Psychology Major

The psychology major comprises ten courses; these are selected by students with their advisors and are subject to departmental review.

Required Courses
The following three core courses should be completed before the junior year when feasible:
PSYC 1101Introduction to Psychology (which is a prerequisite to further study in psychology)1
PSYC 2510Research Design in Psychology1
PSYC 2520Data Analysis1
Select three courses chosen from topics-level courses (2000—2099).3
Select two laboratory courses from psychology 2700—2799. a2
Select two advanced courses from psychology 3000—3999. b,c,d,e2

Psychology Minor

The psychology minor comprises six courses.

Required Courses
PSYC 1101Introduction to Psychology1
PSYC 2510Research Design in Psychology1
PSYC 2520Data Analysis1
Select one course chosen from the topics-level courses (2000-2099).1
Select one laboratory course from psychology 2700–2799.1
Select one additional elective course excluding independent study.1

Additional Information and Department Policies

  • Students are encouraged to consider an independent study including a directed reading, intermediate, or advanced independent study, or an intermediate or advanced collaborative study. Independent study courses do not count toward the core, laboratory, advanced course, or topics-level requirements for the major, but may count toward the ten credits required for the major if a student places out of PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology. Independent study courses do not count toward the minor.
  • Students who wish to pursue honors in psychology should identify a potential faculty mentor in their junior year. Honors is a two semester sequence in the senior year. Honors projects courses do not count toward the core, laboratory, advanced course, or topics level requirements for the major. Guidelines for the honors program are available on the department website
  • Students who are considering a major in psychology are encouraged to enroll in PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology during their first year at Bowdoin, and to enroll in PSYC 2510 Research Design in Psychology and PSYC 2520 Data Analysis during their second year.
  • Students must take PSYC 2510 Research Design in Psychology before PSYC 2520 Data Analysis and before any course numbered 2700 or higher. PSYC 2520 Data Analysis must be taken concurrently with or prior to any course numbered 2700 or higher. If possible, students should begin their laboratory work no later than the first semester 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. However, the department has occasionally allowed such courses to meet those requirements. Please meet with Chair if you believe the course taken elsewhere is comparable to a department lab or seminar.
  • Majors and minors may double-count certain courses with certain other departments or programs.  Students who coordinate a major in psychology with digital and computational studies, education, or environmental studies may double count certain courses.  Majors and minors may double count PSYC 2520 Data Analysis toward another major or minor that requires a quantitative or data analytic course.  Please meet with Chair to discuss your options for double counting.
  • Students who major or minor in psychology may not also major in neuroscience; students who major in neuroscience may not also major or minor in psychology. 

Grade Requirements

To fulfill a major or minor requirement in psychology, a course must be taken for a standard letter grade and a grade of C- or better must be earned. There is one exception: PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology may be taken with the Credit/D/Fail grading option, and it counts toward the major or minor if a grade of CR (Credit) is earned for the course.

Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate (AP/IB)

Students who receive a minimum score of four on the AP Psychology exam or a minimum score of five on the IB Psychology exam, Higher Level only, are considered to have met the prerequisite for courses requiring PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology.  In order to receive credit for Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate work, students must have their scores officially reported to the Office of the Registrar by the end of their sophomore year at Bowdoin, but students who meet the minimum score requirements to place out of PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology​ are strongly recommended to submit their scores to the Office of the Registrar as soon as possible as those scores will serve as the prerequisite for all other psychology courses. If students place out of PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology, ten psychology courses must still be completed for the major, and six for the minor; any psychology course including any type of independent study, collaborative study, or honors project course in psychology may count as this tenth course.  

Information for Incoming Students

Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, brain, and behavior of individuals (particularly human individuals). The first course in the department is PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology which is a prerequisite to all other psychology courses. This course is offered every semester. It provides a broad overview of the topics covered in psychology as well as an introduction to how psychological research is conducted.

There is no placement test for PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology; we assume that most students have not had the opportunity to take a psychology course in high school. However, a student who has a score of 4 or better on the AP Psychology AP exam, or a score of 5 or better on the IB Psychology exam, Higher Level only, may skip PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology. For these students, we recommend PSYC 2010 Infant and Child Development or PSYC 2025 Psychopathology in the fall; or PSYC 2012 Educational PsychologyPSYC 2030 Social PsychologyPSYC 2040 Cognition: The Science of How We Learn, Think, and Act, or PSYC 2050 Biological Psychology in the spring. Although these students are also eligible to take PSYC 2510 Research Design in Psychology in the fall of their first year, we advise them to wait at least one semester before doing so.

This is an excerpt from the official Bowdoin College Catalogue and Academic Handbook. View the Catalogue