2013-2014 Pitzer Catalog 
    May 26, 2024  
2013-2014 Pitzer Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Psychology Major

Goals for the Psychology Major

Overview of Goals: The psychology curriculum is designed to encourage students to view psychology and human behavior across multiple levels, using a variety of theoretical and empirical models. We offer our students a solid foundation in methodology, history, traditional, and non-traditional approaches, and we urge critical thinking.

Goal 1: Research training-Students will understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, writing, and interpretation.

Goal 2: Integrating experiential and scientific knowledge-Students will be able to integrate hands-on work in communities and social service organizations with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.

Goal 3: Diversity-Students will recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity.

Goal 4: Life-long learning-Students will develop an interest in life-long learning and an interest in psychological issues in all areas of their personal and professional lives.

Goal 5: Communication skills-Students will be able to effectively communicate about the complexities of psychological research.

Goal 6: Ethical considerations-Students will be able to weigh evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.

Goal 7: Social responsibility-Students will recognize and understand the connection between their psychology training and social issues, and will use this knowledge in their efforts to improve the world in which we live.

Goal 8: Skepticism-Students will respect and use skeptical inquiry in interpreting, understanding, and applying psychological research.

Requirements for the Major

A major in psychology requires a minimum of 12 courses. Majors in psychology must meet the following requirements either through satisfactory completion of regular course work (normally at one of The Claremont Colleges) or through other means approved by the psychology faculty. Individual psychology major requirements (e.g., Intro, Stats, Research Methods, Developmental psychology, etc.) must be fulfilled by completing regular course work, and cannot be fulfilled via independent study; however, independent study courses can count as additional courses towards the number of courses required of the major. Furthermore, students should take all of their major requirements on a letter-grade basis. The requirements of the psychology major are:

One course in each of the following sub-domains within psychology:

  • Biological bases of behavior (PSYC 101 PZ  or equivalent)
  • Cognition.
  • Community/clinical psychology.
  • Developmental psychology.
  • Social psychology/personality.

In addition to meeting these content domain requirements, the courses selected for the major must include:

  • One laboratory course in psychology (must be completed by the end of the spring semester of the junior year). Note: Research Methods should be taken before enrolling in a lab course
  • A second laboratory course, an internship, or a research practicum course.
  • A course focusing on diversity issues in psychology. The course may involve an examination of diversity in terms of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disabilities, or economic status.
  • A seminar.

Courses that satisfy major requirements are denoted using the following notation system:
L (lab)
I (internship or research practicum)
D (Diversity)
S (Seminar)

Following this letter-string code are 1 or more three-letter codes specifying the sub-domain(s) covered in the course:

BIO (Biological bases of behavior)
COG (Cognition)
CLI (Community, Clinical)
DEV (Developmental)
SOC (Social, Personality)

For instance, a course in social psychology focused on diversity issues would be followed by: Satisfies: L, D, SOC.



During the spring semester of the junior year, the Psychology faculty may invite selected students to submit a research proposal for a senior thesis. Criteria for selection include an overall GPA of 3.5, a Claremont Colleges psychology courses GPA of 3.7 and successful completion of PSYC 091 PZ  and one laboratory course in psychology prior to the end of the spring semester of the junior year. At the end of the fall semester, students in PSYC 112 PZ  will be expected to present pilot data to the psychology faculty and will be continued in the Honors Program only IF the quality of the data and presentation is acceptable. In addition, students must pass PSYC 112 PZ  with a B or better to receive a recommendation from the psychology faculty to continue. The student must then enroll in PSYC 191 PZ -Senior Thesis in Psychology  in the spring semester of the senior year. Students engaged in senior thesis research are expected to be on campus during the entire senior year. Students engaged in senior thesis research are expected to be on campus during the entire senior year. Students who may be eligible for senior thesis research and who are interested in semester abroad experiences should plan to take these prior to the senior year. Students who complete an acceptable senior thesis may be considered for graduation with honors in psychology, provided that their academic performance continues to meet the aforementioned criteria. Students who participate in the senior thesis program will present their research to students and faculty at the end of the year..