Psychology bachelor of science degree

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Overview

The scientific study of the brain paired with a focus on observing, experimenting, and analyzing the mind to understand what drives human behavior.


Psychology is the scientific study of the brain and focuses on observing, experimenting, and analyzing the behavior in multiple situations. To answer questions about what drives behavior, psychologists observe evolutionary factors, social and cultural inputs, and biological aspects of behavior.

RIT’s psychology degree provides students with a strong grounding in the discipline of psychology, integrated with a technological focus. Students study behavior to understand the mind, but also look at the brain itself, with the use of new technologies allowing for a deeper study of psychological processes. Curriculum planning and career discussions occur with each student’s faculty mentor.

Plan of study

The major is unique and encompasses four key elements: a choice of five upper-level interdisciplinary tracks, a solid grounding in experimental methodology and statistics, the capstone sequence of courses, and a cooperative education requirement.

Interdisciplinary tracks

Students choose two of the following interdisciplinary tracks: biopsychology, clinical psychology, cognitive psychology, social psychology, or visual perception. Current research and technology are integrated into these tracks to produce a focused and career-oriented psychology program. The tracks represent active fields of research in psychology, and students receive an education that provides a strong foundation for graduate school and employment in related fields.

Cooperative education

The major requires students to complete one semester of cooperative education. This is normally completed during the summer after the junior year but can be done in any semester after the second year. The co-op experience is in a psychology-related field and does not carry academic credit.

Industries


  • Human Resources

  • K-12 Education

  • Non-Profit

  • Health Care

Typical Job Titles

Case Worker Drug/Substance Abuse Counselor
Behavioral Disorder Counselors Social Service Manager
Child Protection Worker Counselor
Research Associate Clinical Program Manager
Client Services HR Analyst
Market Associate Recruiter

91%

outcome rate of graduates

$35k

median first-year salary of graduates

Latest News

  • April 1, 2019

    Large group of students stands with dean.

    RIT’s College of Liberal Arts honors students for writing excellence

    RIT’s College of Liberal Arts honored student achievement in writing on Friday with the presentation of more than a dozen writing awards for essays varying from sanctuary cities, how democracies can withstand outside meddling, and the excavation, preservation and reconstruction of a London theater where Shakespearian plays debuted.

  • December 7, 2018

    Woman stands with clipboard in front of the otter exhibit at Seneca Park Zoo.

    RIT, Seneca Park Zoo lead world in river otter research

    Research involving North American river otters based at Monroe County’s Seneca Park Zoo has concluded the fascinating animals can visually discriminate between two-dimensional objects and detect differences in shapes and colors.

Curriculum

Psychology, BS degree, typical course sequence

Course Sem. Cr. Hrs.
First Year
PSYC-101
Introduction to Psychology
Introduction to the field of psychology. Provides a survey of basic concepts, theories, and research methods. Topics include: thinking critically with psychological science; neuroscience and behavior; sensation and perception; learning; memory; thinking, language, and intelligence; motivation and emotion; personality; psychological disorders and therapy; and social psychology.
3
STAT-145
LAS Perspective 7A (mathematical): Introduction to Statistics I
This course introduces statistical methods of extracting meaning from data, and basic inferential statistics. Topics covered include data and data integrity, exploratory data analysis, data visualization, numeric summary measures, the normal distribution, sampling distributions, confidence intervals, and hypothesis testing. The emphasis of the course is on statistical thinking rather than computation. Statistical software is used.
3
STAT-146
LAS Perspective 7B (mathematical): Introduction to Statistics II
This course is an elementary introduction to the topics of regression and analysis of variance. The statistical software package Minitab will be used to reinforce these techniques. The focus of this course is on business applications. This is a general introductory statistics course and is intended for a broad range of programs.
4
ACSC-010
Year One
The Year One class serves as an interdisciplinary catalyst for first-year students to access campus resources, services and opportunities that promote self-knowledge, personal success, leadership development, social responsibility and life academic skills awareness and application. Year One is also designed to challenge and encourage first-year students to get to know one another, build relationships and help them become an integral part of the campus community.
0
 
