degree


Psychology Associate of Arts Degree

The Associate of Arts (A.A.) in Psychology is a two-year degree that prepares you to go on for a Bachelor’s degree psychology or transfer to another program or college. It provides courses in human behavior, communication skills, and general education subject areas.

The psychology department is small. Classes seldom have more than 25 students, and a more likely size is 10-15 students.This allows students to receive individualized attention throughout their education, and the relationships built through advising and mentoring are unique strengths of the program. Additionally, students have the opportunity to develop significant supportive relationships amongst themselves as they go through the psychology program at SKC.

Psychology students come from many different tribes, cultures and walks of life. You will have the opportunity to meet and learn about people of many ages, ethnic groups, experiences, backgrounds and abilities. Everyone in the program – faculty and students alike – lends their own perspectives, knowledge, cultural strengths and educational goals to the mix, and the result can be a life-changing experience. The study of human behavior is about all the different ways to be and function as a human being (meaning there are approximately seven billion different perspectives!) and you are invited to enter the program bringing an open mind and the gift of your own unique experiences.

The Psychology degree program is grounded in the 4C’s: communication, cultural competency, citizenship, and critical (or clear) thinking. Coursework draws from both Western and Indigenous models of learning, and the program is designed to meet the unique needs of Native American students who live and work in rural reservation settings.

The long-term guiding principle of the program is to create a degree that balances indigenous ways of knowledge with western styles of education. To this end, the program is continually being reevaluated and adjusted. The psychology program at SKC follows APA guidelines for undergraduate psychology programs.

The Psychology Associate of Arts degree was developed in 2001 through the Mental Health Careers Opportunity Program (MHCOP), a collaboration of Montana Tribal Colleges with the University of Montana Psychology Department. Created in response to the need for tribal mental health workers, the goal of the Psychology A.A. is to train students in a manner consistent with traditional culture, while meeting requirements of structured degree programs in mental health.

The Psychology A.A. curriculum provides a foundation of essential knowledge in core subject areas of psychology as well as basic competency in writing, communication and math skills.

Students take a combination of General Education courses, Psychology courses and elective courses in the Psychology A.A. program.

You will be able to choose a variety of electives in Native American Studies, Expressive Arts, Health and Fitness, Math and Sciences and other subject areas as part of exploring your educational interests. You must receive a “C” or better in all required courses and maintain an overall GPA of 2.0 in order to graduate with the A.A. Completion of the A.A. program leads to junior-level entry into a four-year degree program.

Salish Kootenai College Psychology Degree
Degree Objectives
Student Learning Outcomes
Assessment Summary
Degree Objectives

Psychology A.A. coursework includes core subject areas in psychology as well as basic competency in writing skills, math skills and research methods. Completion of the A.A. provides students with a foundation of essential knowledge in subject areas related to mental health fields.

The curriculum of the Psychology Associate of Arts degree program is intended to meet the following needs:

  • Provide basic competence in psychology subject areas for students seeking a degree in psychology or mental health fields
  • Provide a transfer program that includes core courses in psychology, math, science and liberal arts for students pursuing a bachelor’s degree at a four-year institution
  • Encourage interest in psychology as a study of basic human experience and as a general background for other majors
  • Provide an awareness of the interface of psychology with different cultures and disciplines, such as sociology, anthropology, Native American studies and cross-cultural studies
  • Enable students to apply basic math and research skills to the scientific study of psychology
  • Provide support courses in psychology for other SKC degree programs
Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Psychology Associate of Arts curriculum, students will:

  • Be familiar with the main subject areas in the field of psychology, including core concepts and major theories
  • Be aware of basic types of research methodology used in psychology and how psychological knowledge in different subject areas is acquired through use of these methods
  • Gain practical experience in the application of psychological principles to everyday life situations, and be able to relate these to classroom materials
  • Gain an understanding of how psychological principles function cross-culturally and be able to apply them to cross-cultural issues in general, as well as to issues specific to tribal cultures
  • Improve written and spoken communication skills, active listening skills, and skills in communicating within and across cultures
  • Develop skills in locating, understanding and making use of written materials in psychology subject areas
  • Increase awareness of how psychology is related to citizenship, both individually (through exploring values, beliefs and actions that contribute to a sense of self) and collectively (through exploring connections among family, community, culture and world)
  • Gain an understanding of psychological dimensions across which cultures vary (and tend to misunderstand one another) and identify how specific cultures fit these patterns
  • Increase awareness of one’s own cultural values, beliefs, norms, history and attitudes (both strengths and weaknesses) and how this knowledge influences one’s worldview
  • Develop an ability to function flexibly across multiple cultural settings, with respect for differences and openness to learning about unfamiliar ways of seeing
  • Increase knowledge of S&K cultures and be able to apply the dimensions of culture to the interactions among tribal and other U.S. cultures
Assessment Summary

The Psychology Department uses a variety of assessment methods to measure and monitor student learning. Traditional testing strategies such as factual exams and written assignments are used in combination with other methods. The department makes extensive use of experiential and applied methods of evaluation that are designed to ground the study of psychology in the cultural, social and personal experiences of the learner.

Activities in classes include discussion, group work and individual contribution by both student and instructor. The learning goals of the psychology programs are grounded in the 4C’s, as attention is paid to student growth and developing maturity, both personally and academically. Because the department is small, students receive individualized attention across the curriculum. This increases as the students enter the Bachelor of Arts program and work extensively on written Capstone projects. This type of interaction allows for monitoring student progress and individualizing student program goals as a part of the assessment process.

Each year, specific courses and general program goals are analyzed for outcomes effectiveness. Student course evaluations and informal feedback are utilized to determine student needs and plan and fine-tune future courses. Assessment of student learning is closely tied in with assessment of overall program effectiveness, and an overall Program Evaluation instrument was developed for use at the end of the senior year. This instrument assesses: (1) courses within and outside the psychology program (given the cross-disciplinary nature of the program); (2) specific program objectives; (3) specific course objectives; and (4) growth in and understanding of the 4Cs.

The Psychology program at SKC endeavors to balance indigenous and western learning styles and content. Based on student responses to the above measures, it appears that students do gain increased understanding and skills in working within and across cultures.

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