Parents   |   Community   |   Current Students   |   Faculty & Staff  
Home / Academic Programs / Natural & Social Sciences / Psychology

School of Natural and Social Sciences
The Psychology BA Program | Academic Requirements & Concentrations | Student Learning Outcomes | Minor in Psychology | Courses | Faculty | Facilities | Internships | Alumni | Psychology Links

The Psychology Program: Courses

1000–1999 (lower level, freshman)
2000–2999 (lower level, sophomore)
3000–3999 (upper level, junior)
4000–4999 (upper level, senior)


Introduction to Psychology
PSY 1530
/ 4 credits / Every semester
Empirical and theoretical approaches to the basic physiological, cognitive, and social mechanisms underlying behavior. Topics include learning and conditioning; sensation and perception; memory, thinking, and language; psychological development; social processes; and personality and psychopathology.
Note: PSY 1530 is a prerequisite for all upper-level psychology courses offered by the Psychology Board of Study, except when the course description notes otherwise.


Social Issues
PSY 2140
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
This course takes an interdisciplinary approach to a topic of broad interest or concern; examples include violence and terror, the global AIDS crisis, poverty, and racism. It is team taught by faculty members in at least two distinct disciplines. Lectures are supplemented by visual presentations and guest lectures.

Psychology of Emotion
PSY 2160
/ 3 credits / Alternate years
The writings of classic and contemporary investigators provide the basis for examining theoretical and empirical issues within the area of human emotions. Topics include the expression of emotions; individual differences in emotional experience; the structure of emotion; and the interplay between emotions, cognition, and behavior.

Social Psychology
PSY 2170
/ 4 credits / Every year
Students study classic experiments and contemporary research in the areas of conformity, obedience, helping behavior, attributions, aggression, persuasion, close relationships and attraction, attitudes and social influence, ethics, and prejudice. This material is applied to both current and historical examples in social research.

Sensation and Perception
PSY 2250
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An examination of the biological processes by which the sensory systems pick up information from the environment and the psychological processes by which that information is coded, transformed, and integrated to form perceptions. Emphasis is on the visual systems and visual perception. Aspects of perception in the visual arts and music are also discussed.

Behavioral Statistics
PSY 2320
/ 4 credits / Every semester
An introduction to data analysis, with coverage of both descriptive and inferential statistics, and an introduction to probability. Class discussions focus on the use of sample, sampling, and population distributions as they are employed in hypothesis testing. Inferential tests include t-tests, ANOVAs, chi square, regression, and nonparametric tests.
Note: This course may be used to satisfy the statistics requirement for economics and environmental studies majors, and it counts as a basic science support course for biology majors.

Drugs and Behavior
PSY 2350
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Examines the effects of a wide range of psychotropic drugs on behavior, including drugs used clinically to treat mental disorders and drugs of abuse (including alcohol). The biological basis of tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, and other issues related to drug addiction, are also covered. Knowledge of basic biology or psychology is helpful, but not required.

Psychology of Communication
PSY 2360
/ 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An introduction to the behavior of communicating and to the implicit rules and conventions guiding verbal and nonverbal communication. Topics include the difference between language and communication, the roots of human communication in infant-caretaker interaction, and conversational analysis and persuasion.

Learning and Memory
PSY 2450
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Behavioral and cognitive approaches to the study of human and animal learning are discussed. Topics include classical conditioning, motivation, cognitive models of memory, and applications outside the laboratory.

Adolescent Psychology
PSY 2500
/ 3 credits / Spring
A broad survey of human development from late childhood through early adulthood. Topics include physiological, social, and cognitive development; peers, the family, and the school; issues of autonomy, identity, and sexual relations; depression; substance abuse; and suicide.

Personal/Social Relationships
PSY 2520
/ 3 credits / Alternate years
An examination of both interpersonal relationships and the relationship between the individual and society. Topics include social development, situational and cultural influences on individual functioning, social support networks, interpersonal attraction, and intergroup relations.

Child Development
PSY 2650
/ 4 credits / Every year
A broad survey of human development from conception through childhood. Topics include prenatal development and birth, cognition, language, parent-child interaction, peer relations, moral development, and sex role development.
Note: PSY 2650 may serve as a prerequisite for upper-level developmental psychology courses. Credit will not be given for both PSY 2650 and PSY 3350/Developmental Psychology (offered through the School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education).

