Curriculum Overview 

Psychologists study mind and behavior in both human and non-human animals. They test hypotheses and theories using systematic observations of behavior in experimental, field, computer modeling and self-report settings.

We believe that the best way to communicate this empirical approach is by participating in it, so students learn and apply psychological methods in our courses. Our curriculum addresses current psychological theories that apply to a wide range of phenomena, but it also shapes students to employ various approaches to the empirical analysis of such theories. During this process, students develop analytical, research, quantitative and communication skills. Our empirical orientation also leads students to participate in collaborative and independent research experiences under the mentorship of our faculty.

Questions about behavior can be addressed at multiple levels of complexity (e.g., neural, cognitive and contextual) and from multiple perspectives (e.g., learning, perceptual, developmental and social). Our curriculum embodies these multiple conceptual approaches, as reflected in diverse course offerings as well as our participation in the Biological Foundations of Behavior and Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind interdisciplinary programs.

A major in Psychology consists of 10 courses:

  • PSY 100 and 230;
  • Four Area Studies courses; at least one course from each of the areas below. (It may be possible to substitute a related, non-introductory course with permission.) A single course may not be counted for more than one Area.

          Perception and Physiological Psychology
PSY 240. Neuroscience.
          PSY 301. Sensation and Perception.
          PSY 302. Biopsychology.
          PSY 303. Hormones and Behavior.

          Development and Cognition
PSY 304. Developmental Psychology.
          PSY 305. Cognitive Psychology.
          PSY 311. Origins of Moral Thought.
          PSY 313. Cognitive Neuroscience.
          PSY 314. Child Development in Cultural Context.
          PSY 317. Health Psychology.
          PSY 340. Psycholinguistics.

          Personality, Social and Psychopathology
PSY 307. Personality Psychology.
          PSY 308. Psychopathology.
          PSY 309. Social Psychology.
          PSY 314. Child Development in Cultural Context.
          PSY 315. Cross-Cultural Psychology.
          PSY 317. Health Psychology.
          PSY 319. Emotion.

          Evolution and Adaptation
PSY 250. Animal Behavior.
          PSY 306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.
          PSY 310. Conditioning and Learning.
          PSY 311. Origins of Moral Thought.
          PSY 312. Embodied Cognition.
          PSY 319. Emotion.
          PSY 350. Primate Behavior.

  • One elective course in Psychology; the elective course must be above the 100 level. (It may be possible to substitute a related, non-introductory course with permission.)
  • Three 400-level courses. At least two of the three courses must be Empirical Research (ER) courses. A student approved to enroll in PSY 490 may count one semester of Independent Research towards this requirement.

The writing requirement in the Psychology major is met by completion of the normal courses required to complete the major.

A joint major in Psychology consists of eight courses: PSY 100 and PSY 230; any four psychology courses at the 300-level; and any two psychology courses at the 400-level.

The requirement for a minor is any six courses in Psychology.

Majors in the Department of Psychology have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: Danish Institute for Study Abroad (DIS) in Copenhagen and Stockholm; Institute For Study Abroad (IFSA) at Butler University programs in Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom; Boston University London Internship Program; IES Abroad programs in Austria, Italy, and Spain; Syracuse University Abroad programs in Spain; Psychology and Research in Madrid program through the University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center; Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Courses Offered 

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement; (WP) World Perspectives requirement; (ER) Empirical Research requirement.


100. Introductory Psychology. (N)
An experimental and conceptual analysis of the processes of learning, thinking and perception and the biological bases of behavior. The relationships of these to behavioral development, social behavior and more complex phenomena of personality formation and abnormal behavior are undertaken. Required laboratory work involves investigation of the various processes in animals and humans. Offered every semester. Students cannot earn credit for both PSY 100 and PSY 101 unless permission is obtained from the department.  

101. Introduction to Psychological Science. (NSP)
A topics-based, non-lab, non-survey, question-and procedure-oriented discussion of important perspectives in contemporary psychological science. The course will examine origins, support for, and applications of a series of theoretical positions. In the process, students will learn to appreciate the empirical procedures through which psychologists formulate and evaluate hypotheses about behavior, using texts as well as primary literature that illustrates how these procedures occur in actual practice. Students cannot earn credit for both PSY 100 and PSY 101 unless permission is obtained from the department.  

