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

Major requirements

PSY 100SS - Exploring Psychology
(4 credits) (NWCore option under Self and Society) In this course students learn how, using methodologies such as observation, survey and experimentation, psychological science explores the causes and consequences of human action. An overview of major findings from the field of psychology such as biological bases of behavior, learning and memory, motivation and emotion, human development, personality, intelligence, psychopathology and therapy, the effect of others on individuals will be discussed and students will be encouraged to apply this knowledge to their own views and actions. Students will consider why the integration of faith and science in understanding humans is important and will explore ways of accomplishing this integration.
PSY 215 - Research Design and Introductory Statistics
(4 credits) 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: PSY100SS, SOC101SS, PSC101SS, or PSC105SS, and fulfillment of the Quantitative Resoning requirement.
PSY 216WI - Research Design and Advanced Statistics
(4 credits) (Writing intensive) Skills in statistical analysis and interpretation of psychological research are developed in this course with emphasis on correlation, regression and analysis of variance. Basic skills learned in Research Methods I are extended through practice in conducting, analyzing and reporting research using statistical software such as SPSS. Prerequisite: PSY215.
PSY 310 - History of Psychology
(2 credits) This course provides an overview of the history and theories which have shaped contemporary psychology with attention on the assumptions and presuppositions underlying the discipline, as well as the nature of the discipline. Prerequisite: At least eight credits of previous psychology courses.
PSY 406 - Psychology Research Lab
(4 credits) 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.
PSY 418SR - Senior Capstone: Psychology, Faith and Values
(4 credits) This course is the senior capstone to the psychology major as well as one's entire Northwestern education. The course challenges students to thoughtfully reflect on and integrate their education in psychology and across the curriculum with their personal, intellectual, spiritual, and vocational life. In particular, a sizeable literature has developed which focuses on the relationship between Christian faith, philosophical assumptions, and psychology. Through reading, discussing, writing, and oral presentation, students will examine some of this literature and ask: How can a scientific psychology be compatible with a person-oriented Christianity? How can I integrate my view of the world with psychological theory and methods? Where do I go from here to serve God and neighbor? Prerequisites: 12 credits of psychology courses, including PSY310: History of Psychology, one course from the Belief and Reason NWC Core requirement; and at least junior status.
Choose twelve credits:
PSY 214x - Social Psychology
(4 credits) 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: PSY100SS, 221SS, or SOC101SS. Cross-Referenced: Cross-referenced in sociology.
PSY 221SS - Developmental Psychology: Childhood
(4 credits ) (NWCore 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
(4 credits) 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.
PSY 225 - Developmental Psychology: Adulthood
(4 credits) 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.
PSY 230 - Industrial/Organizational Psychology
(2 credits, alternate years, consult department) This course covers the psychological issues of the work place such as personnel selection and development, organizational psychology and the work environment. The professional activities of I/O psychologists are examined including selection and the placement of new employees, staff training and development, performance management, organizational development, analysis of the quality of work life and ergonomics.
PSY 240 - Helping Skills
(2 credits; alternate years, consult department) This course provides a first exposure to the practice of counseling/helping. A major emphasis will be the skilled helper model, an introductory model of active helping/counseling. This model focuses on helping clients understand and manage their problems and develop their unused opportunities and resources. Students will learn and practice the skilled helper model in a workshop setting that requires a great deal of active participation, self-reflection, journaling, and listening to peers in pseudo-counseling role-plays. Prerequisites: PSY100SS or PSY221SS.
PSY 250CC - Cross-Cultural Psychology
(4 credits) (NWCore option under Cross-Cultural Engagement) As human beings we live our lives within the context of culture. Although many aspects of human life are similar across cultures, differences are also evident in a variety of dimensions. In this course we examine the ways humans differ across cultures and how culture impacts the way humans think and feel, as well as the way culture changes how we understand ourselves and our stories. Christian faith requires love and respect for others in the midst of the challenges culture can present. Ways Christians can learn from and love others will be discussed.
PSY 260 - Psychology of Personality
(4 credits) 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: PSY100SS, 221SS, or both PSY224 and 225.
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
(2 or 4 credits, alternate years, consult department) A study of a selected topic. Prerequisites: PSY100SS and four additional credits in psychology. Note: The course may be repeated on different topics for a total of 8 credits.
PSY 402 - Introduction to Clinical and Counseling Psychology
(2 credits, non-yearly, consult department) This advanced seminar provides a first exposure to the theory and practice of clinical and counseling psychology. This exposure will include the history of clinical psychology and counseling psychology, the current state of the profession, ethical dilemmas, and controversies within the field. We will also touch on theories of psychotherapy, as well as the integration of Christian faith with clinical practice. Prerequisite: PSY100SS and four additional credits in psychology.
Choose one course:
BIO 340 - Neuroscience
No course description available.
PSY 315 - Learning and Cognition
(4 credits, alternate years, consult department) 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: PSY100SS and 215.
PSY 319 - Motivation and Emotion
(4 credits, alternate years, consult department) 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: PSY100SS and 215.

Cognate requirements:

Choose one option:
BIO 102SN - Introduction to Human Anatomy and Physiology
(4 credits) (NWCore 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 150SN - Brain and Behavior: The Mind's Machine
No course description available.
BIO 221 - Human Anatomy
(4 credits) A study of the gross structure of the systems of the human body. Prerequisite: BIO102SN, 115 or permission of instructor. Note: Includes 3 hours of lab per week. A fee is associated 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: BIO102SN or 115 and CHE101SN, 102 or CHE111, 112 or permission of instructor. Note: Includes 3 hours of lab per week. A fee is associated with this course.
BIO 121 - Introduction to Human Anatomy
(4 credits) An introduction to the anatomical structures of the human body. The focus of the course will be on structures of: cells, tissues, organs and organ systems. The systems studied will include (but not necessarily limited to) integument, bone, skeletal system (including joints), muscle, cardiovascular, nervous, lymphatic, endocrine, respiratory, renal, reproductive and gastrointestinal. Concurrent requisite: CHE101 or 111. Note: Includes 3 hours of lab per week as well as lab practical examinations using either dissected organs from an animal source or A.D.A.M. interactive anatomy. Does not count toward a biology major or minor. A fee is associated with this course.
BIO 122 - Introduction to Human Physiology
(4 credits) An introduction to the physiology of the human body. The focus of the course will be on homeostasis and the function of: biomolecules, cells and tissues, organs and organ systems. The contribution of each of the following organ systems to physiologic homeostasis will be examined: nervous, muscle, cardiovascular, endocrine, respiratory, renal, reproductive and gastrointestinal. Prerequisite or Concurrent requisite: CHE101SN or CHE108SN or CHE111. Note: Includes 3 hours of lab per week which will emphasize the measurement of organ system function. Does not count toward a biology major or minor. A fee is associated with this course.
Choose one course:
PHI 341x - Philosophy of Social Science
No course description available.
PHI 342 - Philosophy of Natural Science
No course description available.

Total credits required: 46