Psychology of Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
PSY 2745
/ 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Students examine the psychological research and theory relevant to the understanding of stereotypes, prejudice, and discrimination. Topics include the cognitive bases of stereotypes and prejudice, the role of socialization and the media, the nature of in-group-out-group biases, the changing face of prejudice and discrimination, ways to reduce prejudice, and the consequences of prejudice for members of stigmatized groups.

Stress and Coping
PSY 2755
/ 3 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
In this course, the intra- and extra-personal causes of stress are identified, and a variety of assessment instruments are demonstrated and used. The consequences of stress are examined from several physiological and cognitive perspectives. A catalog of effective, direct, and palliative coping strategies is offered so that students can develop personalized stress-management programs.

Psychology of Women
PSY 2860
/ 3 credits / Alternate years
A critical examination of social, psychological, and biological factors governing female behavior and experience. Within the context of a life-span model (infancy to old age), topics include gender development, puberty, school performance, sexuality, the body, depression, relationships, and communication styles.

Abnormal Psychology
PSY 2870
/ 4 credits / Every year
Explores the diagnosis, phenomenology, and scientific and clinical understandings of a wide range of mental disorders. Current research is reviewed to explore the underlying mechanisms of the disorders under discussion. Diagnosis is approached from the perspective of the most recent DSM. At various points, psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, and neuroscientific viewpoints of psychopathology are represented.

Arrow up icon 


Psychology of Problem Solving
PSY 3070
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Problem solving plays a major role in human life. In this in-depth exploration of problem-solving history and theories, topics include general problem solving, insight, impasse, incubation, transfer, expertise, and brain-imaging findings.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

The Psychology of Stigma
PSY 3090
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Students explore classic and contemporary theory and research on the social psychology of stigma, primarily from the perspective of the stigmatized. Topics include functions and nature of stigma, stigma and the self-concept, stereotype threat, attributional ambiguity, stigma and social interaction, and implications of stigma concealability and controllability.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Psychological Perspectives on the Self
PSY 3120
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
An examination of the processes by which people develop and maintain a self-concept; how the self-concept influences emotion, motivation, and behavior; and whether or not the beliefs people hold about themselves are accurate or useful. Readings include recent theoretical and empirical writings from psychology journals and edited texts.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Sports Psychology
PSY 3130
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
A critical examination of the psychological variables that affect athletes and their performance, with emphasis on the social-emotional, cognitive, and developmental aspects of sports participation. The impact of social-psychological conditions on athletes is explored from historical, conceptual, and practical perspectives. Topics include understanding the nature of competition, women in sports, team vs. individual participation, coping with anxiety and maintaining self-esteem, imagery and intervention strategies, and children’s participation in sports.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

History of Psychology
PSY 3185
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Students study the historical roots of developmental, cognitive, and social psychology through the writings of major European and American psychologists, primarily from the 19th and early 20th centuries. The aim of the course is to expose students to the history of major ideas in psychology through an examination of primary sources.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 or one philosophy course, or permission of instructor

Psychology of Creativity
PSY 3210
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Research and theories of creativity are examined from the perspectives of cognitive, social, personality, and developmental psychology.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Psychology of Terrorism
PSY 3220
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
This advanced seminar examines terrorism and responses to terrorism from a political/applied social-psychological perspective. Topics include defining terrorism, preconditions of terrorism, recruitment and motivation, domestic and international terrorism, and case studies and analysis of terrorist organizations. Students examine a variety of classic and current sources drawn from multiple disciplines.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor
Recommended: Previous experience in related upper-level courses and experience with reading primary sources. PSY 1530 or equivalent strongly preferred.

