Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Psychology includes such diverse topics as learning, intelligence, memory, motivation, perception, social interaction, judgment processes, development, and the causes and treatment of mental illness. Psychologists study these topics using various methods, including laboratory experiments and field studies, and they obtain information from both humans and nonhuman animals. Despite the great range of topics studied by psychologists, the unifying theme in psychological science is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.
In the Psychology curriculum, students become skilled in scientific methods of conducting psychological research. By the time of their graduation, Psychology majors will have taken at least four research methods courses (with labs) in addition to introductory and advanced topical courses.
ADVICE TO STUDENTS
Which courses are suitable for first-year students?
All of our 100-level classes are suitable for anyone. We offer entry-level courses in 11 major subfields of psychology: Behavioral, Biological, Cognitive, Social, Human Development, Health, Clinical, Gender, Sexuality, Community, and Cross-Cultural. We typically reserve seats for first-year students to enroll in fall semester 100-level classes.
Can students learn counseling techniques in psychology classes?
No. We provide students with a strong background in psychological science. In some classes (e.g., Psychopathology), students will learn about mental illness, psychological disorders and effective therapies. Students who are interested in clinical or counseling psychology will learn how to conduct therapy in graduate school. Students studying pre-health may not practice medicine; neither may psychology undergraduates practice psychological therapy techniques.
Courses appropriate for prospective majors
What should students know about the Psychology major?
First, requirements are quite hierarchical. You must first take a 100-level course before you are eligible for Psychology 210. You must earn a passing grade in Psychology 210 before you can declare the major and before you are eligible for Psychology 211. Psychology 210 and 211 cannot be taken concurrently. You must complete Psychology 210 and Psychology 211 before you are eligible for any Psychology 300- or 400-level course.
If you're considering a full year abroad, then it is essential to complete Psychology 210 and Psychology 211 by the end of the sophomore year. If you’re considering a semester abroad, then you should complete Psychology 211 by the fall of your junior year; otherwise, it will be difficult to study overseas.
Second, students are required to take at least four courses with labs (Psychology 201/202 OR Psychology 210/211, plus at least two 300 level courses). Prerequisites for each 300-level course are listed in the course catalogue. Careful planning is important so that students can ensure they have the requirements for the 300-level courses offered during their junior and senior years.
Also, Psychology majors need to complete a 100-level course in each of 3 groups:
Group 1 (Psychology 110; 120; 125; 130),
Group 2 (Psychology 155, 160, 165, 175),
Group 3 (Psychology 135, 140, 145, 150),
and an additional course from one of the groups, or Psychology 180 or Psychology 185.
Two 400-level courses are required. Psychology 210 and 211 (OR Psychology 201 and 202 for those who completed the previous sequence of methods and statistics courses taught through Fall 2017) are the prerequisites for these upper-level courses.
The department chair can help in advising students who are not yet majors.
Introductory courses appropriate for prospective majors
Students may begin the Psychology major by taking any 100-level course. The courses numbered between 110 and 175 are introductory courses that deal with a specific topic area in psychology (for instance, Social Psychology, Child Development, or Psychopathology). On occasion we also offer PSYC 180 - Topics in Psychology, on a variety of different topics.
Test scores and credits that may affect course selection
Students who achieve scores of 4 or 5 on the AP test for Psychology receive credit for PSYC 185, Survey of Psychology.
For course descriptions and requirements for the major, refer to the Academic Bulletin: Psychology.
Courses that fulfill distribution requirements
Social Sciences (Division II): Any 100-level course in Psychology (except PSYC 125) fulfills this distribution requirement.
Lab Sciences (Division III): PSYC 125
Writing in the Discipline (WID): Two courses are required for completion of the WID requirement for Psychology majors. These are PSYC 210 and PSYC 211. Students who completed the previous sequence of introductory methods and stastics courses (PSYC 201 and PSYC 202, available until Fall 2017) are also considered to have satisfied the WID requirement.
Quantitative Reasoning: PSYC 202 and PSYC 210
Suggested curricular flow through the major
First-Year students are encouraged to take at least one 100-level Psychology course during their first year. Once a student completes at least one 100-level Psychology course, then the student is eligible for entrance into Psychology 210 (Analysis of Psychological Data), a “gateway” course for the major. Generally speaking, Psychology 210 is taken during a student’s second year and the student can declare the major after the successful completion of Psychology 210. Next, the student should complete Psychology 211 (Design of Psychological Research). Thus, students interested in majoring in Psychology should focus on taking 100- and 200-level Psychology courses during their first and second years.
Students must complete PSYC 210 and PSYC 211 before they will be eligible to take any upper-level courses in psychology. For those completing the previous version of the curriculum (available through Fall 2017), PSYC 201 and PSYC 202 meet this same requirement (i.e., basic training in research design and analysis for psychology).
Generally speaking, students complete 300- and 400-level Psychology courses during their third and fourth years. Below is an example of Psychology courses taken during a student’s four years at Dickinson College:
At least one 100-level courses
PSYC 210 (if possible)
At least two 100-level courses
PSYC 210 and PSYC 211 (or, PSYC 201 and PSYC 202, available until Fall 2017)
At least one 100-level and one 300-level course
400-level seminar (if appropriate)
Complete all remaining requirements
For specific information regarding requirements for majoring in Psychology, please consult the Psychology Department’s website. Students also are encouraged to speak with the Department Chair or any faculty member within the department to discuss navigating the major.
Honors are granted to graduating seniors who demonstrate excellence in developing and conducting empirical research. Candidates for honors must earn a GPA of at least 3.5 in courses taken in Psychology and 3.25 in all other courses taken at the college by the beginning of the Senior year. They must earn at least one credit for independent study and/or independent research during each semester of the Senior year, under the supervision of an Honors Committee, and their work must be endorsed for honors on behalf of the department and presented publicly no later than the week of final exams. Students interested in honors should consult the document "Honors in the Psychology Major," which is available from the department and at the department's web site.
Independent study and independent research
Exceptional students may participate in traditional internships, independent study, and independent research projects (see Bulletin section entitled Special Approaches to Study).
The Psychology Club and Psi Chi (the national honor society for psychology undergraduates) collaborate to sponsor events throughout the academic session. We host guest speakers, regular meetings, social events, and advising panels on careers, internships, and graduate school opportunities. Any student is eligible to join the Psychology Club.
Check out the Psychology Club Facebook page for additional details: https://www.facebook.com/DsonPsychClub
The Psychology Department also regularly posts updates about events and opportunities on their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DickinsonPsychology
Opportunities for off-campus study
Students who are interested in study abroad are urged to plan their programs carefully and begin the major early. An advising session is offered each semester that addresses this topic.
Off-campus study additional information: Many students majoring in Psychology study abroad during their third year at one of the College’s sponsored programs (e.g., University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia; University of East Anglia in Norwich, England; Danish Institute for Study Abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark; University of Otago in New Zealand).
The minor in psychology: Some students declare majors both in psychology and another discipline. Because of unanticipated schedule conflicts, such students must sometimes choose to complete requirements for one of the two majors and forego completing the second major. The psychology minor enables such students to receive recognition for their achievements. Because our minor is intended as a fallback option, we do not advise students to seek it deliberately, and we don't accord course admission priority to minors.