Department of Psychology Title The Ohio State University

Department History


The study of psychology is part of a long and distinguished tradition at Ohio State.The first psychology course was offered in 1879, and in 1907 an independent Department of Psychology was formed. The first Master of Arts degree in Psychology was awarded in 1915; the first Ph.D. in 1917. Since that time, about 2,800 master's degrees and 2,000 doctorates have been conferred. Department graduates hold respected teaching, research and professional positions across the United States and many practice in other countries. In fact, there is at least one Ohio State graduate on the psychology faculty of almost every major university in America.

A Prominent Faculty

Approximately 50 professors make up the Psychology Department faculty at the Columbus campus. Many are recognized both nationally and internationally for their contributions to their fields, and many hold joint appointments, which means they are also members of other department faculties at Ohio State. Our faculty members, as well as a number of our alumni, are the recipients of the discipline's highest awards for professional and scientific achievement. Click here to access a list of faculty awards. Many serve as editors of major journals and several are president's of professional societies. They understand that they are role models and that they have a responsibility to help graduate students develop their sense of professional identity and commitment. Click here to access a list of faculty editorships.


As a graduate student at Ohio State University, you will find that faculty consider you a colleague. You will have every opportunity to develop the research and professional skills you need to become a well-qualified psychologist in the specialty area you choose. With the faculty's help, you will develop an individualized study and research program and you will study in an invigorating, research-oriented environment, one you should find both challenging and intellectually stimulating. Our overriding goal is to train scholars who, through independent research, are capable of making substantive contributions to the body of knowledge in the field of psychology.

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Ohio State Pyschology - 100 Years of Excellence

Ψ 1879

1st psychology class taught by Professor John Short.

Ψ 1879

Psychology emerges as a formal discipline.

Ψ 1907

A Department of Psychology is officially formed in the College of Education. David R. Major is chosen as the first chair. The department is housed in University Hall.

Ψ 1912

George Frederick Arps, a Ph.D. student of Wilhelm Wundt at the University of Leipzig, becomes the department's second chair.

Ψ 1913

Prof. Major's introductory text, "Elements of Psychology", is published.

Ψ 1915

OSU awards its first Masters degree in Psychology.

Ψ 1917

The first psychology Ph.D is awarded to C. W. Bock.

Ψ 1920s

Enrollment in Introductory Psychology increases three-fold from 35 to 95.

Ψ 1925

Dr Sydney L. Pressey invents the first "teaching machine."

Ψ 1926

The department moves from University Hall to the new Education Building, later named Arps Hall.

Ψ 1930s

The Great Depression hits, and enrollment drops.

Ψ 1940

Harold E. Burtt, an industrial psychologist, becomes department chair.

Ψ 1942

U.S. Navy opens the Recognition Look-Out School at OSU. Prof. Samuel Renshaw's visual perception research plays a key role.

Ψ 1946

George Kelly and Julian Rotter join the faculty.

Ψ 1948

Clinical Ph.D. program receives full APA accreditation.

Ψ 1950

The University experiences "Veterans Bulge" and enrollment begins to rise.

Ψ 1959

Robert J. Wherry an industrial/organizational psychologist, becomes chair.

Ψ 1960

Cross-departmental work begins to develop, and faculty are hired in the Clinical, Quantitative and Social Psychology areas. A new wing is added to the Ohio Stadium and Psychology is permitted to move some faculty offices there.

Ψ 1968

Chair Robert J. Wherry succeeded in having the Department of Psychology moved from Education to the College of Social and Behavoiral Sciences.

Ψ 1970

S. Rains Wallace, an industrial psychologist who had served as CEO of the American Institutes for Research, joins the department as chair.

Ψ 1974

Samuel H. Osipow, a counseling psychologist, becomes chair. The department has over 600 majors. Now too large for Arps Hall, the department is spread across 5 buildings on campus.

Ψ 1984

Townsend Hall is renovated to accomodate the department's growth.

Ψ 1986

James C. Naylor, a quantitative psychologist, comes to OSU from Purdue to Chair the Department of Psychology.

Ψ 1989

Lazenby Hall is renovated providing new lecture space, research labs, and academic and staff offices.

Ψ 1997

John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist, serves as interim chair.

Ψ 1998

Richard E. Petty, a social psychologist, becomes department chair.

Ψ 1999

Psychology wins OSU Selective Investment competition and a $1 million budget for new faculty hires.

Ψ 2001

Board of Trustees authorizes funds for the construction of a new psychology building connected to Lazenby.

Ψ 2002

Gifford Weary, a social psychologist, becomes the department's first female chair.

Ψ 2006

(January 10) The new psychology building opens.

Ψ 2007

The department celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Ψ 2008

Richard E. Petty becomes chair for a second time.

Ψ 2009

Dept. initiated review committee recommends a psychology brain imaging center.

Ψ 2012

The Center for Cognitive and Behavioral Brain Imaging opens in the psychology bldg. basement with Zhong-Lin Lu as inaugural director.

Ψ 2014

The department's first cross area Ph.D. program (in Decision Psychology) admits its first students.

Ψ 2015

Clinical Ph.D. program receives full APS accreditation.

Ψ 2015

John Bruno, a behavioral neuroscientist, becomes department chair.