Psychology of Film
PSY 3240
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Why does film succeed in standing in for reality? Students explore answers to this question through semiotics, classical cognitive film theory, and both computational and ecological perceptual theory.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 or permission of instructor

Cross-Cultural Psychology
PSY 3300
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
A consideration of human behavior within an ecocultural perspective, beginning with historical and methodological issues. Perceptual, cognitive, and developmental processes, personality, and psychopathology are also studied. Distinct cultures serve as case studies.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 or permission of instructor

Health Psychology
PSY 3301
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
The interventions suggested by the biopsychosocial model and mind-body paradigm are examined. Topics include health behavior, social learning theory, attribution theory, and attitude formation as they apply to problems like health promotion, disease prevention, reactions to illness, management of chronic and terminal illnesses, and adherence to treatment regimens. Methods of evaluation of clinical services are addressed.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Language and Thought
PSY 3320
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Do people who speak different languages think about and perceive the world differently? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? How does language affect decision-making or memory? This course examines the interrelationships between language and other cognitive processes. It brings together theories and empirical findings from cognitive, developmental, and cultural psychology, as well as linguistics, anthropology, ethology, and neuroscience.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Social Development
PSY 3330
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
An in-depth exploration of social and personality development from infancy through adolescence. Topics include predispositions for sociability, formation of affectional ties with family members and peers, the development of knowledge of self and others, and the acquisition of interactional knowledge and skills.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Cognitive Development
PSY 3345
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An in-depth exploration of cognitive development from infancy through adolescence. Students study major theories and research findings on the development of problem solving, reasoning, memory, perception, and academic skills.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Psychology of Music
PSY 3405
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Explores the cognitive processes that underlie musical behaviors. Topics include auditory parsing, pitch perception, acculturation, memory, absolute pitch, amusia (tone deafness), music as a communicative device, emotional responses and mood regulation, cognitive similarities with language, music therapy, the relationship between musical training and intelligence, and evolutionary theories.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 or permission of instructor

Program Evaluation
PSY 3410
/ 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
Covers theoretical and practical aspects of program evaluation and its role in informing policymakers. The readings, which include a textbook and journal articles, cover theory and basic methodology. In addition, students collect, organize, and write about the evaluations they conduct. The applications component focuses on programs in education, childcare, and criminal justice.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 or SOC 1500

Programming for the Behavioral Sciences
PSY 3420
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Provides a foundation in programming, with emphasis on developing software for psychological experiments. Students gain hands-on experience through weekly coding assignments. Topics include creating, counterbalancing, and presenting stimuli; collecting real-time responses; and visualizing and processing data. For the final project, students code a complete experiment related to their own research interests. Prior programming experience is not required.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Psychology, Public Policy, and Social Advocacy
PSY 3430
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Psychology’s relevance and contributions to social policy are explored in numerous contexts, including grassroots organizing, federal legislation, and within the profession. Students choose and develop their own area of policy expertise and complete several written assignments related to that area: policy topic proposal, opinion-editorial, policy white paper, policy brief, and talking points presentation.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Social Issues in Developmental Psychology
PSY 3440
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Controversial social issues and policies are examined and discussed within a context of theory and research in developmental psychology. The goal is to examine how current developmental research has, and has not, been successfully applied to practical social issues regarding children and adolescents. Topics include day care, sex education, adolescent pregnancy and parenting, changing family structure, infants and children with AIDS, television viewing, and child abuse and neglect.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Topics in Social Psychology
PSY 3445
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An examination of theoretically driven research with a focus on empirical findings and the research methods used to obtain them. Students explore social psychological theories, such as attachment theory, attribution theory, the belongingness hypothesis, cognitive dissonance, construal level theory, dual-process attitude theories, self-perception and social comparison theories, self-verification theory, social exchange theory, social identity theory, and social penetration theory.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530, and PSY 2170, 3120, 3300, or 3510

Development of Language
PSY 3490
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Starts with an examination of various criteria for and precursors of language. Students read and analyze studies of children’s first words, early syntactical development, speech play, metaphor, storytelling, and bilingualism.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Social Cognition
PSY 3510
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An increasingly important focus in social psychology, social cognition is the study of how people think in social situations. Topics include social categories, scripts and schemas, attribution, inference, memory, and attitudes. Important applications are also considered, including stereotyping and prejudice.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Sensing and Knowing in Anthropology, Psychology, and the Arts
ANT 3540
Refer to Anthropology Courses for description.

