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The general objective of the psychology major is to enhance understanding of behavior and mental processes and to examine their connections to the fields of biology and the social sciences.

This general objective is translated into specific objectives that concern the understanding of (a) scientific methodology, (b) the current state of psychological knowledge, and (c) the application of both methodology and knowledge to real-world problems and events.

The psychology major consists of five components. First, a required core of courses introduces students to the field and to communication skills within the field. This core includes required methodology courses in writing, library research, statistics, and experimental design. Second is a lower-division content-course requirement. Third is a set of upper-division content courses that represent psychology’s close alliance with both social science and natural-science approaches to the study of behavior. Fourth, psychology majors select upper-division credit hours from a group of elective offerings. Fifth, every psychology major must complete a senior capstone experience.

By graduation, students majoring in psychology should have:

1. An understanding of the scientific method, including its application and the evaluation of its strengths and weaknesses.  Students should be able to formulate testable research hypotheses, statistically test and interpret the results, and appropriately generalize results.

2. An understanding of the diverse theories and content of psychology, including their use in description, explanation, and prediction of behavior and mental processes.  Students should be able to integrate, contrast and compare, and generalize theoretical perspectives, maintaining awareness of different worldviews, methodological approaches, research, and theories on human thought, emotion, and behavior.

3. The ability to use critical thinking to analyze problems related to behavior and mental processes, including the ability to evaluate the quality and credibility of information, develop sound arguments based on reasoning and evidence, and recognize, evaluate, and tolerate new ideas.

4. Effective communication skills, demonstrated by the clear articulation of concepts, theories and data in psychology both in written and oral form.

5. Acquired information literacy skills, including the ability to (a) locate and choose relevant sources from appropriate databases and (b) identify different types of sources, including primary versus secondary sources, empirical versus non-empirical sources, and peer-reviewed versus non peer-reviewed sources.


To earn a bachelor of arts degree with a major in psychology, a student must satisfy the following minimum requirements:

  1. General College Requirements (see “Curriculum” section), including the following requirements to satisfy the major:
  2. At least 44 credit hours as specified in a., b., c., d., and e., below. A grade of C- or better must be received in each course under point 2, and the cumulative grade point average of courses used to satisfy the major must be at least 2.00. Courses taken for credit/no credit may not be used to satisfy requirements under point 2.
    1. Required Core Courses: 12 credit hours
      • PSYC 101: Introduction to Psychology
      • PSYC 201: Psychological Statistics
      • PSYC 203: Writing and Research Methods in Psychology
    2. Lower-division Content Course: 4 credit hours chosen from:
      • PSYC 210: Comparative Animal Behavior
      • PSYC 220: Critical Thinking: An Introduction to Cognition and Perception
      • PSYC 230: Lifespan Development
      • PSYC 250: Social Psychology
      • PSYC 270: Personality Psychology
    3. Distribution Across Content Areas: 16 upper-division credit-hours, as specified below. Note: At least 8 credit-hours of these 16 credit-hours must be laboratory courses (400-level).
      • Content Area A: 8 credit hours
        • PSYC 331: Infant and Child Development
        • PSYC 333: Adolescence
        • PSYC 335: Adulthood and Aging
        • PSYC 362: Topics in Social Psychology
        • PSYC 375: Abnormal Psychology
        • PSYC 378: Counseling
        • PSYC 430: Developmental Psychology with Laboratory
        • PSYC 450: Social Psychology with Laboratory
        • PSYC 470: Counseling and Psychotherapy with Laboratory
      • Content Area B: 8 credit-hours
        • PSYC 312: Sensation and Perception
        • PSYC 314: Drugs, Brains, and Behavior
        • PSYC 420: Psychology of Learning with Laboratory
        • PSYC 422: Biological Psychology with Laboratory
        • PSYC 424: Cognitive Psychology with Laboratory
    4. Upper-Division Electives: A minimum of eight additional credit hours in upper-division psychology courses. Credits earned from internships, field experiences, and independent studies cannot be used to meet this requirement. A maximum of either four credit-hours in a St. Mary’s Project in psychology (PSYC 493-494) or four credit hours in Directed Research in Psychology (PSYC 397 or PSYC 497) can be counted toward this requirement.
    5. Every psychology major must complete a senior capstone experience. This requirement may be fulfilled in one of two ways:
      1. St. Mary’s Project (eight credits): This project may be in psychology or in another major discipline or study area. The guidelines established in the selected area apply.
      2. Alternative Capstone Experience. (eight credits), distributed as follows:
        1. PSYC 490: Senior Seminar (four credits)
        2. An additional upper-division four-credit course, not used to satisfy any other requirements for the major, chosen from the following options:
          • PSYC 305: History and Systems of Psychology; or
          • PSYC 402: Advanced Research Methods and Statistics (four credits); or
          • PSYC 410: Service Learning; or
          • PSYC 497: Directed Research (four credits) (all four credits must be taken for graded credit during the same semester);
            An additional laboratory course in psychology