First Year LAS Elective
3
 
LAS Perspective 1 (ethical)
3
 
LAS Perspective 2 (artistic)
3
 
Free Elective
3
 
Psychology Breadth Course
3
 
Psychology Pre-track Course
3
 
First Year Writing 
3
 
Wellness Education*
0
Second Year
PSYC-250
Research Methods I (WI)
This course will serve as an introduction to research methods in psychology, with the goal of understanding research design, analysis and writing. Topics include examining the variety of methods used in psychology research, understanding research eth-ics, developing empirical hypotheses, designing experiments, understanding statistical concepts, interpreting results, and writing research and review papers in APA style. This is a required course for all psychology majors, and is restricted to students in the psychology program.
3
BIOG-101
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): Explorations in Cellular Biology and Evolution
This course serves as an introduction to cellular, molecular, and evolutionary biology. Topics will include: a study of the basic principles of modern cellular biology, including cell structure and function; the chemical basis and functions of life, including enzyme systems and gene expression; and the origin of life and evolutionary patterns of organism development on Earth.
3
BIOG-103
LAS Perspective 5 (natural science inquiry): Explorations in Cellular Biology and Evolution Lab
1
PSYC-251
Research Methods II (WI)
This course will serve as an advanced research methods course in psychology, and will build on the foundational knowledge presented in Research Methods I. Topics and tasks for this course include designing single and multi-factor experiments, interpreting correlational research, completing statistical analyses appropriate to design, completing and analyzing an IRB application, understanding observational and survey research, and presenting results in APA style. This is a required course for all psychology majors, and is restricted to students in the psychology program.
3
BIOG-102
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): Explorations in Animal and Plant Anatomy and Physiology
This course serves as an introduction to animal and plant anatomy and physiology, in addition to the fundamentals of ecology. Topics will include: animal development; animal body systems; plant development; unique plant systems; Earth’s terrestrial and aquatic environments; population and community ecology; animal behavior; and conservation biology.
3
BIOG-104
LAS Perspective 6 (scientific principles): Evolutions in ANimal and Plant Anatomy and Physiology Lab
1
 
Psychology Pre-track Courses
6
 
Psychology Breadth Course
3
 
LAS Perspective 3 (global)
3
 
LAS Perspective 4 (social)
3
 
LAS Elective
3
Third Year
 
Psychology Breadth Course
3
 
Psychology Track Courses
9
 
LAS Immersion 1, 2, 3
9
 
LAS Electives
9
Fourth Year
 
Psychology Capstone† (WI)
6
 
Psychology Track Course
3
 
LAS Electives
9
 
Free Electives
12
Total Semester Credit Hours
124

(WI) Refers to a writing intensive course within the major.

* Please see Wellness Education Requirement for more information. Students completing bachelor's degrees are required to complete two different Wellness courses.

† Students may choose one of the following courses to fulfill the psychology capstone: Philosophy of Science (PSYC-402) (WI), PSYC-501, or PYSC-510 (WI).

Pre-track courses

PSYC-221
Abnormal Psychology
This course will serve as an introduction to the study of psychopathology and mental illness. The course examines the major categories of mental disorder not only from the descriptive point of view, but also in terms of the major theoretical explanations of the causes of disorder. The major treatment modalities also are covered.
PSYC-222
Biopsychology
Introduction to the field of behavioral neuroscience, the study of neurobiological basis of cognition and behavior. Topics include neuroanatomy and physiology, localization of function, brain injury, research methods in behavioral neuroscience, and biological basis of language, memory, emotion, conscious states, and sexual behavior, with an evolutionary perspective.
PSYC-223
Cognitive Psychology
This course examines how people perceive, learn, represent, remember and use information. Contemporary theory and research are surveyed in such areas as attention, pattern and object recognition, memory, knowledge representation, language acquisition and use, reasoning, decision making, problem solving, creativity, and intelligence. Applications in artificial intelligence and human/technology interaction may also be considered.
PSYC-224
Perception
This course covers perception in all of the sensory modalities (vision, hearing, taste, smell, touch). We will trace what happens to the physical stimulus as our sensory systems analyze it to produce complicated perceptions of the world around us. We will explore the fact that many complex perceptual phenomena draw upon explanations at the physiological, psychological, and cognitive levels. Topics on sensory perception in non-human animals may also be covered. This is a required course for psychology majors in the visual perception track.
PSYC-225
Social Psychology
This course explores topics related to behaviors and mental processes of individuals in social situations. Topics include: methodology, social perception, social cognition, the self, attitudes, prejudice, attraction, social influence, pro-social behavior, aggression, and behavior in groups. Course activities include lecture, class demonstrations, and assignments.
PSYC-226
Developmental Psychology
This course explores the process of human development, from conception through adolescence and continuing through later adulthood. The developmental approach integrates across many areas of psychology, including perception, cognition, social and emotional development, personality, morality, human factors, and neuroscience. Topics will include such things as infant brain plasticity, the development of identity in adolescence, and memory changes in adulthood. In addition, experimental methods of developmental research will be introduced and practiced, including issues specific to studying children and adults.

