Psychology Major

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Psychologists study the very essence of being human, such as how we think and learn, how we develop, and how we relate to others. Our psychological functioning is understood given our biological embodiment and the social world in which we live. At Northwestern, we take a scientifically rigorous approach to psychological inquiry and intentionally integrate our faith with the field of psychology. The insights of psychology are applied to areas critical to the human condition, ranging from our mental health, to our vocational pursuits, to our Christian experience.

As a psychology major, you will have numerous vocational options: research for private or educational institutions, or government agencies; person-related areas such as business management, sales and personnel; areas such as advertising, public opinion measurement, and job analysis or improvement; and areas of mental health, counseling and guidance, and community and social services.

Psychology department homepage


PSY 100SS - Exploring Psychology
(4 credits)(IGE option under Self and Society) In this course students learnhow, using methodologies such asobservation, survey and experimentation, psychological science exploresthe causes and consequences of human action. An overview of majorfindings from the field of psychology such as biological bases ofbehavior, learning and memory, motivation and emotion, human development,personality, intelligence, psychopathology and therapy, the effect ofothers on individuals will be discussed and students will be encouragedto apply this knowledge to their own views and actions. Students willconsider why the integration of faith and science in understanding humansis important and will explore ways of accomplishing this integration.
PSY 215 - Research Design and Introductory Statistics
This course acquaints the student with basic empirical research techniques in the behavioral sciences including political science, psychology, social work and sociology. The course aims to enable the student to function as a conductor and a consumer of behavioral science research. Techniques include: observation, questionnaire and survey, interview, single-subject designs, qualitative research, and experimental and quasi-experimental methodologies. Topics include: descriptive and basic inferential statistics, sampling methods and research ethics. Prerequisites: PSY111, SOC101, PSC101, or PSC105, and fulfillment of the general education math requirement. (4 credits)
PSY 216WI - Research Design and Advanced Statistics
PSY 406 - Psychology Research Lab
As a culminating experience, senior students conduct a semester-long empirical research project and produce an APA-formatted report. This is substantive project that allows the student to individually explore a self-selected research topic in depth and to experience the research process from initial idea to finished publication-ready manuscript. It challenges the student to think creatively, to integrate knowledge and skills obtained throughout the psychology curriculum, and to produce a worthwhile contribution to the field.Prerequisites: 20 credits of psychology courses including PSY215 and 216.(4 credits)
Choose 12 credits:
PSY 214x - Social Psychology
This course involves the study of the way individuals think about, influence and relate to one another. Topics include: attitude change, social thinking, conformity, obedience, persuasion, prejudice, aggression, altruism, roles, norms and environmental influences on social behavior. The major aim of the course is to encourage an appreciation of the relationship between personal and situational determinants of social behavior.Prerequisite: PSY111, 221, or SOC101.(4 credits)
PSY 221SS - Developmental Psychology: Childhood
(4 credits)(IGE option under Self and Society) This course explores the development of the child from the prenatal period into adolescence. Children's physical, cognitive, emotional, personality, social, moral and faith development is examined. Psychological research methods for studying children are covered.
PSY 224 - Developmental Psychology: Adolescence
Adolescents experience many changes in a few short years as they transition from childhood to adulthood. This course explores the major psychological issues and theories in adolescent development with emphasis on cognitive development, self-concept, peer relationships and sexuality, among others.(4 credits)
PSY 225 - Developmental Psychology: Adulthood
This course explores psychological issues and theories in normal adult development, with emphasis on cognitive, social and personality functioning from young adulthood to old age.(4 credits)
PSY 260 - Psychology of Personality
Includes theories about the dynamics and structure of personality and current research on personality. The course emphasizes psychoanalytic, trait, humanistic and behavioral views of personality.Prerequisites: PSY111, 221, or both PSY224 and 225.(4 credits)
PSY 360 - Psychopathology
(4 credits) This course will provide a broad survey of what is considered to be disordered in behavior, emotional expression, and cognition in adults. Emphasis will be placed on a scientific view of psychopathology. The two main foci of the course are the (a) description of various behaviors, symptoms, syndromes and illnesses as described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of the American Psychiatric Association, and (b) research and theories concerning etiology including discussion of environmental, biological, social and interactive perspectives. While intervention and childhood disorders will be discussed, they are not the primary focus of this course. Prerequisite: 4 credits of psychology courses.
PSY 390 - Psychology Seminar
A study of a selected topic.Prerequisites: PSY111 and four additional credits in psychology.(2 or 4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
PSY 402 - Introduction to Clinical Psychology
This course provides a first exposure to the theory and practice of clinical psychology. A major emphasis will be a review of the various theories of psychotherapy. The way in which these theories are applied within professional psychology constitutes a secondary, but strong, emphasis.Prerequisites: PSY111 and eight additional credits in psychology.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 4 credits
BIO 340 - Neuroscience
(4 credits;alternate years, consult department)Introduction to the structure and function of the nervous system, emphasizing neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology and aspects of neuropathology. Multiple levels will be explored from the molecular and cellular levels through brain and spinal cord networks that contribute to complex behavioral and cognitive function.Prerequisites: BIO102 or 221 or permission of instructor. A fee is associated with this course (
PSY 315 - Learning and Cognition
An introduction to the topics of learning, memory and cognition within the field of experimental psychology. An emphasis will be placed on approaching problems as an "experimental psychologist." Advantages and limitations of the experimental approach and applications of the knowledge base of experimental psychology will be highlighted.Prerequisites: PSY111 and 215.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
PSY 319 - Motivation and Emotion
Why do we do what we do? How do we know what we want and what we need? How do we set goals for ourselves and act to achieve them? These are some of the questions that the psychology of motivation and emotion attempt to answer. This course will examine universal and specific motivations and emotions in the context of physiological, cognitive and affective systems. It will also pursue applications of motivation and emotion to the psychology of addiction, health, coping and optimal functioning.Prerequisites: PSY111 and 215.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
Choose one course: 4 credits
PSY 405 - History and Systems of Psychology
This course is one of the senior capstones to the psychology major. It is an overview of the history and theories which have shaped contemporary psychology. Particular attention is given to the assumptions and presuppositions underlying the discipline, as well as the nature of the discipline and the ways in which thoughtful Christians can integrate their faith with psychological theory and method. Prerequisite: 12 credits of psychology courses and at least junior status. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
PSY 418 - Christ and Psychology
This course is one of the senior capstones to the psychology major. The course challenges thoughtful Christians to be critical but genuinely appreciative of the increasing role psychology is playing in modern life. A sizeable literature has developed which focuses on the relationship between orthodox evangelical Christianity and the formal discipline of psychology. The course examines some of this literature and asks: How can a scientific psychology be compatible with a person-oriented Christianity? How can Christians integrate their faith with psychological theory and methods? Prerequisite: 12 credits of psychology courses and at least junior status. (4 credits, alternate years, consult department)

