The field of psychology uses scientific methods and procedures to study all aspects of behavior and cognitive processes. Knowledge acquired about such topics as motivation, perception, learning, memory, personality, and social interaction is of major practical value in many settings (e.g., industry, education, health care).
Through the applied focus of many of its course offerings, the department provides a wide range of practical skills and knowledge that are useful in many different employment settings. At the same time, all undergraduate psychology students are equally well prepared for graduate work.
The department’s philosophy is to provide each student maximum flexibility in devising a specific Plan of Study. Psychology major requirements include the completion of four basic psychology courses (PSYC 1200 General Psychology, PSYC 4370 Cognitive Psychology or PSYC 4410 Sensation and Perception, PSYC 4310 Experimental Methods and Statistics, and PSYC 4990 Undergraduate Thesis) and the completion of at least 16 additional credit hours within the department. The latter courses are electives and students will choose them in consultation with departmental advisers.
In addition, students must complete the basic degree requirements in physical, life, and mathematical sciences. Again, students will consult with their advisers in selecting specific courses to meet these requirements in accordance with their individual interests and goals.
As is evident in the typical four-year program outlined below, PSYC 1200 General Psychology is usually taken in the first year, PSYC 4370 Cognitive Psychology or PSYC 4410 Sensation and Perception and PSYC 4310 Experimental Methods and Statistics in the third year and PSYC 4990 Undergraduate Thesis in the fourth year.
Due to the flexibility permitted in course selection, individual curricula may vary considerably within the framework of basic Institute degree requirements. Students are encouraged to supplement basic requirements in science and mathematics whenever feasible in order to take full advantage of Rensselaer’s education opportunities. A minimum of 124 credit hours is required to complete this curriculum.
Outcomes of the Undergraduate Curriculum
Students who successfully complete this program will be able to demonstrate:
- knowledge of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in focused areas of psychology.
- knowledge of and an ability to apply basic research methods in psychology, including aspects of research design, data analysis, and data interpretation.
- knowledge of and ability to apply psychological principles to personal, interpersonal, and organizational issues of cognitive, emotional, and occupational areas of psychological interest.