The following sequence of courses is a typical model for fulfilling the requirements of the psychology major:


Aileen M. Bailey (department chair), Anne Marie Brady, David Finkelman, Laraine M. Glidden, H. Anna Han, Eric J. Hiris, Wesley P. Jordan, Cynthia Koenig, Janet M. Kosarych-Coy, Scott P. Mirabile, Deborah A. O’Donnell, Richard D. Platt, Roger D. Stanton, Jennifer J. Tickle, Elizabeth Nutt Williams


PSYC 101. Introduction to Psychology (4E)

A survey of the theoretical and empirical foundations of contemporary psychology. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Social Sciences.

PSYC 201. Psychological Statistics (4E)

The analysis of experimental data, including data from both laboratory and natural settings. Parametric analysis through two-way analysis of variance and nonparametric statistics. This course is cross-listed as MATH 201. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 203. Writing and Research Methods in Psychology (4E)

Examination of methodological, philosophical, and ethical issues in psychological research. Methodological instruction in library research techniques, professional writing in psychology, research design, and data collection and analysis. Writing instruction includes choosing a topic, doing library research, editing, revising, and writing a research proposal. Types of research designs include hypothesis testing, quasi-experimental, correlational, and single-subject. Prerequisite: PSYC 201 with a grade of C- or better.

PSYC 210. Comparative Animal Behavior (4AF)

The study of the behavior of humans and other animals in natural and experimental settings. Exploration of how behaviors evolve and how the behaviors of each species adapt for survival. Topics may include territoriality and aggression, sexual behaviors, social structure, foraging, communication, and animal cognition. Prerequisite: PSYC 101 or consent of instructor.

PSYC 220. Critical Thinking: An Introduction to Cognition and Perception (4S)

Examination of the mental processes that underlie perceiving, storing, and using information and their application to the improvement of critical thinking. Special attention will be given to sensory limitations, illusions, heuristics, fallacies, and biases and how they affect critical thinking. Prerequisite: PSYC 101 or consent of instructor.

PSYC 230. Lifespan Development (4E)

A comprehensive study of developmental processes (physical, social, and psychological) from conception to death, with discussion of theoretical, empirical, and methodological issues. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 250. Social Psychology (4E)

A study of social behaviors such as person perception, group behavior, attitude formation, and gender differences in social behavior. Review of methods of research in social psychology and their influence on research findings. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 270. Personality Psychology (4E)

An examination of theory and research in the field of personality. The course covers major theoretical perspectives (psychoanalytic, behavioral, humanistic,trait, and biological) and selected research topics. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.


