List of the 50 Most Frequently Asked Questions

(scroll down to see answers)

Advising, Schedules, and Beginning of Semester Information

Question #1. Do I need an advisor?

Question #2. How do I get my course schedule signed?

Question #3. I have a very general question about the psychology major. Who should I contact?

Question #4. I have a question about senior essays or senior requirements. Who should I contact?

Question #5. I have a kind of weird specific question (e.g., question about getting credit for courses taken outside of Yale, counting courses from outside of psychology towards your major, other exceptional circumstances)

Question #6. How do I make an appointment with the DUS?


Getting To Know The Major

Question #7. Which courses count as “core courses”?

Question #8. Which courses count as List A versus List B?

Question #9. Can courses outside of psychology count for List A or List B courses?

Question #10. I got a 5 in AP Psychology. Do I have to take Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 110a or 110b) at Yale?

Question #11. Can I count a course outside of the psychology department for psychology major credit?

Question #12. Can I petition to count a course for credit after I’ve already taken it?

Question #13. How many courses outside the department can be used for psychology major credit?

Question #14. Can courses taken Credit/D/Fail be applied toward the major?

Question #15. How can I know if the course I really want to take will be offered next year?

Question #16. How do I know if the course I really want to take will have enough spaces (and what happens if I get shut out)?

Question #17. Can courses other than PSYC 200 can count for the statistics requirement?

Question #18. I’m trying to decide between majoring in Psychology and Cognitive Science. What are the differences?

Question #19. I heard there used to be a Philosophy track in the psych major. Is that still available?


The Neuroscience Track

Question #20. Where can I find information about the Neuroscience Track within the Psychology Major?

Question #21: I am on the neuroscience track and I received a 5 on my AP Biology exam. Do I need to take BIOL101/102 or BIOL 103/104?

Question #22: Which courses can count as my two advanced science courses for the Neuroscience track?

Question #23: Is the senior requirement different in the Neuroscience Track?

Question #24: I still have more questions about the Neuroscience Track? Who should I contact?


Research Experiences

Question #25. Do psychology majors have the opportunity to get research experiences in psychology?

Question #26. What undergraduate research opportunities are available?

Question #27. Where can I find a list of all the available research opportunities for undergraduate students?

Question #28. How can do I take part in one of the research opportunities? I’m not sure where to start?

Question #29. What is a directed research course?

Question #30: I want to take a Directed Reading/Research course. What do I do?

Question #31. Can I receive a research credit during summer?

Question #32. Are there grants available for undergraduate research over the summer?


Senior Requirements

Question #33. I am a Junior. Do I have to do something special for the Senior Requirement?

Question #34. I am not seeking Distinction in the Major.  Do I have to submit a senior essay at the end of my senior year?

Question #35. What is the “substantial writing requirement”?

Question #36. I previously took a Directed Research (or Reading) course but I didn’t write a paper that was 20 pages.  Can I get a credit for this toward my senior requirement?

Question #37. If I am seeking Distinction and submitting a senior essay, do I have to write a separate senior essay in addition to the substantial writing requirement in each of my 400-level courses?

Question #38. I pre-registered for a 400-level senior seminar.  What are my options for fulfilling the second senior requirement credit? Can I take two senior seminars to fulfill my 2 credit senior requirement?

Question #39. I am planning to take two semesters of Directed Research to fulfill my senior requirement.  May I still pre-register for a senior seminar?

Question #40. I am seeking a BA degree with Distinction.  Do I have to write a literature review for my senior essay or can I do an empirical research project?


Study Abroad

Question #41. I am planning to study abroad.  Where should I start?

Question #42. How do I select courses that will count toward the Psychology major for the study abroad application?

Question #43. How many Psychology courses taken abroad can I count towards the major?

Question #44. How would I know that studying abroad will not interfere with my completing the psychology major requirements? 

Question #45. Do grades received in courses taken abroad count in the calculation of Distinction in the major?