230. Experimental Design and Statistics.
Descriptive and inferential statistics. Research design as reflected in statistical methods. Analysis of variance designs for independent groups and for repeated measurements. Statistical power and comparison techniques. Required laboratory will focus on design and methodology. Offered every semester. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or BIO 110.    
Bashaw, Batres

Area Studies Courses

220. Neuroethics. (NSP)
This course will examine our changing social, ethical, and political perceptions of human behavior in relation to changes in our understanding of the brain and its function, particularly in terms of advances in science that have occurred over the past 50 years. We will discuss the implications of our ability to monitor and manipulate the brain for our understanding of what is moral, normal, and healthy. Topics covered will include disorders of consciousness, cognitive liberty, psychiatric diseases and their treatment, drugs and addiction, and the role of the brain in producing socially unacceptable or undesirable behaviors. Open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors.     

240. Neuroscience. (N)
Principles of nervous system function from the molecular through the organ system level as illustrated by the vertebrates and invertebrates. Approximately one half of the course will cover basic cellular principles of nervous system organization, development and physiology. The remaining lectures will consider the role of functionally identified neural networks in behavior control. Prerequisite: BIO 220 or BFB/PSY 302. Offered every Spring. Same as BFB/BIO 240.    

250. Animal Behavior. (N)
An integrative approach to animal behavior from the perspectives of ethology, behavioral ecology and comparative psychology. The structure, function, development and evolution of behavioral adaptations including foraging and predation, communication, social organization and reproductive strategies. Observational and experimental research required. Prerequisites: BIO 110 and permission of instructor. Corequisite: either BIO 210 or PSY 230, or permission of the instructor. Offered every Fall. Same as BFB/BIO 250.     

301. Sensation and Perception. (N)
Review of phenomena and research on sensory processes and their role in perception. Readings and discussion will examine evidence from behavioral, psychophysical and physiological research and consider implications for explanations arising from the mechanistic, cognitive, computational and naturalistic theoretical perspectives. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as BFB 301.     

302. Biopsychology. (N)
Behavioral and mental processes as viewed from a biological perspective with particular emphasis upon the role of neurochemical and endocrine factors in central nervous system function. Topics covered will include reproduction and gender, chemical senses and ingestion, emotion, learning, sleep and psychopathology. A neuropharmacological approach to the study of the nervous system will be emphasized. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or BIO 110 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every semester. Same as BFB 302.     
Lacy, Roth

303. Hormones and Behavior. (N)
Like many other animals, humans must successfully navigate stressful situations, sex, and other social interactions to survive and reproduce. How do hormones enable, regulate, or modify behavior in these situations? How do behavior and the environment in turn affect hormone function? Do these effects differ across species? We’ll develop an understanding of the endocrine system’s organization and activation effects by examining, evaluating, and conducting research on humans and other animals. Prerequisites: PSY 100 or BIO 110; and PSY 230 or BIO 210 or SOC 302.

304. Developmental Psychology.
An examination of the relative contributions of nature and nurture on children’s behavioral, cognitive and perceptual development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Topics include the development of language, concepts, intelligence, socialization, motor abilities and emotional understanding, with discussion informed by current and classic primary reading. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall.    

305. Cognitive Psychology.
In this course we will ask how some familiar human behaviors—seeing, classifying, remembering, speaking, reasoning—are possible. We will learn how cognitive scientists go about answering these questions and what some of the classic answers are. The idea is both to introduce some key findings in cognitive psychology and to develop the skills to understand and critically evaluate cognitive psychology research. In addition to lectures, the course will include hands-on experiments and demonstrations; student presentations of individual journal articles; and debates about the broader implications of some cognitive psychology research. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall.    
Howard, Iricinschi

306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.
What is intelligent behavior, what is it for and how did it evolve? We will attempt to answer these questions and understand the nature and development of Mind from a comparative perspective. We will do so by investigating learning, perception, memory, thinking and language in animals and humans. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisites: BIO 210 or PSY 230 AND one of: BIO 240, PSY 250, PSY 301, PSY 302, PSY 303, PSY 304, PSY 305, PSY 307, PSY 308, PSY 309, PSY 310, PSY 312, PSY 315, PSY 337, PSY 370-379, PSY 390, or permission. Same as BFB 306.    

307. Personality Psychology.
This course provides an evaluative and comparative overview of major models of personality selected to illustrate psychodynamic, trait, cognitive, humanistic, physiological and learning approaches. The course will emphasize the testability of the models and their connection with current research. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall.    

