About the Major

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 PSYC 100, and 122.  Psychology majors must complete both of these courses by the end of the sophomore year and must earn a grade of B- or better in both courses to continue with the major. Beginning with the class of 2018 students who wish to major in Psychology but did not receive a B- or better in PSYC 100 can take a makeup examination and a passing grade on this exam will allow them to place out of this requirement. This exam can only be taken by students receiving a C+ or lower in Psych 100 taken at Amherst College. Students may not enroll in PSYC 100 if they scored a 4 or 5 on the Psychology Advanced Placement exam, 6 or better on the Psychology International Baccalaureate exam, or completed an introductory psychology course at another college or university. Students who place out of taking PSYC 100 as a course must replace that course with an additional course to reach the number required for the major. Students may choose to place out of PSYC 122 either by scoring a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement Exam or by completing STAT 111 or 135, ECON 360, or a statistics course at another college or university.  Students must receive a grade of B- or better in any course used to place out of Psych 100 or PSYC 122, unless it is an AP course. Students who place out of PSYC 122 must replace that course with an additional course to reach the number required for the major.  At this time there is no placement examination for student who do not receive a B- or better in PSYC 122. Beginning with the class of 2015, majors are also required to complete PSYC 123 by the end of the junior year.

Additionally, 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), Introduction to Neuroscience (PSYC 226)
  • 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 advanced seminar from at least TWO of the following six areas:

  • Area 1:  Biological: Psychopharmacology (PSYC 325), Neurophysiology of Motivation (PSYC 356), Hormones and Behavior (PSYC 359), Developmental Psychobiology (PSYC 360).
  • Area 2:  Clinical: History of Psychiatry (PSYC 357), Psychopathology (PSYC 371); Child and Adolescent Psychopathology (364).
  • Area 3:  Cognitive: Music Cognition (PSYC 366), Autobiographical Memory (PSYC 368).
  • Area 4:  Personality: Personality and Political Leadership (338), Psychological Assessment (PSYC 353).
  • Area 5:  Social: Stereotypes and Prejudice (PSYC 337), Close Relationships (PSYC 354), Psychology and the Law (PSYC 363).
  • Area 6: Developmental:Adolescence (PSYC 332), Social Development and Peer Relations (PSYC 355), Development of Nonverbal Communication (PSYC 362)

Students may complete the required number of courses by taking additional distribution courses, or advanced seminars and/or by taking any of the following electives: Psychology of Food and Eating Disorders (PSYC 217), Memory (PSYC 234), Sports Psychology (PSYC 235), Environmental Psychology (PSYC 246), Health Psychology (PSYC 247), and Proseminar: Psychology of Good and Evil (248). Special Topics classes (PSYC 397) and thesis work (PSYC 497) 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.  Two forms must be completed and brought to that meeting: the Plan for the Psychology Major (available here), and the Major Declaration form (available here or from the Registrar).