PSYC 305. History and Systems of Psychology (4F)

The philosophical and scientific background of modern psychology. An examination of some of the historical approaches to the fundamental and persisting problems of psychology and their relationship to contemporary approaches. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 312. Sensation and Perception (4E)

This course examines the basic methodology used in the study of sensation, perception, and psychophysics. Includes discussion of neurological and psychological theories, processes of sensory systems, and perceptual processes of humans and other animals. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 314. Drugs, Brains, and Behavior (4E)

Examination of psychoactive drugs that act on the brain. Some of these drugs have medical uses, some are used recreationally, and others are used in both contexts. Topics include the biology of the drug’s effects on the brain; drug effects on behavior; and the use of psychoactive drugs in the treatment of psychopathology. Prerequisite: PSYC 101 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 331. Infant and Child Development (4E)

This course provides an in-depth examination of the forces and interactions that shape the physical, social, cognitive, and emotional development of humans from conception to the beginning of adolescence. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 333. Adolescence (4F)

Review of physical, cognitive, social, and psychological transitions that influence development in adolescence. Major topics include the physical changes of adolescence, cognitive and moral development, identity development, adolescent sexuality, and delinquency. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 335. Adulthood and Aging (4S)

Examines the psychological, physical, and social forces that influence adult development. Major topics include continuity and change in physical functioning, cognition, personality, marriage and family relationships, and death and dying. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 336. Exceptionality: An Introduction to Special Education (4E)

An examination of individuals with special needs such as mental retardation, giftedness, physical disabilities, and behavior disorders. The emphasis is on causation, psychological and biological aspects of the exceptionality, and current educational and therapeutic approaches. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World. Cross-listed as EDSP 336. Students may receive credit for either course, but not both. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 338. Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (4AF)

An examination of the physical and psychological causes of intellectual and other developmental disabilities, such as autism and cerebral palsy. Discusses diagnosis, treatment, education, research, and theory with an end toward understanding intellectual and developmental disabilities as both biological and social phenomena. Cross-listed as EDSP 338. Students may receive credit for either course, but not both. (This course was formerly named Mental Retardation.) Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 339. Learning Disabilities (4S)

This course is concerned with defining, diagnosing, and remediating learning disabilities. Major emphasis is on the basic psychological processes of understanding and using written or spoken language: sensory-motor, auditory, and visual processing and language development. In addition, a variety of curriculum materials in special education is examined. A field placement with exceptional children provides a realistic application of theory. This course is cross-listed as EDSP 339. Students may receive credit for either course, but not both. Prerequisites: PSYC 101 and 4 other credit hours in psychology.

PSYC 350. Psychological Perspectives of African Americans (4AF)

A survey of social psychological concepts that bear on the unique historical, cultural, political, and social experiences of African Americans in this country. Social psychological topics such as social perception, self-concept and identity, attitude formation, group dynamics, aggression, gender roles, social influence, and interpersonal attraction are reviewed and reevaluated in light of the African-American experience of race prejudice, group stereotyping, and interpersonal discrimination. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 353. Human Sexuality (4AS)

An examination of the many facets of human sexuality. The course considers developmental, legal, and social aspects of sexuality, sexual health and illness, sex in the context of human relationships, as well as biological, cultural, religious, and anthropological dimensions of sexuality. Prerequisite: PSYC 101 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 354. Psychology and the Law (4AS)

Exploration of ways in which the fields of psychology and law interact in contemporary society. Topics include the insanity defense, civil commitment, eyewitness testimony, the psychology of the jury, use of the polygraph (lie detector), psychological testing and the law, and legal issues related to confidentiality. Prerequisites: PSYC 101 and at least one other 4-credit hour course in psychology.

