The Psychology curriculum challenges students to critically evaluate complex issues in today’s world by exploring the science of human thought and behavior. Working closely with their advisor, students are encouraged to combine electives to form a thematic concentration that is personally and professionally meaningful.

Because psychology examines how and why people act, think, and feel, the Psychology Major (or Minor) is particularly useful when combined with other disciplines such as criminal justice, marketing, business communication, and management.

The Psychology Faculty is committed to service as teachers and mentors, helping students define their professional goals both in and out of the classroom through research projects, teaching assistant opportunities, internships and independent study. Students can participate in community service through the Psychology Club and other campus organizations. Students who excel academically may apply to join the Psi Chi National Honor Society in Psychology.

Leading the Way

Hilary Mason ’14 Worcester State College, Graduate Student

The Nichols Psychology program prepared me more than I have ever expected for graduate school. Since the program is small, I was able to get to know the professors. They work very hard to ensure that their students succeed. They will help you any time or day that you need them. Based on the level of work, time, and commitment that I put into being a part of this amazing program, I know that I am more than prepared for graduate school.

Courses & Requirements

Psychology majors must complete 120 credit hours (approximately 40 courses), including courses from the foundation and liberal arts core curricula, focused electives and these required specialization courses:

Required Courses

PSY 151 General Psychology

In this overview course, students will learn and understand the principles and applications of psychology for practical purposes and across disciplines. The practical applications of psychological research to issues and problems facing the world will be addressed. Students will learn and be actively engaged in how psychological findings can be used in a large variety of contexts. This course is a core requirement for all psychology majors.

PSY 375 Statistics for Social Sciences

The purpose of this course is to develop knowledge of when to apply the correct statistical techniques. Emphasis is placed on the ?real world? applications of statistical methods through projects. Topics include descriptive and inferential statistics, multivariate, parametric, and nonparametric techniques. This course makes extensive use of SPSS software. This course is a core requirement for all psychology majors and satisfies the department information literacy requirement.

PSY 475 Research Seminar in Psychology

Students will integrate the knowledge they have accumulated in their first three years as psychology majors through the development and investigation of their own applied psychology hypotheses. In collaboration with the instructor and classmates, students will proceed through the stages of research from hypothesis development to literature review, to proposing their research methods, to data collection, with the project culminating in written and oral presentations of findings. This course is a core requirement for all psychology majors and satisfies the departments? writing intensive and information literacy requirements.

Prerequisite: PSY-375. MATH-117, MATH-121, MATH-122 or MATH-190


PSY 275 Educational Psychology

The application of psychological principles to learning and teaching. Topics include adolescent growth and development, intelligence, motivation, principles of learning, measurement and evaluation.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 277 Psychology of Adolescence

Study of the physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development of the adolescent. Focus is on contemporary concerns of youth.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 278 Abnormal Psychology

The major forms of abnormal behavior are described. They are discussed in light of an integrative bio-social model. Disorders include anxiety disorders, personality disorders, sexual deviance and dysfunction, dissociate and somatoform disorders, mood disorders, childhood disorders, substance use disorders, schizophrenia, and cognitive disorders. Treatment approaches are discussed as well.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 308 Psychology of Temperament

In this course, students will examine various theories underlying the development of human temperament. We will start with early theories and trace them through to the modern era. In this course, we will look at the profound effect temperament has on perception, communication, and relationships. Knowledge of human temperament is fundamentally pragmatic and will help students relate to the social world around them.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 311 Brain and Behavior

This course will provide a basic introduction to the biological processes underlying human behavior. A basic principle of this course is that everything the ?mind? does will eventually be explained in terms of the interplay among various brain components. In the context of the brain-behavior interaction, we will study the biological mechanisms that are the most relevant to essential issues in psychology.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 312 Life-Span Development

The course reviews human development from pregnancy and prenatal development through old age with a unique balance and depth of coverage across all age groups. We will examine the physical and intellectual changes humans undergo from conception through death. With an emphasis on modern cultural and societal issues ranging from homophobia to family violence, this course builds on the basic themes of life-span development.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 342 Group Dynamics

This course examines the formation of groups, group processes, followership, and leadership processes within groups and group behaviors. Emphasis is placed on the experience of applying group theory.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 372 Counseling Psychology

This course reviews the major contemporary theories and techniques of counseling. Students have opportunities to observe counseling situations and to practice counseling techniques. Ethical and professional issues are also addressed.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 374 Cognition, Learning and Memory

An introduction to the basic concepts and theories of human cognition. Topics include attention, memory, knowledge organization, language, reasoning, artificial intelligence, and artificial life.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 462 Social Psychology

This course examines the factors impacting human relationships. Emphasis is placed on interpersonal attraction, attitude formation, social perception and cognition, altruism, aggression, small group behavior, and social identity and influence.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 470 Special Topics in Psychology

This course examines in depth a major issue, problem, or theme in the area of psychology. It includes a specialized research paper or project, involves discussion and oral and written reports, and may include guest speakers and field trips.

Prerequisite: PSY-151.

PSY 490 Internship in Psychology

Students engage in individually supervised work-study arrangements and learn to apply psychological theory and principles in a work environment (e.g., day care center or mental health clinic). Students must work at least 10 hours per week on the job, meet periodically with a supervising faculty member, research literature related to the field of the internship, and prepare a substantive report on their internship experiences and the studies involved.


  • Thomas Davis

    Thomas Davis
    Professor of Psychology / Psychology Program Chair

  • Arthur McGovern

    Arthur McGovern
    Associate Professor of Psychology / Science and Social Science Program Chair

  • Brian McCoy

    Brian McCoy
    Professor of Psychology