Breadth courses

PSYC-231
Death and Dying
This course examines the role of loss including death in our lives and the way we give and receive support during difficult times. It also looks at how society enfranchises some grievers and disenfranchises others. Included in this course is an examination of our options as consumers of funeral and burial services, grief counseling and other products and services which can either minimize or abate our grief. Central to the course is an examination of the ethical principles which apply to abortion, euthanasia and suicide and an examination of the ways in which the choices we make may be structured to express our core values. Finally, the course explores how The American way of Death differs from that of other societies and how we might incorporate the wisdom of other cultures into our own practices.
PSYC-226
Developmental Psychology
This course explores the process of human development, from conception through adolescence and continuing through later adulthood. The developmental approach integrates across many areas of psychology, including perception, cognition, social and emotional development, personality, morality, human factors, and neuroscience. Topics will include such things as infant brain plasticity, the development of identity in adolescence, and memory changes in adulthood. In addition, experimental methods of developmental research will be introduced and practiced, including issues specific to studying children and adults.
PSYC-233
History and Systems in Psychology
This course explores the history of psychology from ancient to modern times and examines topical and philosophical questions that have persisted. Psychological schools of thought to be covered include pre-modern philosophical influences, Structuralism, Functionalism, Behaviorism, Psychoanalysis, Humanistic Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Psychological Testing, and Positive Psychology.
PSYC-234
Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology is a branch of applied psychology that is concerned with efficient management of an industrial labor force and especially with problems encountered by workers in a mechanized environment. Specific areas include job analysis, defining and measuring job performance, performance appraisal, tests, employment interviews, employee selection and training, and human factors. This course covers the basic principles of the above areas as well as applications of current research in I/O psychology.
PSYC-235
Learning and Behavior
This course covers topics in learning such as non-associative learning, classical conditioning, instrumental conditioning, stimulus control of behavior, reinforcement, generalization and discrimination, and observational learning. Topics on learning and behavior in non-human animals may also be covered.
PSYC-236
Personality
This course is intended for students who are interested in learning the history and current status of personality theories. Students will learn the strengths and weaknesses of the major personality theories, as well as how to assess, research and apply these theories. As much as possible, application to real life situations will be discussed.
PSYC-237
Psychology of Women
The purpose of this course is to examine the psychology and lives of girls and women. In addition to the influence of culture, biological and genetic differences will be highlighted for each of the different topics. The topics covered include gender stereotypes, the development of gender roles, gender comparisons, love relationships, sexuality, motherhood and violence against women.
PSYC-238
Psychology of Religion
This course examines (primarily social) psychological approaches to religious and spiritual belief, behavior, and experience. Topics include psychological approaches to religion, religious development in children and adolescents, religious development in adults and old age, religious conversion, religious orientation, religious attitudes and behaviors, religion and well-being, group dynamics in religious communities, religion as a total institution‚ cults and deprogramming, need theories and religion, and religion and politics.
PSYC-239
Positive Psychology
This course will provide a survey of the emerging field of Positive Psychology. Topics covered will include defining and assessing “the good life”; the relationships between life satisfaction and personal factors such as wealth, education, and longevity; cross-cultural perspectives; virtues and strengths; and biological factors (i.e., genetics and neurological correlates). The focus will be on contemporary empirical psychology literature, though the course will also draw on literature from historical, philosophical, and economic disciplines.
PSYC-240
Human Sexuality
This course provides an overview of human sexuality through the lenses of biology and psychology. What causes sexual behavior and why do some individuals display different sexual behaviors than others? Human sexual physiology, attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors are highly diverse. Coursework will examine the ways in which human sexuality varies among individuals, across groups, and throughout the lifespan. Multiple explanations for sexual behavior will be considered, drawing from evolutionary psychology, learning theory, social psychology, and biology. Atypical and harmful sexual behaviors will be addressed as well. Throughout the course, students will learn how social science research techniques have been used to expand the field of human sexuality and how empirical inquiry can differentiate myths from facts.
PSYC-241
Health Psychology
A majority of serious diseases today are caused by or exacerbated by behavior and many are preventable. This course provides an introduction to the role of behavior in health. Students will learn about the role of psychology in studying and promoting good health behaviors. Topics include the impact of stress and coping on health, psychological variables related to chronic disease, drug addiction, promoting healthy behavior (e.g. exercise, diet, sleep, sexual health), positive psychology, pain management, critical thinking about health product and alternative medicine claims, and research approaches in health psychology. Students who might elect to take this course include students majoring in related fields who wish to learn more about health behavior (e.g. healthcare technology), students majoring, minoring, or immersing in Psychology, and students looking for a Liberal Arts Elective.

