May 26, 2024  
Course Catalog 2017-2018 
Course Catalog 2017-2018 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]


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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, Assistant Professor

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior, thought, and feeling. Its subject matter includes biological, cognitive, developmental, social, and cultural perspectives on normal and abnormal behavior. The Department of Psychology’s curriculum prepares students for graduate work in psychology and for other academic and career goals for which knowledge of psychology and its methods is relevant.

Psychology is an appropriate major for students who wish to pursue careers in research and teaching or in the delivery of professional clinical services. Although students interested in academic careers in Psychology must eventually obtain a Ph.D. degree, doctoral training is not the only avenue for those interested in careers in counseling, therapy, social work, and related helping professions. For such students, psychology is one of several appropriate undergraduate majors. Undergraduates interested in applied areas of psychology are encouraged to obtain field experience through Winter Term projects and summer jobs. Psychology is also excellent preparation for such fields as law, medicine, and business.

For more information consult the Psychology web page at


Students must complete 11 full courses for the Psychology major. A core of 5 basic courses is required of all majors. Beyond these 5 core courses, students have considerable leeway in constructing the major that is comprised of 6 additional courses. Students interested in specific applications or sub-disciplines within psychology should consult early with their advisors to plan the most appropriate sequence of courses.

Courses in which a student has earned a letter grade lower than a C- or P cannot be used to fulfill the requirements of the major. A minimum number of 9 full psychology courses must be earned in courses numbered 200 through 499, with a least 6 of these courses completed at Oberlin. PSYC 100 (or an approved equivalent) is a prerequisite to most Psychology courses numbered 200 and above. Any variation in meeting major requirements must be approved in writing by the chair of the Department of Psychology.

Students intending to major in Psychology should complete PSYC 100 in their first year. To prepare for laboratory courses and other research opportunities, prospective majors should plan to finish Research Methods I (PSYC 200) and II (PSYC 300) no later than second semester of their sophomore year. Majors who plan on graduate training in psychology are encouraged to take additional courses in sociology, anthropology, mathematics, computer science, and other natural sciences. They should also consider carrying out independent research during their junior and/or senior years. Majors who plan on graduate training in clinical, counseling, health psychology, or industrial-organizational psychology should obtain field experience during Winter Term or in summer jobs. All majors considering graduate training should consult with their advisors and other members of the Department early in their major.

Take one course from at least two of the following three clusters:

One additional full course (or equivalent) from the following list:

  • A 300-level Advance Methods course
  • A 400-level Seminar course
  • A 500-level Supervised Research course (510-590), Independent Research, or Honors Research course (606-608).  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.

Advanced Placement

Students who receive a 5 on the AP Psychology examination will be exempt from the requirement to take PSYC 100 and will receive one full course at the 100 level toward 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 insure that courses taken at other institutions will count toward major requirements. At least 6 of the 9 full courses numbered 200 through 499 must be completed at Oberlin and one required laboratory 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.

Winter Term

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 free to develop specific projects on their own. Some students remain on campus during Winter Term to conduct honors research or independent 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; 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; Mr. Porterfield: psychophysiology, emotion, psychopathology; 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. Eligible Psychology majors will receive an invitation to pursue honors in October of their junior year.

Independent Work

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.

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