The Psychology Program
The psychology major provides students with a sound introduction to psychology as a scientific discipline, including both traditional areas and more recent trends and theoretical developments. Psychology majors receive extensive training in methodology and statistics. The study of psychology emphasizes critical thinking and the development of writing, oral communication and research skills.
Students are exposed to the variety of subject areas that define the field of psychology and are given the opportunity for hands-on, empirical work. Many students work on research teams and do year-long research projects under the direction of an individual faculty member. Many of these students present their research at national conferences and publish their work in peer-reviewed journals. A variety of internships are offered at local businesses and social service agencies.
Course sequences prepare students for either graduate work or employment immediately after graduation. Employment options include research in various business settings; social work; human resource management; computer applications; and counseling and case management in social service and mental health settings like probation and parole, intellectual disabilities, substance abuse, and adolescent/adult group homes. The curriculum also provides an excellent preparation for professional school and graduate study in psychology. Courses offered in collaboration with Business Administration explore the application of psychological principles and research methods to various work environments for students interested in careers in management, human resources, organizational behavior, organizational development, and industrial/organizational psychology.
The department sponsors a chapter of Psi Chi, the national honorary society in psychology, which annually sponsors an undergraduate research symposium at which students present both course and team research projects. Students are encouraged to be members of the Virginia Psychological Association and present their research at meetings of the Association. Each year the department awards over $20,000 in scholarships specifically to Psychology majors. These scholarships include the J. Christopher Bill Scholarship, the Minnie Rob Phaup Scholarship, the Emily Cella Scholarship, the Burney Lynch Parkinson Scholarship, the James and Deborah Llewellyn Scholarship, and the C. Jarrett and Hazel Small Wilkins Scholarship. The department also presents the Outstanding Senior Psychology Award to a graduating major.
Department facilities include computer laboratories suitable for both general student use and specialized work in cognition, sensation and perception, and physiological psychology; an animal laboratory complete with a vivarium, surgery, shop, and computerized experimental controls; a computerized video laboratory for studying social, developmental, and group processes; a number of rooms and a variety of equipment suitable for conducting empirical research with human participants; facilities for psychological testing; and computerized physiographs for use in experimental and clinical applications.
Requirements for the Psychology Major
Thirty-seven (37) credits in Psychology (PSYC) courses, including 100, 261, 360, 362, and 421; and at least one course from each of the following four groupings: (1) 301, 311, 342; (2) 305*, 372*, 374, 394 (*if this course is taken to fulfill 2, then it cannot count toward 3); (3) 305*, 372*, 373, 453 (*if this course is taken to fulfill 3, then it cannot count toward 2); (4) 331, 332, 333; (5) 411, 412, 413, 414, 492**; (6) six credits of other Psychology courses including one of the following Out-of-Class Experiences: 40 hours of Community Service Learning, 322, 491 and 492**, 499. (**Completion of PSYC 492 satisfies both 5 and 6.) The community service option requires at least 40 hours of volunteer work at an approved community service site or at least 20 hours at each of two sites, and attending one reflection session per site during each semester of service. Students completing their community service during their last semester must complete all requirements by March 15 (November 15 for those finishing in December).
The UMW Psychology and NECC Collaboration
UMW students may enroll in a semester long program in Boston at The New England Center for Children working with children with autism spectrum disorders and other disabilities. Students must have completed 12 hours in Psychology, and either PSYC 320 or PSYC 453, to be eligible for this program. Students will enroll for two courses that will count as electives in the UMW Psychology major (PSYC 401, 402, 403, 404, 405, or 406), and spend about 30 hours each week gaining hands-on experience as student teachers. This experience will result in six internship credits and six course credits for the semester.
Students will enroll at UMW and pay for full time tuition and fees (in state or out of state as appropriate), as well as the current cost of double occupancy housing. NECC will provide housing in close proximity to the Center; the student is responsible for the cost of their own food.
To obtain more information about this program, please see Dr. Kolar, the Psychological Science Department chairperson, or the Psychology website.
