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Department of Psychology
College of Liberal Arts


The Department of Psychology at Jackson State University is a unit of the School of Social and Behavioral Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts

Community Health Program

CHP logo

Jackson State University’s Community Health Program (CHP) was established in 1992 by Dr. Janet St. Lawrence and soon became a national leader in HIV/STD prevention research.  Housed in the Department of Psychology, the mission of the CHP is to help end health disparities by conducting research, providing training opportunities for students from the Ph.D. and undergraduate psychology programs, and providing service(s) that address the needs of underserved populations in the community.

Over the years, CHP functioned primarily as a research unit within the department of psychology.  The CHP conducted HIV/STD and drug/alcohol prevention research and services for underserved populations including: inner city African American adolescents, adolescents in detention centers, low-income women, incarcerated men and women, men, women and adolescents in substance abuse treatment facilities and minority college and university students. Our research was funded through a series of both federally (NIDA, NICHD, NIMH, CDC, OHAP) and state (Mississippi State Department of Health and Mississippi Department of Safety) funded grants.

The CHP also served and continues to serve as a training site for both graduate and undergraduate students who are interested in health behavior research and service. Students work on funded grants, learn to implement evidence based interventions, access and use existing databases for their own research, conduct outreach events and educational presentations. To date, three dissertations and four second year papers have been completed using data from CHP databases.

Funded grants have allowed CHP to provide free services for students at JSU and the surrounding community.  CHP, through its Project S.A.F.E. HIV testing program, currently provides free HIV testing for students, faculty, staff and the community.  Project S.A.F.E. began with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CHP began the first violence prevention program on the campus of JSU with a grant from the Department of Safety. Most recently, CHP expanded its services to include peer led HIV prevention educational sessions. Our Peer Health Education Program is run primarily by undergraduate students here at JSU. The students conduct HIV prevention educational presentations in classrooms, dorms, and forums on campus. They also conduct outreach events and sponsor activities during the national HIV observance days. The Peer Health Educators are becoming popular. They have been invited to present at local churches, community based organizations and the NAACP annual state convention. The peer education program originally began with a grant from the Office of HIV/AIDS prevention in 2011.

This year, CHP was given an opportunity to expand its services to address the needs of students who self-identify as LGBTQ through a $45,000 grant funded by ViiV Healthcare’s ACCELERATE initiative. This project (The MAC Initiative) will address issues of stigma and promote empowerment among African American male college students at JSU who self-identify as men who have sex with men.


More about us
By the time JSU officially gained university status from Mississippi’s state legislature in 1979, the Department of Psychology’s primary focus on research made its move to the School of Liberal Arts a natural transition. Then, Dr. Janet St. Lawrence, a faculty member and clinical psychologist at JSU, began to investigate HIV and STD issues in vulnerable populations during the advent of the AIDS epidemic. Out of this work with those in drug treatment, people contending with incarceration, or people from other at-risk groups, came the genesis of the Community Health Program (CHP). This program became the foremost research division within the Psychology Department and works to provide community service while training students and conducting original studies, which gain national attention. Additionally, during this time period, Dr. Cynthia Ford designed a course to teach psychology from an afro-centric perspective. This type of enhancement to the curriculum highlights JSU’s focus on both cultural and individual diversity and remains a popular elective in the discipline.


The mission of the Undergraduate Major in the Psychology Department is to expose students to the breadth and depths of the various fields of psychology. Students are encouraged and taught to think critically about psychological issues and to understand the value of empirical investigation. The department seeks to foster each student’s appreciation for the field of psychology and its applications to individual and social problems. The department is dedicated to high standards of original inquiry and personal growth. Students are taught that sound research and scholarship serve to expand knowledge and improve the quality of peoples’ lives. Our program provides students with the education needed to enter a variety of careers or to pursue graduate work in psychology or related fields.

“Challenging Minds, Changing Lives.”


After years of preparing undergraduates to pursue advanced research degrees, JSU began to develop its own plan for graduate study. Spearheading this movement was a working group whose goal was to design a program in clinical psychology that would provide multicultural training. The idea behind such multiculturalism is that the most effective clinical psychologists are those who have separated themselves from their personal biases and that this can only occur through in depth understanding of other cultures. In 1995, program was launched with a charter class of five students. APA accreditation then followed in 2001, and the first dissertation defense occurred in 2002. The concept of multicultural training remains a primary mission and requires the program actively to support those from diverse ethnic and racial backgrounds while ensuring that even the most traditional of graduate students becomes immersed in as many different environments as possible. This occurs most directly through practica, externships, and field research experience with underserved people; in the area of Jackson, this most often means rural and African-American populations.


Psychology majors have a plethora of career options after studying:

Psychiatrist Industrial-Organizational Psychologist Neuropsychologist Clinical Psychologist
Engineering Psychologist Counseling Psychologist Forensic Psychologist School Psychologist
  Correctional Psychologist Sport Psychologist  



For more information, please contact us at (601) 979-2371.  We look forward to meeting with you and seeing how our program can help you achieve your goals.



College of Liberal Arts Building-2nd Floor
1325 J. R. Lynch Street
P.O. Box 17550
Jackson, MS 39217-0350


(601) 979-2371