Psychology is the scientific study of behavior, the brain, and mental processes, such as learning, memory, perception, attention, motivation, personality, and social interaction. An understanding of behavior and mental function in humans is essential for addressing the most significant challenges facing society, including substance abuse, heart disease, cancer, obesity, crime, poverty, education, racism, climate change, and terrorism. Psychologists use scientific approaches to acquire the knowledge needed to address these and many other problems.
The psychology program at Rensselaer offers excellent training in research methods and statistics, the use of technology to understand mind, brain, and behavior, and the application of scientific psychology to solving important real-world problems. The knowledge and experience that students acquire are useful in a wide variety of employment settings (e.g., industry, education, health care) and prepare students for graduate work in a range of disciplines. Since a major in psychology can be even more valuable when it is paired with another major in a complementary field (e.g., Biology, Computer Science, Economics), the program is designed to make it possible for students to dual-major.
The psychology program offers maximum flexibility to allow each student to tailor the plan of study to his or her specific interests. The requirements for the Psychology major include an introductory course (PSYC 1200 General Psychology), a two-semester sequence in Research Methods and Statistics (PSYC 2310 and PSYC 4310), either PSYC 4370 Cognitive Psychology or PSYC 4410 Sensation and Perception, an undergraduate thesis (PSYC 4990), and at least 12 additional credit hours within the department. These latter courses are electives that are chosen by students 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 2310 Research Methods and Statistics I and PSYC 4310 Research Methods and Statistics II are taken in the second year, PSYC 4370 Cognitive Psychology or PSYC 4410 Sensation and Perception 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.
- and an ability to apply basic research methods in psychology, including aspects of research design, data analysis, and data interpretation.
- and ability to apply psychological principles to personal, interpersonal, and organizational issues of cognitive, emotional, and occupational areas of psychological interest.