Course Offerings

Required Courses for Majors

Majors are required to take no fewer than ten courses in Psychology to fulfill the requirements that are specified below. The course descriptions are available at the bottom of this page.

  1. Three required courses: PSYC 1000 General Psychology, MATH 1040 Probability and Statistics, and PSYC 2000 Research Methods and Statistics.
  2. Two core courses from Area A and one from Area B.
    • Area A. Developmental and Social Foundations
    • Area B. Cognitive and Biological Foundations
  3. Two seminar courses
  4. Two additional elective courses from the combined offerings of Core, Seminar, and Elective courses.

Sample (recommended) Course Sequence for Majors:

Required Courses for Minors

Minors are required to take six courses to fulfill the requirements that are specified below. See the bottom of this page for course descriptions.

  1. Minors are required to take PSYC 1000 General Psychology.
  2. Minors are required to take two core courses from Area A and one from Area B.
    • Area A. Developmental and Social Foundations
    • Area B. Cognitive and Biological Foundations
  3. Minors are required to elect two additional courses from the combined offerings of Core, Seminar, and Elective courses.

List of Courses

Psychology majors will fulfill the integrated writing requirement by completing several of the courses that are required for the psychology major (PSYC 2000: Research Methods and Statistics [formerly PSYC 002], and two seminar courses). In these courses, students will gain experience with a variety of writing assignments, such as brief responses and essays, as well as literature reviews and research proposals. Each of these courses is designed to provide students with experience in reading original empirical articles in the field of psychology, integrating their findings, and writing and revising papers. Therefore, psychology students fulfill the Integrated Writing requirement by virtue of completing the major.

PSYC 1000. General Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 001]

This introductory course surveys the field and acquaints the student with the major areas of Psychology, including perception, memory, cognition, neuroscience, learning, motivation, emotion, personality, social behavior, development, and psychopathology. Please note, it is a prerequisite for most PSYC courses.

MATH 1040. Probability and Statistics (4 credits) [formerly MATH 040]

Topics include graphical and numerical methods for describing data, probability and sampling distributions, estimation, hypothesis testing, and simple linear regression with inference. Some knowledge of calculus is desirable but not required. Please note, MATH 1040 must be taken prior to PSYC 2000 Research Methods and Statistics; it may be taken prior to PSYC 1000 General Psychology. Majors with AP credit for MATH 1040 are exempt from this requirement, but must substitute an additional Psychology elective.

PSYC 2000. Research Methods and Statistics (4 credits) [formerly PSYC 002]

This course offers an introduction to the logic of research design and to descriptive and inferential statistics. The goals are to prepare students to design, analyze, interpret, and report on their own research, and to evaluate critically the work of others. Emphasis is placed on the logical bases of psychological measurement, research design, and statistical inference. The topics to be covered include the nature of both correlation and experimental studies, confounds and ways of dealing with them, reliability, internal and external validity, frequency distributions, measures of central tendency, variability, graphic presentation of data, hypothesis testing, correlation, and an introduction to the analysis of variance. Each student conducts a research project in an area chosen by the student. Students also write critical summaries of published research. Majors are strongly encouraged to complete this course in their sophomore year and no later than their junior year. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000 and MATH 1040.

PSYC 2400. Social Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 140]

This course examines the social foundations of human nature by addressing the following aspects of social life: (a) social influence; (b) social roles and public behavior; (c) inferences about other people; and (d) interpersonal relations and groups. Among the topics to be considered are: the social origins of knowledge and of self, the influence of public behavior on social and moral norms, persuasion, impression management, social emotions, judgment of responsibility and character, interpersonal attraction, aggression, altruism, group dynamics, and inter-group conflict. The course will concentrate on the level of analysis of the individual, but will include sociological, neuroscience, and evolutionary perspectives where appropriate. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 2500. Emotion (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 145]

What are emotions? How do they affect our lives? How are they different from cognitive processes? Can they be regulated? Are they functional or dysfunctional? This course will provide students with a review of diverse theories and findings in the dynamic field of affective science. In lecture and readings, we will consider classical and contemporary theories of emotions and examine evidence from a range of disciplines (e.g., anthropology, sociology, biology) and subdisciplines of psychology (e.g., developmental, social, clinical). We will consider methodological approaches to studying emotions in the lab and in the world. Our class time will include lecture, watching and discussing video case studies and class discussions and exercises. (Prerequisites: PSYC 1000)

PSYC 2600. Lifespan Development (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 153]

This course explores the biological, cognitive, emotional and social changes that humans experience across the lifespan from birth through old age. It addresses questions such as: “Is development continuous or discontinuous?” “Are we the product of our nature or our nurture?” “Do all people follow a similar trajectory or is human development marked by diversity?” The broad aim is to answer, in different ways, the fundamental question: “How do we become who we are?” Drawing on developmental, social, and cognitive psychology, and an understanding of developmental milestones of each age period, the course investigates the development of language, intelligence, morality, personality, close relationships, and identity. Special attention is paid to the parts parents, peers, schools, and socioeconomic contexts play in those processes. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 2700. Psychological Disorders (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 151]

This course will apply psychological, biological, and psychosocial approaches to the study of psychological disorders. Symptoms, causes, and treatment will be examined for the full spectrum of psychopathology as identified by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), using a variety of methods and in-class exercises and demonstrations. Disorders covered will include anxiety, trauma-related, obsessive-compulsive, mood, eating, sexual, substance-related, personality, psychotic, neurodevelopmental, and neurocognitive disorders. A continuing discussion of the classification, history, and cultural perspectives of these disorders will ensue, with the goal not only of thorough comprehension of these disorders, but a deeper understanding of the people whose lives are affected by them. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 2710. Theories of Personality (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 150]

