2012-2013 Catalog 
    Mar 07, 2021  
2012-2013 Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Psychology Major

Major Requirements

The major in psychology requires ten courses, distributed as follows:

  1. PSYC 030 CM - Introduction to Psychology  (a recommended first or early course in the major)
  2. Three core courses (below 100), one from each of the following three clusters:
  3. PSYC 109 CM - Introduction to Statistics for Psychologists 
  4. PSYC 110 CM - Research Methods  - PSYC 111L CM - Research Methods Practicum  (courses taken concurrently)
  5. Three upper division elective courses in psychology (numbered above 100 at CMC; excluding PSYC 198 CM )



• At least six of the courses in the major must be completed at CMC.
PSYC 110 CM  - PSYC 111L CM  should be taken before the senior year.
PSYC 109 CM  should be taken before PSYC 110 CM  - PSYC 111L CM 
• With approval from the department chair, at most one Independent Study in Psychology (PSYC 199 CM ) may be counted toward the psychology major.

In unusual circumstances, exceptions to these rules may be approved by the department chair. Students who do not complete PSYC 110 CM  - PSYC 111L CM  before the senior year are not eligible for honors in the major.

Suggested Sequencing of Courses for the Full Psychology Major

This course sequence is recommended; others are also possible. Students are strongly encouraged to develop their psychology course sequence in consultation with a psychology faculty advisor.

Senior Thesis in Psychology

The senior thesis is a general education requirement and the capstone experience of a student’s undergraduate education. Students must complete a senior thesis in at least one of their majors under supervision of a faculty reader who teaches within that major, unless granted a special exception.

Students interested in receiving honors in psychology are required to complete a two-semester empirical psychology thesis project. Candidates for honors register for the full credit course PSYC 198 CM - Psychology Senior Research Seminar  in the first semester of their senior year, for which they receive a letter grade. In both the first and second semesters of their senior year, they also register for thesis with a reader (for which one credit is awarded at the end of the second semester). Students doing a two-semester empirical thesis therefore earn a total of one credit in the first semester and one credit in the second semester. A grade of “P” (in Progress) rather than a letter grade will be assigned for the first semester of a two-semester empirical thesis. The thesis grade earned in the second semester will replace the “P” grade. The research seminar and the senior thesis may not be counted as courses in the major. For further information on honors, see Honors in Psychology below.

To be eligible to complete a year-long thesis in psychology, students must have completed PSYC 109 CM , PSYC 110 CM , and PSYC 111L CM  before their senior year and must have earned a grade of “B+” or better in all three courses. Students must also have a GPA in psychology courses of at least 10.0 at the beginning of their senior year. Students who do not qualify for a year-long thesis in psychology may petition the department to complete a year-long thesis. If the department approves the petition, then the student must recruit a faculty supervisor who is willing to supervise the thesis. However, even if the petition is approved, those students will not be eligible for honors in the major if they do not meet the requirements for honors.

Special Options for Majors

Dual Majors

Students with a dual major including psychology may waive one of the three core/cluster requirements and one of the three upper-level elective requirements. At least four major courses must be taken at CMC. Students with a dual major including psychology may write their senior thesis on a topic in psychology. For further information, see Senior Thesis in Psychology above. Please note the restrictions on honors in the major for students with a dual major under Honors in Psychology.

Dual majors in economics and psychology take MATH 030 CM - Calculus I  or higher for the general education requirement in mathematics.

Honors in Psychology

To qualify for honors in psychology, students must:

  • Have a GPA in psychology courses of at least “B+” (10.00) at the beginning of the senior year and at time of graduation
  • Have a grade of B+ (10.00) or higher in PSYC 109 CM 
  • Have a grade of B+ (10.00) or higher in both PSYC 110 CM  and PSYC 111L CM 
  • Complete PSYC 198 CM - Psychology Senior Research Seminar 
  • Complete a two-semester, two-unit empirical research thesis project in psychology (see above)
  • Present a report on the completed research project at a formal conference held around the time theses are turned in. Following this conference the faculty in psychology selects the students to be awarded honors on the basis of criteria included with the instructions for thesis preparation.

Under College policy, students with a dual major including psychology who wish to be considered for honors in psychology are eligible for honors in psychology if they satisfy the following conditions:

  • Complete all requirements for a full major in psychology and are granted honors, or
  • Qualify and receive honors in both disciplines of their dual major. See Academic Honors at Graduation  for details.

In unusual circumstances, exceptions to these requirements may be approved through a petition to the department chair.

