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Psychology | Courses | Faculty

Tobin Hall

Degrees: Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science

Contact: Tamara Rahhal
Chief Undergraduate Adviser
Office: 501 Tobin
Phone: (413) 545-0377

Chair of Department: Melinda Novak. Associate Chair: David Arnold. Chief Undergraduate Adviser: Tamara Rahhal; Professors Aizen, Berthier, Blass, Blaustein, Bogartz, K. Cave, DeVries, Feldman, Forger, Grotevant, R. Halgin, Jakob, Janoff-Bulman, MacDonald, Meyer, Pietromonaco, Powers, Rotello, Scherer, Whitbourne; Associate Professors Constantino, Dasgupta, Harvey, Isbell, Lickel, Sayer, Tropp; Assistant Professors Blatz, Cheries, Cohen, Davidson, Hayes, Lacreuse, Ready, Remage-Healey, Richardson, Sanders, Scott, Spencer, Starns, Staub; Lecturers Bickford, C. Cave, L. Halgin, Kohler, Overtree, Rahhal, Stowe; Visiting Faculty Harris, Hartwell-Walker, Heick, Lopez, Packard, Zimmer.

The Field

Psychology may be defined as the science which focuses on behavior and mental processes. The scope of psychology is extremely broad and the 54 faculty members in the department reflect great diversity. The major areas of interest represented in the department are Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Personality, and Social Psychology.

The Major

Students select psychology as a major for many reasons. Some students wish to prepare themselves for graduate study and careers as professional psychologists, physicians, or lawyers. Others have general interests in fields such as social work and community mental health or may wish to work with young children, adolescents or the elderly. Many students aspire to careers in business, and perceive the psychology major as a marketable background. Others derive great satisfaction from developing insights into human behavior, and view the science of psychology as an important component of their liberal arts education.


The major consists of a minimum of 36 credits in Psychology courses, distributed as follows. Any requests for exception or substitution must be made to the Chief Undergraduate Adviser, Dr. Tamara Rahhal.

1. One Introductory course:
100 Introductory Psychology

2. Two Methodology courses:
240 Statistics in Psychology
241 Methods of Inquiry in Psychology

3. Four Core courses:
Choose one from Core A, one from Core B and two from Core C:
Core A:
315 Cognitive Psychology
320 Learning and Thinking
Core B:
330 Behavioral Neuroscience
335 Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
Core C:
350 Child Psychology
360 Social Psychology
380 Abnormal Psychology

4. Junior Year Writing:
392 Junior Writing Seminar. Students who complete two departmental honors courses may petition for exception to this requirement.

5. One advanced 3-credit departmental psychology laboratory course, departmental seminar, or designated departmental small course.
Commonly selected examples:
304 Brain, Mind and Behavior
318 Psychology of Language
382 Clinical Psychology
391 Seminar
404 History and Systems of Psychology
405 Human Stress and Emotion
430 Laboratory in Physiological Psychology
450 Laboratory in Child Behavior and Development
480 Intellectual Disability
486 Psychology of the Exceptional Child: Child Psychopathology
530 Human Neuropsychology
535 Drugs and Behavior
581 Applied Behavior Analysis
586 Psychology of Persuasion
591 Seminar
Students may petition to substitute a form of independent study (PSYCH 396A/B, Readings in Psychology) or research (PSYCH 397A/B, Special Topics in Research) for this requirement. Such petitions must be made in advance.

6. At least two 3-credit Psychology elective courses numbered 200 and above.
One of these must be in a regular, non-independent study course. Commonly selected courses include:
307 Industrial Psychology
308 Psychology of Women
310 Sensation and Perception
355 Adolescent Psychology
365 Psychology of Aging
370 Personality
383 Theory and Practice of Counseling and Psychotherapy
Core courses (taken in addition to the minimum required) may also count as departmental electives.

Restrictions on Courses for the Major
Courses applied to major requirements may not be graded on a Pass/Fail basis. Students must have a 2.000 GPA within the major in order to graduate. A maximum of 15 Psychology credits may be earned in independent study. No course taken more than twice can be counted toward the major. Students must complete PSYCH 100 with a grade of C or better and fulfill their R1 General Education requirement in order to enroll in PSYCH 240. Students must complete PSYCH 240 with a grade of C or better in order to enroll in PSYCH 241. They may repeat these prerequisites only once in order to achieve the minimum required grade.

Limitation on Transfer Credit
It is generally required that PSYCH 240 and 241 be completed in the department. One of the departmental core courses (requirement 3) and at least three other courses, not including independent study, must be completed while in residence in the department.

Exchange, Internships, Cooperative Education
Prospective majors who are considering one of these opportunities must first complete PSYCH 100, 240, and 241.

Honors Courses

The Department of Psychology tries to offer approximately four honors courses each semester. These are small classes (25 students) intended to be intensive learning experiences. Admission to Psychology Honors courses is generally restricted to declared honors students.