Career and Graduate School

Question #46. How do I apply for graduate schools in psychology?

Question #47. What can I do with a Psychology major when I graduate?

Question #48. I’ve heard of Psi Chi. What is it?

Question #49. How do I get chosen for Psi Chi?

Question #50. Are there other awards for Psychology majors?



Advising, Schedules, and Beginning of Semester Information



Question #1. Do I need an advisor?

If you are a junior or senior in the psychology major, you do need an advisor from our department. Only those faculty listed as part of our DUS Office Advisory Board can serve as advisors (click here for the list and contact information). You can also contact any of these people when you have questions questions.


Question #2. How do I get my course schedule signed?

If you are a junior or senior in the psychology major, we recommend that your course schedule be signed by the person you picked as your psychology advisor. This will allow you to meet with your advisor at least once per semester to check in about your progress in the major. However, if this person is unavailable, any one of the Psychology DUS Office Advisory Board (see full list and contact information here) can sign your schedule.


Question #3. I have a very general question about the psychology major. Who should I contact?

First, read through this FAQ page in detail. We’ve designed this page so that you can find the answers to many of the most common questions about the major here (Looking over this page first can also save you the hassle of emailing the DUS or a Psychology Department Major Advisor member and the time it takes to wait for a reply). If you can’t find the answer to your general question on this webpage, then feel free to email any of the people listed on the DUS Office Advisory Board (click here for the list and contact information).


Question #4. I have a question about senior essays or senior requirements. Who should I contact?

You should specifically email the Senior Thesis Director (psych.thesis@yale.edu) with any questions related to senior year requirements.


Question #5. I have a kind of weird specific question (e.g., question about getting credit for courses taken outside of Yale, counting courses from outside of psychology towards your major, other exceptional circumstances)

For specific questions, you should email the DUS (Professor Kim-Cohen) directly. You can also make an appointment to meet with Professor Kim-Cohen or visit without an appointment during her official office hours (which are listed here).


Question #6. How do I make an appointment with the DUS?

Just send the Psychology DUS, Professor Laurie Santos (laurie.santos@yale.edu) an email. She will usually get back to you within 24 hours.


Getting To Know The Major



Question #7. Which courses count as “core courses”?

Core courses are survey courses that introduce students to major areas of psychology and provide additional background for more advanced courses. Only introductory level courses (100-level courses) that end in zero can count as core courses. These include. PSYC 120, 130, 140, 150, 160, 170, & 180. Note that you must take two core course total. one from List A and one from List B. Also note that these courses are not necessarily offered every year, so you may need to plan ahead.


Question #8. Which courses count as List A versus List B?

Because psychology is so diverse a subject, we require that every student take at least two courses from the social science point of view in psychology (List A) and at least two from the natural science point of view (List B). For a handy list of which courses count as List A versus List B, click here.


Question #9. Can courses outside of psychology count for List A or List B courses?

No, only courses with a PSYC designation on OCI can count as List A or List B requirements.


Question #10. I got a 5 in AP Psychology. Do I have to take Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 110a or 110b) at Yale?

No. For those who got a 5 on their AP exam, PSYC 110a/b is optional, not required.


Question #11. Can I count a course outside of the psychology department for psychology major credit?

This is possible in rare circumstances, but the decision to count a course outside the major will be decided on a case-by-case basis via petition to the DUS. To petition to count a course outside the psychology major, you will need to send the DUS an email with the following information: (1) a copy of course syllabus, and (2) a copy of the course reading lists. Petitions that do not include these three pieces of information will be rejected. The DUS will then look these materials over on a case-by-case basis. Note that most courses outside the psychology major will not be approved for psychology major credit. To count for credit, a course must (1) focus directly on a specific psychological issue (e.g., mental illness, memory, etc.) and (2) have considerable psychological content (i.e., many readings that cover primary research published in psychological journals). Examples of courses that were not approved are listed here. If the DUS does approve your petition, make sure you obtain a written documentation (e-mail or official letter) and keep this information for your own record.


