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The American Psychological Association of Graduate Students (APAGS) has awarded its eighth annual department of the year award to Ball State University's department of counseling psychology and guidance services. The $1,000 prize is given annually to an outstanding psychology department nominated by its students. The department, part of the university's teachers college, offers a PhD in counseling psychology, master's degrees in counseling and social psychology, and an undergraduate minor in interpersonal relations.

"The faculty here create an environment that's highly committed to students," says Kathleen Duffy, the second-year graduate student who wrote the nomination letter. Also, she says, the department's doctoral and master's degree programs provide students with diverse opportunities in research, practice, teaching and supervising other students.

Students in the program receive thorough training in both the science and practice of psychology, Duffy explains. Doctoral students have four required rotations: They work on a research project with a faculty member; work in the department's on-site community mental health clinic doing intakes and other tasks; teach at least one undergraduate class, developing lesson plans, syllabi and exams; and supervise master's-level students at the community clinic.

"I think it's unusual to cover so many things within one department," Duffy says. "Often we're the only ones in our intern group who already have supervisory experience."

Department Chair Sharon Bowman, PhD, says her department is also unique in that all of its parts work together.

"At some universities the faculty for the master's and doctoral programs are separate. Here at Ball State we are truly a mix," she explains. "All 11 faculty have opportunities to work with both groups of students. It's unusual for a doctoral student to not interact with every one of us before graduation."

Bowman and Duffy say that the department is still considering how to best use the $1,000 prize and might add it to an existing student scholarship fund. "We want to find a way that the most students can benefit from it," Duffy says.


The nomination deadline for the 2006 APAGS Department of the Year award is June 1. For more information, visit the APA Div 31 Web site.

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