This course is intended to introduce students to the diverse ways of conceptualizing, assessing, studying, and treating personality. Personality psychology is a scientific study of the whole person. In lecture and readings, we will consider trait, biological, psychodynamic, humanistic, cultural and behavioral approaches to understanding human personality. When discussing each of these approaches, we will focus on its ability to account for individual differences in emotions, thoughts, motivation and behavior, and their stability and change. Our class time will include lecture, watching and discussing video case studies and class discussions and exercises. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 2800. Psychology and the Legal System (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 155]

The law intends to guide and control human behavior and the discipline of psychology intends to understand it. In this course we will examine theories, research, and practical implications for understanding human behavior that is regulated by the American legal system. As a survey course we will investigate a broad range of topics that may include the psychology of crime, eyewitnesses, forensic assessment, trials and juries, and sentencing and corrections. We will examine the structure of the legal system and the various roles that psychologists can play in that system. We will supplement our textbook with Supreme Court briefs and opinions, documentary films, and guest speakers that may include representatives from federal agencies (e.g., U.S. Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation), state and local court systems (e.g., defense attorneys, prosecutors, judges, law enforcement), and advocacy organizations (e.g., victim’s rights, children’s advocacy).

PSYC 3400. Cultural Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 242]

Human beings do not develop and function in a cultural vacuum. Cultural psychology is the field of study that focuses on the cultural constitution of psychological phenomena. In this course, we will consider current theories and research on culture, race, and ethnicity and will examine evidence suggesting psychological processes are culture- and context-dependent. Students will gain a better understanding of the ways in which sociocultural contexts influence psychological processes, such as self, agency, motivation, emotion, cognition, and relationships, learn about empirical methods in cultural psychology, and achieve a better appreciation of diversity within and outside of the United States. Class meetings will be comprised of lecture, discussion, and class exercises. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3410. Group and Inter-group Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 245]

The objective of this course is to educate and encourage students to: (1) understand the psychological foundations of group and inter-group behavior (2) comprehend and critically assess competing psychological theories of group and inter-group behavior, as well as empirical research testing the theories (3) apply psychological theories to explain group and inter-group behavior, including prejudice, discrimination, extremism, radicalization, violence and conflict (4) understand the relationship between globalization and collective behavior (5) assess the psychological foundations of policies for managing diversity, including assimilation, multiculturalism, and omniculturalism. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3420. The Psychology of Gender (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 341]

This course deals with theory and research concerning sex and gender. This class is not meant to be a survey of sex differences, but rather, an examination of the ways in which gender shapes us; the course will emphasize the social context of gender and how men and women “do” gender in their everyday lives. The aim of the course is to explore and critically examine theories and research on sex and gender to better understand the complex interplay among different factors that influence a broad range of human experience. A variety of topics will be covered. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3600. Early Child Development (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 262]

This course engages students in a critical examination of the interdisciplinary literature on early child development from the prenatal period up to school entry. The central debate about the role of early experience in development will provide a unifying theme for the course. The traditional domains of development (social, emotional, language, cognitive) will be addressed in the context of debates about nature-nurture, parenting and the role of the family, child care and early intervention, the influence of culture and the community, and the role of public policies. Research on children displaying both typical and atypical development, as well as those who experience environmental insults such as toxic exposures and child abuse, will be included. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3610. The Psychology of Aging (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 263]

When we study child development, we study our personal and collective past, whereas the study of aging focuses on our future. This course will examine the nature and causes of the psychological changes that accompany human aging. Theories concerning the biological, social, and cultural influences on aging will be considered. The course will examine patterns of change and stability over the adult years. We will ask whether the changes that occur are inevitable and irreversible. Particular emphasis will be placed on the changes in mental life that accompany advancing age, both as viewed from without by observers (including researchers) and from within by aging individuals themselves (in autobiographical accounts). The course will emphasize the ways in which people compensate for the losses that come with added years (including the general slowing of mental and motor processes, the deaths of loved ones) by taking advantage of the gains (including accumulated wisdom and perspective, additional leisure time).

PSYC 3620. Early Childhood Education (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 265]

The course addresses a broad set of topics that have implications for developmentally appropriate and effective early childhood education. It begins with children’s social, emotional and cognitive development and issues related to poverty, culture and language. We will also examine research evidence on effective literacy, math and science instruction for young children, evaluations of early childhood interventions, and several current policy debates. My goal is to ensure that you are equipped to think in an informed and critical way about the state of early childhood education in the U.S. – where it stands today and where it needs to go in the future to enable all children to succeed in school. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3800. Community Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 252]

This course introduces students to the science and practice of community psychology, which emphasizes understanding and changing larger social contexts. Community psychologists work on many of the social issues facing communities today such as juvenile violence, homelessness, child abuse, and welfare reform. They combine theory, research, and action to promote health and prevent problems in communities, groups, and individuals. We examine the field’s major orienting concepts: stress and coping, prevention, empowerment, and resilience. We evaluate the field’s guiding principles: knowledge within a value system, the role of context, importance of diversity, commitment to social change, and orientation toward strengths. Because the field of community psychology resulted from psychologists’ active questioning of the prevailing models of science and practice, students will be encouraged to question and debate their views. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 2200. Physiological Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 120]