Question #12. Can I petition to count a course for credit after I’ve already taken it?

Yes, there is no deadline for a course petition. But again, as explained above (see Question #10) most petitions are not approved, so be sure to plan wisely and petition early whenever possible.


Question #13. How many courses outside the department can be used for psychology major credit?

You can count up to three non-psychology courses towards psychology major credit. But again, as explained above (see Question #10) most petitions are not approved.


Question #14. Can courses taken Credit/D/Fail be applied toward the major?

Only two courses taken Credit/D/Fail may be applied toward the major. Note that no 200-level course taken Credit/D/Fail may be applied toward the major.


Question #15. How can I know if the course I really want to take will be offered next year?

Sadly, there is no real way to determine which courses will be offered next year before courses are posted on OCI during the summer. However, if you're hoping to take a specific course, it’s a good idea to contact the professor that usually teaches that course to find out if they intend to teach it again, or whether they will be on sabbatical, etc. (They may have a firm sense of what they'll teach next year long before the official list appears.) Also, note that many 400-level seminars closely track faculty interests from year to year, and that many professors teach a particular seminar only once.


Question #16. How do I know if the course I really want to take will have enough spaces (and what happens if I get shut out)?

Sadly, there is no real way to determine which courses will need to be lotteried until shopping week. That said, there are certain important courses that are limited/lotteried nearly every year. For example, research methods courses are almost always limited (this is due to the need for computer and other facilities that only hold a limited number of students). For this reason, research methods courses often tend to be over-subscribed. We therefore strongly suggest that you plan to take one of these courses before your senior year.  You can save yourself a senior year headache by taking these courses early.


Question #17. Can courses other than PSYC 200 can count for the statistics requirement?

We strongly recommend that students take PSYC 200. However, because of time conflicts, we do sometimes allow other courses to count. We can count STAT 103 as fulfilling our statistics requirement, and you do not need to do anything to count this course. For all other statistics course, the DUS will need to see the syllabus of that course for the current semester to make sure the proposed course covers all necessary concepts. Please note that most other stats classes offered at Yale do not cover the necessary material. In particular, if a proposed course does not cover two-way ANOVA, the DUS cannot approve it.


Question #18. I’m trying to decide between majoring in Psychology and Cognitive Science. What are the differences?

There are some similarities between Psychology and Cognitive Science majors. Both focus on questions related to how the mind works. However, the two majors have a different focus. Your best bet to learn more would be to look through the requirements of each program, and see which program best encompasses the set of courses you are hoping to take. You can also chat in person with the DUS or each major to hear more about the similarities and differences (For more information about cognitive science, click here.)


Question #19. I heard there used to be a Philosophy track in the psych major. Is that still available?

No, only students from the Class of 2014 who have already elected this track can enroll in it. Students whose interests encompass both philosophy and psychology should consider the psychology track offered by the Philosophy department or the Cognitive Science Major.



The Neuroscience Track


Question #20. Where can I find information about the Neuroscience Track within the Psychology Major?

The neuroscience track is a special track within the Psychology Major for students who are interested in neuroscience. Such students are considered Psychology majors for whom the requirements have been modified to accommodate their interests, and to reflect the multidisciplinary nature of modern neuroscience and psychology. Interested students are encouraged to meet with the track adviser, Dr. Gregory Samanez-Larkin (gregory.samanez-larkin@yale.edu). You should also take a look at the the Neuroscience Track major work sheet (linked here) which will give you a nice guide for how to fulfill all the Neuroscience Track requirements.


Question #21: I am on the neuroscience track and I received a 5 on my AP Biology exam. Do I need to take BIOL101/102 or BIOL 103/104?

No, if you have already placed out of these courses, then you do not need to take BIOL101/102 or BIOL 103/104. However, you will be required to replace these introductory courses with two additional courses in Psychology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, or Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology.


Question #22: Which courses can count as my two advanced science courses for the Neuroscience track?