308. Psychopathology.
This course will serve as an introduction to descriptive and theoretical approaches to the study of psychopathology. In addition to the study of disease-related processes, special emphasis will be placed upon developing an understanding of those biological, psychological and social conditions that are essential for healthy psychosocial functioning across the life span. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or permission. Offered every Spring.    

309. Social Psychology.
This course involves the student in exploration of some of the basic topics in experimental approaches to social psychology, such as cognitive and motivational perspectives on social phenomena, the role of affect and emotion in social action and current uses of the concept of self. Issues explored in this context include self-affirmation processes, regulation of social action and the relationship between affect, cognition and action. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 and PSY 230 or BIO 210, or permission. Offered every Spring.    

310. Conditioning and Learning.
An introduction to the process by which human and animal behavior changes as a function of experience. Examines basic mechanisms for learning (including habituation, sensitization and classical and operant conditioning) and explores the scientific and practical application of these mechanisms to explain and predict behavior. Discusses the extent to which learning mechanisms are consistent across species and how the physiology, natural environment and social systems of individual species interact with basic learning processes to produce different behavioral outcomes. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or BIO 110. Offered every Fall. Same as BFB 310.    

311. Origins of Moral Thought.
Moral values define us, unite us, and give meaning to our lives. How have we come to hold our particular moral convictions? We will examine this question on three different timescales: millennia (human evolution), centuries (cultural dynamics), and years (child development). Students will evaluate and synthesize insights from psychology, philosophy, biology, anthropology, economics, and history in order to understand the manifold origins of moral beliefs and behaviors, thus challenging existing values and cultivating improved abilities to create a better future. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or placement. Corequisite: PSY 230.

312. Embodied Cognition. (NSP)
In this course we will study intelligence by focusing on perception and action in the environment. To this end, we will focus on ecological psychology, robotics, artificial neural networks and simulated evolution. Although students will be expected to build simple robots and work with computer models, no background knowledge of engineering or computing will be assumed. (Knowledge of programming is not required.) Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100, or a prior philosophy course.    

315. Cross-Cultural Psychology. (WP)
Cross-Cultural Psychology serves as an introduction to the relationships among cultural processes, human consciousness, human health and human development. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100. Same as AFS 315.    

317. Health Psychology.
This course explores the complex factors that affect human health, specifically examining how health and health-related behavior is influenced by the interrelationship of multiple environmental and individual factors ranging from individual personality to health policy. This course also examines the fundamental principles and theories of Health Psychology and how theoretical and empirical findings are applied to improve the health of individuals and groups. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or SPM 100 or BIO 110. Same as PBH 317.     

319. Emotion.
This course will serve as an introduction to theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of human emotion. Some questions this course will address include: What are emotions? What are the functions of emotions? How do our emotions affect our thoughts and behaviors? How do we regulate our emotions? We will also consider how the answers to these basic questions can be used to understand psychopathology, well-being, and happiness in both children and adults. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or BIO 110. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210.    

340. Psycholinguistics.
This course explores language in the mind and brain, including: How do children learn their first language(s) and why is it such a different experience for an adult to learn a language? What are language disorders? Is spoken language processed differently from written language? What about sign languages? Class will include discussions, presentations, and hands-on analysis of language data. Prerequisite: LIN 101 or PSY 100. Same as LIN 340.    

350. Primate Behavior.
This course explores the behavior of primates (including humans) in a comparative perspective. We will examine factors shaping behavioral variation within and between primate species, with emphasis on natural history and social behavior. Specific topics include methods for the study of primate behavior, history of primate behavior research, socioecology, foraging, predation, affiliation, aggression, mating, parenting, development, communication, cognition, and conservation. Emphasis will be placed on reading and critiquing primary literature, and on proper scientific writing. Prerequisite: PSY250 or permission. Same as BFB350.  

400-Level Courses

450. Cognitive Development. 
In a matter of months, a zygote goes from a collection of cells to a thinking, feeling, learning baby…who quickly goes on to be a walking, talking, problem-solving toddler…who soon after is a reading, writing, socially-aware child. It’s breathtaking! This advanced, discussion-focused seminar explores the foundations of cognitive processes and developmental mechanisms that underpin our fantastic human cognitive growth. As we survey major topics in cognitive development, our focus will be primarily on birth through early childhood, asking the question: How do infants and children make sense of the myriad people, ideas, and objects around them? Prerequisite: PSY 304 or PSY 305 or PSY 314.    

