Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and of underlying mental, and physiological processes. Courses are offered in a variety of areas such as learning, perception, clinical, developmental, cognitive, social, health, and industrial/organizational areas.

The department’s scientific orientation can be seen in the courses required of all psychology majors and minors and in the orientation of the required courses.  Students begin with a survey of the field and of the basic research techniques used by psychologists. As students progress, they study statistical analyses of data and more advanced research designs. Majors are encouraged to develop breadth by studying a variety of content areas and to develop depth through advanced-level courses.

Psyc 110 is a laboratory course stressing a research orientation to the understanding of human and animal behavior.  Psyc 120 focuses on the quantitative methods psychologists use to answer questions about behavior.  Psyc 203 is a research design course.  Majors also select from other courses that include laboratory experience: Learning, Perception, Physiological, Comparative, Cognition, Human Factors, and Advanced Social.

The department maintains a balanced approach, offering many non-laboratory courses such as Applied Behavior Analysis, Child and Adolescent Development, Personality, Social Psychology, Health Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Adult Development and Aging, Industrial-Organizational Psychology, and Counseling.  In addition, a field experience course (Advanced Applied Psychology) is offered to upperclass students interested in working in a variety of settings including social service, business, health, and other areas.  Students spend eight to ten hours a week at their internship sites and work routinely with both a field supervisor and a faculty mentor.

Students interested in advanced study beyond the undergraduate degree are strongly advised to take Psyc 304 (Design and Analysis II), and to consider working individually with a professor through Independent Study (Psyc 391, 392), Advanced Undergraduate Research (Psyc 491, 492), or Honors (Psyc 495, 496).  The Honors program requires two semesters of independent undergraduate research that result in a thesis, which is usually empirical in design.  To qualify for Honors, students must have completed their first semester junior year with at least a 3.00 overall GPA and a 3.20 GPA in psychology.  Neither Independent Study nor Advanced Research has a cumulative grade prerequisite;  each may be taken for one or two semesters.  A research manual describing research opportunities within the department is available upon request.

The Psychology Department also co-administers (with the Biology Department) the neuroscience major.  This interdisciplinary major focuses on the development, structure, and behavioral consequences of nervous systems.  Within this program, students have the freedom to create their own combination of electives that suit their particular interests (e.g., behavioral neuroscience or cellular neuroscience).  More information about this major is available from the Psychology Office.

Requirements for the psychology major

All A.B. (Bachelor of Arts) psychology majors are required to take 10 courses in psychology including Psychology 110, 120, and 203, plus two laboratory courses in psychology from the set 304-328, one course from the set 335-496, and four other courses of their choice. Courses are to be distributed among at least four of the seven major subdivisions of psychology to achieve a broad foundation in the major. The seven subdivisions are: Biological (225, 323, 324); Clinical (231, 232, 337); Cognitive/Learning (236, 242, 255, 321, 322, 325); Developmental (233, 234, 328); Industrial/Organizational (335, 336); Methods (304, 339, 340); and Social (235, 240, 248, 327).

All B.S. (Bachelor of Science) psychology majors are required to complete 12 courses in psychology including 110, 120, and 203, plus three other laboratory courses in psychology from the set 304-327, one course from the set 335-496, and five other courses. Courses are to be distributed among at least four of the seven major subdivisions of psychology to achieve a broad foundation in the major. B.S. students must also complete Mathematics 125, 141 or 161 and 5 natural science courses outside of the Psychology Department.  It is strongly recommended that A.B. and B.S. students consider taking Psychology 304, 491, 492, or 495, 496. Students in both programs must also study humanities and social science courses as part of the Common Course of Study of Lafayette College.  Choice of major program should always be made in close consultation with the student’s major adviser.

Requirements for the minor

A minor in psychology consists of a minimum of six courses in psychology to be selected in consultation with a faculty member in the Psychology Department. These courses must include: Psychology 110, 120, and 203. The remaining three courses must be selected from other departmental offerings.