The two advanced science courses must be chosen from Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology and Ecology and Evolutionary Biology courses numbered 200 and above that deal with human and/or animal biology. We recommend the following courses: MCDB 200, 202, 205, 210, 240, 300, 315, 320, E&EB 220, 225, and 240. Certain courses outside of these departments may also meet the advanced science requirement, including BENG 350, 421, CPSC 475, MB&B 300, 301, 420, 435, 443, 452, MATH 222, 225, 230, 231, and STAT 241. Other courses may qualify for this requirement with permission of the neuroscience track adviser. Note that laboratory courses do not count toward the advanced science requirement.


Question #23: Is the senior requirement different in the Neuroscience Track?

The senior requirement for the neuroscience track is the same as for the standard major (see information here), except that the two required course credits from PSYC 400–495 must have neuroscience content. As with the standard major,students pursuing the B.S. degree in the track must carry out an empirical project in PSYC 492 or 493, but students in the Neuroscience track must be supervised by a faculty member within the neuroscience area of the Psychology department (click here for a list). Students who wish to work with an affiliated faculty member studying neuroscience outside the department must obtain permission from the neuroscience track adviser. For a list of other faculty at Yale with neuroscience interests, click here.


Question #24: I still have more questions about the Neuroscience Track? Who should I contact?

Please send an email to the Neuroscience track adviser, Dr. Gregory Samanez-Larkin (gregory.samanez-larkin@yale.edu) or to the DUS Dr. Laurie Santos (laurie.santos@yale.edu).


Research Experiences


Question #25. Do psychology majors have the opportunity to get research experiences in psychology?

Definitely! In fact, most of our psychology majors gain some psychological research experience during their time at Yale. It is never too early to start doing research. Many psychology labs accept students with varying backgrounds and levels of previous research experience. In fact, many labs encourage freshman and sophomores to apply for positions in the hope that these students will work in the lab for several semesters and possibly complete senior requirement in the lab. Most of the time, students begin doing research by finding positions as research assistants, either during the academic year here at Yale, or over the summer break at Yale or elsewhere. If you perform research in a lab during the academic year, you can often get directed research credit for your work in the lab (For more information, see Question 29-30 below).


Question #26. What undergraduate research opportunities are available?

There are many, many undergraduate research opportunities available to you! Most psychology laboratories at Yale have opportunities for undergraduates to get involved (Click here for a long list of just some of the available labs). Some labs take on undergraduates during the academic year either for academic credit, for pay (through work-study program, etc.) or on a volunteer basis. Some labs will also hire undergraduate research assistants (RAs) full-time over the summer break.


Question #27. Where can I find a list of all the available research opportunities for undergraduate students?

Our department does keep a website that lists some of the research opportunities available each semester (click here for a listed of posted ads, and here for a more complete list of the labs that work with undergraduate research students). However, this list DOES NOT represent all the research opportunities available to you as a Yale student.


Question #28. How can do I take part in one of the research opportunities? I’m not sure where to start?

Unlike classes and other academic experiences, you usually need to do some work to seek out research opportunities. No matter what type of position you're looking for (course credit, summer, paid, volunteer, etc.), the process is basically the same. Your first step will be to figure out which professors are doing work that you find especially interesting. To help start this search at Yale, get to know what the professors in the Psychology department do and what research questions they’re working on. The best way to learn more is to google different professors, read about their work, and think about what you’d find interesting. Once you’ve learned more, you can simply email the professors you want to work with to ask if they have any research opportunities available. Note, however, that professors get lots of emails from interested students. This means that you’re much more likely to actually be accepted for a research opportunity if you can demonstrate that you are truly informed about the work being done in the lab. Before contacting professors out of the blue, take some time to find out what they're working on, and read several of their recent papers. By taking the time and effort to find out about some of the details of the work, you'll demonstrate that you have you're committed to the relevant area of study and that you're not desperately mass-emailing professors (which, as you’ve probably guessed, most professors don’t like very much).


Question #29. What is a directed research course?