The brain, with all its myriad parts, evolved to keep us alive just like any other organ. We are now capable of all kinds of new and flexible behaviors, but many of the parts of the brain, from single cells to neural circuits to macroscopic anatomy, still function in a more rigid manner, largely constrained by their physiology. Things like the circadian rhythm, reward processing and addiction, and different types of memory like autobiographical memory can all be elucidated by studying their underlying physiology. In this course we will study the evolution and physiology of the brain in order to better understand human (and sometimes non-human) behavior. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 2300. Cognition: Information in the Brain (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 130]

Viewing the mind/brain as an information processing or computational system has revolutionized the study and understanding of how both the human mind and brain work. This course introduces the theory, methods, and empirical results that underlie the assumptions that information is biologically real, and that the human brain is the consummate information processing device. Specific topics include philosophy and methodology, perception, attention, cognitive and motor control, knowledge and learning, problem solving and reasoning, emotion, language and mathematics. Effort will be made to integrate evidence from multiple levels of analysis and methodological sources, including neuroscience, computing, cognitive science and psychology.

PSYC 2310. Psychology of Language (3 credits)

The purpose of this course is to provide a comprehensive overview of the structure of language and the processes that allow us to learn, comprehend and produce our own language. Firstly, we will review the structure of language in each of the traditional areas of linguistic analysis (phonology, semantics, syntax/morphology, and pragmatics) in order to fully understand the characteristics of human language that contribute to its hierarchical organization and interactivity. Secondly, the course will provide an overview of typical language processing in children and adults. Topics will include how children and adults learn and process sounds, words, sentences, and communicative norms. The class will include theories of lexical access and word production, sentence comprehension and production, types of inferences made in natural discourse, and the nature of linguistic representation. Finally, experimental methods and analysis tools commonly used in language research will be covered. (Prerequisite: PSYC 1000).

PSYC 3200. Cognitive Neuroscience (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 234]

How does the brain produce the mind? Answering this question is the goal of cognitive neuroscience, a rapidly growing discipline that represents the integration of cognitive psychology and neuroscience. The objective of this course is to introduce you to the methods and topics of cognitive neuroscience. We will consider evidence from functional brain imaging, neuro-genetics, and studies of brain injury and dysfunction to arrive at an understanding of how complex cognitive functions such as perception, memory, language, emotion, and higher level thought are organized in the brain. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3210. Social and Affective Neuroscience (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 235]

This course will be aimed at understanding the nature of human emotional and social experiences and behavior. We will begin by learning about the brain processes that underlie basic emotional processes. This will provide a foundation for considering what emotion is—how do we define it? How do we measure it? We will next move into considering individual emotions, including basic emotions like anger, rage, fear and anxiety. We will then move into considering social emotions, like affiliation, love, and empathy, and the social processes that arise from emotion responses, including stereotyping and prejudice. Throughout, we will consider the neural substrates emotions, homologies in other species, and the psychiatric disorders that may arise when dysfunction arises in social and emotional processes. Prerequisite: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3220. Health Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 225]

Health Psychology examines the biopsychosocial factors that interact with and affect health promotion, stress management, pain coping, and illness prevention and recovery. The course will offer a broad overview of the field, including topics such as: habits and behavioral change, social support and emotion regulation, mental health and subjective well-being, exercise and eating, doctor-patient communication and relationship, chronic stress, major adversity, and psychoneuroimmunology. Students will explore these factors from a variety of theoretical perspectives, including behavioral, physiological, socioemotional, and cognitive. The class is designed to develop: (1) an appreciation of the complex interplay between human behavior, cognition, and emotion as critical determinants of physiological and health outcomes; (2) a practical understanding of cognitive-behavioral and socioemotional techniques applicable to medical treatment and the implications for behavioral medicine and preventative care; (3) a recognition of the importance of cura personalis—an understanding of patients as complex biopsychological systems embedded in a social environment and in a broader societal context. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3230. Psychology of Human Sexuality (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 222]

The goal of this course is to examine the complex interplay of psychological, sociocultural, and biological factors in the development and expression of sexual attitudes and behaviors. This will be accomplished through lectures, readings, discussions, films, and a set of written assignments. We will cover a wide variety of topics, including the major psychological theories of sexuality, patterns of sexual arousal and response, the development of gender and gender identity, variations in sexual orientation, attraction processes and romantic love, sexual dysfunctions and sex therapy, typical and atypical sexual behaviors, as well as the psychological effects of pornography. Every effort will be made to present the relevance and applicability of each course topic to your own life. By the end of the semester, you should have a greater understanding of your own and others’ sexual functioning and practices. You should also develop an appreciation for different perspectives on sexuality, as well as improve your ability to communicate on this topic. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3300. Psychology of Memory (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 231]

Memory is characterized both by extraordinary powers and by puzzling limitations. Examples of these extremes can be seen in all of us; we recall details of events experienced in childhood, yet find ourselves unable to think of the single item for which we drove to the grocery store. Other extremes of memory are witnessed only in unusual individuals; mnemonists with apparently limitless photographic memories stand in sharp contrast to individuals who suffer from amnesia so severe that they have forgotten who they are. This course explores such powers and limitations, and considers critically what they reveal about the nature of human memory. Among the topics considered are mnemonists, techniques for improving memory, amnesia, hypnosis, the development and aging of memory in the individual, theories of memory, and the relation between brain and memory. The course is conducted as a seminar and workshop. Students read and lead discussions of the assigned articles, and, working either alone or as part of a group, they design and conduct their own studies of memory. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 3310. Sensation and Perception (3 credits)

