Psychology (B.A.)

Psychology (B.A.)
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As a Plymouth State psychology major you will engage in wide-ranging study of the mind, brain, and behavior, exploring why people act and think the way they do as you gain an extensive understanding of this fascinating field.

You will be invited to work directly with professors in our on-campus research laboratories on emotion and relationships, learning, or psychophysiology. All are available for your classroom and personal projects, or your contributions as a research assistant for pay or course credit.

Our distinctive program will equip you with a rich and diverse portfolio of expertise. You’ll acquire advanced data interpretation skills, use sophisticated research and measurement techniques, and employ critical evaluation and interpersonal awareness abilities, among other proficiencies that lead to many career options.

This flexible, liberal arts program provides broad exposure to the history, theories, research methods, and practical applications of contemporary psychology, and you can combine these topics with your own special interests

The BA degree in Psychology emphasizes understanding of the science and study of behavior and mental processes.

Psychology Honors Program

The Psychology Honors Program allows students to develop a research project under the supervision of an individual faculty member. The faculty member will assist the student in the planning of the project, but the student takes responsibility for the design, data collection and analysis, and final paper summarizing the project. The Honors project can assist students wishing to pursue graduate work in psychology. Along with letters of recommendation, solid grade point average and Graduate Record Examination scores, participating in research is one of the best ways to stand out when applying for graduate school.

Criteria for Admission to The Program

  • completion of 60 credit hours
  • completion of the Psychology statistics and research methods requirements
  • a 3.25 cumulative Psychology grade point average
  • support of a faculty sponsor who will also serve as a supervisor for the research
  • submission of an honors application to the Psychology department
  • Approval of the honors application by the Psychology faculty.

Work to be Done During The Course of The Project

  • Three credits of Independent Study (PS 4910) or four credits of Independent Research in Psychology (PS 4945) during which the student, under the supervision of the faculty sponsor, conducts a literature review and designs a research project, culminating in a detailed research proposal which is then submitted to the Psychology department. The research proposal will be formatted as an informal introduction and method sections of an APA research paper.
  • After submitting the research proposal, the student will give a presentation to the Psychology faculty of their proposal, during which the faculty will provide feedback. The faculty, at this time, may request further work on the proposal.
  • Upon approval of the research proposal by the faculty, the student then enrolls in four credits of Independent Research in Psychology (PS 4945), during which they collect data on their project, analyze the results, and complete an APA study research paper.

To Receive Psychology Honors on The Official PSU Transcript

  • Submission of the final APA research paper to the Psychology faculty
  • Presentation of the results at a department colloquium at least a week after submission of the final APA paper
  • Preparation of a poster to be displayed at the end-of semester Psychology poster session
  • Approval of the project by majority vote of the full time Psychology faculty.

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Curriculum & Requirements

Course Title Credits
Major Requirements
PS 2015Introduction to General Psychology4
PS 3115Research Methods and Statistics I (QRCO,TECO)4
PS 3125Research Methods and Statistics II (WRCO)4
PS 3605Behavioral Neuroscience4
PSPsychology electives (not PSDI)7-10
Group A
Complete 8 credits from the following:8
PS 3210
PS 3220
Cognitive Psychology
PS 3035
Social Psychology
Complete 4 credits from the following:4
PS 4365
Internship in Psychology
PS 4405
Psychology Seminar
PS 4945
Independent Research in Psychology
General Education
EN 1400Composition4
IS 1115Tackling a Wicked Problem4
MAMathematics Foundations3-4
CTDICreative Thought Direction3-4
PPDIPast and Present Direction3-4
SIDIScientific Inquiry Direction3-4
SSDISelf and Society Direction3-4
Directions (choose from CTDI, PPDI, SIDI, SSDI) 14-8
DICODiversity Connection3-4
INCPIntegrated Capstone3-4
WECOWellness Connection3-4
GACOForeign Language 26-8
Total Credits120

Directions should total 20 credits (unless the major has a waiver for a specific Direction).


The foreign language requirement for all BA degrees calls for 0-8 credits: one year of one language (6-8 credits); or one 3000/4000 level world language course (3 credits); or being a native speaker of a language other than English (zero credit). American Sign Language I and II fulfill this requirement; however, American Sign Language does not satisfy the Global Awareness Connection.

