Psychology Department Mission

In this document we share the mission of the Psychology department at SF State University and link our activities to the five core values of the University.

Psychology Department Mission

The Psychology Department at San Francisco State University, as part of the California State University system, views its mission from a broad perspective:

  1. As part of the California State University system, to serve its primary function to prepare students to achieve their educational objectives;
  2. As part of the SF State campus, to encompass the diversity of our urban student body by adhering to the University core values of Community, Courage, Equity, Life of the mind, and Resilience.
  3. As part of the Psychology department, to deepen understanding of the psychological aspects of human behavior and thought in the classroom, research laboratory, and applied settings.

Within this context, the mission of psychology is to promote an understanding of individual behavior and thought. Such understanding includes achieving clarity about the nature of self and the development of the person. It includes insights into the basic processes of human perception, learning, cognition and motivation; the relationship of behavior to physiology; and the nature of psychological disorder. A complete understanding of human behavior and thought also includes recognition of the many social contexts within which they occur, such as work, school, and home. Finally, this understanding includes how psychologists use their knowledge to help improve the quality of people's lives.

Psychological discovery is derived from empirical sources and scientific methods. The emphasis on empirical scientific acquisition of psychological knowledge involves an understanding of the methods and approaches of science. It also entails the creation of new knowledge through research and scholarship. At the same time, the practice of psychology is an important part of the discipline. We seek to provide human services and develop human potential in a variety of settings using expertise from a number of specialties. Regardless of the setting, the focus of the practice of psychology is on improving human functioning, be it in social or family interactions or in the world of work or school.

Specialties within psychology such as Developmental Psychology, Mind, Brain, & Behavior, and Social Psychology aim to increase psychological knowledge through research and theory development, which have implications for application. Specialties, such as Clinical Psychology, Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology, and School Psychology while emphasizing application, are firmly rooted in scientific theory and research and adhere to a science-practitioner model.

Below are examples of how the Psychology Department actively seeks to promote the five core values of SF State, namely, Community, Courage, Equity, Life of the Mind, and Resilience.


Our students work in the Bay Area in places such as mental health service providers, public schools, and businesses.

With over 17,000 SFSU psychology alumni since 1970, our community footprint is extensive. Many of our alumni continue to live in the Bay Area while pursuing careers in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.

Our research, teaching and service have local, national, and international impact.


Our courses are designed to strengthen skills in oral and written communication and to foster the courage to express ideas.

We provide our students an opportunity to lead or assist in psychological research that requires taking risks and using evidence to question long-held assumptions. 

Our faculty provide academic/career advising to our predominantly first-generation college students and encourage them to reach their fullest potential.


Our faculty are committed to providing courses to all students at the university, thus exposing the department to diverse opinions and beliefs.

We offer scholarships to provide support for students in financial need.

We address the varied educational experiences of our undergraduate students in our coursework and applied experiences.

Life of the Mind

We host speaker series on a regular basis to add intellectual novelty into our department.

As active scholars, our faculty seek to bridge the classroom, research laboratory, and applied settings.

Our courses are committed to experiential learning opportunities that place our students in the community and provide them with exposure to the world beyond the classroom.


Our research and teaching seek to provide our students the resources necessary to foster resilience within themselves and others.

To promote resilience in others, the Psychology Clinic at San Francisco State University offers low-fee individual, couple, family, and group psychotherapy to SF State students and members of the Bay Area community.

We support and mentor student-led organizations that foster collaboration among peers.