Psychology/Neuroscience Track

The Psychology/Neuroscience track is an undergraduate program offered within the department that emphasizes the biological and neurological bases of human and animal behavior. This program is particularly suited for students planning a professional career in any of the neurosciences (e.g., neurobiology, neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, or behavioral neuroscience) or individuals enrolled in pre-medical or pre-veterinary studies who are interested in neuroscience and behavior. Students entering the track must have and maintain a minimum GPA of 3.000. Course requirements for the Psychology/Neuroscience track are as follows:

100 or 110; 240; 241; 330; 392 or two Psychology honors courses; any two out of 320, 315, or 335; any one out of 350, 360 or 380; and one advanced neuroscience-related elective of at least three credits, at 500 level or above, including 530 Human Neuropsychology, 535 Drugs and Behavior, 572 Neurobiology (cross-listed with Biology), 650 Brain Development and Behavior, 711 Sensory Processes, 731 Neuroanatomy, 732 Neurochemistry, 733 Psychopharmacology, or any seminar at the 300 level or above in a neuroscience topic area. Note that courses at the 600 level or above require consent of instructor.

Laboratory Requirement
Students must satisfy a requirement for a laboratory experience in neuroscience. This requirement may be satisfied in one of several ways: a) course option—PSYCH 430 (Laboratory in Physiological Psychology); b) Independent Study option—PSYCH 397A (Special Topics in Research) or BIOLOGY 396 or 496 Independent Study taken for at least three credits with a faculty member in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program. See for a list of NSB faculty members and their research interests; or c) Honors Thesis option—PSYCH 499T or BIOLOGY 499T, taken for at least three credits with a faculty member in Neuroscience.

Natural Science and Mathematics
a) CMPSCI 121, or MATH 127 and 128 or MATH 131-132 (choose one option)
b) BIOLOGY 102 or BIOLOGY 100 and 101 (choose either option)
c) One advanced Biology elective. See Neuroscience Track adviser for prior approval.
d) CHEM 111 and 112 or 121-122
e) CHEM 261 and 262/269
f) PHYSICS 139 or 131-134 or 151-154
g) BIOCHEM 420 (421 lab is optional) or BIOCHEM 523 and 524 or BIOLOGY/BIOCHEM 285 or BIOLOGY 559

In selecting their science and mathematics courses, students should be aware of prerequisite requirements for higher level offerings and, if appropriate, the requirements for admissions to medical or veterinary school (see Dr. Brian O’Connor, Shade Tree Lab, tel. (413) 545-3674 for further information). Also note that the same course cannot be used to fulfill more than one Psychology/Neuroscience track requirement (e.g., BIOLOGY 285 cannot fulfill both c) and g) above).

For more information and/or to register yourself as a Psychology/Neuroscience student, contact the Undergraduate Neuroscience Coordinator (Dr. Veronica Lopez, 510 Tobin, tel. (413) 545-4283).

Specialization in Developmental Disabilities and Human Services

The letter of Specialization in Developmental Disabilities and Human Services is designed for psychology majors who may work after graduation in the field of human services, particularly with intellectually disabled individuals. By taking a combination of courses and fulfilling a one-semester, three-credit internship, psychology majors can enhance their skills and future employment opportunities. At the conclusion of the program, participants receive a letter from the Department of Psychology certifying their participation in the program.

In addition to the one-semester, three-credit internship, (which must be preapproved), participants must take the following three courses, which also count toward the major: 1) 480 Intellectual Disability; 2) 581 Applied Behavior Analysis; 3) 391 Intellectual Disability and Mental Health. Additionally, participants must choose three from the following eight courses: 213 Human Sexuality; 305 Educational Psychology; 350 Child Psychology; 355 Adolescent Psychology; 365 Psychology of Aging; 486 Psychology of the Exceptional Child: Child Psychopathology; EDUC 325 Introduction to Special Education; MANAGMNT 301 Organizational Management. All Psychology courses count toward the major.

Education Abroad

The University offers a wide variety of international exchange and overseas study programs. Traditionally, psychology majors have been well represented in such programs, studying in various institutions in Great Britain, Japan, Germany, France, Israel, Italy, Australia, Spain, and Canada. International Programs, William S. Clark International Center, tel. (413) 545-2710, may be consulted for specific information on these and other overseas study opportunities. Psychology majors must complete PSYCH 240 and PSYCH 241 prior to embarking on exchange.

Career Opportunities

The undergraduate major in psychology is not a professional or vocational program which trains or prepares students for a specific job. However, there are employment possibilities which favor a psychology emphasis at the Bachelor’s level and jobs do exist in schools, hospitals, agencies, government, and business. To become a professional psychologist a student must go on to graduate school. In most cases this means earning a doctorate (approximately four years) or at least a Master’s degree (approximately two years). Psychology majors often enter graduate programs in related areas such as social work, gerontology, legal studies, or medically oriented fields.

The Minor

The minimum requirements for the minor include at least 15 graded credits in Psychology.

No requirements for the minor may be taken Pass/Fail. Independent Study and Practicum courses (with the exception of PSYCH 397) are not counted toward the minor. All courses used to satisfy the requirements of the minor must be completed with a grade of C or better. Prior to graduation, the student must submit an updated transcript and a declaration of minor form to the Undergraduate Secretary in Tobin 503.

Psychology | Courses | Faculty