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Thane S. Pittman
We believe the best way to learn the science of psychology is by engaging our faculty and students in a collaborative search for new knowledge about human cognition, emotion, and behavior. This process begins with an understanding of the discipline’s conceptual foundations, and it requires a firm grounding in methods of research design and statistical analysis. Psychology majors learn how to explain behavior from multiple perspectives, how to ask substantive questions and use appropriate empirical methodologies to address those questions, how to communicate their findings clearly in written, oral, and visual forms, and how to interact with humans and animals following the ethical standards of the field.
An extensive program of laboratory research provides the means for students and faculty to work together to explore interesting phenomena in cognition, development, emotion, motivation, neuroscience, personality, psychopathology, healthy, and social psychology. The concentration in neuroscience allows students to explore an interdisciplinary field combining the study of psychology and biology.
Faculty and Curriculum +
The department faculty represent the full spectrum of contemporary academic and professional psychology with interests and expertise ranging from experimental brain research to clinical applications. Throughout its curriculum the department emphasizes the scientific approach to the study of psychology. Requirements for the major include an introductory psychology course, a minimum of four basic content courses (from areas such as neuroscience, cognitive processes and memory, child and adolescent development, personality, or abnormal and social psychology), a two-semester sequence in research methods and statistics, at least one semester in an advanced research subject with a companion course in collaborative research, and a Senior Integrative Seminar. Seniors may also engage in a semester-long research project or a full-year program of Honors Research. We offer a neuroscience concentration in cooperation with the Biology Department. Outstanding students are elected to the Colby chapter of Psi Chi, the national honor society in psychology.
Student involvement in research activities is a key component of the major. All students have the opportunity to develop several original projects in their coursework, beginning in the sophomore year. Many students also conduct research by means of independent study courses or the Honors Research program. Participation in faculty research lab groups is an important and exciting way for students to get involved in meaningful research and to work closely with members of the faculty outside of the classroom.
The department laboratories and offices are located on the second and third floors of Roberts Union, as well as in the Arey Life Sciences Building. The Roberts Union laboratories are well equipped to investigate topics in neuroanatomy, cognition, language, development, perception, attention, personality, and clinical psychology. Additional laboratory space in the Arey Life Sciences Building includes animal facilities for research in neuroscience. A departmental computer cluster, always available to students, offers both traditional software and software specific to teaching and research in psychology.
In addition to the many and varied research opportunities, the curriculum provides opportunities for students to become involved in the application of psychological knowledge through internships at local facilities or in off-campus placements in a wide variety of academic, professional, and corporate settings in the U.S. and abroad. The department encourages students to explore other cultures as a good way of understanding the influence of culture on human psychology through study abroad.
What do you do with a degree in psychology? Colby psychology majors are skilled at asking original, creative questions, and in finding and communicating answers to those questions—abilities that are regarded highly by graduate schools and prospective employers. Psychology graduates are routinely admitted to excellent graduate and professional schools. Psychology majors enter a wide variety of professions including academic and clinical psychology, medicine, law, dentistry, optometry, teaching, marketing, human resources, and management in a range of corporate settings.