What is real? How do you define ‘real’? If you’re talking about what you can feel, what you can smell, what you can taste and see, then ‘real’ is simply electrical signals interpreted by your brain. These electrical signals are shaped by our evolution and resultant physiology to make us perceive the world in ways that are beneficial to us, in ways that are adaptive. In this course we will study how the brain collects information, about both the external and the internal world, transduces it into electrical signals, and molds that information into the perceptions that we experience and the behaviors that we do. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000

BIOL 1950. Neurobiology (4 credits) [formerly BIOL 195]

This course covers the fundamentals of neurobiology, the study of the cellular basis of nervous system function. It is intended as the gateway course for a Neurobiology major at the sophomore level. The course will examine the cellular composition of the nervous system, the characteristics and functions of neurons, and the ways that signals are relayed within the nervous system. The cellular and molecular basis of sensory and motor systems, plasticity, development and learning will be analyzed. The process and impact of nervous system evolution also will be considered. The course consists of three 1-hr lectures and a recitation. Prerequisites: BIOL 1203.

BIOL 3260. Animal Behavior (4 credits) [formerly BIOL 326]

This course is about animals, evolution, conservation, and behavior. We start with some basic evolutionary principles, based on Darwin’s theory of organic evolution by natural selection. Studies of animal behavior focus on the how, when, where, and why animals behave in certain ways and not in others. General topics include parental, mating, cooperative, foraging, predation and aggressive behavior. We will also discuss nepotism (known more formally as kin selection), reciprocal altruism, cognition, culture, development, social networks, and life histories (how individual behavioral strategies change across the lifespan.) You will learn to interpret what scientists mean when using such terms as “innate” or “learned.” Both field and laboratory studies are integral to the course. Specific animal species including representatives from mammalian, avian, reptilian, and insect groups will help illustrate how animal behavior systems work. We also discuss how climate change is impacting animal systems. Prerequisites: BIOL 1204 or BIOL 1206.

PSYC 4200. Stress, Coping, and Health (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 349]

Everyone experiences stress, and stress can have serious consequences for mental and physical health. But how does stress come to affect health? And what can we do to minimize the harmful effects of stress? This course reviews the foundations of stress theory and critically examines research on how stress might affect psychosocial, behavioral, and biological processes to impact health and disease risk. Individual and contextual factors that can protect against stress, as well as coping strategies and interventions that can help deal with or reduce stress are also examined. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000 and PSYC 2000.

PSYC 4210. Neurophilosophy (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 355]

Science used to be philosophy and it may be again. What we now think of as science grew largely out of the work of “natural philosophers” who used empirical (evidence-based) measures to test philosophical theories. Today, in the neurosciences, new techniques open the way to new evidence concerning fundamental philosophical questions of the nature and behavior of our minds. In this course, we will read into the contemporary literature, particularly the literature of cognitive neuroscience, in which empirical brain-based methods have been used as tools for asking philosophical questions. We will consider the topics of consciousness, morality, love, human-ness, individual differences and equality, and conceptions of self and others, as well as the natures of perception, thought, belief, knowledge, and memory. We will directly consider the capacities and limitations of neuroscientific methods for philosophical inquiry, and discuss emerging and future directions in this area. Prerequisites: [PSYC 1000 or BIOL 1203 or BIOL 1204] and [PSYC 3200 or BIOL 3798/5798 or BIOL 1750]

PSYC 4220. Health Behavior and Cancer Prevention Across the Lifespan (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 357]

Nearly half of all deaths from cancer are preventable through a combination of health behavior change and early detection practices. This seminar explores the contribution of lifestyle as a risk factor for cancer, and how psychology’s insights into this behavior–health connection drives public health prevention campaigns from childhood to adulthood. The course addresses fundamental research questions such as the following: Why do some individuals engage in behaviors that place them at increased risk for cancer (e.g., tobacco use, excess UV exposure, consume a poor diet, are physically inactive)? What determines whether someone is motivated to change their behavior to improve their health (e.g., knowledge and attitudes)? In what ways do biology, stress, and the environment contribute to cancer onset, and how do they influence cancer outcomes? We will also consider a broad range of ecological determinants of health-promoting and health-compromising behaviors, such as the family and community, health care providers and systems, norms and culture, and social media. We will examine how these interact to inform our understanding of behavioral cancer risk, prevention, and intervention efforts and the eradication of health disparities. The class is taught in a seminar format and requires class attendance and active engagement. Readings will be at an advanced level, with multiple writing assignments and team projects required throughout the semester. Prerequisites: [PSYC 1000 and PSYC 2400] or permission of the instructor.

PSYC 4230. Advanced Seminar in Cognitive Neuroscience (3 credits)

The past 20+ years have witnessed exponential growth in the characterization of mind/brain relationships. While the mind functions as a well-tuned cohesive whole, understanding it has required fractionation at a variety of levels, from molecular to behavioral. The objective of this upper-level seminar is to journey through the field via seminal and contemporary articles that embody its interdisciplinary nature. Readings will comprise review articles, research papers, and opinion/perspective pieces. My hope is that you will leave the course with at least a few insights into the organization of mental function in the brain and some enduring questions to ponder in your armchair or laboratory. (Prerequisites: PSYC 2300 [Formerly PSYC 130] or PSYC 3200 [Formerly PSYC 234]

PSYC 4299. Special Topics in Biological Psychology (3 credits)

This course can vary in content from semester to semester, and indeed from section to section in the same semester. Each section of this course will typically be taught by an advanced graduate student in the Psychology Department, and will explore material bearing on that student’s doctoral dissertation. Since the course content varies in the manner described, a student may enroll in the course more than once. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4300. Neuroscience of Flavor (3 credits)

