The Department of Psychology has a strong commitment to the scientific study of human mental processes, emotions, and behavior.

In keeping with this philosophy, the department offers a broad range of courses that provides students with the opportunity to learn about basic research and its applications in a variety of areas, including social, cognitive, behavioral, cultural, clinical, environmental, educational, biological, and developmental psychology.

Requirements for the Major in Psychology

The psychology major consists of a minimum of 10 courses in five categories: (I) Foundation courses, (II) Core courses, (III) Labs, (IV) Advanced seminars, and (V) Electives.      

I. Foundation courses: The foundation courses provide students an overview of the field, the background, and the skills necessary to understand psychology as an empirical science. The required foundation courses are Introduction to Psychology (PSYC 0105) and the Statistics/Research Methods sequence (PSYC 0201 and PSYC 0202). Most students complete the Statistics/Research Methods sequence by the end of their sophomore year, but no later than the end of their junior year.

II. Core courses: All students must complete at least three core courses, one each from three of the five areas below.  Core courses ensure that students have a broad understanding of various subfields within the discipline. Students are strongly encouraged to complete core courses no later than the end of their junior year.

We offer core courses in the following areas:

  • Clinical:  Psychological Disorders (PSYC 0224)
  • Cognitive: Cognitive Psychology (PSYC 0227—formerly PSYC  0305) or Emotions (PSYC 0205)

  • Developmental: Adolescence (PSYC 0216) or Child Development (PSYC 0225)
  • Physiological: Brain and Behavior (PSYC 0226—formerly PSYC 0301)
  • Social/Personality:  Social Psychology (PSYC 0203) or Personality Psychology (PSYC 0204) or Cultural Psychology (PSYC 0220)

III. Labs: All students must take at least one course with a lab section in addition to Psychological Statistics and Research Methods in Psychology. The lab course may also fulfill another course requirement simultaneously (e.g., a core or an elective course). Lab courses are designated as such in the course descriptions.

IV. Advanced seminars: Each student must take one advanced seminar (0400-level course) in psychology.  Advanced seminars in psychology emphasize the synthesis and integration of theory; these may be taken during junior and/or senior years. 

V. Electives: Finally, students must choose any three additional courses from the psychology curriculum, including winter term. In addition to regular content courses, PSYC 0350, PSYC 0500, PSYC 0700, or the PSYC 0701/0702/0703 sequence may be used to satisfy one of the elective requirements.

Requirements for the Minor in Psychology

To earn a minor in psychology students need to complete five psychology courses, including the following:

  • PSYC 0105
  • Two foundation/core courses from among PSYC 0201, PSYC 0202, PSYC 0203 (or PSYC 0204), PSYC 0205, PSYC 0216 (or PSYC 0225), PSYC 0224, PSYC 0226 (formerly PSYC 0301), and PSYC 0227 (formerly PSYC 0305)
  • Two electives (any fall, spring, or winter term PSYC courses; one of which can be PSYC 0350, PSYC 0500, or PSYC 0700).

Research Opportunities: There are options for students who are interested in conducting research in psychology. Students need permission from a faculty member prior to enrollment in these courses.  

  • Sophomores and Juniors may take Directed Research (PSYC 0350) or Advanced Research (PSYC 0500) under the supervision of a faculty member.
  • Seniors may choose to pursue Senior Research (PSYC 0700) or a Senior Thesis (PSYC 0701/0702/0703).  Senior Research and Senior Theses offer students the opportunity to further synthesize and integrate psychology theory and data by conducting research in collaboration with a faculty mentor.

Students cannot take more than one psychology independent research course (PSYC 0350, PSYC 0500, or PSYC 0700) per semester.

Departmental Honors in Psychology

Students who meet the department requirements may apply to the department to complete a senior honors thesis in psychology.  A thesis requires students to apply their skills and knowledge to the completion of a year-long empirical research project. Students intending to complete honors work are expected to submit a Thesis Intent Form by the stated deadline (early to mid-March) of their junior year. Therefore, students should consult with a faculty member before that deadline to actively begin planning their research. The psychology thesis requires three semesters (including Winter Term) of independent research. During the fall term of their senior year, candidates will enroll in PSYC 0701. During the winter and spring terms, after meeting the special requirements listed in the course description and being accepted into honors candidacy, they will enroll in PSYC 0702 and PSYC 0703, respectively (adjustments to this schedule will be made for students entering in February). A minimum GPA of 3.5 in psychology department courses is required for admission to honors candidacy. 


Advanced Placement

Students can bypass PSYC 0105 and move directly to a higher-level course if they earned a Psychology AP Examination score of 4 or 5, or earned a score of 6 or 7 on the IB (International Baccalaureate) Higher Level psychology exam. Students who achieved a score of 4 or 5 on the Psychology AP Examination can also earn course credit for PSYC 105 (for Middlebury College’s policy on the use of AP credits, see:

Students who wish to use an AP or IB score to bypass PSYC 105 must submit their Psychology AP or IB score to Middlebury prior to enrolling in a course with PSYC 105 as a pre-requisite. Psychology Department faculty will not provide waivers for courses with PSYC 105 as a pre-requisite based upon an AP or IB score that has not been submitted to the College.

Beginning with students matriculating in the Fall of 2016, the department will not grant course credit for the Statistics AP Examination towards the major, the minor, or as an equivalent for PSYC 0201 (Psychological Statistics).

Transfer Credits in Fulfillment of the Psychology Major and Minor

Students may transfer no more than two psychology courses toward the major or minor while enrolled as a full time student at Middlebury. Students wishing to obtain approval to transfer more than two courses must petition the department in advance.

Major in Neuroscience

See the Neuroscience Program listing for a description of this major.

Major in Environmental Studies with a focus in Psychology

See the Environmental Studies Program listing for a description of this major.

Education Studies Minor with a Psychology Major

Up to two of the Psychology courses required for the Education Studies minor may also be counted towards the Psychology major.