Complementary Courses

It is recommended that BA Psychology majors take one year sequences in anthropology, biology, mathematics or sociology as well as Statistics I (MA 2300) (MATH).

Check all course descriptions for prerequisites before planning course schedule. Course sequence is suggested but not required.

To complete the bachelor’s degree in 4 years, you must successfully complete a minimum of 15 credits each semester or have a plan to make up credits over the course of the 4 years.  For example, if you take 14 credits one semester, you need to take 16 credits in another semester.  Credits completed must count toward your program requirements (major, option, minor, certificate, general education or free electives).

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
EN 1400 Composition 4
IS 1115 Tackling a Wicked Problem 4
PS 2015 Introduction to General Psychology 4
SIDIScientific Inquiry Direction 1 3
PSPsychology electives (not PSDI) 4
MAMathematics Foundations 3
PPDIPast and Present Direction 4
SSDISelf and Society Direction 4
Year Two
PS 3115 Research Methods and Statistics I (QRCO,TECO) 4
CTDICreative Thought Direction 3
Directions (choose from CTDI, PPDI, SSDI, SSDI) 1 4
Electives 4
Choose one Lab course from the following: 4
PS 3035
Social Psychology
PS 3210
PS 3220
Cognitive Psychology
PS 3125 Research Methods and Statistics II (WRCO) 4
DICODiversity Connection 4
WECOWellness Connection 4
Year Three
PSPsychology electives (not PSDI) 4
PS 3605 Behavioral Neuroscience 4
GACOGlobal Awareness Connection 3
INCPIntegrated Capstone 4
Choose one Lab course from the following: 4
PS 3035
Social Psychology
PS 3210
PS 3220
Cognitive Psychology
GACOGlobal Awareness Connection 3
Electives 8
Year Four
Choose one Capstone course from the following: 4
PS 4365
Internship in Psychology
PS 4405
Psychology Seminar
PS 4945
Independent Research in Psychology
Electives 12
Electives 13
 Total Credits120

Directions should total 20 credits (unless the major has a waiver for a specific Direction).

