Nancy Darling, Department Chair and William and Jeanette Smith Professor of Psychology
Patricia Ann deWinstanley, Professor
Cynthia Frantz, Professor
F. Stephan Mayer, Professor
Meghan Morean, Assistant Professor
Albert L. Porterfield, Associate Professor
Sarah Rabbitt, Assistant Professor
Paul Thibodeau, Assistant Professor
Sara Verosky, Assistant Professor
Travis Wilson, Associate Professor
Psychology is the scientific study of behavior, thought, and feelings. Its subject matter includes biological, cognitive, cultural, developmental, and social perspectives on normal and abnormal behavior. The Department of Psychology’s curriculum prepares students for careers in business, health sciences, criminology, and the helping professions and for graduate work in psychology, education, law, statistics, health sciences, business and other areas in which knowledge of psychology and strong quantitative and reasoning skills are relevant.
Majoring in Psychology provides students with insight into human behavior and a strong background in scientific reasoning, quantitative skills and writing skills. Students interested in going directly into careers after graduation have pursued work in many fields, including social services and business. Those pursuing careers in counseling, social work, in education, or in speech, physical, or occupational therapy will often need to complete at least a masters degree. Careers in academics or clinical psychology normally require a Ph.D. A major in Psychology provides excellent preparation for such fields as law, medicine, public health, or human-computer interface design. Undergraduates interested in applied areas of psychology are encouraged to obtain field experience through Winter Term projects, internships and summer jobs.
For more information consult the Psychology web page at www.oberlin.edu/psych/.
Students must complete 10 full courses for the Psychology major and complete a senior portfolio. The major is organized to provide students both breadth and depth in their study and an opportunity for reflection in preparation for graduation. To this end, students are required to take an introduction to Psychology or related fields as well as one introductory course in each of Psychology’s four core areas: Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, and Social. All students take a two semester sequence in statistics and research methods. Students must complete three upper level Advanced Methods courses and Seminars. We encourage interested students to substitute one full course (normally two semesters) of supervised research for one upper level course. In their final semester on campus, students enroll in a .5 non-credit bearing course (PSYC 599) in which they prepare a written reflection and portfolio of their work and complete assessment tasks.
Students must earn minimum grades of C- or P for all courses that apply toward the major. A minimum of 5 of Psychology courses must be completed at Oberlin. Any variation in meeting major requirements must be approved in writing by the chair of the Department of Psychology.
Recommended pathway: Students intending to major in Psychology should complete an introductory course (PSYC 100, COGS 101 or NEURO 201) in their first year. Because upper level courses and many research experiences require statistics, we strongly urge prospective majors to finish Research Methods I (PSYC 200) and II (PSYC 300) by the second semester of their sophomore year. This is particularly important if they hope to study abroad during their junior year. One of the strengths of the department is the many opportunities it offers for student research. We strongly encourage students to pursue those opportunities, particularly if they are considering graduate work. Those interested in pursuing a career in clinical psychology should speak to their advisor early and take additional coursework in neuroscience and statistics. All majors should talk to their advisors and other members of the Department about the many opportunities available for fieldwork, research, and winter term internships.
One course from each of the following four clusters (four courses total). A course can fulfill requirements in only one cluster:
Two courses in Research Methods:
At least one 300-level Advanced Methods Course
At least one 400-level Seminar
One additional full course (or equivalent) from the following list:
Please note: Students must complete one FULL course to fulfill the requirement. Students enrolling in Supervised, Independent, or Honors Research for .5 course credits must complete two semesters of work.
- 300-level Advanced Methods course
- 400-level Seminar
- 500-level Supervised Research (PSYC 510-PSYC 590), Independent Research, or Honors Research (PSYC 606-PSYC 608).
The required portfolio will be tailored to the student’s individual needs and post-graduate goals. Open to seniors during their last semester on campus.
Students who receive a 5 on the AP Psychology examination or a 6 or 7 on the IB Psychology examination will be exempt from the requirement to take PSYC 100 and will receive one full course at the 100 level toward major requirements and graduation.
Transfer of Credit
All transfer credit must be approved by the Department Chair. Students should obtain prior written approval from the Department Chair to ensure that courses taken at other institutions will count toward major requirements. At least 5 required courses must be completed at Oberlin and one required Advanced Methods course must be taken at Oberlin. It is the student’s responsibility to complete transfer of credit forms and submit them to the Office of the Registrar. Please note that PSYC 200 comprises statistics, research methods, and a lab in SPSS. Students wishing to transfer in a replacement for this course should consult carefully with their advisor.
The Department strongly encourages majors and prospective majors to gain either research experience or experience in applied or clinical settings during Winter Term. Department faculty can provide general advice but students are encouraged to develop specific projects on their own. Some students remain on campus during Winter Term to conduct research under the sponsorship of department faculty.
The following list of faculty interests can guide students seeking Winter Term sponsors: Ms. Darling: adolescent development, social relationships, computational modeling; Ms. deWinstanley: cognitive psychology, memory, attention, cognitive development; Ms. Frantz: social psychology, conflict resolution, perspective taking, sustainable human behavior; Mr. Mayer: social and cultural psychology, peace studies, sustainable human behavior; Ms. Morean: addictive behaviors, intimate partner violence, clinical psychology; Ms. Rabbitt: child and adolescent psychopathology, evidence-based treatments for mental health problems, history of psychology, clinical psychology; Mr. Thibodeau: cognitive psychology, reasoning, decision-making, metaphor, language, political psychology; Ms. Verosky: face processing, social neuroscience, social cognition; Mr. Wilson: developmental psychology, children’s adjustment at school.
The Department of Psychology’s honors program is described in detail on the Department’s Blackboard site. It typically requires three full semesters of work. Students planning to study abroad during their junior year should consult with their advisor during their sophomore year. Eligible Psychology majors will receive an invitation to pursue honors in fall of their junior year.
Introductory and Non-Major Courses
Courses with One Prerequisite
A variety of opportunities for students to pursue independent work is available at all levels in the curriculum. Both laboratory and non-laboratory research courses are available at junior, senior, and Honors levels. Registration for Independent Work courses requires prior approval of the proposed work by the staff member who will supervise it.