PSYC 356. Psychology of Women (4AF)

This course provides a general introduction to the psychology of women. Topics covered may include psychological development of women through the lifespan; gender differences and gender-associated personality, abilities, and behaviors; women and language; images of women; women and work; violence against women; women in relationships; women of color; lesbians and bisexuals; women’s mental health; and feminist therapy. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 362. Topics in Social Psychology (4S)

An in-depth examination of a specific area of social psychology. The course will explore research, theory, and application relevant to the selected area. Course content varies from semester to semester. May be repeated for credit if topics are different. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 363. Cross-cultural Psychology (4AF)

Provides a multicultural and global perspective on human development, thought, emotion, and behavior. Topics include cross-cultural theory and research in the domains of development of the self, moral development, aggression, gender, cooperation/conflict resolution, motivation and emotion, psychopathology, and acculturation. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 368. Educational Psychology (4E)

This course explores the teaching/learning process. Students analyze various factors that affect the process: developmental and learning theory, motivation, planning, content, method¬ology, and discipline. Attention is also given to human interaction in educational settings through a study of maturation, individual dif¬ferences, self-concept, group processes, and socioeconomic stratification. Lecture and field experience. This course is cross-listed as EDUC 368. Students may receive credit for either course but not both. This course is a pre-requisite for the Masters of Arts in Teaching. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 372. Child Clinical Psychology (4S)

This multi-disciplinary course explores the developmental and contextual components of childhood experience that may lead to problem behavior. Clinical psychology uses varied methods appropriate to children and families for assessment and intervention. The interaction of these methods and the developmental context where the behavior occurs are the primary focus of the course. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 373. Psychology of the Family (4AF)

This course discusses family structure and development from psycho-social and cultural perspectives. Systems theory will be used to understand clinical intervention with families. Family development over the lifespan is examined. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 374. Psychological Assessment (4AS)

History of psychological assessment; reliability and validity; tests of intelligence, personality, and vocational interests; other methods of assessment; legal and ethical issues in psychological assessment. Prerequisite: PSYC 201.

PSYC 375. Abnormal Psychology (4E)

A description of the major forms of mental disorder and their causes and treatments. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 378. Counseling (4E)

The major theoretical perspectives and associated techniques in the fields of counseling and psychotherapy. Prerequisite: PSYC 101.

PSYC 402. Advanced Research Design and
Statistics (1-4AF)

Exploration of advanced topics in statistics and research design, including higher-order analysis of variance (mixed, hierarchical, and blocked designs) and appropriate post-hoc analyses; multiple regression, complex designs with categorical data; nonparametric statistics, partial correlation, multivariate analyses, factor analysis, and more. Content may vary with each offering. Prerequisite: PSYC 201 or consent of the instructor.


PSYC 420. Psychology of Learning with Laboratory (4S)

The experimental analysis of learning in humans and other animals. Includes principles of learning theory, analysis of learning in a variety of settings including the home, the laboratory, and the school. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSYC 203 with a grade of C- or better or co-requisite of PSYC 203 only with approval of instructor.

PSYC 422. Biological Psychology with Laboratory (4F)

The experimental analysis of brain-behavior interactions. Emphasis on physiological mechanisms of homeostasis and neurophysiological models of learning. Examples taken from a variety of animal phyla. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSYC203 with a grade of C- or better or co-requisite of PSYC 203 only with approval of instructor.

PSYC 424. Cognitive Psychology with Laboratory (4F)

Examination of adult cognitive functioning, including perceptual processes, imagery, attention, memory, learning, problem solving, and language. Emphasis on understanding basic research techniques, interpretation of research findings, and current theory. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSYC 203 with a grade of C- or better or co-requisite of PSYC 203 only with approval of instructor.

PSYC 430. Developmental Psychology with Laboratory (4F)

Survey of the methodologies and techniques used in the study of human development. Content areas may include perceptual, social, language, cognitive, and moral development. Practical experience using observational, experimental, and interview methods, with participation in all phases of research (design, data collection and analysis, report writing). Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSYC 203 with a grade of C- or better or co-requisite of PSYC 203 only with approval of instructor.

PSYC 450. Social Psychology with Laboratory (4S)

The analysis of human behavior in a social context using the experimental method, with participation in all phases of research. Content areas may include helping behavior, prejudice and discrimination, communication, attraction, aggression, conformity, and obedience. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSYC 203 with a grade of C- or better or co-requisite of PSYC 203 only with approval of instructor.