Flavor. The first frontier. For as long as there has been life there has been a need to find food, and therefore basic chemical sensation. This biological need has placed on us a consistent evolutionary pressure, driving the development of what we now know as flavor. In this course we will study how the brain creates our perception of flavor from multiple different exteroceptive senses (not just taste and smell), as well as from multiple different interoceptive senses, giving us information about our internal body states. Why does salt make everything taste better? Why is food tastier when you’re hungry? Why is food so inextricably tied up with culture? These questions are some hors d’oeuvres to prime your palate for what this course is about. Prerequisite: PSYC 1000

PSYC 4399. Special Topics in Cognition/Perception (3 credits)

This course can vary in content from semester to semester, and indeed from section to section in the same semester. Each section of this course will typically be taught by an advanced graduate student in the Psychology Department, and will explore material bearing on that student’s doctoral dissertation. Since the course content varies in the manner described, a student may enroll in the course more than once. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4400. Hot Topics in Human Sexuality (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 337]

This class will explore controversies in the field of human sexuality. Sexuality tends to evoke strong opinions and vigorous debates, both among researchers and in the general public. Does talking to teens about sex encourage sexual behavior? Is pornography harmful? Is sexual orientation fixed or fluid? It is especially important that we understand the complexities of scientific evidence in this field, as sexuality impacts public policy and our personal lives. Topics may include sex/gender differences, sexual orientations, the sex industry, casual sex, atypical sexual behaviors, sexual difficulties, and sexuality education. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4410. Psychology of Close Relationships (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 338]

In this course, we will examine some of the theories and research on close relationships with the goal of understanding relationship processes and outcomes. The course will primarily focus on romantic relationships, but will also touch on family relationships and friendships. We will apply the science of close relationships to “real-life” relationships, including identifying ways to use the research to improve relationships. Topics may include attraction, intimacy, love, sexuality, communication, conflict, relationship satisfaction, relationship longevity, and relationship dissolution. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4420. Culture and Psychopathology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 353]

This course explores a portion of the accumulated evidence for a relativistic, rather than a universal, model of psychological disturbance. In this relativistic model, the experience and manifestation of mental illness is shaped primarily by indigenous beliefs and cultural value systems. Reading material will be drawn from the psychological, sociological, and anthropological literature using a wide variety of sources including books, empirical studies, theoretical essays, and ethnographies. Among the topics to be considered are cross-cultural differences in classification and epidemiology, the relation between culture and theories of psychopathology, culture-bound syndromes, cross-cultural perspectives on depression, aggression, eating disorders, and schizophrenia, and cultural variations in treatment and healing practices. Prerequisites: PSYC 2000 AND [PSYC 2700 or PSYC 3400].

PSYC 4430. Digital Well-Being (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 348]

In the 1970s, computers were the size of a room. Today, a typical smartphone fits discreetly in a pocket and boasts more computing power than that of the Apollo 11 when it landed on the moon (Kaku, 2011). Since the first computers began entering people’s homes more than 30 years ago, human-computer interactions (HCI) have become central to people’s everyday activities. A decade later, the Internet powered another technological revolution by connecting computers and transforming how people connect. And only a dozen years ago, the advent of ultraportable computing devices such as smartphones marked the beginning of yet another technological age—one in which people can connect to unlimited digital worlds everywhere they go. In this digital age of pervasive computing and social media, people have access to valuable information, entertainment, and far-flung friends and family anywhere they go. But if digital communication technology provides such clear benefits by making our lives easier and more connected, why are we all not bursting with greater happiness and health? In this class, we will explore the costs and benefits of digital technology for well-being. We will explore how our digital lives impact our well-being through a range of theoretical perspectives while considering empirical findings about various aspects of digital technology: from social media and online communities to smartphones, email, notifications, and video conferencing. Finally, we will use the existing evidence to reflect on how we can harness the benefits and minimize the costs of digital technology in our lives while trying to imagine what a more human-centered technology of the future might look like. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000 and PSYC 2000.

PSYC 4450. Empathy and Communication (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 358]

Are humans innately selfish or empathic? What do we mean when we say “empathy?” Do selfish or empathic behaviors succeed best in the long term? What is a psychopath? In this seminar, we will explore these questions and others related to cognitive, emotional, and behavioral aspects of empathy in interpersonal interactions. We will begin with an exploration of the multiple ways that empathy can be defined and conceptualized, with a focus on the differences among empathy, empathic accuracy, and perspective-taking. As the course continues, we will examine the neural structures that subserve empathic abilities, how the capacity for empathy develops during childhood, the relationship between empathy and both altruistic and aggressive behaviors, and psychopathologies associated with impaired empathic capacities. The course will be taught as a seminar, and all students are expected to participate. Readings will be drawn from recent and classic academic literature. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000 and PSYC 2000.

PSYC 4460. Psychology and Literature (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 370]

Insights from selected great works of literature and psychological science are used to explore the self, emotions and culture, intelligence, personality, conformity, obedience, group dynamics, collective conflict and war. The relationship between literature and psychological science is also explored.