Psi Chi

Psi Chi is the national honor society for psychology majors. To be eligible, students must satisfy the following conditions:

  • Have completed at least 3 semesters of college work
  • Have completed at least 3 psychology courses
  • Rank in the top 35% of their class at CMC
  • Have a minimum GPA of 9.0 in both psychology classes and in cumulative grades.

Each year the psychology faculty and current members of Psi Chi elect new members from among those who are eligible. For further information, contact the Psychology Department.

Research Laboratories

Psychology majors have the opportunity to work with CMC faculty connected with the following research labs and institutes:

  • Center for Applied Psychological Research
    The research center explores the applications of psychological theories and research to two broad areas: the legal system and intergroup relations. Students in psychology contribute to research in areas such as jury decision-making, expert testimony, the prediction of dangerousness, interrogations and false confessions, the death penalty, stereotyping, prejudice, and intergroup conflict. For further information, contact Professors Costanzo, Krauss, or Levin.
  • Claremont Autism Center
    Students in psychology with interests in clinical interventions and behavior modification with autistic children have the opportunity to participate in the work at the Leon Strauss Foundation Autism Clinic of The Claremont Autism Center. See Special Programs . For further information, contact Professor Charlop.
  • Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory
    In the lab, faculty and students use the tools of cognitive psychology, cognitive neuropsychology, and functional neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG/ERP) to investigate the role that the body plays in directing our perception, attention, recognition, and emotional processing. In addition to studying the behavior and brain function of typical individuals, we collaborate with neurologists and neuropsychologists to study people with brain-damage and atypical development. Students are encouraged not only to contribute to on-going studies but to develop their own original experiments. For further information, contact Professor Reed.
  • Cultural Influences on Mental Health Center
    This center seeks to answer two primary questions. How does culture affect mental health? And, how do we improve the treatment of mental illness for those from diverse backgrounds? Students conduct research in areas such as immigration’s impact on family relationships, adaptation of mental health services for those from different backgrounds, cultural competence and mental health outcomes, and ethnic differences in dating preferences. For further information, contact Professor Hwang.
  • Decision Neuroscience Laboratory
    Research in this lab examines how valuation and decision-making emerge at the neural level, and how these cognitive processes interact during choice. Using neuroscience techniques such as event-related potentials (ERP), students will contribute to research on how decision-making unfolds over time, and across domains including social and economic choice. For further information, contact Professor Harris.
  • Developmental Laboratory
    This research laboratory examines the intersection of developmental psychology and educational policy, in particular children’s cognitive development and school performance as well as the use of longitudinal and cross-sectional methodology. Currently the two active lines of research examine: 1) the role of language development in memory formation in bilingual and monolingual children, and 2) the longitudinal impact of IQ scores on school children’s special education diagnoses. For further information, contact Professor Kanaya.
  • Human Cognition Laboratory
    Researchers at this laboratory study how people think and learn. Two current projects are the development and standardization of a test of critical thinking and the development and testing of a computer game that teaches critical thinking and scientific reasoning skills. For further information, contact Professor Halpern.
  • Human Learning and Memory Laboratory
    Research in this laboratory is best described as an exploration of the mental representations and cognitive processes responsible for human learning and memory. Research assistants develop an appreciation for the most recent theories and research methodologies used to understand prospective memory, source monitoring, and other memory phenomena related to recognition and free recall. For further information, contact Professor Cook
  • Kravis Leadership Institute
    The Kravis Leadership Institute sponsors leadership studies at CMC. The Institute hosts conferences, workshops, and speaker series, and conducts research on leadership applications, contributing to the growing body of knowledge in the field. See Special Programs  for details. For further information, contact Professors Conger, Mhatre, or Riggio.
  • Moral Emotions and Trust Laboratory
    Research in the MEAT Lab examines how emotions and non-conscious processes influence judgments of equity, justice, and harm as well as the tendency to engage in antisocial or prosocial behavior. Examples of current research include 1) the influence of emotional state such as compassion, gratitude and awe on social judgment, and 2) understanding the processes by which institutions lose and regain public trust after moral transgressions. For further information, contact Professor Valdesolo.

The Undergraduate Robert Day Scholars Program

The undergraduate Robert Day Scholars Program is designed for a select group of highly motivated seniors with excellent academic records, significant leadership aptitude, and a clear interest in leadership roles in business, finance, government, and not-for-profit organizations. Robert Day Scholars complete a required set of coursework and receive a generous fellowship toward tuition, access to networking opportunities together with and customized support from a career services specialist.

The curricular focus of the program is on finance, along with complementary coursework in economics, accounting, and organizational psychology. Scholars also participate in a set of specially designed extra-curricular activities.