PSYC 470. Counseling and Psychotherapy with Laboratory (4S)

Analysis of major theoretical and applied topics in counseling and clinical psychology, as well as the statistical and research methods used in the field. Lab will include demonstrations and the execution of independent research projects. Focus is on the scientist-practitioner model and on the synthesis of the scholarly and applied aspects of psychotherapy and counseling-related topics. Lecture and laboratory. Prerequisite: PSYC 203 with a grade of C- or better or co-requisite of PSYC 203 only with approval of instructor.


PSYC 197, 297, 397, 497. Directed Research in Psychology (1-4E)

Under the direct supervision of a faculty member, a student participates in laboratory or field research. A learning contract that specifies the research goals and methodology must be filed with the Office of the Registrar. A maximum of four credit hours of directed research in psychology (397 or 497 only) may be applied to major requirements in psychology. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Learning contract filed in the Office of the Registrar.

PSYC 398, 498. Off-campus Internship (4-16E)

A variety of off-campus experiential learning opportunities can be arranged through the Career Development Center. The off-campus internship is an individually designed experience that allows the student to explore the relationship between learning in the classroom and the practical application of knowledge in everyday work situations. All interns are required to maintain regular contact with the faculty supervisor. Credit/no credit grading. May not be used to fulfill requirements for the psychology major. Consult with the Career Development Center. Prerequisite: Admission to the Internship Program. (See “Internships” under “Academic Policies” section.)

PSYC 199, 299, 399, 499. Independent Study (1-4E)

This course consists of an independent creative or research project designed by the student and supervised by a psychology faculty member. The nature of the project, the schedule for accomplishment, and the means of evaluation must be formalized in a learning contract prior to registration. (See “Independent Study” under “Academic Policies” section.)

PSYC 410. Service Learning in Psychology (4AS)

Designed primarily for psychology majors, this course combines formal coursework with practical experience in an approved human-services setting. Knowledge acquired from psychology courses is applied to community-identified needs in order to enhance students’ professional skills and sense of civic responsibility. Goals of the course include 1) integrating and applying prior educational experiences to a human-services setting; 2) enhancing skills in working with diverse populations; and 3) expanding knowledge of appropriate methods of applied psychology research. Prerequisite: PSYC 203 or consent of the instructor. Not open to students who have received credit for PSYC 393. This course satisfies the Core Curriculum requirement in Experiencing the Liberal Arts in the World.

PSYC 490. Senior Seminar (4S)

An investigation of selected current topics and problems in psychology. Each student is responsible for the preparation of one major project, which includes both written and oral-presentation components. Prerequisite: PSYC 203 or consent of the instructor.

PSYC 491. Special Topics Seminar in Psychology (1-4)

Intensive study of a theme, process, or problem in psychology or human development. A maximum of four credit hours of special topics seminar credit may be applied to major requirements in psychology. May be repeated for credit if topics are different. Prerequisite: Consent of the instructor.

PSYC 493/494. St. Mary’s Project (1-8E)

The project, which may take many forms, draws on and extends knowledge, skills of analysis, and creative achievement developed through previous academic work. The student initiates the project, identifies an area to be explored, and proposes a method of inquiry appropriate to the topic. The project should include a reflection on the social context, the body of literature, or the conceptual framework to which it is a contribution. It must be shared with the College community through posters, presentations, or other means. With the approval of the department, this requirement may be satisfied by completing eight credit hours of the St. Mary’s Project in any discipline or cross-disciplinary study area. The project is supervised by a faculty mentor, appointed by the department chair. This course is repeatable for up to a total of eight credit hours. Prerequisite: PSYC 203; Approval of faculty mentor and department chair of the student’s major(s). Consult faculty mentor for project guidelines