Research Methods I: Statistics and Design
PSY 3560
/ 5 credits / Every semester
Students receive intensive hands-on experience in the research process, developing the following skills: generating testable hypotheses; designing research studies; understanding large data sets; formatting and managing data; conducting descriptive and inferential statistical tests; and interpreting and reporting results.
Prerequisite: 40 credits, including PSY 1530 with a grade of C+ or higher

Research Methods II: Application and Integration
PSY 3561
/ 5 credits / Every semester
Students develop an untested hypothesis, design and conduct a study to test the hypothesis, and write an empirical paper following American Psychological Association guidelines. Students then conduct a critical review of existing theory and research in a different area of psychology.
Prerequisite: PSY 3560

Psychological Testing and Measurement
PSY 3610
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
This course covers the basic principles, research, and theories on the testing and measurement of psychological constructs. Topics include test reliability and validity, test development, intelligence and its measurement, personality assessment, and clinical assessment.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Qualitative Research Methods
PSY 3630
/ 5 credits / Every year
Explores the theoretical, methodological, and philosophical underpinnings and ethical concerns within psychology. Students learn the types of research designs employed and the analysis techniques that enable qualitative researchers to make sense of and draw conclusions about data. Through weekly lab sessions, students put these concepts and ideas into practice by engaging in numerous in-depth research-related activities.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Honors Seminar in Statistics and Research Design
PSY 3635
/ 4 credits / Every year
Recommended for students interested in pursuing the MARC U-STAR honors program or research careers in science. Prepares students to participate in scientific research in biology, biochemistry, chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, mathematics, and environmental studies. Statistics and research design are taught through the examination of real-world biomedical problems. Students learn to reason about scientific data, research methods, statistics, and ethics.
Prerequisite: Grade of B or higher in PSY 1530, BIO 1550, CHE 1550, or MAT 1500, or permission of instructor

Physiological Psychology
PSY 3660
/ 4 credits / Every year
An examination of the biological basis of behavior. Topics include neuronal transmission, the coding and higher-order processing of sensory stimuli, movement, regulatory processes in feeding and drinking, sexual and emotional behavior, learning and memory, and psychopharmacology. The biological bases of various psychological disorders are also covered.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 or, for biology majors, permission of instructor

Personality Assessment
PSY 3690
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Focuses on how personality measures are constructed and how scores on these measures are interpreted and used. The strengths and weaknesses of various projective tests, personality inventories, single-trait measures, IQ tests, behavioral indicators, and physiological measures are reviewed. Topics include the stability of personality, whether or not IQ tests actually measure intelligence, and the accuracy of people’s self-descriptions of their personalities.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Special Topics in Neuropsychology
PSY 3705
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
One or two topics in neuropsychology are examined in depth. Topics may include memory across the life span, degenerative disorders, neuropsychiatric disorders (e.g., schizophrenia and depression), and communication disorders.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Human Neuropsychology
PSY 3715
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
This course reviews brain-behavior interactions obtained from studies of human brain damage and from investigations of the normal brain. Topics include hemispheric specialization, the representation of language, memory, spatial ability, attention, movement disorders, developmental disorders, and generalized cognitive disorders.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Developmental Psychopathology
PSY 3725
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Focuses on the development of the major emotional and behavioral problems of childhood and adolescence, including autism and Asperger’s disorder, AD/HD, depression, trauma-related problems, eating disorders, and personality problems. Empirical research and clinical material are both integral elements of the course, including in-class presentations of clinical research and case studies, as well as videos on psychopathology.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Human Memory
PSY 3745
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Examines the cognitive representations and processes involved in human memory. Topics include short-term and working memory; encoding and forgetting processes; implicit, semantic, and eyewitness memory; reconstructive processes and alterability of memory; and memory for text.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Psychology of Personality
PSY 3760
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
Personality psychologists study consistent ways people think, feel, and behave. This course focuses on classic and contemporary theoretical approaches to personality and how theory influences the research questions psychologists ask, the methods they employ, and their interpretation of results. An examination of research findings furthers understanding of commonalities as well as individual differences in people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Cognitive Psychology
PSY 3770
/ 4 credits / Alternate years
The study of human cognition from the perspective of the mind as a processor of information. Topics include attention, memory, conceptual structure, imagery, reasoning, problem solving, and language use.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 or permission of instructor

Cognitive Psychology in Education
PSY 3775
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Covers theories and findings in the cognitive psychology literature that have implications for and/or applications to the quality of college students’ academic learning and performance. Topics include students’ memory for passages of text, the usefulness of taking lecture notes, how testing is involved in learning, and the use of multimedia in learning situations.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