PSYC 4499. Special Topics in Social Psychology (3 credits)

This course can vary in content from semester to semester, and indeed from section to section in the same semester. Each section of this course will typically be taught by an advanced graduate student in the Psychology Department, and will explore material bearing on that student’s doctoral dissertation. Since the course content varies in the manner described, a student may enroll in the course more than once. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4500. Social Psychology of Emotion (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 340]

This seminar examines the psychology of emotion, emphasizing cognitive, social, and cultural aspects that have been studied from the perspective of social psychology. The course addresses questions such as the following: How do emotions affect thought, motivation, and social interaction? What determines whether they are functional or dysfunctional? In what ways are emotions influenced by culture? What is known about specific emotional states, such as anger, love, embarrassment, shame, guilt, jealousy, or envy? The class is taught in a seminar format and requires class attendance and participation. Readings will be at an advanced level, and multiple writing assignments will be required throughout the semester. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4510. Emotions and Psychopathology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 341]

When are emotions functional and when are they dysfunctional? What do “flat affect” and “flashbacks” feel like? Is it possible to feel depressed and elated at the same time? Do psychopaths feel fear? This seminar will focus on answering these and similar questions on the linkages between emotional and social processes and how they are (or are not) disrupted in different types of psychopathology. We will begin with a review of the basic emotional processes and contemporary theories of emotions. We will continue with a discussion of methodological issues associated with study of emotion in diverse populations. We will then examine the role of emotions in etiology, presentation and treatment of several mental disorders, including mood disorders (unipolar depression and bipolar disorder), anxiety disorders (phobias and PTSD), schizophrenia, psychopathy, alcohol abuse, and borderline personality disorder. Our class time will include discussion, watching and discussing video case studies and class exercises. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000, PSYC 2000, and PSYC 2500.

PSYC 4520. Social Emotion Regulation (3 credits)

This seminar offers a selective review of the scientific literature on how humans modulate and manage one another’s emotions. First, we will review theoretical perspectives and research on the functions of emotions within social relationships. From a psychological and neuroscientific perspective, we will examine how people perceive and regulate emotions within social interactions. We will consider how these processes are shaped in early development, changed by age, and impacted by culture. Then we will review the consequences and implications of emotion regulation for physical and mental health. Finally, the course will cover literature that evaluates a number of modern psychotherapeutic approaches for managing our own and other’s emotions. (Prerequisites: PSYC 1000 & PSYC 2000)

PSYC 4599. Special Topics in Emotions (3 credits)

This course can vary in content from semester to semester, and indeed from section to section in the same semester. Each section of this course will typically be taught by an advanced graduate student in the Psychology Department, and will explore material bearing on that student’s doctoral dissertation. Since the course content varies in the manner described, a student may enroll in the course more than once. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4600. Infancy (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 367]

This course introduces upper-level undergraduates to fundamental concepts of human development from conception to 2 years of age and will evaluate and critique the methods, the data, and the interpretations arising from the study of the preverbal cognitive mind. Assessment will consist of a semester-long research proposal project where students integrate their writing and research skills. Student will conduct a peer review of each other’s proposals and then based on feedback each student will revise the proposal. In the final class students will present their ideas to the class. Students will also be expected to discuss research both online in Canvas and in class and to present a research article to the class. The final is a take-home policy paper. Students will also write written reflections on their observations at the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), the Developmental Evaluation Followup Clinic (DEC) and Hoya Kids childcare.

PSYC 4610. Current Research on Children, Families, and Parenting (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 377]

This seminar explores the science of families and parents in multiple contexts. We will consider questions such as the following: Why and how do we study parenting empirically? How important are parents to children’s development, and what are the implications of growing up in different family types and contexts? Is there a “right” and a “wrong” way to parent children? Does the answer to that question depend on developmental context? We will also examine current research on topics related to parenting and families such as growing up in poverty, fatherhood, coparenting, and parenting styles. The end of the course will focus on how families are affected by social policies, including child protective services and early intervention, designed to support families with young children. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4620. Mind, Brain and Education (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 317]

This course is an introduction to the emerging field of Mind, Brain and Education (sometimes referred to as Educational Neuroscience). The field sits at the intersection of developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, educational practice and policy. Such interdisciplinary endeavors provide both exceptional opportunity as well as considerable pitfalls and controversy. We will explore the rapidly changing landscape of this field with two key questions in mind: (1) (How) Can empirically grounded data from psychology and neuroscience inform educational practice and policy? (2) (How) Can insights and challenges from education inform and direct research in psychology and neuroscience? Prerequisites: PSYC 2000 and (PSYC 2300 or PSYC 3200 or PSYC 3210)

PSYC 4630. Cognitive Development (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 366]

This course covers fundamental principles and processes of cognitive development. The focus this semester will be on early cognitive development. Students will learn about cognitive development with special attention paid to the development of memory, attention, language, problem-solving and executive functioning skills more broadly. Material covered will address both normative and atypical development. Additionally, the roles that both biology and environmental context play will be featured. It is designed for students interested in psychology, cognitive science, and related fields.

Readings will comprise empirical articles, review and opinion/perspective papers that will introduce students to methodology and research questions currently under investigation in development science. Students are encouraged to consider the role of research findings in policy issues.

