A major decision: Choosing your degree program at SPU

After you've chosen what college to attend, it's time for another big decision: Choosing a major.

Students hang out in Tiffany LoopFor some new students, that choice is a no-brainer. They’ve known all along what they want to study. But if you happen to be overwhelmed by all the possibilities, don’t sweat it too much right now. The most important thing to remember is you can always change your major later.

In the meantime, you’ve got a lot of great options. Seattle Pacific University offers a full range of undergraduate and graduate courses and is committed to groundbreaking research.

As you explore our many degree programs, here’s a closer look at the top five most popular majors at SPU.

1. Psychology

Psychology is one of the most popular degrees in the country because it opens doors to a wide range of careers that fit many interests. Psychology majors can make a positive difference in the world through counseling individuals and families, motivating athletes, strengthening communities through social work, positively influencing child development, and even solving crimes through criminal profiling, to name just a few professions.

Our BS in psychology is designed for students who have their sights set on graduate school or are simply passionate about integrating psychology with natural science.

Students who major in psychology at SPU can choose a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree program.

The BA in psychology focuses on cognitive, social, and behavioral psychology, with specific concentrations – aka tracks – like clinical counseling psychology, developmental psychology, community psychology and behavioral mental health, sports psychology, data analytics, and even animal behavior.

Our BS in psychology is designed for students who have their sights set on graduate school or are simply passionate about integrating psychology with natural science. These tracks include psychological science, behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, and animal behavior.

Orlando Sánchez Montes ’14 of Oaxaca, Mexico, chose a BS in psychology because it appealed to his personal career interests while also honoring the values of his Mexican heritage, specifically harmony in family and community. He said his SPU education also provided him with valuable hands-on experience.

“During my time in the psychology program, I was introduced to a wide variety of methods for examining the human mind,” he said. “During my junior year, I served as an intern for a nonprofit mental health agency. As a child mental health therapist, I was able to work with children who had been diagnosed with psychological issues.”

Today, Montes is a postdoctoral fellow in neuropsychology at the Truman VA Medical Center in Columbia, Missouri, furthering his training in traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder. Read his story here.

2. Nursing

Particularly now, nurses are in high demand. Currently, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that 371,500 new nursing jobs will be added by the year 2028.

If you’re a compassionate, competent person with a calling to serve sick patients and promote mind, body, and spirit health, SPU’s BS in Nursing is an excellent match for you. Through it, SPU fosters your scientific knowledge and clinical skills from a Christian perspective.

Nursing students work through an exercise with a medical dummyAccredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, SPU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing is an upper-division major that builds on the college’s standard general education curriculum. It prepares graduates for entry-level practice in a range of community settings.

SPU’s nursing students graduate with five key learning outcomes: nursing skills, critical thinking, communication, assessment and information gathering, and role development through professional and ethical behaviors.

2020 Co-Alumni of the Year Alissa Shattenberg ’00 used her SPU nursing degree and further training to make a global impact, opening the Sarobidy Maternity Center in Madagascar in 2013. There, she developed a team of local midwives to provide other women with medical care through their pregnancies, childbirths, and postpartum periods.

“I was a new Christian when I came to Seattle Pacific, and I really fell in love with Jesus there,” Shattenberg said. “God nurtured my faith through the professors, students, and the whole community of believers. That prepared me for service in Madagascar.” Read the rest of Shattenberg’s story here.

3. Computer Science

In a world that increasingly relies on computers, SPU’s BA and BS computer science degrees will set you on the path to using and creating technology to enrich lives on a global scale.

Computer scientists develop software, hardware, apps, and yes, video games. They analyze data and write (and fix) HTML code. And they’re particularly heroes when solve technology problems to keep businesses running smoothly.

Our BA degree track focuses on programming and problem solving, while our BS track emphasizes the mathematical and engineering components of the field for students who are interested in software development, computer science and possibly pursuing a graduate degree.

Engineering students adjust a droneAdrienne Dunham Duong ’14 is a senior software engineer at The Walt Disney Company. With her computer science degree skills, she writes code to secure and enhance the user experience on Disney’s websites. SPU professors gave her the one-on-one assistance she needed to overcome her initial misconceptions about her chosen field, she said.

“Entering into computer science can be hard for people. A lot of people think you have to be programming from 4 years old and be a hacker at heart. I was not one of those people. I hadn’t done code until college.” Check out Dunham’s full story here.

4. Business Administration

SPU’s BA in business administration has nine tracks that will give you the tools to thrive in any aspect of the business world.

You can choose an emphasis in marketing, international business, finance, public policy, management, social enterprise, information systems, economics, or a general track that gives you the flexibility to choose your own senior electives.

No matter which concentration you pick, a BA in Business Administration combines leadership training with technical expertise. You can also get real-world learning through SPU’s School of Business, Government and Economics Internship Program, which places students in valuable internship programs with local companies.

Praew Hemrathiran ’16 used her BA in business administration marketing to work as a candidate experience coordinator at Microsoft and later as a recruiting coordinator for the Alexa Experiences and Devices team at Amazon. She’s now a marketing specialist for Amazon Web Services. She credits her career progress to SPU’s emphasis on interpersonal communication skills as well business fundamentals.

“I feel like the professors at SPU go beyond teaching us about how to be successful and teach us about a moral compass to guide our thinking,” she said. “Learning how to be a good person within the workforce goes a long way and sets us apart from a lot of peers at work.” Read her complete story here.

Like psychology, with a business administration degree, you can pursue careers that fit your specific interests, like overseeing database systems and computer programming, spearheading corporate projects, managing people, shaping public policy, recruiting, marketing, and conducting international business.

5. Physiology

With a BS in physiology, you’ll become thoroughly educated on how the human body works.

Be prepared to take at least 35 upper-division biology credits, and if you want to further your physiology education, SPU’s faculty advisers can help you plan accordingly.

Regarding careers, the sky’s the limit with a physiology degree. Many of these graduates find jobs in the fields of optometry, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and forensic science, to name just a few.

Natalie Flath graduated with a physiology degree in 2012 and used it to become an epidemiologist for the Baltimore City Health Department. During her time there, she studied how social factors, such as poverty and racial disparity, contributed to health and advocated for positive change.

She credits her success and drive to “the opportunities of scientific rigor in the classroom” and “the connection to communities that broadened my worldview and tugged at my heart during my time at SPU.” Read her story here.

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