About the Major
Psychology is the scientific study of mind, brain, and behavior. Areas of psychology represented in the department include human development, social psychology, cognitive psychology, cultural psychology, neuroscience, and psychopathology. Psychology majors receive broad training across these areas, have opportunities to pursue topics of particular interest in greater detail, develop skills in research methods and statistics, and engage in a cultural immersion experience. Many majors also take advantage of opportunities to work in research laboratories, to serve as teaching assistants, and to participate in service learning courses. Students interested in this major are strongly encouraged to visit the Department of Psychology web site and to download and read the Psychology Majors Manual for more detailed information, as early planning is important for preparing to declare and complete the major.
Stage 1 general education expectations must be satisfied at the time of application to the major. Students who apply to the major while still completing stage 1 courses will be admitted to the major. However, these courses must then be completed by the end of that semester; if they are not, the student will be asked to drop the major. Fulfilling stage 2 general education expectations is required for completion of the major.
PSYC105 Foundations of Contemporary Psychology is appropriate for non-majors.
Psychology does not admit students to the major beyond the first week of the junior year. At the time of application, a student must demonstrate that he or she: (1) has met stage 1 general education expectations and (2) has earned a B or better in each of two psychology courses taken at Wesleyan. These courses may come from all courses that originate in the Psychology Department (refer to WesMaps), all courses crosslisted with Psychology that count towards a breadth requirement for the major, and all courses (including non-crosslisted ones) that count towards the statistics requirement for the major. Transfer students must receive a B or better in each of two psychology courses from their previous institution. At the time of application to the major, each student must also present his or her plan/petition for satisfying the cultural immersion requirement. Students are generally expected to declare the major at the end of the sophomore year, though it is also acceptable to declare it during the first week of the junior year if a previous arrangement had been made. If you are a second semester sophomore and you are enrolled in Psychology courses that you need to declare the major, you can still declare it during your sophomore year but we will hold your materials and won't formally admit you until June once we see that you have successfully completed these courses.
Ten psychology credits are required to fulfill the major. Nine of the 10 credits required for the major must be taken for a grade. Courses in introductory psychology and statistics must be taken for a grade. Required elements of the major are introductory psychology (1 credit), statistics (1 credit), research methods (1 credit), one breadth course from each of three areas of psychology (3 credits), a specialized course (1 credit), and 3 additional elective credits that can come from any courses and tutorials associated with the major. Participation in a cultural immersion experience and proficiency in a foreign language are also required.
Introductory psychology. Foundations of Contemporary Psychology (PSYC105) provides a broad overview of the field, is required for the major, and should typically be the first course taken in the major.
Psychological statistics. An introduction to data-analysis techniques should be taken early in the major. When offered, any one of the following courses can be used to satisfy this requirement: Statistics: An Activity-Based Approach (PSYC200), Applied Data Analysis (QAC201), Elementary Statistics (MATH132), Introduction to Mathematical Statistics (MATH232), Quantitative Methods in Economics (ECON300), and Quantitative Methods for the Biological and Environmental Sciences (BIOL320).
Research methods. A course in research methods should be taken early in the major. Many introductory methods courses can be used to fulfill this requirement (PSYC202-219). The requirement can also be fulfilled with an Advanced Research course (PSYC380-399), but seats are much more limited for these advanced courses.
Breadth requirement. Students must choose a minimum of one course from each of the three columns. PSYC105 is a prerequisite for many of these courses. Column 1 courses are generally related to cognitive and neural processes, Column 2 courses to the development of the individual, and Column 3 courses to the individual in a social and cultural context.
PSYC220 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC222 Sensation and Perception
PSYC228 Clinical Neuropsychology
PSYC239 Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain
PSYC240 Behavioral Neurobiology
PSYC247 Neuroscience Perspectives on Psychopathologies
PSYC225 Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC227 Reward & Motivation
PSYC230 Developmental Psychology
PSYC235 Human Sexuality
PSYC245 Psychological Measurement
PSYC255 Positive Psychology
PSYC259 Discovering the Person
PSYC274 Cultural and Historical Perspectives on Psychological Disorders
PSYC260 Social Psychology
PSYC261 Cultural Psychology
PSYC265 Culture in Psychology: An Introduction to Theory and Research
PSYC277 Psychology and the Law
Specialized. These courses (PSYC300-399), which typically have prerequisites, aim to ensure that students study at least one subfield of psychology in greater depth. A student is required to take one specialized course that deepens the knowledge he or she gained in a breadth course.
Electives. Any other courses, tutorials, or teaching apprenticeships offered by the department may also be counted toward completion of the requirements. This includes breadth, specialized, research methods and other courses that are not being used to fulfill another requirement.
See Study Abroad and Language Requirement sections for additional requirements.
Direct interaction with other cultures facilitates a better understanding of both universality and diversity of human behavior. Psychology majors must spend at least one semester engaged in a cultural immersion experience. A semester study abroad automatically fulfills the requirement. Students may petition the chair to fulfill the requirement with a summer or Winter Break experience or with a domestic cultural immersion experience. For any petitioned experience that does not involve course enrollment, the department requires a letter from a supervisor of the experience, indicating what the experience entailed and that it was successfully completed by the student.
Students interested in research opportunities are encouraged to develop statistics and research methods skills as early as possible, to develop broad knowledge in the research area of interest, and to then apply for permission of the instructor to enroll in an advanced research seminar. Speaking with individual faculty members about research opportunities that might be available in their labs is also appropriate.
By the beginning of their spring semester junior year, psychology majors who have earned at least a B+ average in all psychology courses and at least a B average in all nonpsychology courses are eligible to pursue honors in psychology by writing a thesis. A student must have a faculty advisor in order to write a thesis. An advisor should be secured by spring of the junior year through discussion with appropriate faculty. Honors will be awarded only if both the advisor and a second faculty reader evaluate the thesis worthy of honors.
Students who receive an AP score of 5 or 4 or an IB score of 6 or 7 in Psychology can elect to opt out of taking introductory psychology (PSYC105). In this case, the AP score will be counted as 1 credit towards the introductory psychology requirement. Such a credit counts as a transfer credit and as a nongraded course. As such, it cannot be used toward admission to the major. AP credit in Statistics cannot be used in place of the statistics course requirement.
Learning a language other than one’s own enhances engagement with persons from other cultures. Psychology majors are required to work toward second language proficiency. For commonly taught languages, students must demonstrate intermediate level mastery (proficiency equivalent to completion of an Intermediate II course). For less-commonly taught languages, students must demonstrate introductory level mastery (proficiency equivalent to completion of an Introductory II course). Students for whom English is a second language or who can demonstrate mastery of a second language at the intermediate level (by putting language placement test results on file in Psychology Department) may opt out of the language requirement.
Students may transfer up to 3 credits towards the psychology major from AP credits, other departments, and other institutions. If a student goes abroad and uses the 3 credits to transfer courses for abroad courses, he or she is automatically granted 1 additional transfer credit for United States credits. All courses intended for transfer to the psychology major must be preapproved by the chair, even if the course has already been approved by the University.
Concentrations. The department has optional concentrations within the major in cognitive science and in cultural psychology. These concentrations are paths through the major that allow specialization in either of these areas.
No more than 4 tutorial credits can be counted toward the major, or 6 with the inclusion of senior thesis tutorials. No more than 2 teaching apprentice credits can be counted toward the major.