Admission to the major is usually granted to any student in good standing in the college who has passed three or more psychology courses with grades of C+ or better. Provisional admission requires two such courses. To apply to the major and receive an advisor, a major application form may be obtained from the department office (211 Uris Hall) and should be completed and taken to one of the faculty members whose name is listed on the form.
Requirements for the major are:
- A total of 40 credits in psychology (including prerequisites), from which students majoring in psychology are expected to choose, in consultation with their advisors, a range of courses that covers the basic processes in psychology. Students must earn a grade of C- or better in each course. Students also are encouraged to take independent study or field work (PSYCH 4700 – Undergraduate Research in Psychology and PSYCH 4710 – Advanced Undergraduate Research in Psychology; research conducted under the supervision of a professor). Up to 12 of these credits may be counted towards the major. No course other than PSYCH 4700 and PSYCH 4710 may be taken S/U.
- Demonstration of proficiency in statistics before the beginning of the senior year. (See the section below on the statistics requirement.)
- Unless otherwise approved by the advisor, at least one course in each of the following three areas of psychology:
The following classification of Department of Psychology offerings is intended to help students and their advisors choose courses that will ensure that such breadth is achieved:
- Perception, cognition and development (PCD): PSYCH 1102, 2050, 2090, 2150, 3050, 3140, 3160, 3350, 3420, 4120, 4180, 4270, 4280, 4320, 4360, 4370, 4650, 4770, 4780.
- Behavioral and evolutionary neuroscience (BEN): PSYCH 2230, 3220, 3240, 3260, 3320, 4200, 4230, 4240, 4250, 4260, 4350, 4390, 4400, 4410.
- Social and personality psychology (S&P): PSYCH 2650, 2750, 2800, 2820, 3250, 3270, 3280, 3800, 3850, 4050, 4300, 4810, 4820, 4840, 4850, 4910.
- Other courses: PSYCH 1101, 1990, 3500, 4101, 4700, 4710. The major advisor determines to which group, if any, these courses may be applied.
For a list of our Fall 2017 courses visit full course roster.
With the permission of the advisor, courses in other departments or at other universities (such as through Cornell Abroad) may be accepted toward the major requirements. If the latter, be prepared to produce a syllabus.
Undergraduates may not serve as teaching assistants for psychology courses if they are serving as teaching assistants for any other course during the same semester.
Proficiency in statistics can be demonstrated in any one of the several ways listed below.
- Passing PSYCH 3500.
- Passing an approved course or course sequence in statistics in some other department at Cornell. The approved list of courses and sequences may change.
- Passing a course or course sequence in statistics at some other college, university, or college-level summer school. The course or sequence must be equivalent to at least 6 semester credits. The description of the course from the college catalog and the title and author of the textbook used must be submitted to Professor Thomas Cleland for approval.
- Passing an exemption examination. This examination can be given at virtually any time during the academic year by arrangement with Professor Cleland. Students who have completed a theoretical statistics course in a department of mathematics or engineering and who wish to demonstrate competence in applied statistics usually find this option the easiest. Students planning this option should discuss it in advance with Professor Cleland.
Perception, cognition and development, and the minor in Cognitive Science:
Psychology majors who wish to specialize in understanding the mind can elect to specialize in perception, cognition and development, and may wish to choose a Cognitive Science Minor. Students must meet all of the general requirements for the major in psychology and, following the guidelines of the Cognitive Science Program, must also demonstrate a solid background in philosophy, linguistics, computer science, or neurobiology. Students will design with their advisors an integrated program built around courses in psychology and other fields. Contact Julie Simmons-Lynch, 255-6431.
Concentration in behavioral and evolutionary neuroscience:
Psychology majors interested in psychology as a biological science can elect to specialize in biopsychology. Students in this concentration must meet all of the general requirements for the major in psychology and must also demonstrate a solid background in biology, the physical sciences, including at least introductory chemistry, and mathematics. Students will design with their advisors an integrated program in biopsychology built around courses on physiological, chemical, anatomical, and ecological determinants of human and nonhuman behavior offered by the Department of Psychology. Additional courses in physiology, anatomy, biochemistry, neurochemistry, neurobiology, and behavioral biology may be designated as part of the psychology major after consultation between the student and his or her biopsychology advisor.
Concentration in personality and social psychology:
Psychology majors who wish to specialize in social psychology are expected to meet the general requirements set by the department, including statistics. To ensure a solid interdisciplinary grounding, students in the concentration are permitted to include some major courses in anthropology, economics, sociology, and other related fields. Advisors will assist students in the selection of a coherent set of courses from social organization, cultural anthropology, experimental psychology, social methodology, and several aspects of personality and social psychology.