Academic Program (Major Requirements)



Students who major in psychology examine behavior and mental processes using the scientific methods; they learn to apply this knowledge in real-world and laboratory settings. Students examine a variety of topics and methods within psychology across a wide range of subject areas (breadth) and study selected topics in greater detail (depth). To accomplish breadth students take three intermediate courses. These courses are designed to provide students with a broad overview of a variety of intellectual approaches within psychology. To accomplish depth students take three upper-level courses, each of which is designed to provide a deeper exploration of a psychological topic. The goal of depth is also accomplished through the senior thesis. Majors must complete a thesis in one of four ways: empirical research, community-based research, theoretical review and integration, or neuroscience-focused capstone.

Because the study of psychology is incomplete without exposure to courses that focus on the brain, students must also take one course with substantial content on the brain (Biological). The study of psychology is also incomplete without exposure to diverse perspectives, populations, and methodologies. Although diversity is infused throughout the curriculum in many courses, students must also take one course with substantial content related to diversity, broadly defined (Diversity).

To reinforce the department's commitment to studying human behavior and mental processes from a variety of perspectives, students also must take a course examining the connections between psychology and a course offered in a different department or program that focuses on human behavior and mental processes. Students must describe the connections between this course and psychology in writing for departmental approval. Courses cross-listed with psychology do not fulfill this requirement.

Major Requirements for the Class of 2022 and beyond.

Beginning with the Class of 2022, students meet the following requirements for the psychology major. Students in the classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021 may choose to fulfill the old requirements or the new requirements. The new requirements are:

1) Three core courses to be completed by the end of the junior year:
PSYC 101. Principles of Psychology.
PSYC 218. Statistics.
PSYC 261. Research Methods or ED/PY 262 Community-Based Research Methods.

2) Three foundation courses from among the following:
NS/PY 160. Introduction to Neuroscience. (Biological)
PY/SO 210. Social Psychology.
PSYC 215. Medical Psychology. (Biological)
PSYC 222. Applied Cognitive Psychology.
PSYC 230. Cognitive Psychology.
PSYC 235. Abnormal Psychology. (Diversity)
PSYC 240. Developmental Psychology. (Diversity)
AS/PY 260. Cultural Psychology. (Diversity)

3) Three upper-level courses. All 300-level courses listed in psychology or cross-listed with psychology fulfill this requirement. At least one 300-level course must be taken at Bates.

4) One course with a connection to psychology. The purpose of this requirement is to help students make connections between psychology and other fields that study behavior and mental processes. In order for a course to fulfill this requirement, students must provide a brief description of the connections they see between the course and behavior or mental processes. Courses at any level and from any department or program may be considered for this requirement, including first-year seminars.. Courses cross-listed with psychology may not fulfill this requirement.

5) Additional Requirements
One course must have content related to diversity, denoted by (Diversity)
One course must have content related to the brain, denoted by (Biological)

6) One capstone course from among the following:
PSYC 457A, 458A Community-Based Research Seminar
PSYC 457B, 458B Empirical Research Thesis
PSYC 457C, 458C Theoretical Integration and Review Thesis
PSYC 457D Empirical Research Seminar
NS/PY 463 Capstone Seminar in Human Cognitive Neuroscience (any capstone seminar in NRSC or cross-listed with neuroscience will fulfill this requirement)

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

Major Requirements for the Classes of 2019, 2020, and 2021. 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 as intermediate courses; Short Term courses numbered s30-s49 may be counted as upper-level courses.

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)
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)
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.*
PY/RL 312. 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 a topic in neuroscience. The thesis satisfies the [W3] requirement.

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

General Education Concentrations, Minors, and Second Majors. Embracing the notion of intellectual breadth in a liberal arts context, the department strongly encourages psychology majors to select General Education concentrations (GECs) with little to no overlap with their psychology course work. Academic advisors work with students to ensure that their choice of GECs serve as areas of critical inquiry outside of the psychology major. Students cannot 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 department chair. Students should submit to the chair a course description and syllabus for each transfer course.

A student may transfer credit for Principles of Psychology (PSYC 101) taken elsewhere as long as the course is taken before the student declares psychology as a major at Bates. Students may earn credit for PSYC 101 by 1) earning a 4 or 5 on the AP examination or 2) earning a transferable grade for the equivalent course at another institution of higher education. Earning credit for PSYC 101 enables students to take courses for which PSYC 101 is a prerequisite. Earning credit for PSYC 101 reduces by one the number of courses required to fulfill the major.

With the chair'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.

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 (Statistics) 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.

If courses are transferred from somewhere else, then the total number of course credits required to change the major decreases accordingly.

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); PSYC 457D (empirical research thesis seminar)

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 and PSYC 457D 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 (bates.edu/psychology/thesis/thesis-planning/senior-thesis-proposal-guidelines/).

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.