Psychology Course Offerings
Psychology course offerings will be found under the 4 letter code of PSYC in the course listings.
100 – General Psychology (3)
Fundamental principles of human behavior; history of psychology; research methods; the nervous system; learning; memory; personality; psychological disorders; therapy; social behavior; careers in psychology.
261 – Introductory Statistics for Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Introduction to descriptive and inferential statistical methods, including basic ANOVA and simple regression. Experience includes problem solving, technical writing, and use of computer statistical packages (SPSS).
301 – Social Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Individual behavior in a social context; attitudes; social influence; attribution; prejudice and discrimination; prosocial behavior and aggression.
305 – Cognitive Neuroscience (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Introduction to the neural basis of cognitive processes emphasizing changing models of cognitive functioning.
311 – Abnormal Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Various models of psychopathology, history of abnormal psychology, psychological disorders: their causes, and therapies.
315 – Foundations of Clinical Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Professional issues in clinical psychology, assessment of intelligence and personality, theories and practices of the major schools of psychotherapy, effectiveness of psychotherapy, community psychology, and primary prevention.
318 – Applied Counseling Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 100 and either 311, 315, 320, or 342. Introduction to activities of psychological counselors with a focus on practical experience and skill building. Major emphases on psychological testing and building an effective counseling relationship.
320 – Psychology of Exceptional Children and Youth (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100 and either 331 or 332. A consideration of theories, relevant empirical research, and interventions regarding cognitive, emotional, and behavioral exceptionalities from infancy through adolescence.
322 – Mentoring Children at Risk (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100 and permission of instructor. Course combines lecture with hands-on work with children of incarcerated mothers at a summer camp. Topics covered in lectures include models of developmental psychology; middle childhood development; maternal incarceration; the impact of poverty on development in children; risk and resilience; and managing problem behaviors. Mentoring component involves spending one week at a sleep-over camp specifically for children of incarcerated mothers.
331 – Developmental Psychology: The Infant and Child (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Psychological development from conception through childhood. Consideration of developmental processes, theories, issues, and relevant research.
332 – Developmental Psychology: The Adolescent and Adult (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Theories of, and research on, personality, social, physical, and intellectual characteristics from adolescence to young adulthood.
333 – Psychology of Aging (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Theories and research in aging, changes in personality, intellectual abilities, cognitive capacities, and physical capabilities from adulthood to death.
339 – Health Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Exploration of psychological issues surrounding health, illness, and medical care. Social psychological perspectives are applied to such topics as stress related diseases, exercise adherence, and doctor-patient interactions.
342 – Psychology of Personality (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Personality structure, dynamics, development, and methods of research.
346 – Forensic Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 100 and 301 or 311 or 320 or 342. Examination of criminal behavior from a psychological perspective, including causes of criminal behavior, the criminal personality, the relationship between psychology and law, how psychology is applied to legal situations, rehabilitation, and the prediction of dangerousness.
347 – Psychology of Men (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Impact of sex and gender on male behavior, including models of masculine development. Includes work, physical and mental health, violence, ethnicity, sexuality, and relationships.
349 – Psychology of Human Sexuality (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Introduction to major areas of investigation concerning human sexuality, including anatomy, physiology, culture, behavior, sexual health, sexual violence, dysfunctions, and therapy.
350 – Psychology of Women (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Impact of sex and gender on the individual, interpersonal, and institutional female experience. Includes work, physical and mental health, physical and cognitive ability, social status and empowerment, ethnicity, and sexuality.
351 – Positive Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Introduction to the field of positive psychology theory and research. Topics will include positive emotions, character strengths, and research-based techniques to enhance well-being that allow individuals and communities to thrive.
360 – Advanced Statistics for Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 261 with a minimum grade of C-. Introduction to advanced statistical methods, including ANOVA models, a priori and post hoc tests, and multiple regression. Particular emphasis on quasi-experimental and correlational methods, as well as data entry, analysis using SPSS, and presentation.
