Psychology Major

Psychology Department Learning Goals

Students will be able to articulate key concepts, principles, and overarching themes in psychology and will be able to apply psychological theory and empirical findings to real-world phenomena. Students will be able to access psychological information from a variety of sources, assess the quality and reliability of the sources, and evaluate the relevance and integrity of the information.

Students will be able to frame questions and formulate hypotheses about human behavior and mental processes; test those hypotheses in methodologically sound studies; and collect, analyze, and interpret the resulting data. Students will be able to articulate the links between theory, observation, and conclusion, and to weigh empirical evidence in evaluating particular theories and applications.

Students will be able to evaluate ethical aspects of psychological research. They will be able to conduct research in an ethical fashion, including the design of research studies; the protection of research participants; the proper handling, analysis, and sharing of data; and the appropriate crediting of the intellectual contributions of others.

In their coursework and research in psychology, students will recognize and respect the complexity of sociocultural diversity. Students will be able to analyze human behavior from an individual and cultural perspective. They will develop a multicultural fluency, demonstrating the ability to view issues from different cultural perspectives and ask pertinent questions about cultural influences.

Students will be able to communicate psychological concepts effectively in a variety of formats, including written and oral. They will be able to convey and critique qualitative and quantitative information effectively in appropriate verbal, numerical, and/or graphical forms.

Students will be able to work effectively on team-based projects and to solve problems in a collaborative setting. They will be able to apply psychological principles, where relevant, to personal, social, and organizational issues, as well as to questions of public policy.

Requirements for the Psychology Major

Psychology is a broad field, and the major is designed to allow students to gain both breadth and depth of knowledge in the field. To that end, students take 200-level courses that represent different areas of the field, but develop depth by taking a 200-level topical course that then leads, along with introductory data analysis, to a corresponding research methods course in which they learn firsthand about how knowledge is developed within specific subareas of the field. For example, students may take social psychology (PSYC 210), followed by the research methods in social psychology course (PSYC 310R), but they will also have taken at least two other 200-level courses, including one from the 215–219 (PSYC 215, PSYC 216, PSYC 217, PSYC 218, PSYC 219) set of courses that historically have focused on somewhat different research questions than has social psychology.

The psychology major consists of at least 9.25 units, including PSYC 101, PSYC 105 (Introduction to Data Analysis in Psychological Science), and a research-methods course plus at least three additional courses at the 200 level and two additional courses at the 300 level. Of the 200-level courses, at least one must be a course numbered 207–213 (courses on developmental, social, personality, and abnormal psychology—PSYC 207, PSYC 208, PSYC 210, PSYC 212, PSYC 213) and at least one must be numbered 215–219 (courses on cognition, memory, language, sensation and perception, and biological psychology—PSYC 215, PSYC 216, PSYC 217, PSYC 218, PSYC 219). Independent study courses (PSYC 250 and PSYC 250H) count toward the major, but not toward the required three 200-level courses. Only one unit of independent study (PSYC 350, or two PSYC 350H) or thesis course (PSYC 360, PSYC 370) can count as one of the two 300-level courses required in addition to the research-methods course. Credits for PSYC 299 and 299H do not count toward the major.  Courses from other institutions may count toward the psych major, but at least five of the courses for the major, including one 300-level course, must be taken at Wellesley.

Statistics: PSYC 105 is the only Wellesley data analysis course that will fulfill the major requirement. Statistics courses taken outside of Wellesley will not ordinarily fulfill this requirement. QR/STAT 260 may be taken (in addition to PSYC 105) as a 200-level elective toward the major. Transfer students wishing to obtain credit for statistics courses taken prior to enrollment at Wellesley should consult the chair of the department.

Research Methods Requirement: The department currently offers seven research methods courses: PSYC 307R, PSYC 310R, PSYC 312R, PSYC 313R, PSYC 314R, PSYC 315R and PSYC 323R. Research methods courses taken outside of Wellesley will not fulfill this requirement. Students are encouraged to complete the research methods course by the end of the junior year. In order to be eligible for Senior Thesis Research (PSYC 360), students are required to complete the research methods course by the end of the junior year.

Honors in Psychology

The only route to honors in the major is writing a thesis and passing an oral examination. To be admitted to the thesis program, a student should have a grade point average of at least 3.67 in all work in the major field above the 100 level; students with a slightly lower average who have a strong interest and commitment to research are welcome to submit applications. See Academic Distinctions.

Experiential Learning in Psychology

The department offers a variety of experiential learning opportunities. PSYC 299 (Practicum in Psychology) offers off-campus placements in the Boston area (e.g., mental health and school settings). PSYC 299H (Practicum in Child Development) provides a structured learning experience at the Wellesley College Child Study Center. Students may receive a maximum of 2 units of credit toward the degree for any combination of 299 and 299H. 299 and 299H do not count toward the major or minor in psychology.

Transfer Credit in Psychology

To obtain Wellesley credit for any psychology course taken at another institution, preliminary approval must be obtained from the department chair prior to enrolling in the course. In general, courses taken at two-year colleges will not be accepted. These restrictions apply to courses taken after enrollment at Wellesley. Transfer students wishing to obtain credit for courses taken prior to enrollment at Wellesley should consult the department chair.

Advanced Placement Policy in Psychology

Students who have received a 5 on the Psychology AP exam, or a 5, 6, or 7 on the Higher Level IB exam, are exempt from the PSYC 101 requirement, but may not count the unit toward the major. Students who have taken a college-level Introductory Psychology course prior to coming to Wellesley are exempt from the PSYC 101 requirement. If the credit for that course has been transferred to Wellesley and appears on the student’s college transcript, it may be counted toward the psychology major.

Students with an AP score of 5 who choose to complete PSYC 101 will receive the appropriate psychology credit for PSYC 101, but will receive no AP credit toward graduation. 

Advanced placement credit for statistics does not exempt students from or fulfill the PSYC 105 requirement. A student with an AP score of 5 in statistics must still take PSYC 105, but can receive AP credit toward graduation.

Interdepartmental Majors in Psychology

Students interested in an interdepartmental major in neuroscience or cognitive and linguistic sciences are referred to the section of the catalog where these programs are described. They should consult with the directors of the neuroscience or cognitive and linguistic sciences programs.