Academic Program (Major Requirements)

Professors Aronson, Boucher, Douglass, Kahan, and Low (chair); Associate Professor Sargent; Visiting Associate Professor Snyder; Assistant Professor Garrison; Visiting Assistant Professors Langdon, Mangan, and Mathis


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 an understanding of how the brain, nervous, cardiovascular, endocrine, and immune systems affect behavior and mental processes, students must take one course with a central focus on the brain and some combination of these other biological systems. These courses are marked with the attribute (Biological.) The study of psychology is also incomplete if students do not engage with issues pertaining to inclusion (how to ensure people from different backgrounds feel included in a given context), diversity (how to ensure broad representation of various backgrounds), equity (how to ensure people are treated equitably), and accessibility (how to ensure people have the support they need to do their best work). Although engagement with such issues is infused throughout the curriculum in many courses, and these principles guide the faculty’s decision making in general, students must also take one course with a central focus on some combination of issues related to inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. (These courses are marked with the attribute (IDEA.).

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.

More information about the psychology department is available on the website (bates.edu/psychology).