Tracks

Biopsychology
PSYC-310
Psychophysiology
This course is intended for students in the biopsychology track. This course provides a comprehensive introduction to psycho-physiology. Students will learn about various psychophysiological measures and their use in the study of areas such as attention, emotion, and language. Topics may include mind-body interaction, somatic and autonomic nervous system function, central and peripheral physiological measures (e.g., EEG, EMG, cardiac reactivity, skin conductance responses), psychophysiological research methods, and applied psychophysiology. Students will be expected to be able to write at an upper level using APA format. Part of the biopsychology track for the psychology degree program.
PSYC-311
Psychopharmacology
This course is intended for students in the biopsychology track. A comprehensive introduction to psychoactive drugs. Topics include pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, synaptic transmission, drugs of abuse and drugs used in the treatment of mental disorders, and the behavioral and cognitive effects of these drugs. Students will be expected to be able to write at an upper level using APA format.
PSYC-312
Biological Bases of Mental Disorders
This course is intended for students in the biopsychology track. This course covers the biological underpinnings of psychiatric mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, and developmental disorders. Topics will include neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, genetics and biologically based treatments of mental disorders. Students will learn about biologically based research methods used to study mental disorders and to think critically about research findings in the field. Students will be expected to be able to write at an upper level using APA format.
Clinical Psychology
PSYC-320
Clinical Psychology
This course is intended for students in the clinical track. This course is designed to provide a broad overview of the field of clinical psychology, including the way in which it is similar to and different from other mental health disciplines (psychiatry, social work, school psychology). The course will cover the basic foundations of clinical psychology, training models and graduate programs, clinical assessment, clinical interventions, and subspecialties in clinical psychology (e.g., neuropsychology, child clinical).
PSYC-321
Psychological Testing
This course is intended for students in the clinical track. This course is intended for students in the psychology major to develop knowledge of psychological testing theory, methods, and applications. Students will first learn about the history of psychological testing, types of tests, and uses of tests. Students will learn about test development and standardization procedures including item construction, sampling, norms, reliability, validity, administration procedures, and scoring. A brief review of relevant statistical concepts will be provided. Students will learn how to locate and evaluate available psychological tests. Examples of psychological tests from various areas of application will be reviewed and critiqued.
PSYC-322
Psychotherapy
This course is intended for students in the clinical track. Students will learn the strengths and weaknesses of the major therapeutic approaches. They will learn the efficacy of these approaches. They will learn the theoretical and research bases for the approaches. As much as possible, application to real life situations will be discussed. Part of the clinical track for the psychology degree program.
Cognitive Psychology
PSYC-330
Memory and Attention
This course is intended for students in the cognitive track. This course reviews current research in the areas of memory and attention. This course will consider such memory topics as: classic theories of memory, Baddeley’s model of working memory, in-formation processing, implicit and explicit memory, principles of forgetting, developmental changes in memory, skill memory, autobiographical memory, eyewitness memory, and the neural bases of memory. Attention topics covered in this course will include: Selective and divided attention, search and vigilance, signal detection theory, and neural correlates of attention.
PSYC-331
Language and Thought
This course is intended for students in the cognitive track. This course examines the structure of human language and its relationship to thought, and surveys contemporary theory and research on the comprehension and production of spoken and written language. In addition, we will discuss categorization, representation of knowledge, expertise, consciousness, intelligence, and artificial intelligence. Topics on language and thought in non-human animals may also be covered. Part of the cognitive track for the psychology degree program.
PSYC-332
Decision Making, Judgment and Problem Solving
This course is intended for students in the cognitive track. This course explores judgment, decision-making and problem-solving processes and focuses on the social and cognitive aspects of complex information processing. Major topics include normative, descriptive (heuristics and biases), and naturalistic approaches to decision-making, as well as selective perception, memory and hindsight biases, framing effects, social influences, group processes and human error. Models of decision-making considered include the prospect theory, expected utility theory, and Bayes’ Theorem. Problem solving will be examined from perspectives of formal, computational methods as well as intuition and creativity. Experimental methods and applications in design of systems and decision aids will receive special attention.
Social Psychology
PSYC-340
Interpersonal Relationships
This course is intended for students in the social track. This course explores topics related to interpersonal relationships including: methodology, communication in relationships, romantic relationships, friendships, work relationships, as well as individual differences that can influence the development, maintenance, and cessation of relationships. Course activities include lecture, class discussions, and assignments.
PSYC-341
Group Processes
