The University of Alberta opened its doors to 45 students on September 23, 1908 with degree programs leading to the B.A. and B.Sc. in Arts, and the degree of B.Sc. in applied science. The first courses were intended to represent the academic disciplines of Arts and Science and included study in English, Classics, Modern Language and Mathematics.

The first psychology course, "Psychology and Logic" using the text, Psychology: A briefer Course by William James was offered in 1909 by newly appointed Dr. John M. MacEachran, who held a Ph.D in Philosophy from Queen's University and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Leipzig where he had studied under Wundt. MacEachran continued to expand psychology offerings so that by 1911 it was possible to obtain an M.A. as well as a B.A. degree by studying psychology.

After various department affiliations with Philosophy and Education, Psychology became a full department in 1960. The PhD program was initiated in 1962 with 22 graduate course offerings. The department experienced strong growth during this period increasing from 16 staff in 1964 to 24 staff in 1965. By 1972 the department had approximately 30 full time staff and a graduate student enrollment of 87. Today we have approximately 30 full time academic staff and 50 graduate students working in a wide range of areas including Behaviour Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience; Cognition; Comparative Cognition and Behavior; Developmental Science; and Social and Cultural Psychology.

A brief chronology of our history is outlined below

1908 First psychology course offered in the Faculty of Arts and Science
1911 Psychology joins with Philosophy to become the Department of Philosophy and Psychology
1915 Honors course, Psychology 105 Experimental Psychology offered
1924 Experimental psychology program expanded
1933 Department of Philosophy, Psychology and Education established
1933 Clinical program developed together with courses for students in Nursing
1937 Introduction of laboratory psychology
1956 Department of Philosophy and Psychology establishes Teaching Counseling Services
1960 Department of Psychology established
1962 Phd program established
1963 Extension Branch of the Department established in Calgary
1965 First PhD student in Psychology graduates
1966 Joseph Royce establishes the Center for Advanced Theoretical Study in Psychology
1975 Frank Geldard delivers the first MacEachran Lecture

Department Heads and Chairs

1909-1945 John M MacEachran Head, Department of Philosophy and Psychology
1945-1952 John Macdonald Head, Department of Philosophy and Psychology
1952-1957 Douglas E Smith Head, Department of Philosophy and Psychology
1957-1960 Anthony Mardiros Head, Department of Philosophy and Psychology
1960-1967 Joseph R Royce Chair, Department of Psychology
1967-1985 Thomas M Nelson Chair, Department of Psychology
1985-1997 Eugene C Lechelt Chair, Department of Psychology
1997-1998 Gay L Bisanz Acting Chair, Department of Psychology
1998-1999 Charles M Beck Acting Chair, Department of Psychology
1999-2000 Terrance M Caelli Chair, Department of Psychology
2000-2008 Douglas S Grant Chair, Department of Psychology
2008-2009 Donald L Kuiken Acting Chair, Department of Psychology
2009-2011 Douglas S Grant Chair, Department of Psychology
2011-2012 Thomas L. Spalding Acting Chair, Department of Psychology
2012-2016 Jeff Bisanz Chair, Department of Psychology
2016-2019 Chris Sturdy Chair, Department of Psychology
2019-Present Anthony Singhal Chair, Department of Psychology