Psychology

Q: What courses are usually taken during the first year?
First semester should be dedicated to PSYC 101 – General Psychology. This course provides a broad overview of the field, and is a prerequisite for all other psychology offerings. If not taken in the fall, that course should be taken in the spring of the freshman year.
In addition, it is advisable to take the following three core courses as early as possible in the undergraduate track, as they are prerequisites for all mid-level and capstone courses:
  1. PSYC 105 – Statistics: This course presents techniques of measurement and statistical analysis that are central to the vast majority of psychological work. It is a prerequisite for PSYC 108 and should be taken as early as possible—we highly recommend that students try to fulfill this course by the end of the first year. It can be taken simultaneously with PSYC 109.
  2. PSYC 108 – Experimental Methods in Psychology: This course presents the principles of the scientific method and methods of experimental research in psychology. The relations between experimental design and quantitative analyses are examined. Students will participate in the design of an experimental study including a search of relevant literature, the collection of data and will submit a report of the experiment. This course is a prerequisite for all laboratory and research courses.
  3. PSYC 109 – Qualitative Methods in Psychology: This course covers the principles of engagement in qualitative inquiry—with particular emphasis on observing, interviewing, and analyzing people in interaction. Classes take the form of a mix between lecture and discussion, supplemented by an individually conducted observation project, and an interview that is carried out as a small group project.
Click here to check Psychology course availability.
Q: Will my AP courses count for Psychology major credit?
Following the University’s criteria, the department will waive the PSYC 101 requirement for students who passed their high school AP Psychology exam with a 4 or a 5. Students who have passed a high school AP Statistics exam with a 4 or 5 and who wish to waive PSYC 105-Statistics should contact the Chair of the Psychology department.
Q: What courses should first year students steer clear of?
First Year students should concentrate on fulfilling the seven introductory (100) level courses in the psychology major and should not be taking the (200) mid-level or capstone level courses.
Q: If key Intro courses are already fully enrolled, or conflict with other courses of interest, are there good alternatives?
In psychology, there are four core introductory courses (Intro-101, Statistics-105, Experimental Methods-108, and Qualitative Methods-109) that are prerequisites for most other courses that the student will want to take in the second year. Generally there is room for all students who wish to enroll in PSYC 101, 105, 108, and 109. Since there are no alternatives to these courses and they are important prerequisites, students should aim to finish them in the first three semesters.
If a student has trouble getting into any of the core intro courses (105-109) and they have already taken 101, they should try to fulfill some of the general topic intro-level courses. Students need to take a minimum of three required introductory-level courses that expose them to a broad range of topics in psychology; One Basic Processes course (PSYC 120-145), one Developmental/Cultural course (PSYC 150-159), and one Social/Personality (PSYC 170-179) course. Ideally these should be completed by the end of sophomore year. If these courses are full, it would be wise to spend the time filling university requirements.
Q: Is there a preferred sequence of courses students should follow?
Suggested Psychology Course Scheduling for Majors
First Year
Fall: PSYC 101-General Psychology or AP Psychology, PSYC 105-Statistics if 101 has been fulfilled by AP credit
Spring: PSYC 105-Statistic, PSYC 109-Qualitative Methods
Second Year
Fall: PSYC 108, One Basic Processes, Developmental/Cultural, or Social/Personality intro-level course (PSYC 120-179)
Spring: Two Basic Processes, Developmental/Cultural, or Social/Personality intro-level course (PSYC 120-179)
Third Year
Fall: A First Seminar (PSYC 240-259 )and/or (First Seminar and Lab/Research)
Spring: Complete the mid-level requirements, A Lab or Research course (PSYC 215-235)*
*Students interested in applying to the Honors Program should try to fulfill the lab/research requirement in the fall semester. Some faculty research labs require two semesters.
Fourth Year: 1 Capstone
Q: What courses should I take as a psychology major if I’m a transfer student?
The Psychology Department will accept up to five transfer credits for major credit with the approval of our transfer advisor, Professor Jim Laird Transfer students should send their transcript(s) and a syllabus or detailed course description for each course that they would like to get major credit for to Dr. Laird (electronic files are fine). Most of these approved courses will be at the intro level. After the transfer courses are approved, the student should try to fulfill any remaining intro level courses in their first semester at Clark.
Q: How and when do students declare a Psychology major and obtain an advisor?
We recommend that students declare their major as early as possible (it can always be changed), but definitely by the end of the second year. Students wishing to declare a psychology major should email the Department Administrator, Kelly Boulay, to set up an appointment. Advisors are assigned at the time of major declaration or can be chosen by the student. Students are free to change advisors at any time. It is recommended that the student try to choose a faculty advisor on the basis of developing research interests.
Q: When should I get involved in research?
Students wishing to get involved in research should have completed the seven intro courses. It is important to note that students who are interested in research should try to choose their general topic intro courses (PSYC 120-179) to coincide with any areas of potential research interest.
Faculty research courses are enrolled by permission only, so students should email the professor of the research lab that they would like to work in to see if they are currently accepting students.
Q: What is the passing grade for major credit? Can a student take courses Pass/Fail for major credit?
Students must pass their psychology courses with a C- or better in order to receive major credit. The psychology department does not accept courses taken Pass/Fail for major credit. We accept up to one course taken through COPACE (Clark’s continuing education school) if it is open to day students and has been pre-approved by the department.
Q: What courses in related departments do psychology majors usually take?
One of the requirements of the psychology major is a cluster of six courses, outside of psychology, that relate to each other and relate in some way to the field of psychology. This requirement can be automatically fulfilled by a second major, a minor, or a concentration. Alternatively, a student can customize a cluster with courses from several disciplines with the help of their advisor.
Q: If FY students have specific questions about the psychology major, whom should they contact?
Students can contact the Department Administrator, Kelly Boulay, or the Chair of the department, Marianne Wiser.
They should also feel free to contact the Undergraduate Psychology Committee (UPC), which is a student-run resource for all students interested in psychology. They are very knowledgeable about the major, including the course offerings and the faculty research labs. During the school year, they host many psychology-related events. They also hold regular office hours in the psychology department (JC 325).