Carnegie Mellon University

Erik Thiessen, Ph.D.

Erik Thiessen, Ph.D.

Director of Undergraduate Studies, Psychology

  • Baker Hall 342D
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213


Pronouns: he/him/his

Office Location: Baker Hall 342D
To schedule a meeting: Email Erik at

Erik is a faculty advisor for students in the Department of Psychology and helps shape the undergraduate experience for students in the department.

How long have you been at CMU and how did you get here?

I arrived at CMU in 2004, after completing a PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  

What is something you love about Dietrich College and/or your department?

I feel like psychology - like many of the things we study in the College - will help students wherever they go in the future. Students who study psychology go on to do an amazing variety of things, in all kinds of fields like health, technology, and education. I really enjoy watching students discover how their skills can be put to use in a variety of new and creative ways. I don’t know exactly what the future will hold for students after they graduate, but I'm very confident that it will involve interacting with other people!  So knowing something about how other people will be helpful almost anywhere.

What was your undergraduate major? How did you end up deciding on it?

I graduated with a psychology major, after trying (and generally not succeeding) at Physics, Political Science, History, Religious Studies, and Philosophy majors.

When was a time when you struggled or encountered a setback? How did you respond?

I wasn't a particularly strong student in my first few years at college, and not meeting my expectations got me down.  I did a lot of reading and thinking and talking with people to try and figure out why I was struggling, and what I could do to turn it around. I got lots of good advice, but maybe none better than "try things until you find something you enjoy." 

What is a fun or surprising fact about yourself?

I teach a course called Psychology of Video Games, and have spent some 40 years doing research on the topic.

What is a recommendation for a fun thing you like doing in Pittsburgh?

If you have a spare 2 hours, a walk from CMU to Schenley park will find you an 18-hole disc golf course that is a good introduction to the sport.