image of heads made of puzzle pieces illustrates that psychology majors learn to solve the puzzle of how the mind works

Requirements for Psychology Majors

Psychology majors at Sierra Nevada College learn about a wide range of behaviors among humans and animals, including sensation, perception, attention, memory, cognition, and emotion. The psychology requirements also develop critical thinking, and teach students how to understand and use statistics. Students explore the areas in psychology that interest them, while they develop key skills for college and beyond.

What Are the Psychology Major Requirements?

Psychology as an academic discipline is concerned with learning about oneself, our relations with others, and how to support others in leading satisfying lives. Psychology majors at Sierra Nevada College study human development, learning and behavior, social psychology, abnormal psychology, counseling and clinical psychology, sensation and perception, neuroscience, and cognitive psychology. This range of course requirements prepares students for an even wider range of successful careers beyond the classroom.

Learn more about what you can do with a psychology major >

However, psychology is not just a body of knowledge; it is also an experimental science. Our understanding of human thought and behavior evolves every day as new research brings new insights. Every psychology major at SNC learns how to design, execute, analyze, and present research. Then they use those skills to conduct an original study chosen according to their particular interests.

Research Requirements:

  • Statistics:
    Research is based on data. Understanding what a collection of data points means, might mean, or doesn’t mean is key. Students learn the basic concepts of statistics and how to use data to make intelligent decisions in life.
  • Research Methods:
    Students look at the many forms of research in the behavioral sciences. They learn the pluses and minuses of different methods, and how to recognize and avoid common errors. During the course, they work up the proposal for their own independent research experiment. As part of this process, each student reads and analyzes several related published journal articles and joins in class critiques. The proposal identifies a hypothesis and an experiment to prove or disprove. Each research question is novel, one that has never been published before. That makes the findings a genuine contribution to the literature. These projects begin in the fall.
  • Experimental Psychology and the Empirical Research Project:
    This course, which follows Research Methods, guides students through the entire process of doing their research. Each student will set up their experiment, find participants, and tabulate results. Most studies will collect at least 600 data points! Students will consider issues like experimental ethics – each project must be passed by an Institutional Review Board. Data analysis is important. Students work with concepts like statistical significance, correlation, and inference. They look at how the ways that results are formatted can distort their meaning. Finally they can write their research papers and make their poster presentations for the annual Psychology Research Fair.
  • The Publication Seminar:
    This hands-on seminar guides students through the process of turning their research results into a publishable paper. Each student submits their finished paper for publication in at least one undergraduate research journal, and at least one traditional, peer-reviewed, psychology journal. This is one piece of preparing every psychology major at SNC Tahoe for professional success.
  • Psychology Research Fair:
    The fair is the students’ opportunity to showcase their independent research projects to their fellow students, staff, and faculty. It is a celebration of the hard work and dedication to their research that each student has shown throughout the year. Everyone who has invested in the research – the students themselves, study participants, supporters, and advisors – are proud to have this day to see the outcome of each project.
  • Conferences:
    Students studying experimental psychology all participate in the Sierra Nevada College symposium and the Nevada Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Nevada, Reno. Many are also accepted to a regional conference. Usually this is either the Psychology Undergraduate Research Symposium at UCLA in Southern California, or the Stanford Undergraduate Research Symposium in Palo Alto. SNC’s acceptance rate at these prestigious events attests to the quality of work that our students produce. It is also a great opportunity for our psychology majors to advance their professional careers.

Check out some recent examples of SNC psychology research projects here. We also post frequent updates about our students and their accomplishments on our blog. Do you want to learn more about the psychology program at SNC? Check out the SNC Undergraduate Course Catalog for specific course requirements, or request more information from an advisor today.

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