Major Program

The Psychology major is designed to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the content of the discipline and the skills required to work within it.  Psychology majors are required to elect nine full courses, including Psychology 100 (Introduction), Psychology 122 (Statistics), and either Psychology 200 (Research Methods) or a lab class in psychology (as described below).  None of these nine courses may be taken Pass/Fail.  Psychology majors must complete both Psychology 100 and Psychology 122 (or place out of these classes, as described below) by the end of the sophomore year, and must complete Psychology 200 or a lab class in psychology by the end of junior year. 

Students may not enroll in Psychology 100 if they scored a 4 or 5 on the Psychology Advanced Placement exam, 5 or better on the Psychology International Baccalaureate exam, or completed an introductory psychology course at another college or university.  Students may not enroll in PSYC 122 if they scored either a 4 or 5 on the Statistics Advanced Placement Exam or completed STAT 111 or 135, ECON 360, or a statistics course at another college or university.  Students who place out of either of these courses must replace that course(s) with an additional course(s) to reach the nine courses required of the major.

To provide skills for understanding and conducting research in psychology, students must complete either a research methods class (Psychology 200) or a lab class in psychology.  Lab course options include:

  • Psychology 201: Memory
  • Psychology 203: Social Cognition
  • Psychology 206: Psychology of Play
  • Psychology 207: Psychology of Good & Evil

To provide a thorough understanding of fundamental areas within psychology, students must choose at least one intermediate course from each of the three areas below:

  • Area 1:  Behavioral Neuroscience (PSYC 212), Behavioral Neuroscience with Lab (PSYC 213), Introduction to Neuroscience (PSYC 226) (not offered in future).
    Area 2:  Developmental Psychology (PSYC 227), Cognitive Psychology (PSYC 233), Psychology of Aging (PSYC 236)
  • Area 3:  Social Psychology (PSYC 220), Personality (PSYC 221), Abnormal Psychology (PSYC 228)

To provide vertical depth in the major, students must also choose one seminar from at least TWO of the following six areas:

  • Area 1:  Biological: Psychopharmacology (PSYC 325), Neurophysiology of Motivation (PSYC 356), Consciousness (PSYC 361)
  • Area 2:  Clinical: History of Psychiatry (PSYC 357), Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology (PSYC 364), Psychology of Attachment (PSYC 365), Psychopathology (PSYC 371)
  • Area 3:  Cognitive: Music Cognition (PSYC 366), Autobiographical Memory (PSYC 368)
  • Area 4:  Personality: Personality and Political Leadership (PSYC 338), Psychological Assessment (PSYC 353)
  • Area 5:  Social: Stereotypes and Prejudice (PSYC 337), Close Relationships (PSYC 354), Psychology and the Law (PSYC 363), Psychology of Globalization (PSYC 321)
  • Area 6: Developmental: Adolescence (PSYC 332), Development of Nonverbal Communication (PSYC 362)

Students who write a thesis get three course credits, usually one in the Fall and two in the Spring, although this order can be reversed under agreement with the advisor.  As of the class of 2020, the thesis counts toward the seminar requirement in the area of the thesis, such that students who write a thesis need to only take one seminar in a different area than their thesis.  More about the thesis program can be found here.

Students may complete the required number of courses by taking additional distribution courses, lab classes, seminars and/or by taking any of the following electives: Psychology of Food and Eating Disorders (PSYC 217), Intergroup Dialogue on Race (PSYC 224), Sport Psychology (PSYC 235), Health Psychology (PSYC 247). Special Topics classes (PSYC 490) and thesis work (PSYC 498/499D) also count as elective courses towards the major. More information about the major requirements can be found here.

Students who wish to declare the major should schedule an appointment with the Department Chair, Professor Demorest, apdemorest@amherst.edu.  Two forms must be completed and brought to that meeting: the Plan for the Psychology Major (here), and the Major Declaration form (available here or from the Registrar).