The Psychology Department offers three majors – a general major in psychology, a major in psychology with a concentration in neuroscience, and a major in computational psychology.  All majors have the same core curriculum:  PS 111 (Introductory Psychology), PS 214 and 215 (Research Methods and Statistics I and II).  Students must receive a C in PS 214 and 215 to continue in the major, and PS 215 must be completed no later than the junior year.

Below are graphics to illustrate our curricula (click on the thumbnails).  You may also want to review the course catalog for more detail about each major and the courses.  Below, we also offer additional information about pathways for completing the psychology major, as well as other experiences you may want to seek as part of your study of psychology.

Psychology (PS)

Psychology with

Concentration in

Neuroscience (PSNS)


Psychology (PSIC)

Satisfying the minimum requirements for the Psychology Major should be fairly easy to fit in with the rest of your schedule, and easier the sooner you get started. The keys to timely and effective completion of the major are

(1) take PS111: Introduction to Psychology in your first year (AP scores of 4 or 5 can substitute for PS111),

(2) take the PS214-215: Research Methods and Statistics 1 & 2 sequence in your sophomore year,

(3) take a 300-level seminar/collaborative research course pair in your junior year, and

(4) take another 300-level seminar or seminar/collaborative research course pair, and PS 420 Integrative Senior Research.

If you do that and take one or two 200-level content courses each year, you’ll have no problem finishing the major, spending a semester abroad in your junior year if you like, and having the time to take advantage of everything we have to offer in your senior year including one of the variety of independent study options.

It is possible to get a later start.  In this case, you take PS214 and 215 in your junior year, along with 200-level electives.  In your senior year, you take the 300-level seminars (one with the paired collaborative research course), and PS 420.

Key to completing the major is taking several prerequisites for our seminars and seminar/collaborative research paired courses so that you have flexibility regarding which courses you can take and when.  The graphic below (click on it) shows the 300-level courses and which 200-level electives are required.  Note that some 300-level courses have two or more options for prerequisites.



One of our goals in Psychology is to provide the best learning environment for our students. The curriculum and our methods of teaching are geared toward active engagement with the material and collaboration among students and faculty. For the best experience in the major, students are encouraged to attend all classes and participate in all class activities. Moreover, we believe that significant learning takes place both inside and outside the classroom, and we encourage you to share your learning experiences with your peers and to form study groups.

Students should treat deadlines as firm. Scheduling of exams, papers, and other assignments is done with careful consideration, attending to balancing material covered and the appropriateness of the evaluation at the time it is scheduled. Professors will make every effort to return graded exams, papers, and assignments in a timely fashion, and asking for an extension delays the return of graded work and feedback, thus disrupting the learning process.

Attendance, Absence and Deadline Policy: The department abides by the following policy as stated in the Colby College Catalog: Students are expected to attend all of their classes and scheduled course events in any semester or January and are responsible for any work missed. Failure to attend can lead to a warning, grading penalties, and/or dismissal from the course with a failing grade. The department also adheres to the College’s Policies for Missed Class Time Due to Athletic Contests. Students taking a course in the Psychology Department are expected to attend all meetings of that course. Absences in seminars and in courses involving student discussions, group projects, lab exercises and/or class activities are particularly problematic because such absences negatively affect other students in the course and detract from your overall learning experience. Only valid medical excuses, documented personal catastrophes (such as a death in the family), and religious observances (see below) will be accepted as reasons not to attend class, take an exam, or turn in a paper or other assignment as scheduled.  If you are, for legitimate reasons, unable to take an exam or turn in a paper or assignment when it is scheduled, you should notify the professor of the exam time or due date. Having a lot of work to do, several exams/papers in a few days, being generally unprepared, or having conflicting travel arrangements are not acceptable excuses. Professors will provide additional detail about class attendance policies and penalties, if appropriate, on the course syllabus.

Incomplete Grades. The mark of incomplete (I), indicating that a course was not completed, will be assigned only in the case of documented emergencies. The assignment of a mark of I is contingent on students making prior arrangements with their professor regarding completion of the course work by a certain date in accordance with policy specified in the Colby College Catalog. Professors may consult with the department chair and/or the dean of students office (e.g., advising deans) prior to assigning an incomplete. Please note that a student with a mark of I (except in the case of illness or critical emergency) is not eligible for the Dean’s List.

Religious Observances.  Practitioners of a religious tradition requiring time apart from the demands of the normal work schedule on a particular day (or days) should contact their professors in advance to make arrangements for academic events that conflict with a religious observance.

(revised February 2020)

Within the College as well as in other contexts, concerns about academic and research integrity are at the center of much debate. Therefore we, as a faculty, have decided to implement a general policy for exam taking in the department. Among the most important reasons behind these changes are our efforts to ensure the most equitable testing conditions for all students, to respond to calls from students to be more attentive to and preventative about cheating during exams, and to avoid instances of academic dishonesty. Accordingly, Psychology faculty members may implement one or more of the following procedures for all exams in our courses.

1. Students will be required to deposit all coats, hats, and other outerwear; books and notebooks; backpacks; and any other non-test-related materials at the front of the room during the exam. At their desk, student may have only the utensils needed to complete the test (e.g., pens, pencils, erasers). All other testing materials (e.g., answer sheets, exam booklets, additional sheets of paper) will be supplied by the professor.

2. Students will be asked either to secure their computers, tablets, handheld electronic devices (e.g., iPods), cell phones or other mobile devices in their backpacks/coats/pockets that are deposited in the front of the room, or to deposit their cell phones in a box or other secure space at the front of the room until the end of the exam.

(Created: September 2013; revised February 2020)

Department Liason: Erin Sheets

Policies and Recommendations :

The Department of Psychology encourages students to take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad, particularly for those students for whom it addresses specific educational goals. For example, some students choose to deepen their language skills by studying in a non-English speaking country.  Other students seek to learn about cultural differences by studying in several different locations, conduct significant field work, and/or complete internships while abroad.  And some students seek to study psychology from a different perspective.  Students who start the major early should be able to take full advantage of their semester abroad, and in many cases this may mean not taking any psychology courses while off campus.  The department supports this plan, and we encourage students to take courses in areas such as literature, art, and history related to their host country.


Students should speak with the OCS liaison and their academic advisor early in their sophomore year to begin investigation of appropriate program and course opportunities.  Psychology courses taken abroad must be pre-approved by the department for transfer back to Colby.  Courses at the 200-level taught at Colby and those not available here (if the content is of sufficient academic relevance) will be considered for credit toward the major.  Neither Psych214 (Research Methods and Statistics) nor Psych215 (Research Methods and Statistics II) can be substituted through study abroad. You will also not be able to obtain credit comparable to the seminars with collaborative research.  No more than two courses taken abroad may count toward the major.  For purposes of completing the major, there is no preferred semester for off-campus study, but students should plan to complete the PS214/215 sequence at Colby in their sophomore year, and must do so no later than the end of their junior year.

We strongly encourage students to gain experience with putting their psychology into action by seeking internships or other experiences off campus.  The Career Center has information about receiving transcript notation for internships completed over Jan Plan or over the summer.  Many of the faculty members in Psychology have served as sponsors.  Also, volunteering in the community, either in Waterville or your home town, is another way to gain valuable experience working directly with people.  Information about volunteering while at Colby can be found at the Goldfarb Center.  The earlier you seek internship or other community experiences the better, as it is never too early to explore your after-Colby direction(s).