Roadmap of Our Psychology Major
At DePauw, the Psychology major requires a minimum of 10 courses, which is pretty typical for liberal arts universities. We seek to instill a strong background and important skills development in that small number of courses. As you plan your 4 years at DePauw, we recommend the following order for taking classes in the Psychology major:
- Introductory Psychology provides a broad foundation to the overall field of Psychology.
Students generally take this during their first year at DePauw, though it is still possible to major in Psychology by taking the class during first semester of sophomore year. Students with a 4 or 5 on an AP Psychology exam are allowed to receive credit for the class without taking it, but if they’re seriously considering a Psychology major, we strongly encourage them to take the class at DePauw so the more rigorous instruction can help them build a stronger foundation.
- After developing a foundation and perspective on the overall field, dive more deeply into sub-fields by taking our 200 level classes.
These courses include Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, and Social Psychology. Students typically take two of these classes during first and sophomore years, but juniors and seniors often decide to take an additional class for a field that interests them. Because we want all of our majors to develop an integrative understanding of methods and theories across Psychology, our majors must take at least two 200/300 level courses from the “Social Science” side of Psychology and two 200/300 level courses from the “Natural Science” side of Psychology. Ideally, we want these learning experiences to culminate in a rich, integrative approach to each major’s senior thesis.
- After you’ve gained deeper experience in sub-fields via at least 1-2 of our 200 level courses, you are prepared to take our Statistics/Research Methods sequence.
Our Behavioral Statistics course teaches a broad set of skills for applying statistics tests to analyze and interpret data, and in addition to learning fundamental concepts and formulas, we “scale-up” by using computer software to analyze larger datasets. Majors typically take Statistics during their Sophomore year, and then in the following semester (sometimes with a gap semester in between, due to study abroad or other scheduling needs), they take our Research Methods class (typically during Sophomore or Junior year) to gain hands-on experience in designing studies and evaluating relevant ethical concerns and validity issues, collecting data and using their statistics background to appropriately analyze and interpret the results, and writing multiple APA-style research reports for these lab studies.
- During Junior and Senior years, our majors take a variety of 300-level elective courses, including at least 2 lab courses.
These courses, such as Emotions Across the Lifespan, Evolutionary Psychology, Health Psychology, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Personality Psychology, Psychotherapy, and the Psychology of Relationships often span sub-disciplines of Psychology and require integration across multiple methodologies and perspectives.
- As the culmination of your Psychology major, you complete a senior thesis by developing deep expertise on a topic of your choice.
Please check out some of our recent theses! You can choose to complete a one-semester thesis or a two-semester, empirical thesis. In both cases, you choose a relevant topic of great personal interest, and you are sponsored by a faculty mentor throughout the semester (or year). Generally you read 4-5 research articles on that topic each week, and you meet with your sponsor to discuss the articles and gradually develop expertise on that topic. Throughout the semester, you also meet with a seminar group to give oral presentations on your developing thesis, and your sponsor provides feedback on written drafts of your thesis. You ultimately submit your final written thesis at the end of the semester and give an oral presentation on your overall thesis. Your final work is bound, and you, your sponsor, and the department receive copies!
If you’re strongly interested in gaining additional research experience and perhaps even pursuing Psychology research in graduate school and beyond, we encourage you to complete a full-year empirical thesis (there are some requirements: at least a B- in Statistics and Research Methods or petition approval from the department, because students need a sufficiently strong background for this largely self-driven project). For the full year project, you still conduct an extensive literature review on a topic of your choice, but you also propose and design your own novel study on that topic. During the spring semester, you collect and analyze data and then interpret the results. Then, at the end of the spring semester, you submit your full thesis, which is an integration of your literature review and your own study’s findings along with discussion of how your findings add to the existing literature.
Our department greatly values the experiences that students gain outside of the classroom, and we encourage students to be proactive in testing their interests. Each semester we share internal documents with our majors for internship and co-curricular opportunities (including semester, Winter Term, and summer opportunities) as well as networking resources with alumni who have volunteered to discuss their respective careers and career paths with current students.
Undergraduate research is a well-documented “high impact practice” that allows students to engage with fascinating questions and develop skills with methodologies, research equipment, statistical analyses and interpretation, and professional writing and presentation. As such, undergraduate research is also extremely valued by graduate and professional schools and employers. In our department, we offer a variety of research opportunities, including lab course experiences (majors complete at least 3 lab courses), research with our faculty during the semester and also competitive, funded opportunities during the summer, and a senior thesis on a topic of each student’s choice.
Please see our Research https://www.depauw.edu/academics/departments-programs/psychology/research/ pages for additional details.
Psi Chi is the oldest honor fraternity at DePauw University. We are involved in many philanthropic and educational events on campus, including sponsoring speakers in psychology-related fields and presenting stress-relief tips. DePauw Psi Chi also works closely with the Mental Health Association of Putnam County, providing charitable donations and supporting their ink cartridge drive. Perhaps most importantly, Psi Chi provides recognition for students who excel in the field of psychology. Depauw Psi Chi Page.