New Psychology Program: The JKU Congratulates the First Program Graduate

Kathrin Peirleitner, MSc., is the first graduate of the JKU Master's degree program in Psychology

F.l.: Bernad Batinic, Kathrin Peirleitner
F.l.: Bernad Batinic, Kathrin Peirleitner

The new Master’s degree program in psychology at the Johannes Kepler University launched in 2019, focusing on technology, business and the implications and impact on humankind. Bernad Batinic, head of the program, congratulated the program’s first graduate, Kathrin Peirleitner, MSc., who completed her degree under the challenging conditions in lieu of the pandemic. We spoke with Kathrin Peirleitner about studying under these conditions and what she is planning to do next.

Why did you study psychology?
Kathrin Peirleitner: I am not only fascinated by individual human behavior, I am also very interested in creating more awareness about mental health. We have seen mental illness rise significantly in the past years and it is playing an ever-greater role in society. I aim to help those affected and improve their quality of life.

And why here at the JKU?
Kathrin Peirleitner: The JKU’s program focuses on technology and business and this is unique in Austria, be it cooperation between man and machine in the area of production or using state-of-the-art communication tools in the field of consulting and coaching.

What was it like to earn a degree during a pandemic?
Kathrin Peirleitner: Naturally it was difficult to interact with classmates only online, but on the other hand, we discovered new ways to have class, work together in a group, etc. without being in the same place. Our professors organized and designed the distance learning sections quite well so there were no shortcomings when it came down to education.

Many students suffer psychologically during a lockdown and adhering pandemic mandates. As a psychologist by training, what advice do you have?
Kathrin Peirleitner: I believe it is very important to draw a line between working, studying, and your free time. This way, you have boundaries and can feel more like you are getting something done. During a lockdown - when recreational opportunities are few and far between - even just going out to get some fresh air can work wonders and recharge your batteries. Humans are social creatures so in this regard, maintaining relationships and having conversations with others are important to your mental health. Talk with friends, family members, and fellow classmates online as a good alternative to in-person get-togethers, especially during times when we have to maintain social distancing and adhere to restrictions.

How happy were you with the educational support by faculty members and would you recommend the JKU’s psychology degree program to others?
Kathrin Peirleitner: For the most part, faculty members were very responsive to our individual concerns and, particularly at difficult times during the pandemic, they took our circumstances – and individual student situations - into consideration. I would most definitely recommend the JKU’s psychology degree program.   

What is next for you?
Kathrin Peirleitner: After graduating, I began my post-graduate training as a clinical psychologist in October at the St. Josef Hospital in Braunau. This is an opportunity to not only acquire initial experience supporting those who have serious physical illnesses, difficult medical conditions, and serious diagnoses, but also caring for psychiatric patients.

About Kathrin Peirleitner

Born in Amstetten and currently residing in Linz, Kathrin Peirleitner (28) enjoys the outdoors as well as traveling. Her passion for traveling is, of course, currently on hold at the moment.