Students of Psychology will leave PSU knowing:
  • General content knowledge across the range of psychology’s major subareas.
  • About the Nature/Nurture issue: The degree to which any behavior, emotion or mental condition is the result of genetic (nature) or environmental influences (nurture), such as learning or exposure to situations or substances before or after birth.
  • How to conduct experiments, with humans or animals, to identify factors that predict or cause changes in any type of behavior or mental process.
  • How to carry out statistical analyses on data collected in the above-noted experiments and interpret the findings.
  • How to communicate the results of completed studies in writing (using American Psychological Association [APA] format) and verbally, both clearly and effectively.
  • How to separate pseudoscience from legitimate scientific knowledge in the behavioral sciences as well as areas outside our field (e.g., medicine).
  • How to recognize one-sided sources of information, be they political, theoretical, religious, philosophical or otherwise, and seek out balanced, ideally non-partisan sources of information on the same topics. The difference between empirical questions–those that can be answered by structured observations and organized collections of data–and philosophical questions, which generally cannot be answered empirically.
  • How to design and conduct correlational/observational studies to determine which human or environmental factors are reliable predictors of behavior, and under what conditions.
  • How to design and carry out “true” experiments to evaluate which human or environmental factors cause changes in behavior, and to identify how other factors might enhance or weaken the effects of the first.
  • How to use statistical software (e.g., SPSS or Minitab) to analyze data from experiments or correlational studies to determine the probability that results could have occurred by chance (e.g., via an unlucky/disproportionate assignment to groups) and the strength of such associations (i.e., what proportion of behavioral variability is accounted for by our factor of interest). Students should be able to understand what the computer-generated results tell us.
  • How to critically read reports of studies purporting to accomplish either of the above goals–prediction or causation–and determine whether or to what extent the conclusions are justified by the data.
  • How to write clearly and convincingly about why people and animals behave the way they do. This goal applies both to communicating one’s own research findings as well as to analyzing, synthesizing and summarizing the results and writings of others.
  • How to verbally present to others, about one’s own research or knowledge acquired by others, with the goal of educating them about the causes and correlates of human and/or animal behavior.
  • How to be sensitive to the ethical considerations of conducting psychological research on human and animal subjects, and adhere to a code of conduct that includes, among other things: Always obtaining informed written consent from subjects before involving them in experiments; getting approval from any animal or human subject committees that oversee such research; and debriefing subjects once the study is completed. Researchers should also be prepared to help subjects get over any negative aftereffects of participation in a research project, such as feeling embarrassed, unintelligent, etc., especially if the study included any type of deception. In the case of deception, subjects should be thoroughly educated about why it needed to be used in the experiment.
  • How to identify when correlational data is incorrectly used to support claims about causation. This very important error is pervasive in society and is especially damaging when committed by those with power to affect our lives (e.g., politicians, journalists, medical practitioners, scientists, lawyers, judges and juries). We want our majors to notice and vigorously challenge this error whenever and wherever it is encountered.
  • How to perform well on tests of general content knowledge across the major subareas of psychology: learning, memory, cognition, social psychology, personality, sensation and perception, intelligence, motivation, emotion, psychological disorders and their treatment, research design and statistical analysis–and exhibit a fundamental understanding of the biological/neuroscientific bases of all the above-noted topics, as well as how they are affected by development across the lifespan (i.e., prenatal, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood, aging). Along with the nature/nuture issue noted earlier, these last two italicized factors–biology/neuroscience and development across the lifespan–are dominant themes in modern psychology.
  • How to be open-minded about things not yet known about human behavior and mental processes, and to resist forming premature and/or impenetrable beliefs about such things.
  • How to be critical thinkers who are not afraid to be skeptical about suspicious sounding claims, especially about causes or predictors of behavior, and who demand solid, ideally empirical, evidence before accepting such claims.
  • How to be unmoved by arguments by authority figures, especially when better ways exist to get the same information (e.g., science/empiricism).
  • How to be willing to educate others about what they’ve learned about behavior and mental processes–whenever and wherever these topics come up. The field of psychology has begun to prioritize getting “what we know” into the public sphere, where it can and should inform public policy decisions, and students of psychology who share their knowledge are key players in this mission.
  • How to be caring, empathic individuals, who, even if they’ve never experienced the challenges of others, particularly in the area of mental health, can nevertheless understand and appreciate what those challenges might be like. Psychology students who see others suffering from depression, anxiety, memory loss, traumatic stress disorder or any psychological challenge should be advocates for treatment and be willing to do whatever they can to encourage and help others get such help. Most psychological problems can be treated–through counseling/therapy, medication, or other approaches–but many who suffer are unaware of this, and/or believe that to even seek treatment shows weakness. Students of psychology can make a huge difference by challenging these attitudes.

There are many different options for careers in Psychology. Here are some suggestions for how to begin your search:
What can I do with a degree in Psychology? – Many students do not realize how many opportunities there are in Psychology. You don’t have to go to grad school.
Psychology Career List
Direct Care: Mental Health Counselor, Marriage and Family Therapist, School Psychologist, School Counselor, Recreational Therapist, Clinical Psychologist, Counseling Psychologist, Substance Abuse Counselor, Art Therapist, Social and Human Service Assistant, Fitness and Wellness Coordinator, Community Health Worker, Industrial/Organizational Psychologist, Psychiatrist, Intelligence Analyst, Forensic Science Technician, Healthcare Social Worker, Patient Representative, Genetic Counselor, Probation Officer, Administration, Operations Manager, Public Relations and Fundraising Manager, Technical Writer, Social and Community Service Manager.
Research: Clinical Research Coordinator, Social Science Research Assistant, Market Research Analyst, Statistician, Clinical Data Manager, Neuropsychologist, Archivist, Management Analyst, Testing/Test Development, Experimental Psychology.
Education: Psychology Teacher, Distance Learning Coordinator, Education Administrator, Instructional Coordinator, Tutor, Instructional Designer, Self-Enrichment Education Teachers.
Human Resources: Human Resources Specialist, Training and Development Manager, Compliance Manager, Customer Service Representative, Eligibility Interviewers, Occupational Health and Safety Specialist, Labor Relations Specialist.

Explore Program Details

What marketable skills does a degree in psychology offer?