362 – Research Methods for Psychology (4)
Prerequisite: PSYC 261 with minimum grade of C-. Introduction to both laboratory and applied methods commonly used in psychological research including experimental, quasi-experimental, observational, qualitative, and correlational methods. A strong focus on the role of ethics in research is integrated into student’s own process of data collection, data analysis using SPSS, and formal presentation of their research results.
372 – Sensation and Perception (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Study of the processing of environmental energy by the sensory systems (visual, auditory, omatosensory, olfactory, and gustatory), as well as the higher-order processing of activity in those systems, from psychophysical, physiological, and behavioral perspectives.
373 – Cognitive Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. The study of human information processing, including pattern recognition, attention, memory, language, problem solving, and decision making.
374 – Biological Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Exploration of biological bases of behavior and neurological correlates of psychological events.
385 – Organizational Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: MGMT 301. Behavioral aspects of organizations, presenting concepts, theories, research, and research techniques applicable to people in organizations. Topics include personnel selection and placement, job and work environments, worker motivation, job satisfaction, and the organizational and social context of human work. Cross-listed as MGMT 345.
386 – Human Resources Management (3)
Prerequisites: MGMT 301. Philosophy, principles, policies, and programs for effective personnel management and industrial relations in business, governmental, and not-for-profit organizations. Cross-listed as MGMT 346.
387 – Organizational Development and Change (3)
Prerequisites: MGMT 301. System-wide application of behavioral science methods, theories, and accumulated knowledge to the development, change, and reinforcement of organizational strategies, structures, and processes for improving organizational effectiveness. Cross-listed as MGMT 347.
392 – Behavior Genetics (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 100 and one year of biology. Use of principles of genetic transmission, population genetics, and evolutionary and socio-biological theories in the study of individual differences.
394 – Psychopharmacology (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 100 and one year of biology or one year of chemistry. Principles of drug action in the body, drug effects on behavior, and the social psychology of drug use.
399 – Psychology in Europe (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 100. In this 3-credit summer school course, students travel to different European cities to trace the roots of Psychology in Europe. Through lectures, readings, tours, and group discussions, students learn about important figures and events in Psychology.
401 – Behavior Assessment (3)
Prerequisites: Twelve hours in Psychology and either PSYC 320 or PSYC 453, and acceptance into the UMW-NECC program. This course will provide an introduction to key concepts, methods, and ethical considerations associated with behavioral assessment. Course objectives will include teaching students to distinguish between idiographic and norm-referenced assessment approaches, to conduct pertinent behavioral assessments (preference assessments, functional assessments, and skills assessments), and to incorporate assessment outcomes with treatment selection and design in accordance with contemporary best practices in the field of applied behavior analysis. Course available only to UMW students enrolled in the UMW-NECC cooperative program at the New England Center for Children.
402 – Principles of Behavior Analysis (3)
Prerequisites: Twelve hours in Psychology and either PSYC 320 or PSYC 453, and acceptance into the UMW-NECC program. This course will orient students to the concepts, processes, and scientific principles of behavior on which the field of applied behavior analysis was founded. Topics of study will include the history and defining features of applied behavior analysis as well as the role of basic principles in producing socially meaningful behavior change (positive and negative reinforcement, punishment, discriminative control of behavior, and motivating operations). Course available only to UMW students enrolled in the UMW-NECC cooperative program at the New England Center for Children.
403 – Behavioral Interventions (3)
Prerequisites: Twelve hours in Psychology and either PSYC 320 or PYC 453, and acceptance into the UMW-NECC program. This course will prepare students to identify, implement, and maintain effective behavioral interventions in applied settings. Specific objectives will include teaching students to select and implement function-based interventions for the reduction of problem behaviors, skills-based prevention strategies, and a variety of behavioral teaching tactics. Tactics for promoting procedural integrity and facilitating the generalization and maintenance of treatment effects will also be reviewed. Course available only to UMW students enrolled in the UMW-NECC cooperative program at the New England Center for Children.
