Academic Programs

Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing

Psychology

Overview

The science of psychology is a quest to understand the human mind and behavior. Bard psychology faculty and students seek to answer questions about the workings of the brain; the interactions of brain, mind, and behavior; the person in social context; the development of the person throughout childhood and adulthood; the nature of thinking and language; and the problems and pathologies that people develop, along with methods of helping them.

The Psychology Program is rooted in the idea that mind and behavior are best understood from multiple, intersecting levels of analysis, ranging from biological mechanisms and individual psychological processes to social, cultural, and other environmental influences.

The Psychology Program offers all students the opportunity to learn how the unique perspectives and empirical methods of psychology can illuminate human thought and behavior. The language and analytical approaches of psychology have become a common basis for many professional endeavors, making students who major in psychology well equipped for graduate study in this field, as well as in a variety of related career pursuits.

Areas of Study

The program of study provides grounding in the areas of abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, and social psychology. It provides a thorough foundation in empirical methodology and analysis, and offers opportunities to participate in meaningful research and laboratory experiences.

In brief, clinical psychology is both an applied discipline and a research-oriented science that pertains to the study of psychopathology (i.e., psychological disorders, atypical development), and personality. Cognitive psychology seeks to understand how the human brain governs action, imagination, decision making, and communication. Developmental psychology involves the study of change (both growth and decline) over the life span, including changes in cognition, social interaction, and brain development. Neuroscience focuses on understanding the structure and function of the central and peripheral nervous systems as it investigates questions of brain and behavioral development, normal brain function, and disease processes. Finally, social psychology is the scientific study of people in their social contexts, emphasizing the empirical study of behavior and social thought, preferences, and feelings about oneself, one’s social groups, and others.

Requirements

Prior to Moderation in psychology, students entering the College in or after the fall semester of 2012 are required to complete the following courses: Introduction to Psychological Science (Psychology 141), preferably in the first year (although a score of 5 on the AP Psychology exam may fulfill the requirement); a sophomore sequence of Statistics for Psychology (Psychology 203) in the fall and Research Methods in Psychology (Psychology 204) in the spring; and at least two 200-level courses in psychology.

Psychology students must complete the following requirements to graduate: two additional 200-level courses in psychology; one course in biology, chemistry, computer science, mathematics, or physics; two 300-level courses following Moderation, at least one of which must be completed before beginning the Senior Project; and the Senior Project. At least one 200-level course must be completed from each of the following course clusters: in Cluster A, a core course in abnormal or personality psychology (courses numbered 210–219); in Cluster B, a core course in developmental or social psychology (courses numbered 220–229); in Cluster C, a core course in cognitive psychology or neuroscience (courses numbered 230–239).

All requirements for the major must be completed with a grade of C or higher.

Although the Psychology Program is housed in the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing, students decide at the time of Moderation whether they will pursue their degree in psychology from either the Division of Science, Mathematics, and Computing (SM&C) or the Division of Social Studies (SSt). These divisional degrees are distinguished by two features: a) an SSt degree entails at least two courses in one or more related disciplines in the Social Studies Division (see the Psychology Program website for particular courses that fulfill this requirement) and b) the Senior Project for an SM&C degree must have an empirical focus, in which the student collects and analyzes data, or presents a detailed plan for doing so. The SSt Senior Project does not carry this requirement, though it may of course do this. An SSt degree may be particularly suited for those intending to pursue law, social work, or education; and an SM&C degree may be particularly suited for students intending to pursue a research degree in psychology, medicine, or the natural sciences.

Requirements for students who entered the College prior to fall 2012 can be found on the Psychology Program website.

Opportunities for Additional Learning

Students are strongly encouraged to pursue opportunities for research or community-based practicum experiences that complement their regular course work and that connect academic learning with practical applications. The program offers advanced methodology courses in abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience under the direction of program faculty who provide opportunities for learning how to conduct research in each subfield of psychology. In addition, opportunities exist in local communities for students to pursue interests in cognitive, abnormal, and developmental psychology. Students are also encouraged to gain experience through summer research opportunities in the Bard Summer Research Institute. Students have also been successful at obtaining summer research positions at major universities.

Recent Senior Projects in Psychology

  • “Destruction in Disguise? Examining Relationships between Eating Disorders and Vegetarian and Vegan Diets”
  • “The Potential Exacerbation and Earlier Onset of Bipolar Disorder in an At-risk Child Population Due to Methylphenidate Treatment”
  • “When Time Drags On: Does Anger Experience Enhance Time Perception Distortion?”
  • “Who Cares and Why? Motivation for Caregiving and the Negative and Positive Outcomes of Providing Care to an Elderly Family Member”

Courses

The course descriptions that appear in the College Catalogue are listed numerically, from introductory 100-level courses to 300-level Upper College courses and seminars.