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    Grinnell College
  Sep 26, 2017
2014-2015 Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Psychology, B.A.

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   Member of the Division of Science


David Lopatto


Ann Ellis
Janet Gibson
Damian Kelty-Stephen
Emma Kelty-Stephen
Christopher Ralston
Nancy Rempel-Clower
Asani Seawell
Laura Sinnett
Andrea Tracy

Psychology is invigorated by the intellectual imperative to understand behavior, the ethical imperative to alleviate human suffering, and the aesthetic imperative to find form and pattern in our lives. The psychology curriculum illuminates the behavior of biological organisms living in social habitats. Students of psychology learn to use empirical methods to investigate behavior and to use critical thinking to interrogate empirical methods. Situated in a liberal arts environment, the psychology curriculum empowers the student with tools for mindful inquiry. Students of psychology construct their learning into a variety of professional careers, including teaching, scientific research, clinical work, medicine, and law.

Students interested in psychology should take Introduction to Psychology and either Introduction to Statistics or Applied Statistics early in their college careers. Students interested in the psychology major should follow these courses to the required Research Methods and the 200-level elective program. Research Methods equips the student with tools for inquiry; elective courses explore the essential content areas of psychological science. Engagement with the elective program aims the student toward advanced courses that permit the study of topics in depth and may provide the impetus for individual research projects. In addition, the department encourages students to pursue experiential learning through internships.

All majors are encouraged to explore the varied elective courses offered by the department and to take advantage of opportunities to do independent work. Liberally educated psychology majors value the breadth of their education. The requirements for the major leave time in the student's career for courses in mathematics, science, social studies, and humanities. The student is encouraged to discover the natural affinity of psychology with many disciplines and the creative thinking that follows from multidisciplinary competence.

The facilities that support learning in the psychology curriculum afford genuine laboratory experience and creative research. Interactions in these facilities give the student experience with the protocols that inspire awareness of the opportunities for research and teach the ethical responsibilities of researchers. The facilities include a group process laboratory, a behavioral neuroscience suite with a contiguous animal colony, and a freestanding preschool that offers an ongoing curriculum in parallel with its laboratory function.

Major Requirements: A minimum of 32 credits

Three Core Course Requirements: 12 credits

200-level Elective Course Requirements: 12 credits*

  • Any 200 level Psychology course - not including PSY 225

300-level Elective Courses Requirements: 8 credits

Laboratory Requirement

  • At least two courses above the 100-level must be laboratory courses.


  • Independent research and departmental service


* All 200-level courses are now elective requirements (not core). Groups A and B have been eliminated.

** PSY 225 - Research Methods  is now required (not recommended) for all 300-level courses except PSY 311 .


To be considered for honors in psychology, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must demonstrate voluntary engagement with and commitment to the values of the discipline, which include, but are not limited to, departmental service and independent research.

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