404 – Methods of Evaluation (3)
Prerequisites: Twelve hours in Psychology and either PSYC 320 or PYC 453, and acceptance into the UMW-NECC program. This course will equip students with skills needed to confirm the clinical efficacy of interventions by subjecting them to experimental evaluation using single subject designs. Students will learn to develop valid and reliable systems for measuring behavior, to display data using popular and accessible graphing software, and to assess for orderly changes in behavior through visual inspection and interpretation of graphic data. Course available only to UMW students enrolled in the UMW-NECC cooperative program at the New England Center for Children.
405 – Evidence-based Teaching (3)
Prerequisites: Twelve hours in Psychology and either PSYC 320 or PSYC 453, and acceptance into the UMW-NECC program. This course will provide students with a comprehensive review of empirically-supported behavioral teaching procedures for individuals with autism and related disabilities. Topics will focus on teaching skills in a variety of content areas such as language, social, and self-help. Procedures for teaching these include, match-to-sample discrimination training, task analysis, as well as prompting procedures including prompt fading and video modeling. Course available only to UMW students enrolled in the UMW-NECC cooperative program at the New England Center for Children.
406 – Autism and Related Disabilities (3)
Prerequisites: Twelve hours in Psychology and either PSYC 320 or PSYC 453, and acceptance into the UMW/NECC program. This course will provide students with a foundation in etiological, diagnostic, ethical, and treatment related considerations affecting services for individuals with autism and other disabilities. Topics of study will include current data on causal variables, issues in early identification, and a survey of evidence-based models of treatment, outcome evaluation, and effective systems support for individuals with pervasive developmental disabilities. Course available only to UMW students enrolled in the UMW-NECC cooperative program at the New England Center for Children.
411 – Research Seminar in Abnormal, Personality, or Social Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 360, 362, and one from the following: PSYC 301, 311, or 342. Exploration of current theory and research in abnormal, personality, or social psychology with a focus on designing, conducting, and reporting research in these areas.
412 – Research Seminar in Biological Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: Psyc 360 and 362, and one from the following: PSYC 305, 372, 374, or 394. Exploration of current theory and research in the biological influences on and correlates of behavior, with a focus on designing, conducting, and reporting research in this area.
413 – Research Seminar in Cognition or Learning (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 360 and 362, and one from the following: PSYC 305, 372, 373, or 453. Exploration of current theory and research in cognition and human learning with a focus on designing, conducting and reporting research in this area.
414 – Research Seminar in Developmental Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 360 and 362, and one from the following: PSYC 331, 332, or 333. Exploration of current theory and research in human development, with a focus on designing, conducting and reporting research in this area.
421 – History of Psychology (3)
Prerequisite: Fifteen hours in Psychology. Survey of historical antecedents of modern psychology.
453 – Fundamentals of Learning and Motivation (3)
Prerequisite: PSYC 100. Survey of empirical findings and theoretical issues in the analysis of learning and motivation and their interaction in the determination of behavior.
470 – Seminar in Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: Psychology 100 and courses specified by instructor. Seminar on enduring and/or contemporary issues in psychology. Different topics in different semesters. May be repeated with different topics.
480 – Selected Topics in Psychology (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 100 and courses specified by instructor. Enduring and/or contemporary issues in psychology. Different topics in different semesters. May be repeated with different topics.
490 – Guided Readings in Psychology (1-3)
Prerequisites: Junior standing and twelve credits in psychology beyond PSYC 100. Readings in a specialty area of psychology. Maximum of three credits toward the major; maximum of six credits in Psychology 490, 491, and 492 combined may count toward the major.
491 – Individual Research (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 360 and 362 and permission of instructor. Empirical investigation and/or theoretical research. Maximum of six credits in PSYC 490, 491, and 492 combined may count toward the major program.
492 – Individual Research (3)
Prerequisites: PSYC 491 and permission of instructor. Empirical investigation and/or theoretical research with emphasis on research writing and oral presentation of results. Maximum of six credits in PSYC 490, 491, and 492 combined may count toward the major program.
499 – Internship (1 to 6 credits)
Prerequisites: Junior standing and 12 hours in psychology beyond PSYC 100. Supervised off-campus experience. Prerequisites for specific internships differ. Maximum of three credits toward the major program.