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. 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 website 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.
For the Class of 2018 and earlier: 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. In this situation (i.e., outstanding requirements to complete), the student should either declare a second major or submit a major deferral form to the class dean so that he or she is covered in the event that he or she is unable to successfully complete the declaration requirements for psychology. Fulfilling stage 2 general education expectations is required for completion of the major.
For the Class of 2019 and later: Stage I general education expectations must be satisfied at the time of admission to the major. Students enrolled in courses needed to complete admission requirements during the second term of their sophomore year, should still declare the major; but will not be formally admitted until the end of the term upon successfully completion of these courses. In this situation (i.e., outstanding requirements to complete), the student should either declare a second major or submit a Major Deferral Form to the class dean in case. Fulfilling stage 2 general education expectations is required for completion of the major.
PSYC105 Foundations of Contemporary Psychology is appropriate for non-majors.
Students wishing to declare a major in psychology should prepare as early as possible because declaration must be done during the sophomore year. Psychology does not admit students to the major after the end of the sophomore year. Junior transfer students have until the end of the first week of the junior year and must have courses from the prior institution that meet all admission requirements.
For the Class of 2018 and earlier: At the time of application, a student must demonstrate that he or she: (1) has taken two full-credit courses in the field of psychology at Wesleyan and received a B or higher in each course. These courses may come from all courses that originate in the psychology department (refer to WesMaps), all courses cross-listed with psychology that count toward a breadth requirement for the major, and all courses (including those not cross-listed) that count toward the statistics requirement for the major; and (2) has met stage 1 general education expectations. 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. If a student is a second semester sophomore and enrolled in psychology courses needed to declare the major, he or she can still declare it during the sophomore year, but we will hold materials and would not formally admit the student until the end of the term following successful completion of these courses. Transfer students must receive a B or higher in each of two psychology courses from their previous institution.
For the Class of 2019 and later: At the time of application, a student must demonstrate that he or she (1) has taken two full-credit courses in the field of psychology at Wesleyan and received a B or higher in each course; (2) has completed the introductory psychology (or a replacement breadth course that will allow an AP or IB credit in place of introductory psychology), research methods, and statistics requirements for the major (these same courses may be used to fulfill the first requirement as well); and (3) has fulfilled the University’s stage I general education expectations. If a student is enrolled in courses needed to complete these requirements during the second term of the sophomore year, the student should still declare the major; we will just not formally admit the student until the end of the term, once successful completion of these courses. In this situation (i.e., outstanding requirements to complete), the student should either declare a second major or submit a deferral of major declaration form so that the student is covered in the event that he or she is unable to successfully complete the declaration requirements for psychology. Transfer students must receive a B or higher in each of two psychology courses from their previous institution.
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 psychology statistics must be taken for a grade. Required elements of the major are introductory psychology (one credit), psychology statistics (one credit), research methods (one credit), one breadth course from each of three areas of psychology (three credits), a specialized course (one credit), and three additional elective credits that can come from any courses and tutorials associated with the major.
For the Class of 2018 and earlier: Major requirements include completion of (1) 10 full-credit courses that count toward the major requirements (nine of which must be taken graded); (2) general education expectations stages I and II; (3) second language proficiency; and (4) cultural immersion experience. (This description includes the already-completed requirements for admission to the major.) All courses must be completed by the end of the senior year.
For the Class of 2019 and later: Major requirements include completion of (1) 10 full-credit courses that count towards the major requirements (nine of which must be taken graded), and (2) general education expectations stages I and II. (This description includes the already-completed requirements for admission to the major.) All courses must be completed by the end of the senior year.
Introductory psychology. Foundations of Contemporary Psychology (PSYC105), a lecture class, that provides a broad overview of the field, is required for the major, and should typically be the first course taken in the major. The course must be taken graded if used for the major. One can alternatively transfer a psychology AP or IB credit in place of this course (see the Advanced Placement section). Only one may be counted toward the major.