Directed research courses (PSYC 492 in the fall, PSYC 493 in the spring) are courses in which students can perform research in a lab at Yale for credit. These classes can also count toward your senior requirement in the major if the include the substantial writing of a 20 page paper (click here for more information on the Senior Requirement).The specific content of a directed research course varies depending on the particular project you and a faculty member come up with, but often it will involve working in a lab for 8-10 hours per week, sitting in on weekly lab meetings, and writing up a final paper. There is also the option to do a “half-credit” lab course (PSYC 495) which is a similar opportunity but only counts for a half-credit (and therefore should require less hours per week).


Question #30: I want to take a Directed Reading/Research course. What do I do?

First, you have to find a faculty member who is willing to supervise such a course for you. Since you must enroll in the course at the start of the semester, you must find a faculty member during shopping week. This process for doing this is very similar to the process described above (see Question #28). Once you and a faculty member have discussed a project and have already agreed on a plan of action, then download a tutorial form from the FORMS webpage (Make sure to download the form relevant for the specific course you’re planning to enroll in. The forms are different for PSYC 492/3 and PSYC 495 credits). Bring this form to the faculty member who has agreed to supervise you. At this point, you and the faculty member will together need to completely fill out this form, which means that the topic of your research should already be chosen and the format of your course requirements should be determined. Keep in mind that the workload for this course must be equivalent to other courses offered at Yale. You and your faculty member should also agree upon the basis of your evaluation (i.e., what you will be graded on). Once you two agree on the plans, fill out the form, and obtain the advisor’s signature on the form. Then make two copies of the forms. Keep one for yourself and give the other copy to your advisor. Submit the original to the person who signs your schedule (such as your advisor or the DUS) when you get your schedule signed at the end of shopping week. You will not be able to get your schedule signed unless you have this tutorial form when you register for a directed reading/research course.


Question #31. Can I receive a research credit during summer?

No. We do not offer a Directed Reading or Directed Research course during the summer. Therefore, one cannot get a credit for research done during the summer.

Question #32. Are there grants available for undergraduate research over the summer?

Yes! Yale College has a number of funding opportunities (click here and here for summaries). Of these funding sources, two are typically used by psychology students. the Yale College Dean's Research Fellowship in the Sciences and the Yale College Dean's Research Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences have both funded psychology undergraduates to conduct research with Yale faculty over the summers.


Senior Requirements


Question #33. I am a Junior. Do I have to do something special for the Senior Requirement?

Yes. You should start thinking about how to fulfill the senior requirement. In addition, all Juniors must complete a "senior requirements" form by the end of their Junior year. For more information, see the Senior Requirement page.


Question #34. I am not seeking Distinction in the Major.  Do I have to submit a senior essay at the end of my senior year?

No.  You can simply fulfill your senior requirement by taking 2 credits at the 400-495 level.  Note that for each credit students must fulfill a substantial writing requirement, and at least one of the credits must be taken in the Senior year.  Only students seeking Distinction in the major are required to submit a senior essay.  For more details regarding the senior requirement, click here.


Question #35. What is the “substantial writing requirement”?

Substantial writing” means a final paper with a minimum length of 20 pages for a full-credit course (400-494), or a final paper with a minimum length of 10 pages for a half-credit course (495). 


Question #36. I previously took a Directed Research (or Reading) course but I didn’t write a paper that was 20 pages.  Can I get a credit for this toward my senior requirement?

No.  Although this credit can count toward the major and toward graduation, it cannot fulfill a senior requirement credit because it does not meet the “substantial writing requirement” of at least 20 pages.


Question #37. If I am seeking Distinction and submitting a senior essay, do I have to write a separate senior essay in addition to the substantial writing requirement in each of my 400-level courses?

No.  Your senior essay is usually just the paper you have written for credit in one of your 400-level courses (or sometimes a combination of the two papers you wrote for each of your 400-level courses).  Seniors seeking distinction in the major do not have to write an extra paper.


