Academic Program (Major Requirements)

Students who major in psychology examine behavior and mental processes using the scientific method and learn to apply this knowledge in real-world and laboratory settings. Students are exposed to a large variety of topics and methods within the field of psychology (breadth) and are required to take additional courses in one of several focus areas (depth). Senior majors must complete an empirical research thesis, a community-based research thesis, or a theoretical review and integration. For an empirical research thesis, a student conducts original research on an issue of theoretical or practical concern. For a community-based research thesis, a student works in the community, using training in psychology to address social or psychological issues in an applied setting. For a theoretical review and integration, a student conducts a comprehensive and critical review of the extant literature. Alternatively, a psychology major may enroll in the capstone course in computational neuroscience (NRSC 462). More information on the psychology department is available on the website (

Major Requirements. The major consists of eleven courses, including the thesis. All majors are required to complete successfully:

1) PSYC 101. Principles of Psychology. This requirement may be waived for students who achieve score of a four or five on the Advanced Placement examination in psychology or who pass a departmental examination.

2) One course with content related to the brain and biological aspects of behavior and mental processes. Courses with content related to biology, identified with designation (Biological), may also count toward the content area course requirements described below.

3) One course with content related to diversity, broadly defined. Courses with content related to diversity or multiculturalism, identified with designation (Diversity), may also count toward the content area course requirements described below.

4) PSYC 218. Statistics.

5) One of the following, which must be completed before the end of the junior year:
PSYC 261. Research Methods.
ED/PY 262. Community-Based Research Methods.

6) Content areas. Students must take at least seven content-area courses, at least one must be in each of the four contents areas listed below, and at least three must be taken in a student's chosen area of focus. In addition, at least four must be at the 300-level, two of which must be in the focus area and one of which must be outside the focus area. The fourth 300-level course may be either in the focus area or outside of it.

Only one Short Term course may be counted toward the major. Short Term courses numbered s10-s29 may be counted at the 200 level; Short Term courses numbered s30-s49 may be counted at the 300 level.

The content areas are as follows. PSYC 314 (History of Psychology) may count in any one area (Cognition & Emotion, Biological & Health, Development & Personality, or Cultural & Social), depending on the topic of the student's final project in the class. Courses marked with an asterisk (*) are offered irregularly.

Cognition & Emotion.

PSYC 222. Applied Cognitive Psychology.*
PSYC 230. Cognitive Psychology.
MU/PY 253. Music and the Mind.
PSYC 302. Sensation and Perception. (Biological)
PSYC 305. Animal Learning. *
PSYC 314. History of Psychology.
NS/PY 330. Cognitive Neuroscience/Lab. (Biological)
NS/PY 361. Topics in Affective Neuroscience.
PSYC 374. Psychology of Language. *
PSYC 380. Social Cognition.

Biological & Health.

NS/PY 160. Introduction to Neuroscience. (Biological) (formerly NS/PY 200)
PSYC 215. Medical Psychology. (Biological)
PSYC 235. Abnormal Psychology. (Diversity)
PSYC 303. Health Psychology.
PSYC 314. History of Psychology.
NS/PY 319. Physiological Profiles of Mental Illness. (Biological)
PSYC 333. Advanced Topics in Abnormal Psychology.
NS/PY 357. Computational Neuroscience.
NS/PY 363. Physiological Psychology/Lab. (Biological)
NS/PY 364. Psychobiology of Smell.
PSYC s30. Contemporary Psychotherapies with Practicum.

Developmental & Personality.

EXDS s21. Life Architecture.
PSYC 211. Psychology of Personality.
PSYC 236. Forensic Psychology.
PSYC 240. Developmental Psychology.(Diversity)
PSYC 280. Emerging Adulthood: Fact or Fancy.*
MU/PY 297. Debunking Musical Genius.
PSYC 314. History of Psychology.
PSYC 340. Infancy. *
PSYC 341. Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychology. *
PSYC 347. Personality Disorders.
PSYC 372. Racial and Ethnic Identity Development. (Diversity)
PSYC 381. The Self.

Cultural & Social.