451. CBL: Applied Psychological Science.
In this course, you will learn how to apply findings from basic psychological research to solve real-world problems. Students will work in partnership with local community groups to select a real-world problem of interest to address and complete a project. Final projects will be presented to a panel of researchers and community members. The course is collaborative in nature; you will work in groups to design and conduct your research and much of your grade in this course will be group-based. This course is for senior Psychology majors.    
Abbott, Penn

452. History and Philosophy of Psychology.
The historical origins of contemporary psychology in European philosophy, physiology, and biology, and subsequent development of the schools of structuralism, functionalism, Gestalt, behaviorism, and psychoanalysis. Emphasis on identifying the goals, implicit assumptions, and potential contributions of scientific psychology. Prerequisites: Senior psychology major status or permission of instructor. 

453. Nature/Nurture. (NSP)
One of the most enduring disputes in the field of psychology concerns the degree to which psychological traits are learned or innate. Are genes or socialization responsible for heightened rates of aggression in men? How do biological and environmental factors interact to produce language? Is culture an evolved adaptation? Does it make any sense at all to partition the causes of thinking and behavior into “nature” and “nurture” – or is this a wholly false dichotomy? Throughout this course, we will draw upon cutting-edge research to evaluate a range of theoretical perspectives on the interplay of nature and nurture. We will also discuss the myriad sociopolitical ramifications of this fundamental debate. Prerequisites: PSY 230 and (PSY 301 or PSY 302 or PSY 303 or PSY 304 or PSY 305 or PSY 306 or PSY 307 or PSY 308 or PSY 309 or PSY 310 or PSY 311 or PSY 312 or PSY 313 or PSY 314 or PSY 315 or PSY 317 or  PSY 319). 

460. Advanced Quantitative Methods. (N, ER)
An examination of complex univariate and multivariate statistical techniques as applied in the context of psychological research. The course will focus on techniques including complex analysis of variance, multivariate regression and correlation, factor analysis, and power and effect size. We will examine published research and conduct research projects to explore the relationship between hypotheses, experimental designs and these statistical techniques. Offered every other year. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210 and one 300-level PSY course.   
Bashaw, Shin

480. Collaborative Research in Comparative Cognition and Behavior. (N, ER)
Comparative perspectives and approaches to the study of selected topics drawn from cognitive and developmental psychology, cognitive ethology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, cognitive science and behavioral primatology. Research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210, one of PSY 250, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306, 310; OR one of BIO 250, 330, 379; OR one of BFB 250, 301, 302, 306, 330, 379; OR permission of the instructor. Offered every other Spring. Same as BFB 480.    

481. Collaborative Research in Developmental Psychology. (N, ER)
An overview of methods for conducting research with children, with an emphasis on ethics of working with child participants. Current empirical and theoretical issues in developmental psychology are addressed through literature review and group research projects. Topics reflecting student interests are considered. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; and PSY 304 or PSY 305 or PSY 311 or PSY 314; or permission. Offered every Spring.  

482. Collaborative Research in Social Psychology. (N, ER)
Selected topics in experimental social psychology. Emphasis on experimental methods. Traditional areas of social psychology and topics that reflect student research interest are considered. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 309, or permission. Offered every Fall.     

483. Collaborative Research in Human Cognition. (N, ER)
An in-depth consideration of selected empirical and theoretical issues in cognitive psychology. Emphasis is on recent literature covering basic research in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience and computational neuroscience modeling, including such topics as attention and resource allocation, representation, concept formation, memory and topics reflecting research interests of participating students. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 305, or permission. Offered every Spring.    
Howard, Iricinschi

484. Collaborative Research in Personality. (N, ER)
Selected empirical and theoretical topics from the contemporary literature in personality psychology with emphasis on measurement issues and comparative analyses of major models and taxonomies. Topics that reflect student research interests will be discussed. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; and PSY 307 or PSY 309 or PSY 319 or PSY 371 Evolutionary Psychology; or permission. Students planning to use PSY 371 Evolutionary Psychology as a prerequisite should contact the instructor prior to registration to request a prerequisite override. Offered every Spring.     