Students apply as juniors to become Robert Day Scholars in their senior year. Psychology majors are well prepared to apply for the program and interested students should enroll in the prerequisite courses for the program during the sophomore and junior year. For further information, see The Robert Day Scholars Program  in Special Academic Programs and the website: http://www.cmc.edu/rdschool/academic/scholars/.

Master of Arts in Finance

For information on the Master’s Program in Finance of the Robert Day School, see The Graduate Program of the Robert Day School of Economics and Finance .

Accelerated MA Program in Psychology

CMC and The Claremont Graduate University (CGU) offer psychology and neuroscience majors the opportunity to obtain an accelerated MA degree in psychology from CGU one year after receiving the Bachelor of Arts degree from CMC. Under this program, CGU will grant up to 16 units of graduate credit for advanced undergraduate courses taken while the student is an undergraduate at CMC. In addition to the CMC courses, in their senior year program participants must take two graduate courses (eight units) at CGU, including a core course and a four unit course in either statistics or methodology. After entering CGU, program participants must complete at least 32 units (eight courses) for the MA degree.

Students must formally apply to and be admitted into the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences at CGU. Applicants must be majors or dual majors in psychology or neuroscience, who will complete a one-year empirical research senior thesis in one of those fields during the senior year.

Students interested in the accelerated MA program in psychology are encouraged to apply no later than the spring semester of the junior year. The application can be completed online at: http://www.applyweb.com. Students should make sure to note that they are from one of the undergraduate Claremont Colleges and request a fee waiver. The GRE is required. For further information, contact the School of Behavioral and Organizational Sciences at Claremont Graduate University.

Learning Goals and Student Learning Outcomes of the Psychology Program

Learning Goals

Students who devote themselves to the study of psychology will achieve a variety of learning goals. These goals flow directly from an understanding of psychological science and its applications. In accordance with the American Psychological Association’s Report on the  Undergraduate Psychology Major (APA 2008), we specify the following goals for psychology majors:

  1. Knowledge of major concepts, theories, and empirical findings in psychology;
  2. Understanding of research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis and interpretation;
  3. Development of critical thinking skills and use of the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes;
  4. Application of psychological principles to areas such as education, law, business, politics, and medicine;
  5. Awareness of ethical behavior in research and applied settings;
  6. Technological literacy;
  7. Oral and written communication skills; and
  8. Understanding of sociocultural and international diversity and complexity.

Study Abroad

Psychology majors are encouraged to take advantage of CMC’s study abroad programs but need to consider the following:

  1. Options for students planning to study abroad during the entire junior year:
    • Complete Statistics (PSYC 109 CM  or the equivalent) in the fall of the sophomore year; and Research Methods (PSYC 110 CM  & PSYC 111L CM ) courses in the spring of the sophomore year.
    • With special permission of the department chair, in unusual circumstances students may take the Research Methods courses and Statistics in the same semester of the sophomore year.
  2. Options for students planning to study abroad for one semester during the junior year
    • Students planning to do a one-semester senior thesis, rather than a two-semester empirical thesis may, with the permission of the department chair, complete the Research Methods  courses in the fall semester of the senior year. This option allows students to study abroad for one semester during the junior year and complete Statistics  in the other semester. However, it is still strongly recommended that all students complete the Research Methods courses before the senior year. Students with a one-semester thesis are not eligible for honors in psychology.
    • Take Statistics in the summer or during the sophomore year, and the Research Methods courses during the semester they are on campus in the junior year.
    • With permission of the department chair, students may complete Statistics while abroad. This option is only available at selected programs.


  • Students studying abroad during the (second semester of the) junior year must obtain a thesis reader before going abroad.
  • Students studying abroad during the second semester of the sophomore year can complete the Research Methods (PSYC 110 CM  - PSYC 111L CM ) courses and Statistics (PSYC 109 CM  or equivalent) during the junior year. 

General Education Requirement Information

Psychology requirement: Any CMC psychology course numbered 99 or lower fulfills the College’s general education requirement in psychology. Note that NEUR 095 JT -Foundations of Neuroscience  does not meet the requirement.

Psychology majors: For the general education requirement in the social sciences and the humanities, CMC students majoring in psychology must take designated courses in all four fields of the social sciences (economics, government, history, and psychology), and in two of the four fields of the humanities (literature, philosophy, religious studies, and literature in a foreign language). Psychology majors with a dual or double major in the humanities must take courses in three humanities fields. For further information, see Academic Policies & Procedures .