PY/SO 210. Social Psychology.
AS/PY 260. Cultural Psychology. (Diversity)
PSYC 307. Applied Social Psychology. *
PSYC 311. Psychology of Religion. *
PSYC 314. History of Psychology.
PSYC 317. Psychology and Law.
GS/PY 343. Women, Culture, and Health. (Diversity)
PSYC 350. Examining College Life.
PY/SO 371. Prejudice and Stereotyping. (Diversity)
PSYC s34. Psychological Perspectives on Sex, Reputation, and Power. *

7) A senior thesis that takes one of four forms: empirical research, community-based research, theoretical review and integration, or capstone seminar on computational neuroscience. The thesis satisfies the [W3] requirement.

It is recommended that students take no more than thirteen courses in the major, including the thesis.

Embracing the notion of intellectual breadth in a liberal arts context, the department faculty also strongly encourages psychology majors to select General Education concentrations (GECs) with little to no overlap with their psychology studies. To ensure purposeful breadth, students should not apply more than two psychology-listed courses to their two chosen GECs, minors, or second majors. Academic advisors work with students to ensure that their choices of GECs serve as areas of critical inquiry outside of the psychology major. Students may not double major in psychology and neuroscience.

AP Credit, Study Abroad, and Summer Study. Psychology majors may transfer up to three credits taken elsewhere toward the major, provided the courses are preapproved by the faculty liaison for off-campus study (typically the chair). Students should submit to the liaison a course description and syllabus for each transfer course. With the liaison's approval, one of the three courses may be a statistics or methodology course that may be used in lieu of Statistics (PSYC 218), Research Methods (PSYC 261), or Community-Based Research Methods (ED/PY 262), but students are strongly encouraged to take their statistics and methodology courses at Bates. Under no circumstances is any student permitted to apply more than one course taken elsewhere to a single content area. The biological core course and diversity-related course may be taken elsewhere if preapproved by the facutly liaison for off-campus study. If courses are transferred from elsewhere, then the total number of course credits that a student must complete at Bates may also decrease. For example, if a student earns AP credit for PSYC 101 and transfers two additional credits from a study-abroad program (three credits total), then the student needs to complete eight courses at Bates (including thesis) rather than eleven. If a student passes the department's placement exam, then the student no longer needs to take PSYC 101; however, passing the placement exam does not count for course credit. Students who pass the placement exam are still required to complete eleven psychology courses.

Students considering off-campus study should keep in mind several considerations. Either PSYC 261 or ED/PY 262 must be completed before the end of the junior year, and PSYC 218 is a prerequisite for either course. Moreover, the department not only encourages students to take their statistics and methods courses at Bates, but also cautions students that it is extremely rare to find a non-Bates statistics or methods course that is sufficiently comparable to qualify for major credit. These considerations have significant implications for students who do not complete Statistics by the end of their sophomore year. Students considering a major in psychology should be aware that if they are unable to complete Statistics by the end of the sophomore year—even if that inability is a product of being randomized out of the course during preregistration—then they will likely have to stay at Bates both semesters of the junior year in order to keep psychology viable as a major option.

Thesis. A thesis may be completed during the fall and/or winter semester of the senior year. Topics for theses must be approved by the department.

For fall semester and two-semester thesis:
1) students register for PSYC 457A (for empirical research), PSYC 457B (for community-based research); or PSYC 457C (for theoretical review and integration);

2) proposals must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on Thursday of the second full week of classes in the fall semester.

In the fall semester, students in PSYC 457B meet in a seminar and the instructor serves as advisor.

For winter semester theses:
1) students register for PSYC 458A (for empirical research) or PSYC 458C (for theoretical review and integration)

2) thesis proposals must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on the second Thursday in November.

Guidelines for proposals (and a listing of important dates) are on the department's website (

All seniors must present their thesis work at a general meeting of the department at the end of the semester. Presentations take the form of a ten- to fifteen-minute talk or a poster that describes the project.

Honors. At the end of each academic year, the department invites a limited number of juniors to submit honors thesis proposals, due in the fall semester of their senior year. Honors invitations are based on demonstrated excellence in the courses completed for the major through the end of the junior year. If invited for honors, students must elect a two-semester thesis. At the end of the first semester of thesis work, the department formally nominates students to the honors program. Students who are nominated must show a high degree of initiative and progress by the end of the fall semester. In addition, the faculty thesis advsior must assure the department that the student's work is of honors caliber and is progressing satisfactorily before the department nominates the student to the honors program.

Pass/Fail Grading Option. Pass/fail grading may not be elected for courses applied toward the major.