MAJOR: Students who have successfully completed Introduction to Psychology and Psychological Methods may apply to major in Psychology and receive credit toward the major for upper division coursework. Twelve 4-unit courses (48 units) are required for the major. Though not strictly sequenced, the major is tiered, with an overview of the field and scientific methods (Departmental Core) preparatory to courses that survey diverse subdisciplines (Fundamentals courses within four Domains) or focus on cross­cutting explorations (Specialized and Integrative Themes), which in turn are preparatory to advanced study (a 400-level course in a Domain or Specialized and Integrative Themes). The requirements are: the Departmental Core (Psychology 101 or 102, 200 and 201 with grades C- or better); six courses from the four Domains, including at least one course from each Domain (24 units); one of these six courses must be an Advanced Study 400 level course; and three additional courses (12 units). Psychology 200 (Methods in Psychological Science) is a prerequisite for some 300 ­and 400-level 4-unit classes in Psychology. One 4-credit Independent Study (Psyc 397 or 497) may be counted as an elective course.

Students anticipating graduate work are encouraged to take more than the minimum number of required courses to enhance the breadth and depth of their exploration of psychology; they are strongly encouraged to become involved in research and to take Psychology 498 (Practicum). Transfer students and those who anticipate participating in any of the College's abroad programs should plan their schedules with major requirements and their accompanying prerequisites in mind.

Majors are expected to select one of the full-time faculty members from the department as an academic advisor and to consult with her or him regarding their course program.


Psychology majors with a special interest in neuroscience may declare a Neuroscience emphasis. Fourteen courses (56 units) are required for this emphasis. This emphasis combines coursework across the broad domains of psychology with specific courses in the Biological Bases Domain and neuroscience-relevant coursework in other fields. The requirements are: the Departmental Core (Psychology 101 or 102 or AP Psychology score of at least 4, 200 and 201 with grades C- or better); two courses in the Biological Bases Domain (Psyc 322/322L, Psyc 403); one course from each of the other three Domains (12 units); an original empirical project (Psyc 497); a Cells-to-Society seminar; and four neuroscience-related courses (16 units) in Biology, Cognitive Science, and Kinesiology. Together, the courses selected outside of Psychology must meet the following criteria: (a) at least one course focused at the cellular/molecular level, (b) Biology 115 or 130, (c) at least one 200- or 300-level course in Biology, and (d) at least two courses at the 300-level.  Either Bio 333 or CogSci 320, but not both, will count toward the emphasis. Courses should be selected in consultation with the academic advisor. Students intending to pursue graduate work or health professions should consult their advisor and/or the Health Professions Advisor about relevant course selections in and beyond this emphasis (e.g. in Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics).

CREDIT FOR COURSES TAKEN ELSEWHERE: The department will apply toward the psychology major most broad-based courses in Introduction to Psychology taken at accredited colleges and universities. Introduction to Psychology will be waived for students with Advanced Placement test scores of four or five on the Psychology examination. In addition the department will accept a maximum of three upper division psychology courses taken at other institutions and passed with grades of C or better toward the completion of a Psychology major. Please consult with your academic advisor and the department chair for course approval.

WRITING REQUIREMENT: The Psychology department has elected to take a "writing-across-the-curriculum" approach to the third year writing requirement. The department has selected an approach that is both evaluative and educational.

Students will submit a portfolio containing writing samples from 300- and/or 400 ­level courses taken for credit toward the Psychology major to their academic advisor by the end of Fall semester of the senior year. The portfolio will include at least twenty finished text pages, including (1) a research paper (empirical or library) of at least eight text pages, and (2) evidence of mastery of APA publication style. One writing sample in the portfolio must be (3) on a topic that required integration of information from two or more subdisciplines, and one writing sample in the portfolio must be (4) on a topic that required understanding of the variation between individuals, groups, or species relevant to social justice and/or well­being. The advisor will assess the work. If the portfolio does not pass after an attempt at revision, the student will be informed that s/he will need to complete a supplemental writing assignment to address any writing skill deficits.See the Writing Program for additional information.

SENIOR COMPREHENSIVE: Senior majors must take and pass a comprehensive examination early in the spring semester of their senior year. Seniors who will have the degree conferred in December may take the exam in the fall. Majors electing the Neuroscience emphasis will in addition complete a comprehensive project focusing on problems in neuroscience (an empirical research project or a literature review culminating with a colloquium presentation); both options require registration in Psychology 497 and an APA-style paper evaluated by two faculty readers.


MINOR: Six courses (24 units): Psychology 101 or 102, 200, one upper division courses from three of the four Domains, and an additional upper division course. Up to three courses taken elsewhere may be applied toward a minor.

HONORS: Honors in Psychology may be awarded to qualified students. Eligible students are those who have earned an overall college grade point average of 3.25 or better and a grade point average in Psychology of 3.5 or better, and completed an empirical project that demonstrates the student's psychological sophistication, intellectual creativity, and research skills, culminating in an APA-style manuscript. Only courses completed at Occidental are used to calculate grade point average. Consult the departmental webpage for information pertaining to the honors proposal,thesis readers, enrollment expectations, and the evaluation process including critical dates