Psychology is distinctive in that it equips its graduates with an extremely rich and diverse portfolio while providing a variety of forms of expertise which can prepare psychology graduates to undertake many different types of work. For example, specific skills include:

  • Literacy: clear, concise writing
  • Numeracy: analyzing, interpreting data
  • Computer literacy: word processing, data analysis
  • Information-finding skills: using databases
  • Research skills: expertise in gathering information about human/animal behavior
  • Measurement skills: psychometric measurement, questionnaire design
  • Environmental awareness: knowledge of how the environment can influence social behavior
  • Interpersonal awareness: understanding of the self, interaction with others
  • Problem-solving skills: apply different strategies and approaches to understanding problems
  • Critical evaluation: evaluate theories and arguments
  • Perspectives: ability to examine issues from multiple points of view

What is the difference between a B.A. and a B.S. in psychology?

The B.A. in Psychology is a liberal arts major that provides broad exposure to the history, theories, research methods and practical applications of contemporary psychology. The B.A.’s relative flexibility lets you pursue courses both within and beyond the discipline. The B.A. requires a foreign language and a capstone experience such as an advanced seminar, independent research or an applied internship.

The B.S. in Psychology is more specialized with an added emphasis in mental health or developmental psychology. For example, for the B.S. in Psychology–Mental Health Option, students take specialized courses in Community Mental Health and Techniques of Psychotherapy, and complete a practicum in a mental health setting. For the B.S. in Psychology–Developmental Option, students take specialized courses focusing on developmental issues across the lifespan such as Prenatal and Infant Development, Adolescent Psychology and Adulthood and Aging. In addition, students complete an internship in an applied setting. There is no foreign language requirement for the B.S.

What do graduate schools look for when admitting students?

Most graduate programs are looking for applicants with strong academic standing who possess a wide range of personal characteristics, acquired skills and intellectual abilities. Specifically, the important characteristics are:

Personal Characteristics

  • Motivated and hardworking
  • Emotionally stable and mature
  • Capable of working well with others
  • Strong character and integrity
  • intellectually independent
  • Possess leadership ability

Acquired Skills

  • Research
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Computer

Intellectual Abilities

  • Creativity
  • Strong area of knowledge
  • Capable of analytical thought

To pursue a graduate degree, students should make a concerted effort to work closely with a faculty member, develop these specific skills and abilities (e.g., learn SPSS, take public speaking and writing courses), conduct their own independent research, and/or complete an undergraduate practicum.

To what graduate schools should I apply?

The answer to this question depends on your career goals. There are several career options for psychologists, including clinical (therapist of some sort), applied (industrial/organizational) and experimental. Of course, some of our majors continue their education in other areas (see above). If you are interested in furthering your education in psychology but are not interested in working in a clinical setting you should look for an experimental or applied graduate program.

  • Experimental. These programs generally prepare you for a career in higher education, which involves teaching, conducting research and advising students.
  • Applied. Applied fields include areas such as industrial and organizational psychology (I-O psych.). The focus of industrial and organizational psychology is on human resource research in employee selection, training, related aspects of individual differences and organizational behavior..
  • Clinical. Many people think the only way to be a therapist is to get a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. This is only one option. It is the most difficult option and, for many students, it is unrealistic. In fact, it is easier to get into medical school than it is to get into a clinical Ph.D. program. To become a therapist, a better option might be: masters in social work (M.S.W.), masters in counseling psychology, or a Psy.D. program.

IDEA Ambassador Spotlight

Daniela Duque ’26

Daniela Duque, an art-psychology major, has been with the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) Center since her first days on campus. “I fell in love with the center’s mission and vision from the moment I walked into that building for the first time!” she says. “What compelled me the most about the idea of working at the center was the opportunity to learn from, help out, and connect with different marginalized communities on campus.”

As a queer person of color, diversity to Daniela means the acknowledgment and acceptance of people's different backgrounds, physical/mental/emotional well-being, and lifestyles. Some of Daniela’s favorite things to do within her free time is to listen to music, read and write, make art, and hang out with friends.

Daniela claims the best part of being an IDEA Ambassador is helping create outreach programs, events, and meaningful relationships with people, both on and outside of the campus community.

If you ever were to find her in a movie, you’d find Daniela in Moonrise Kingdom.

Our IDEA Ambassadors work hard to advance inclusion, diversity, equity, and access across our campus and beyond.

Social Justice Leader Daniela Duque
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