MAJOR: The major consists of twelve 4-unit courses (48 units). Students may apply to the major and receive credit for upper-division coursework after having successfully completed Introduction to Psychology and Methods in Psychological Science. Majors select an academic advisor from among the department’s full-time faculty for consultation regarding their course programs. Though not strictly sequenced, the major is structured to provide both breadth and depth. The Departmental Core comprises three of the twelve required courses and provides an overview of the field (Psyc 101) and foundation in scientific methodology (Psyc 200 and 201).  All of these must be passed with a grade of C- or better. To achieve breadth students must take at least one course in each of our four Fundamentals Domains (16 units), to survey psychology’s diverse subdisciplines . To achieve depth students must take at least two additional Fundamentals courses (8 units) to gain additional knowledge within at least one Domain. Also, one of these two must be an advanced (400 level) course.

The remaining three courses (12 units) represent electives that students can use to explore focused topics with in-depth, crosscutting explorations and to prepare for psychology careers (see courses listed in the Specialized and Integrative Themes section below). Some Kinesiology courses may be counted as electives. Up to 4 units in Independent Study / Honors courses (Psyc 397 / 499) will be treated as one 4-unit, elective course, even if the units are accumulated over multiple semesters. Students intending to pursue any career within psychology should consult with their advisors about structuring their course program to prepare them for future graduate level training. Such students will be encouraged to take more than the minimum number of required courses and ensure an impressive depth of knowledge in an area relevant to their anticipated career path. For all psychology careers, students will need to develop strong analytical and methodological skills; these are most often acquired through engagement in research (Psyc 295, 395, 397, or 499). Students may also acquire basic professional experience through a Practicum course (Psyc 498), which is particularly important for students pursuing a career in clinical psychology. Students transferring from another institution or who anticipate participating in the College's study abroad programs should plan their schedules carefully to meet major requirements, including the fulfillment of prerequisites for courses to be taken later.

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. Students with an Advanced Placement score of 4 or 5 on the Psychology examination or with an International Baccalaureate Psychology exam score of 6 or 7 will be placed out of Introduction to Psychology. In addition to Introductory Psychology, the department will accept a maximum of two psychology courses taken at other institutions and passed with grades of C or better toward the completion of the Psychology major. Please consult with your academic advisor and the department chair for course approval. Students transferring from another institution in the junior year or students who have taken a leave up absence for more than 1 semester may transfer Introductory Psychology and up to four other psychology courses, with approval from the department chair.

WRITING REQUIREMENT: The Psychology department has elected to take a "writing-across-the-major" approach to the College’s second stage writing requirement. The department has selected an approach that is both evaluative and educational. See the Writing Program for additional information.

Toward the end of the Fall semester of their senior year, students will submit a portfolio containing writing samples from 300/ 400 level courses taken for credit toward the Psychology major to the department. 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 well being. Academic advisors will assess students’ 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. Refer to the Department Moodle site for more details.

SENIOR COMPREHENSIVE: Senior majors must take and pass a comprehensive examination early in the semester that precedes graduation (i.e., spring of senior year for most students).


MINOR IN NEUROSCIENCE: See catalog listing.

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 Psychology Department Moodle website for information pertaining to the honors proposal, thesis readers, enrollment expectations, and the evaluation process including critical dates