Psychological statistics. A psychological statistics course provides an introduction to data analysis in psychology. PSYC200 (Statistics: An Activity-Based Approach) or PSYC280 (Applied Data Analysis) is typically used to fulfill this requirement, but ECON300 is acceptable as well. (For students in the Class of 2018 or earlier, MATH132 is also acceptable.) The course must be taken graded if used for the major. A course in statistics is ideally taken in the first or second year (e.g., immediately following an introductory psychology course). Only one may be counted toward the major.
Research methods. A research methods course trains specific skills for evaluating and performing research. Research methods courses are numbered PSYC202-219. Some of these courses are more general, while others are focused on particular applications as indicated by their titles. A 200-level course in research methods is ideally taken in the first or second year (e.g., immediately following a statistics course). (For students in the Class of 2018 or earlier: This requirement can alternatively be fulfilled with an advanced research course (PSYC380-399), but seats are more limited in the latter and they are really intended for students who have already taken a 200-level methods course.)
Breadth requirement. Students are expected to develop knowledge across the entire field of psychology. Toward this goal, students must choose a minimum of one course from each of the three columns below. These breadth courses (numbered PSYC220-280) can be taken throughout one’s four years. When possible, a student should start with breadth courses of particular interest so that he or she can later do more advanced work in these areas.
PSYC220 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC221 Human Memory
PSYC222 Sensation and Perception
PSYC225 Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC227 Motivation and Reward
PSYC228 Clinical Neuropsychology
PSYC239 Functional Anatomy of the Human Brain
PSYC240 Behavioral Neurobiology
PSYC247 Neuroscience Perspectives on Psychopathologies
PSYC230 Developmental Psychology
PSYC235 Human Sexuality
PSYC245 Psychological Measurement
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) aim to ensure that students study at least one subfield of psychology in depth. These courses have a variety of formats, including seminars and advanced research labs, and admission is typically by permission of instructor. A student must take at least one specialized course that deepens the knowledge she or he gained in a breadth course.
Electives. To reach the 10 course credits necessary for the major, one may count any other courses, tutorials, or teaching apprenticeships offered by the department or creditable to the major with the exception that only one introductory psychology and one statistics course may be counted towards the major, and no more than two teaching assistantships and four tutorials (or six including senior thesis tutorials) may be counted towards the major. For electives, two half-credit courses may be used in place of 1 full-credit course. There are some courses (crosslisted with psychology or hosted in other departments) that can be used as electives for the major but fulfill no other requirements and cannot be used for admission to the major. See Department Majors Manual for details.
Any courses taken abroad must be preapproved by the department chair.
Cultural-Immersion Experience (applies only to Class of 2018 and earlier). Direct interaction with other cultures through study abroad facilitates an understanding of cultures not one’s own and of global issues. Psychology majors need to spend at least one semester engaged in a cultural-immersion experience. Study abroad automatically fulfills the requirement. Students may also fulfill the requirement by proposing to do a cultural immersion volunteer experience within the Middletown community (e.g., for two hours per week for a semester), elsewhere in the U.S., or with a summer or winter program domestically or abroad (e.g., six weeks living in another country). Students will be asked to declare their proposed plans on a cultural immersion form when they declare the major, and the chair will review all proposals. If you do not hear from the department, you can assume that your plan has been accepted. After that time, a student can revise the plan by simply turning in a new cultural immersion form. Students should contact Wesleyan’s Office of Study Abroad regarding study-abroad programs, and the Office of Community Partnerships website regarding volunteer opportunities in Middletown. It is possible that a paid job or a service-learning course will meet this requirement, and it is fine to use such an experience. For students who do the standard study-abroad experience, your cultural immersion will be considered satisfied when coursework from abroad appears on your academic history. For students who do an alternative experience, your immersion will be considered complete when you turn in to the administrative assistant in our main office a one-page description of your finished experience including what you learned from it.
