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 his or her 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. 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), although this requirement may be waived for students who achieve a four or five on the Advanced Placement examination in psychology or who pass a departmental examination.

2) One course with content related to 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) Either PSYC 261 (Research Methods) or ED/PY 262 (Community-Based Research Methods) must be completed before the end of the junior year.

6) Courses in specific content areas. Students must take at least seven content-area courses. Of these seven 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, of these seven content-area courses, 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. Note: Courses marked with an asterisk are offered irregularly. In addition PSYC 314 (History of Psychology), marked with a pound sign (#), 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.

Cognition & Emotion.

PSYC 222. Applied Cognitive Psychology.
PSYC 230. Cognitive Psychology.
PSYC 250. Motivation and Emotion.
PSYC 302. Sensation and Perception.
PSYC 305. Animal Learning. *
PSYC 314. History of Psychology. #
NS/PY 330. Cognitive Neuroscience.
PSYC 361. Topics in Affective Neuroscience.
PSYC 374. Psychology of Language. *
PSYC 380. Social Cognition.
MU/PY 395. Junior-Senior Seminar in Musicology: Music and the Mind.
PSYC s19. Animal Cognition: Exploring the Minds of Birds, Bees, Chimps, and Dolphins. *
PSYC s29. The Psychology of Humor. *
PSYC s38. Political Psychology. *

Biological & Health.

NS/PY 200. Introduction to Neuroscience.
PSYC 215. Medical Psychology.
PSYC 235. Abnormal Psychology.
PSYC 303. Health Psychology.
PSYC 314. History of Psychology. #
PSYC 333. Advanced Topics in Abnormal Psychology.
PSYC 362. Psychopharmacology: How Drugs Affect Behavior.
NS/PY 363. Physiological Psychology.
PSYC 364. Psychobiology of Smell.
PSYC 375. Psychology of Sport and Exercise.
PSYC 399. Junior-Senior Seminar in Biological Psychology. *
INDS s15. Health, Culture, and Community.
PSYC s41. Seminar in Biological Psychology/Neuroscience. *
PSYC s42. Practicum in Clinical Neuropsychology. *

Developmental & Personality.

PSYC 211. Psychology of Personality.
PSYC 240. Developmental Psychology.
PSYC 280. Emerging Adulthood: Fact or Fancy.
PSYC 314. History of Psychology. #
PSYC 320. Adolescence.
PSYC 322. Child Psychopathology.
PSYC 340. Infancy. *
PSYC 341. Advanced Topics in Developmental Psychology. *
PSYC 372. Racial and Ethnic Identity Development.
PSYC 381. The Self.
PSYC s30. Contemporary Psychotherapies with Practicum. *
PSYC s36. Diversity in Adolescence. *

Cultural & Social.

PY/SO 210. Social Psychology.
AS/PY 260. Cultural Psychology.
PSYC 307. Applied Social Psychology. *
PY/SO 310. Advanced Topics in Social Psychology.
PSYC 311. Psychology of Religion. *
PSYC 314. History of Psychology. #
PSYC 316. Community Psychology.
PSYC 317. Psychology and Law.
PY/WS 343. Women, Culture, and Health.
PSYC 350. Examing College Life.
PSYC 370. Psychology of Women and Gender. *
PY/SO 371. Prejudice and Stereotyping.
PY/SO s18. Unequal Childhoods. *
PSYC s32. Psychology and Law. *
PSYC s35. Psychology and the Media. *

7) A senior thesis that takes one of three forms: empirical research, community-based research, or theoretical review and integration. 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.

AP Credit, Study Abroad and Summer Study. Psychology majors may transfer up to three credits 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 not be taken elsewhere. 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 will need to complete eight courses at Bates (including thesis) rather than eleven.

Students considering off-campus study should keep in mind several considerations. As previously noted, 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. This set of considerations has significant implications for students who do not complete Statistics by the end of their sophomore year. All students considering a major in psychology should be aware that if they are unable to complete Statisitics 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 theses: 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. For winter semester theses: 1) students register for PSYC 458A (for empirical research), PSYC 458B (for community-based research); or PSYC 458C (for theoretical review and integration; 2) proposals must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. on the second Thursday in November. Guidelines for proposals are on the department's website ( Candidates for the honors program are invited by the department from among those seniors conducting two-semester thesis projects who have shown a high degree of initiative and progress by the end of the fall semester. The faculty thesis advisor must assure the department that the student's work is of honors caliber and is progressing satisfactorily before the department nominates the student.

In the fall semester, students in PSYC 457B meet in a seminar, and the instructor serves as advisor. In the winter semester, students who choose PSYC 458B must find an individual advisor. Students contemplating this option should talk to staff members in the community-based learning program of the Harward Center for Community Partnerships and to their instructor or advisor before contacting a placement site. Once a site is selected, students must submit an agreement, signed by a representative of the organization and by the student, with the thesis proposal.

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.

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

  • Contact Us