Overview and Learning Goals


The program in psychology examines contemporary perspectives on principles of human behavior in areas ranging from cognition, development, and behavioral neuroscience to interpersonal relations and psychopathology. Its approach emphasizes scientific methods of inquiry and analysis.

Learning Goals

Goal 1: Demonstrate understanding of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, basic research findings, and methods in psychology.

  • Breadth in the discipline is accomplished through PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology and the 2000-level topics courses. Majors are required to complete three topics courses; minors are required to complete at least two. Depth is achieved through 2700-level laboratory courses and the 3000-level seminar courses in which students demonstrate mastery of methodologies and literature in two or more sub-disciplines.

Goal 2: Apply principles of psychology to better understand one’s own and others’ behavior and mental processes as found in the real world.

  • PSYC 1101 Introduction to Psychology, topics courses, and seminars emphasize the relevance of psychological principles and findings to everyday life.

Goal 3: Develop an understanding of the social and cultural context of psychology.

  • Across the psychology curriculum, social and cultural differences (e.g., class, ethnicity, gender, race) are discussed and analyzed as factors that influence, and are influenced by, human behavior.

Goal 4: Rigorously evaluate the methods, findings, and conclusions in published research.

  • Although courses across the psychology curriculum encourage rigorous questioning of the existing literature, this expectation is most thoroughly actualized by students in advanced seminars.

Goal 5: Acquire skills to empirically test questions and claims about behavior and mental processes.

  • In PSYC 2510 Research Design in Psychology, PSYC 2520 Data Analysis, and laboratory courses, students develop the tools necessary to apply the scientific method by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data.

Goal 6: Design and conduct original research.

  • Laboratory courses, advanced seminars, and independent study and honors courses require students to move beyond evaluating previous research to formulate and test novel questions and hypotheses.

Goal 7: Communicate effectively through written, oral, and other modes (e.g., videos, images, graphs).

  • Students learn to effectively convey their knowledge and critical analysis of the literature and their research findings in research design. These skills are further developed in laboratory courses and advanced seminars.

Options for Majoring or Minoring in the Department

Students may elect to major in psychology; to coordinate a major in psychology with digital and computational studies, education, or environmental studies; or to major in neuroscience, sponsored jointly by the departments of psychology and biology (see neuroscience). Students pursuing a coordinate major may not normally elect a second major. Non-majors may elect to minor in psychology. 

Department Website

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