Cognate requirements

Choose one course: 4 credits
BIO 102SN - Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology
(4 credits)(IGE option under Science and the Natural World) An introduction to the structure and function of the human body. Note: Includes 1 1/2 hours of lab per week. Does not count toward a biology major or minor. A fee is associated with this course (
BIO 221 - Human Anatomy
(4 credits)A study of the gross structure of the systems of the human body.Prerequisite: BIO102, 115 or permission of instructor. A fee is associate with this course (
BIO 222 - Human Physiology
(4 credits)A study of the mechanisms by which the human body functions. Emphasis will be given to nerve and muscle function, and thereafter to hormonal control and the integrated systems that allow for respiratory, digestive, excretory and reproductive activities.Prerequisites: BIO102 or 115 and CHE101, 102 or CHE111, 112 or permission of instructor. A fee is associated with this course (
Choose one course: 4 credits
PHI 341x - Philosophy of Social Science
An in-depth study of the philosophical foundations of the social and cognitive sciences. Issues discussed include, e.g., a) laws and explanations in social science, b) objectivity and values in the social sciences, c) rationality, d) relations between different social sciences and the physical sciences, e) philosophy of mind.Prerequisites: at least one philosophy course. PHI202 or 342 may prove helpful, but not required.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)
PHI 342 - Philosophy of Natural Science
This course will help one understand the natural sciences by examining a number of issues as they arise in the history of science. Issues discussed include: e.g., a) what distinguishes science from non-science? b) how are scientific theories justified? c) what is the role of values in scientific inquiry? d) what is required in ascientific explanation? e) do science and religion conflict? f) what is involved in a comprehensive scientific worldview? Representative thinkers include, e.g., Isaac Newton, Pierre Duhem, Ernst Mach, Karl Popper, Thomas Kuhn.Prerequisite: at least one philosophy course. PHI202 is helpful, but not required.(4 credits, alternate years, consult department)

Total credits required: 44