Question #38. I pre-registered for a 400-level senior seminar.  What are my options for fulfilling the second senior requirement credit? Can I take two senior seminars to fulfill my 2 credit senior requirement?

Yes, you can fulfill one or both of senior requirements using senior seminars. Note that our 400-level courses include senior seminars, Directed Reading courses (PSYC 490/491), Directed Research courses (PSYC 492/493), and half-credit lab research courses (PSYC 495). It is possible to take two senior seminars to fulfill both senior requirement credits, but we can pre-register you for only one seminar.  Preregistration for senior seminars takes place at the end of the Junior year.


Question #39. I am planning to take two semesters of Directed Research to fulfill my senior requirement.  May I still pre-register for a senior seminar?

All rising seniors may pre-register for a senior seminar for their senior year.  However, if there is a shortage of slots available for senior seminars, priority will be given to students who need a senior seminar in order to fulfill their senior requirement.


Question #40. I am seeking a BA degree with Distinction.  Do I have to write a literature review for my senior essay or can I do an empirical research project?

There are no restrictions in research format for students seeking a BA.  For a BA degree with Distinction, the senior essay can be a literature review or empirical study.



Study Abroad


Question #41. I am planning to study abroad.  Where should I start?

For general information, please visit IEFP/study abroad or the Center for International Experience.


Question #42. How do I select courses that will count toward the Psychology major for the study abroad application?

In consultation with the DUS, you can select courses that have a substantial amount of Psychology content.  In order to receive official approval from the DUS to count those courses toward your psychology credits, you will need to submit the syllabi, which include reading lists and requirements. In most cases, however, those materials are not available when you apply for study abroad programs. Thus, we can make initial selections based on the brief course descriptions, but if you want to make sure that those courses would count towards your Psychology credit, you should e-mail the DUS those materials when you register for the courses.


Question #43. How many Psychology courses taken abroad can I count towards the major?

We don’t have a limit. But see the next question. 


Question #44. How would I know that studying abroad will not interfere with my completing the psychology major requirements? 

Fill out the Psychology Major Worksheet (downloadable on the FORMS webpage) and e-mail or bring it to the DUS.  We also STRONGLY recommend that you take statistics (Psych 200) and a research methods course (PSYC 201-299) BEFORE you study abroad because you need to take these courses before you start your senior year if you are doing a BS degree. Also, these courses are rarely offered in other foreign institutions. Furthermore, even if you study abroad for only one semester, there is no guarantee that these courses will be offered during the semester that you are back at Yale. PSYC 200 and research methods courses are offered either in the Fall or Spring, depending on the availability of the instructors. Please remember that you cannot count on last year’s schedule to predict which semester these courses will be offered. Therefore, the safest thing to do is to take these courses before you study abroad. If this is not feasible, talk to the DUS.


Question #45. Do grades received in courses taken abroad count in the calculation of Distinction in the major?

Yes.


Career and Graduate School


Question #46. How do I apply for graduate schools in psychology?

There is an excellent book on this topic published by APA titled "Getting In. A Step-by-Step Plan For Gaining Admission to Graduate School in Psychology". You can buy it on the APA Website or on Amazon.


Question #47. What can I do with a Psychology major when I graduate?

Well, the short answer is that you can do pretty much anything with a Psychology degree. For more specifics, check out the APA webpage on psychology careers.


Question #48. I’ve heard of Psi Chi. What is it?

Psi Chi is the undergraduate honor society in Psychology (for more information about this society, click here. Yale has its own chapter of Psi Chi.


Question #49. How do I get chosen for Psi Chi?

Students are chosen for induction into Yale’s Chapter of Psi Ci during their junior year based on academic excellence and promise in the major. If you qualify, you will receive an email about induction some time during your junior or senior years.


Question #50. Are there other awards for Psychology majors?

The psychology department has are two senior essay prizes for graduating seniors. Details can be found here. However, psychology students are eligible for lots of undergraduate prizes. Click here for more details.

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