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The College Catalogue

Psychology – Overview

  • Paul E. Schaffner, Department Chair
  • Donna M. Trout, Senior Department Coordinator

  • Professors: Barbara S. Held, Louisa M. Slowiaczek, Richmond R. Thompson (Neuroscience)
  • Associate Professors: Suzanne B. Lovett, Samuel P. Putnam, Paul E. Schaffner
  • Assistant Professor: Erika M. Nyhus (Neuroscience)
  • Visiting Faculty: Julie Quimby 
  • Fellow: Katherine D. O’Doherty

Students in the Department of Psychology may elect a major within the psychology program, or they may elect an interdisciplinary major in neuroscience, sponsored jointly by the departments of Psychology and Biology (see Neuroscience). The program in psychology examines contemporary perspectives on principles of human behavior, in areas ranging from cognition, language, development, and behavioral neuroscience to interpersonal relations and psychopathology. Its approach emphasizes scientific methods of inquiry and analysis.

Requirements for the Major in Psychology

The psychology major comprises ten courses. These are selected by students with their advisors and subject to departmental review. The major includes Psychology 1101 {101}, which is a prerequisite to further study in psychology, and Psychology 2510 and 2520 {251 and 252}. These three core courses should be completed before the junior year when feasible. The major also includes laboratory and advanced courses. Students have the option of taking either (a) two laboratory courses numbered 2700–2799 {260–280} and two advanced courses numbered 3000–3999 {300–399}, or (b) three laboratory courses numbered 2700–2799 {260–280} and one advanced course numbered 3000–3999 {300–399}. Note that no more than one course from among Psychology 2750 {275}, 2751 {276}, and 2775 {280}, may count toward the two-course laboratory option; no more than two of these courses may count toward the three-course laboratory option. Similarly, no more than one course from among Psychology 3010 {320}, 3011 {321}, and 3013 {323} may count toward the two-advanced-course option; and no more than one course from among Psychology 3050 {315}, 3051 {316}, 3052 {319}, 3056 {313}, and 3059 {322} may count toward the two-advanced-course option. Finally, the major includes three electives chosen from among all psychology courses. Students are encouraged to consider an independent study course on a library, laboratory, or field research project. Independent study courses at any level count as electives, but do not count toward the laboratory requirement or the advanced-course requirement.

Students who are considering a major in psychology are encouraged to enroll in Psychology 1101 {101} during their first year at Bowdoin and to enroll in Psychology 2510 and 2520 {251 and 252} during their second year. Students must take Psychology 2510 {251} before 2520 {252}, and Psychology 2510 {251} must be taken prior to any course numbered 2700 and above {260 and above}. Psychology 2520 {252} must be taken concurrently with (or prior to enrollment in) any laboratory course (numbered 2700 to 2799, with the exception that 2520 {252} is not required for 2720 {260}) but must be taken prior to any advanced course (numbered 3000–3999 {300–399}). If possible, students should begin their laboratory work no later than the fall of their junior year. Those who plan to study away from campus for one or both semesters of their junior year should complete at least one laboratory course before leaving for their off-campus experience and plan their courses so that they can complete the major after returning to campus. Students should speak with the chair of the department regarding their off-campus study plans and transfer of credit toward the major. Laboratory or advanced courses taken elsewhere may be counted as electives but are not normally counted toward the laboratory or advanced course requirement.

Requirements for the Minor in Psychology

The psychology minor comprises six courses, including Psychology 1101 {101}, 2510 {251}, and 2520 {252}, and one laboratory course.

Grade Requirements

To fulfill a major (or minor) requirement in psychology, or to serve as a prerequisite for another psychology course, a grade of C- or better must be earned in a course. There is one exception: Psychology 1101 {101} may be taken with the Credit/D/Fail grading option, and it will count toward the major (or minor) and serve as a prerequisite for other psychology courses if a grade of CR (Credit) is earned for the course.

AP/IB Policy

Students who receive an AP score of 4 or higher on the psychology exam are considered to have met the prerequisite for courses requiring Psychology 1101 {101}. Students who receive an IB score of 5 or higher on the (higher level) psychology exam are considered to have met the prerequisite for courses requiring Psychology 1101 {101}. If students place out of Psychology 1101 {101}, ten psychology courses must still be completed for the major, and six for the minor.

Requirements for the Major in Neuroscience

See Neuroscience.

Online Catalogue content is current as of August 1, 2013. For most current course information, use the online course finder. Also see Addenda.