PSY 3780
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An interdisciplinary approach to topics in psychopharmacology. The field of psychopharmacology involves the evaluation of the effects of natural and synthetic compounds on the brain, mind, and human behavior. The method by which neurotransmitters and pharmaceuticals interact with receptors and enzymes, as well as their effects on behavior, are discussed.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Gender Development
PSY 3845
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Examines the processes involved in the development of gender during childhood, emphasizing the interaction between biology, socialization, and cognition. Students read primary source articles that examine the influence of hormones, parenting, knowledge, friendships, and media on children’s beliefs about their gender and on sex differences.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Practicum in Child Development
PSY 3850
/ 4 credits / Every semester
Students work with preschool children for eight hours per week at the Purchase College Children’s Center, located on campus. The academic component of the practicum is coordinated through weekly class meetings that relate the students’ experience with children at the Center to issues in child development.
Note: This course (a) fulfills a requirement for the certificate program in early childhood development, offered by the School of Liberal Studies & Continuing Education; (b) does not count as one of the psychology electives for psychology majors.
Prerequisite: Permission of the Children’s Center director and of instructor

Seminar in Early Childhood Development
PSY 3855
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An in-depth exploration of the development and education of young children, ranging in age from two to five years. Topics include physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development; issues of self, autonomy, and independence; day care vs. preschool; developmentally appropriate practice; the assessment of young children; and transitions to kindergarten.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530

Internship in Psychology
PSY 3995
/ 1–4 credits / Every semester
The internship in psychology provides students with the opportunity to gain supervised, voluntary work experience for academic credit. Internships are developed by the student, the academic internship advisor, and the sponsoring organization in conjunction with the Career Development Center. Psychology students have interned in clinics, laboratories, and educational settings. Some students elect to do internships at the Purchase College Children’s Center.

Tutorial and Independent Study
PSY 3996
and 3997 / 1–4 credits / Every semester
Students with special interests may study independently under the sponsorship of a qualified faculty member. Independent study in general is permitted if the board of study offers no formal course covering the material. Independent study in advanced or highly focused studies may be undertaken after a student has completed two 3000- or 4000-level courses in psychology with a grade of B or higher. Independent study may not be substituted for any specifically required course. The per-credit workload is approximately 2½ hours per week.

Arrow up icon 


Seminar on Neurocognitive Aging
PSY 4180
/ 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
The topic of aging and cognition is explored by examining work in cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Major theories of cognitive aging are reviewed, age-related decline in specific areas of cognition is discussed, and students are familiarized with multiple methodological approaches to understanding both healthy and pathological aging.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 and permission of instructor

Seminar on the Psychobiology of Mental Disorders
PSY 4680
/ 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Intensive study of the neuroscientific literature on a few mental disorders. Topics may include schizophrenia; affective, anxiety, or substance-use disorders; conduct disorder; and antisocial personality disorder. Research on the biological bases of these disorders is explored through close reading of primary source material.
Prerequisite: PSY 1530 and PSY 3660 or 3100

Psychology Senior Seminar I and II
PSY 4880
and 4890 / 1 credit (per semester) / I: Fall; II: Spring
In the first semester, students meet weekly to present and discuss their senior project proposals. In the second semester, students present the findings of their senior project research. Grading is on a pass/no credit basis.
Corequisite: PSY 4990 (fall) and 4991 (spring)

Senior Project I and II
SPJ 4990
and 4991 / 4 credits (per semester) / Every year
Two-semester independent study (8 credits total) leading to a baccalaureate thesis. The project and thesis may take one of several forms. Students typically join in the faculty sponsor’s research, pursuing an identifiable problem in that context. Some students do research projects at other institutions like psychiatric hospitals or clinics. These external projects must be approved by a Purchase faculty member, who acts as the internal sponsor.
Prerequisite: 90 credits, PSY 3550 and 3890
Corequisite: PSY 4880 (fall) and 4890 (spring)

Updated June 23, 2016

Arrow up icon 


Please direct updates for this page to the managing editor in the Office of the Provost and Academic Affairs. To add a course, please refer first to the Faculty Handbook.

For course schedules:
course search