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 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 4 or 5 or an IB (International Baccalaureate) score of 6 or 7, and complete a full-credit breadth requirement course can receive one credit for the AP score. This credit will fulfill the introductory course requirement only if it appears on the Wesleyan transcript. After completing the necessary breadth course, the student must contact the Registrar's Office for the AP credit, or contact the Dean's Office for the IB credit to have it transferred. AP/IB credits count as transfer credits. AP /IB credits apply toward oversubscription. The AP/ IB credit counts as the one nongraded course allowed toward the major. AP/IB credits may not be used toward major admission.
Applies only to Class of 2018 and earlier: Learning a language other than one’s own enhances an understanding of and engagement with persons from cultures not one’s own. Psychology majors are required to work toward language proficiency in a second language. Specifically, for any language that is taught through at least the intermediate level at Wesleyan, majors are required to study through the second semester of intermediate level (that is, to have intermediate level mastery). For languages only taught through the introductory level, students are required to study through the second semester of introductory level (that is, to have introductory level mastery). This is not a required number of courses but, rather, a required level of mastery. Students for whom English is a second language or students who can demonstrate mastery of a foreign language at the intermediate level (by language placement test indicating placement in an advanced course) may opt out of the language requirement. See Department Majors Manual for details. It is expected that students will wish to coordinate their language and study-abroad experience, but this is not formally required by the Psychology Department.
Students may transfer up to three psychology credits from other departments or institutions (including AP/IB Psychology) or, if from study abroad, three psychology credits plus one credit from within the United States. These courses must be preapproved by the department chair. Even though a transfer credit may have been approved toward a university credit, it must also be specifically approved toward the psychology major. Transfer credits cannot be counted toward admission to the program except for transfer students. (Please request the Registrar’s Office or your class dean to send a copy of your transcript from your previous institution to the Psychology Department so that all your psychology courses can be reviewed for acceptance to the major.) With the chair’s preapproval, transferred courses can be used to fulfill specific department requirements (e.g., a breadth course, a statistics course, etc.).
Concentrations: Students are not obligated to do a concentration within psychology, and the vast majority of students do not specialize in a particular area. However, we do have two concentrations within the major in cognitive science and in cultural psychology. These are essentially ways of traversing the major (with a few additional courses) for students who would like to organize their course work around either of those two themes. Concentrations are not declared at major declaration. Rather, a requirements worksheet for each concentration is to be turned in by early February in the second semester of the senior year. Students who successfully complete the requirements will receive a departmental certificate indicating completion.
Cognitive Science Concentration. Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of mental processes. Many areas of psychology contribute to the study of cognitive science, including cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and cognitive neuroscience, fields that most typically use scientific research methods to study human mental processes. Beyond psychology, scholars use diverse methods to study mental processes in humans and nonhumans including fields such as philosophy of mind, neuroscience and behavior, artificial intelligence, linguistics, education, and others. The focus of course work within our department involves understanding the mental and underlying neural processes involved in areas such as human perception, attention, memory, language, and reasoning, as well as the development of these processes over the lifespan, and participation in laboratory research is expected. See the Cognitive Science Worksheet on the department website for requirement details.
Cultural Psychology Concentration. Cultural psychology considers how the vast domain of culture and society is studied by psychologists, how cultural dynamics influence individuals, and how cultural practices define the various psychologies we practice. Many areas within psychology contribute to the study of cultures, including psychological measurement; social psychology both experimental and qualitative; clinical psychology; developmental psychology; historical psychology; and cultural psychology. Beyond psychology, scholars in allied human sciences contribute to better understanding the dynamic relation of culture and psychology. Methods and theories abound in culture and psychology. Some focus on comparative research, others on ways of bringing the presence of underrepresented populations into scholarly projects, and some examine sociopolitical differences both between and within societies. While investigating social structures such as race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality, and class often are central to works in this area, also of importance is understanding how such forces come to manifest themselves within the field of psychology and in our collective psychologies. See the Cultural Psychology worksheet on the department website for requirement details.