The mission of Bard’s Psychology Program is to serve a foundational role in engaging the College and broader community with the science of human behavior. The program serves as a hub for the mind and behavioral sciences through curricular and cocurricular offerings that augment the course of study for all students, especially those in the Divisions of Science, Mathematics, and Computing and Social Studies, as well as the interdivisional Mind, Brain, and Behavior concentration. The enormous breadth of the field is both exciting and a challenge, as faculty cover topics ranging from genes to social systems.
The Psychology Program cultivates an environment where teaching and research mutually inform one another by supporting faculty research; providing opportunities for students to become engaged in research during the academic year and summer, and through the Senior Project; encouraging students to gain internships and externships; and hosting speakers from other institutions. All program courses strive to introduce students to foundational content in psychology’s subfields (social, cognitive, developmental, and abnormal psychology, as well as neuroscience); take a multilevel approach to answering psychological questions; engage students in integrative, critical thinking about the mechanisms underlying human thought and behavior; educate students in the process of science as it applies to human behavior; provide hands-on learning opportunities for students to engage in the above; and prepare students to excel in their chosen place in an interdependent global society.
Areas of Study
The program 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, abnormal psychology is both an applied discipline and a research-oriented science that pertains to the study of psychopathology (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 (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.
Prior to Moderation in psychology, students 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 additional 200-level courses in psychology.
Psychology students must complete the following requirements to graduate: two additional 200-level courses in psychology (for a total of four, not including 203 and 204); one course in biology, chemistry and biochemistry, 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 (220–229); in Cluster C, a core course in cognitive psychology or neuroscience (230–239).
All requirements for the major must be completed with a grade of C or higher (with the exception of Introduction to Psychological Science, for which the minimum is a C-).
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: 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 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.
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 and practical applications. The Psychology Program offers advanced methodology courses in abnormal psychology, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and neuroscience under the direction of faculty who conduct research in each subfield of psychology. In addition, students can pursue interests in cognitive, abnormal, and developmental psychology through local community programs. Students are also encouraged to gain experience through participation in the Bard Summer Research Institute. Bard psychology students have also been successful at obtaining summer research positions at major universities.
Recent Senior Projects in Psychology
- “The Effects of Reactive Aggression and Proactive Aggression on Heart Rate Reactivity to an Anger Induction”
- “Facial Emotion Recognition Impairments in Subclinical Depression”
- “Media and the Shooter Bias: Investigating the Relationship between Implicit Racial Biases and News Coverage”
- “Proposed Intervention to Improve Recently Immigrated Hispanic Adolescents’ Academic Performance and Psychological Well-Being”
The course descriptions in the college catalogue are listed numerically, from introductory 100-level courses to 300-level Upper College courses and seminars.