Each of the topics we cover is complex and could be the source of semester-long study in and of itself. For that reason, the intent is to give you an overview of the constructs and some sense of the theoretical, empirical, and application issues. The examples and topics within each week are meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4650. Ethnic-Racial Identity Development (3 credits)

In this course, students will grow to understand how adolescents and young adults develop their ethnic-racial identities and the implications of this for their broader development and well-being. This class will tackle questions such as: How do adolescents and young adults form an understanding of their ethnic and racial backgrounds over time? How do social spaces that youth inhabit (e.g., school, family, neighborhood contexts) regularly inform their ethnic-racial identity development? How can youth’s ethnic-racial identity protect them against risk factors such as ethnic-racial discrimination? How do youth’s beliefs about their ethnic-racial background inform their attitudes towards members of other groups? How might country of origin and immigrant generational status inform differences across youth who share similar ethnic-racial backgrounds? What kinds of programs can be developed or implemented to promote ethnic-racial identity development in youth? This course is ideal for students interested in broadening their theoretical understanding of social development, particularly during adolescence and young adulthood. It is also ideal for students who want to broaden their practical understanding of how young people’s ethnic-racial identity can inform intervention development, classroom curriculum, and social policy that support positive youth outcomes. (Prerequisites:  PSYC 1000 and PSYC 2000)

PSYC 4699. Special Topics in Developmental Psychology (3 credits)

This course can vary in content from semester to semester, and indeed from section to section in the same semester. Each section of this course will typically be taught by an advanced graduate student in the Psychology Department, and will explore material bearing on that student’s doctoral dissertation. Since the course content varies in the manner described, a student may enroll in the course more than once. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4700. Theories of Therapy (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 354]

This course is designed to familiarize students with basic concepts in theories of psychotherapy and provide a review of selected theories and their applications. Freudian, post-Freudian, existential, humanistic, behavioral, and cognitive approaches will be covered. The theories presented will be critically evaluated, contrasted, and applied to understanding of real-life treatment situations with diverse populations. Multiple instructional approaches will be used, including lectures, class discussions, experiential exercises, and videos. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000 and PSYC 2700.

PSYC 4710. Anxiety and Related Disorders (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 343]

In this course, we will explore in depth the anxiety, trauma-and-stressor-related, and obsessive-compulsive disorders as defined in the DSM-5. Up-to-date research into diagnostic criteria, etiology, and treatment will be examined for each disorder, with a particular focus on their psychological, biological, and sociocultural aspects. We will continually aim for a deeper understanding of the human experience of these disorders, examining personal accounts through case studies, class exercises, and media representations. In addition to gaining insight into the disorders, we will engage in a continuing discussion about the nature of stress and anxiety, including their growing prevalence and how they are understood and expressed across cultures, and how new research into genetics, the gut microbiome, mindfulness, and personality reveal new answers (and questions!) about what makes one person suffer from anxiety and another person unburdened by it. Prerequisites: PSYC 2700.

PSYC 4799. Special Topics in Clinical Psychology (3 credits)

This course can vary in content from semester to semester, and indeed from section to section in the same semester. Each section of this course will typically be taught by an advanced graduate student in the Psychology Department, and will explore material bearing on that student’s doctoral dissertation. Since the course content varies in the manner described, a student may enroll in the course more than once. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4800. Children, Families, and the Law (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 368]

Psychology research and practice can inform several areas of law affecting children and families, including child maltreatment, adolescent reproductive rights, juvenile delinquency, and child custody, among others. We will examine the psychological assumptions about the interests of children, parents, and the state that are present in the law. We will also investigate how psychological theory and research is designed and applied to legal dilemmas facing children and families. Readings will come from both law and psychology. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

PSYC 4810. Child and Family Policy (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 365]

This course is designed to engage students in a critical examination of the relationship between knowledge and advocacy, and the influence of both on the development of child policy in the United States. Students will be introduced to the opportunities, dilemmas, and constraints that affect the relationship between science and policy, particularly federal legislative policies for children and families. Roles for psychologists in the policy arena, as well as ethical issues associated with these roles will also be explored. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000 or permission of the instructor.

PSYC 4820. Political Psychology (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 375]

This course explores political thought and action through the lens of psychological science. The introductory discussions focus on the varieties of perspectives in psychological science and competing constructions of human nature. The relationship between the psychological citizen and political systems is examined. There follow discussions of politics and culture in global context, politics and personality, political decision making and participation, collective political processes, and intergroup and international relations.

PSYC 4899. Special Topics in Legal-Policy Psychology (3 credits)

This course can vary in content from semester to semester, and indeed from section to section in the same semester. Each section of this course will typically be taught by an advanced graduate student in the Psychology Department, and will explore material bearing on that student’s doctoral dissertation. Since the course content varies in the manner described, a student may enroll in the course more than once. Prerequisites: PSYC 1000.

LING 2340. Cross-Cultural Communications (3 credits) [formerly LING 333]

This course explores the nature of cross-cultural communication from the perspective of interactional sociolinguistics. We take a broad view of “culture”, which includes geographic region, ethnicity, age, socioeconomic class, and gender. We examine the relationship between language and culture by investigating aspects of language use that vary by culture, including turn-taking, specific speech acts, silence, politeness, and nonverbal cues. In addition to considering language use in everyday conversation, we examine communication in institutional contexts, including education, business, law, and medicine. Class activities include lectures, discussion in whole-class and small-group formats, video presentations, hands-on data analysis, and guest lectures. Requirements include a solid attendance record, active participation in class discussions, weekly reading responses, two written papers, and a final presentation.

Electives count toward the major, but do not count toward filling the three core area requirements. Electives include more than three area courses, more than two seminars as well as courses taken during study abroad that were not pre-approved as fulfilling an area requirement, but were pre-approved as fulfilling an elective. In addition, any other Psychology course at any level that does not already fulfill a specific requirement of the major may also serve as an elective. 

