Ohio State nav bar

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.

Department History


  • 1st psychology class taught by Professor John Short.
  • Psychology emerges as a formal discipline.


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.


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


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


OSU awards its first Masters degree in Psychology.


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


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


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


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


The Great Depression hits, and enrollment drops.


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


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


George Kelly and Julian Rotter join the faculty.


Clinical Ph.D. program receives full APA accreditation.


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


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


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.


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


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


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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


(January 10) The new psychology building opens.


The department celebrates its 100th anniversary.


Richard E. Petty becomes chair for a second time.


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


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


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


Clinical Ph.D. program receives full PCSAS accreditation.


John Bruno, a behavioral neuroscientist, becomes department chair.


Charles Emery becomes department chair.


The new cross-area Ph.D. program in Cognitive Neuroscience is launched and admitting students.


Duane Wegener becomes department chair.