485. Collaborative Research in Human Perception and Action. (N, ER)
Contemporary research and theories of the interrelations of perceptual and motor processes. Content will be drawn from the literatures of experimental psychology, neurophysiology and human factors. Animal models and computational algorithms will be considered when applicable, with primary emphasis on implications for human performance. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 301, or permission.    

486. Collaborative Research in Health Psychology. (N, ER)
This is an upper-level, research-based seminar that explores the relationship between biological, psychological, and social attributes and physical health. Topics that reflect student research interests will be discussed and explored through group research projects. Laboratory research is required. Prerequisite: PSY 230 and one of PSY 305, PSY 308, PSY 309 or PSY 317, or permission of the instructor.
Abbott, Knowles

487. Collaborative Research in Biological Psychology. (N, ER)
The neurophysiological and structural basis of behavior with emphasis on motivation and learning, including the use of psychopharmacological methods. The role of endocrine and metabolic processes in the regulation of behavior is integrated with considerations of structure. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 302 or BIO/BFB 240 or permission. Offered every other year. Same as BFB 487.
Lacy, Roth

488. Collaborative Research in Psychopathology. (N, ER)
An upper-level, research-based seminar that explores normative, healthy and abnormal psychosocial development across the life span. Students are assisted to undertake individual or group research projects using a variety of methods—including both quantitative and qualitative approaches. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 308, or permission. Offered every Fall. 

489. Collaborative Research in Moral Psychology. (N, ER)
Students will conduct experimental research on relevant theoretical issues within the field of moral psychology. Topics may include investigations of the scope of moral concern, manifestations of moral virtues, childhood acquisition of moral beliefs, dispositions toward prosociality and fairness, contributions of emotions to moral judgment, and other related areas that reflect student interest. Techniques for designing, conducting, analyzing, and presenting empirical research will be discussed, practiced, and implemented. Laboratory research is required; this course is an Empirical Research (ER) course.  Prerequisites: PSY 230; and PSY 304, PSY 305, PSY 309, PSY 311, PSY 314, PSY 315, PSY 319, PSY 453, or PSY471 Nature/Nurture; or permission. Students planning to use PSY 471 Nature/Nurture as a prerequisite should contact the instructor prior to registration to request a prerequisite override.

Independent Research


PSY 490. Independent Research in Psychology (ER).
Design, propose, conduct, and present a psychological research project guided by a faculty mentor familiar with your area of investigation. Students are responsible for all aspects of the project from protocol development to written and oral interpretation of the results. Typically reserved for seniors with cumulative GPA above 3.0 and major GPA above 3.2 who have successfully completed a relevant area studies course, though students may petition the department to enroll if they don’t meet these conditions. Students may elect to have a 490 project considered for departmental honors. Interested students should contact possible faculty mentors the semester before they plan to enroll. Prerequisite: Permission of faculty mentor and chairperson.


270-279, 370–379, 470-479. Special Topics in Psychology.
An examination of a single problem area of psychology receiving attention in the current literature. Permits in-depth analysis of a single, important psychological phenomenon. Admission by consent of instructor.

INT 261. Experiential Elementary Science Teaching.
This course will provide academic context and support as students teach science in a local elementary school classroom. Students will work in partnership with the classroom teacher to design engaging, age-appropriate, inquiry-based lesson plans that will be compatible with the School District of Lancaster’s designated science content. The course will focus on teaching technique, pedagogy, effective lesson planning, as well as larger issues associated with inclusive classrooms, urban education and inquiry-based approaches to science. Permission of the instructor required.  Bechtel

290, 390. Directed Research in Psychology.
Gain hands-on experience designing, conducting, and/or presenting a scholarly research project under the direction of a Psychology faculty member. Students normally produce a written final report. Typically reserved for sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Interested students should contact possible faculty supervisors the semester before they plan to enroll. Prerequisite: Permission of faculty supervisor and chairperson.

353. Phenomenology and Cognitive Science. (H)
In-depth study of phenomenology, covering both its history and contemporary debates, and phenomenology-inspired research in cognitive science and psychology. Prerequisite: One prior Philosophy course and one prior Psychology course. Same as PHI 353.    

Topics Courses Expected to be Offered in 2021-2022

  • 37X. Psychology of Language.
  • 37X. Psychology of Power and Privilege. 
  • 47X. Stereotyping and Prejudice.
  • 47X. Storytelling, Narrative, and the Mind.