This course is intended for students in the social track. This course explores social psychological phenomena at the level of the group. It explores intragroup processes such as cohesion, norms, network structure, social influence, task productivity, group decision making and polarization. It also explores intergroup processes, especially those related to intergroup conflict and cooperation, such as social categorization, social identity, and stereotyping.
PSYC-342
Attitudes and Social Cognition
This course is intended for students in the social track. This course explores social psychological phenomena at the level of the individual. This course addresses those domains of social behavior in which cognition plays a major role, including the interface of cognition with overt behavior, affect, and motivation. Among topics covered are the formation, change, and utilization of attitudes, attributions, and stereotypes, person memory, self-regulation, and the origins and consequences of moods and emotions insofar as these interact with cognition. This course also explores the influence of cognition on significant social phenomena such as persuasion, communication, prejudice, social development, and cultural trends. Part of the social track for the psychology degree program.
Visual perception
PSYC-350
Visual Systems and Psychophysics
This course is intended for students in the visual perception track. The course focuses on visual perception and the methods used for studying sensation and perception. Structures in the human and other visual systems will be examined along with neurophysiology relevant to vision in particular and perception in general. Classical psychophysics, forced choice methods, staircases and other specialized techniques will be examined. Students will collect and analyze psychophysical data to demonstrate their understanding of the methods and their application in vision science. Part of the visual perception track for the psychology degree program.
PSYC-351
Color, Form, and Object Perception
This course is intended for students in the visual perception track. The course focuses on the perception of the surface properties of objects, including color, form and other attributes. The course will examine how information is encoded by the visual system, with an emphasis on recognizing objects in scenes and surfaces. Receptive field properties, parallel processing in vision, the binding problem and other issues in vision science will be presented and discussed. The course requires students to read primary sources and to gain some experience with the design of experiments. Empirical research in vision will be conducted including data collection and analysis. Students are recommended to take PSYC-350 Visual System and Psychophysics before this course, but it is not required.
PSYC-352
Depth, Motion, and Space Perception
This course is intended for students in the visual perception track. The course focuses on the perception of the three-dimensional space, including the perception of depth and motion. This course will examine how sensory data are used to produce an accurate representation of the world. This course will include some discussion of multimodal perception given the interactions that occur between audition, touch, and vision to produce a 3D representation. Topics will include receptive field properties in relevant areas of cortex, parallel processing in vision, the uncertainty of extracting accurate 3D properties from 2D input and related material. The course requires students to read primary sources and to gain some experience with the design of experiments. Empirical research in vision will be conducted including data collection and analysis. Students are recommended to take PSYC-350-Visual System and Psychophysics before this course, but it is not required.
PSYC-360
Developmental Psychopathology
This course examines the ways in which people deviate from typical development throughout the lifespan. The specific course content will vary depending on the expertise of the instructor, but might include topics like developmental disabilities, disorders of aging, disruptive behavior disorders, or the effects of maltreatment on development. This course is part of the developmental track for psychology majors.
PSYC-361
Social and Emotional Development
This course takes an in-depth look at some of the normative processes of human social and emotional development. The specific course content will vary depending on the expertise of the instructor, but might include topics like parenting and family relationships, social development and peer relationships, or adolescent social and emotional development. This course is part of the Developmental Track for psychology majors.
PSYC-362
Cognitive and Perceptual Development
This course takes an in-depth look at the processes of perception and cognition as they develop over the lifespan. Drawing on basic research and theory, we will use a developmental perspective to study changes in perception and cognition. The specific course content will vary depending on the expertise of the instructor, but might include topics like sensory awareness, perceptual learning, object representation, causality, language, theory of mind, memory, or problem solving. This course is part of the Developmental Track for psychology majors.

Admission Requirements

Freshman Admission

For all bachelor’s degree programs, a strong performance in a college preparatory program is expected. Generally, this includes 4 years of English, 3-4 years of mathematics, 2-3 years of science, and 3 years of social studies and/or history.

Specific math and science requirements and other recommendations

  • Strong performance in English and social studies is expected

Transfer Admission

Transfer course recommendations without associate degree

Courses in liberal arts, sciences, social sciences

Appropriate associate degree programs for transfer

Liberal arts with science or social science

Learn about admissions and financial aid 

Additional Info

Career opportunities

The unique requirements of this major ensure that each student is well-prepared for advanced study in psychology or a related field, employment in industry or in human service agencies, or other career opportunities.