PSYC 3430. The Psychology of Fashion [formerly PSYC 260]

While what we wear has been a marker for social class, occupation, and even personality for centuries, the field of fashion psychology is a relatively new subdiscipline in the field. The study of how our choices in dress affect how we see and judge one another is known as fashion psychology. The phrase “fashion psychology” is somewhat deceptive, though, as the field actually examines much beyond how clothes affect a person. This course introduces students to the emerging field of Fashion Psychology. Students learn how fashion and human behavior are intertwined and how psychological principles can be utilized to predict and explain those behaviors. (Prerequisite: PSYC 001)

PSYC 3730. Group Process & Facilitation I (3 credits)

Group Process and Facilitation is a 2-semester, 5- or 6-credit course sequence. In the first semester, students learn background knowledge and skills related to: advanced reflective listening, group processes and management, leadership and facilitation. Students also participate in their own Connection Project group. In semester 2, students who are deemed “ready to lead” will be eligible to co-facilitate 1-2 Connection Project group(s) and also receive weekly group supervision.

Through readings, discussion, participation in The Connection Project, and practice in leading groups, this course will help you hone and develop your group facilitation knowledge and skills. You will work hard to learn about yourselves, your peers, understanding differences, and fostering a supportive community. In order to use these skills in the future, we have asked that you commit to two semesters (or more) of work with The Connection Project, so that you may have the opportunity to facilitate your own group after you complete this course. The semester is split into three phases: during the first phase of the semester, students are divided into three small groups of ~12 students each. Small groups meet during the regularly scheduled class time with a facilitator (your professor or TA) to complete the Connection Project curriculum as a participant. You will engage in the activities and discussion as a member of your Hoyas Connected group. This allows you to (1) experience the sessions as your group members will, doing the same work of building group-level connection, and (2) see how your facilitator(s) manage the groups as a model for your later facilitation experience. During the second phase of the semester, the entire class meets together for didactics – lectures, discussions, and self-reflection to learn the why and how of the program as well as core facilitation skills. The final phase of the course is reserved for role plays to practice applying the skills; you’ll each have an opportunity to co-lead a small group using an actual segment of the Hoyas Connected curriculum. Departmental permission required. Prerequisite: At least one PSYC course.

PSYC 3740/3741. Group Process & Facilitation 2

This is the second semester of a 2-semester, 5 or 6-credit course sequence. In semester I, students learned background knowledge and skills related to: advanced reflective listening, group processes and management, leadership, and facilitation. Students also participated in their own Hoyas Connected group. In semester II, students co-facilitate 1-2 Hoyas Connected group(s) and also receive weekly group supervision and continued preparation and skill development in group facilitation. Prerequisite: PSYC 3730 and permission of instructor.

PSYC 3810. Building Equitable Societies (3 credits) [formerly PSYC 267] 

This course focuses on the intersection of children’s rights and needs addressing contemporary challenges of our times. The course examines the origin and effect of health, education, and social policies on children and families for issues such as pregnancy and reproductive health, and the impact of the opioid crisis, immigration and child separation and effects of incarceration. How can we use science to move the needle on these significant challenges to child development? How do systems of care and control (e.g. justice and welfare systems) intersect and how do inequities multiply to impact child development? What are the short and long term effect of separating children from their parents at the border? How do we intervene in the opioid crisis to protect young children? Answers to these questions and others like them lie at the intersection of legal policy, both international and domestic, and developmental psychology. This course introduces students to these complex and interacting influences on children’s growth and development, their biopsychosocial origins, and their inequitable outcomes. Moving from research to practice to policy provides the structure for the course. Along with scholarly readings and case studies, students will have first-hand experiences in an immigration court hearing and a newborn intensive care unit. A culminating project will require students to synthesize their learning around rights, needs, and child development.

The following cross-listed courses count as PSYC Electives:

EDIJ 2500. Children with Disabilities (3 credits) [formerly EDIJ 253]

EDIJ 253 provides a comprehensive overview of neurodevelopmental disabilities and evidence-based practices from an interdisciplinary and educational perspective. The course covers characteristics of disabilities, and the social, biological, economic, and policy factors that influence the trajectory of disabilities and service delivery to children with disabilities and their families. The course emphasizes inclusive, family-centered, community based, and culturally and linguistically competent services and supports. The content of the course is framed in a disability studies perspective, a perspective that views disability as a part of the human condition. EDIJ 253 investigates how services and supports are provided to assist children with disabilities to be included and participate fully in all educational environments and in the community. CBL optional.

ICOS 2201. Introduction to Cognitive Science (3 credits) [formerly ICOS 201]

Cognitive Science is the study of the mind, i.e., of how knowledge is acquired and used. Cognitive scientists use theories and methods drawn from many disciplines including cognitive psychology, neuroscience, philosophy of mind, linguistics, computer science, artificial intelligence, physics, mathematics, biology, and anthropology. They ask questions such as: How do people acquire language? What are the neural bases of perceiving, learning and remembering? What is the nature of knowledge? Can machines think? How do experts differ from novices? Are there innate ideas? How did human intelligence evolve? This course introduces students to the conceptual frameworks and methods used in the various disciplines which constitute Cognitive Science. The course is team-taught by professors from several Main Campus and Medical Center departments. The format is lecture/discussion. This course is required for cognitive science Minors, but open to all students. No prerequisites. Fall.

ICOS 2950. Research Modules in Cognitive Science (3 credits) [formerly ICOS 202]

This course introduces students to research strategies of the different disciplines of Cognitive Science, using faculty research programs at Georgetown as examples. Approximately 6-8 Main Campus and Medical Center faculty offer research modules, of which students select three. In each module, students learn about and become engaged in the current research of the faculty member. A short paper or small project is normally required to complete each module. Meeting times are determined by each module instructor. More details on the modules and instructions for enrolling can be found on the Cognitive Sciences home page: This course is required for Cognitive Science Minors, but open to all students. Prerequisite: ICOS-201. Permission of instructor required. Spring.

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