Research Requirement (PSYC 4998 and Courses)


One of the distinguishing features of the Psychology major at Penn is the emphasis that is placed on empirical research. Competence in psychological science includes not only a set of ideas about how we think and behave, but also an understanding of how psychologists have arrived at this knowledge. In order to foster a full understanding of the science of psychology, all majors should be comfortable with the application of the scientific method to topics in psychology, both as consumers and as creators of empirical research.

One goal of the Psychology major is for students to become familiar with the application of the scientific method to topics in psychology, both through critical reading of the primary empirical literature and through first-hand experience with the collection and analysis of psychological data. Another goal of the Psychology major is for students to understand the fundamentals of statistical inference as it applies to psychological data; and to achieve fluency in a software application for the organization, visualization, and analysis of quantitative information.


All Psychology majors are required to take at least one course in statistics. In addition to fulfilling a major requirement, introductory statistics courses also fulfill the Quantitative Skills foundational requirement in the General Requirement curriculum of the College. This statistics requirement is a prerequisite to the Psychology major research requirement.

All psychology majors are required to complete one semester of empirical research, either by taking a structured Research Experience course (4000-level course), rarely offered, or by completing one semester of Mentored Research/Independent Study aka a faculty-supervised Mentored Research (PSYC 4998 or 4999). Please note: PSYC 4998 is Individual Mentored Research; PSYC 4999 is Honors Thesis Mentored Research (only for seniors in the Psychology Honors Program).


Mentored Research aka Independent Studies (4998 or 4999): Please read the information on the web pages below.

To learn more about undergraduate mentored research in our department, please see our Mentored Research Canvas site here. This site is available to all Penn users.

Research Experience Courses (PSYC 4000-level; old number 300-level)

The 4000-level research experience courses give students the opportunity to satisfy the research requirement in a setting that emphasizes group work.  Please see descriptions below for details about our current Research Experience Courses.  Dr. Hunt's class requires an application and is a 2-semester commitment.  Enrollment in Dr. Royzman's Spring 2025 course (PSYC 4440) is through a lottery only.  Dr. Rust's research experience course in Computational Neuroscience (PSYC 4281) is offered in Fall 2024 and students can register in Path@Penn.  We occaisionally offer a research course in Perception.  These courses can fulfill the research requirement but can also serve as electives to better prepare students for work on future mentored research projects.

PSYC 4462 Research Experience in Clinical Psychology (Application deadline is April 2024)

Instructor: Melissa Hunt

Description: This year-long course will provide an intensive, rewarding, and fun research experience in one of several areas of clinical psychology such as anxiety, depression, ADHD, psychological assessment, pet-assisted therapy, and cognitive behavioral interventions for irritable bowel syndrome. Offering more support and structure than the typical independent study, this course will still allow you to make a serious and original contribution to the field. Every project is based on original research, not just carried out with existing data sets. My students feel ownership of their projects and are invested in every stage, from initial design and IRB approval, through data collection, to analysis and write up. Statistical methods that are covered depend somewhat on the nature of the project, but typically include using SPSS to examine correlations, dependent and/or independent t-tests, ANOVA and ANCOVA, factor analysis, inter-rater reliability, multiple regression and tests of clinical significance. Over the years, students in this course have presented their work at professional conferences and even merited coauthorship of articles in professional journals. By the time the course is done, you will know whether a career in clinical psychology is for you, and you will be very well prepared to pursue graduate study in a number of related fields. Class size is limited to 8 students. Application deadline is April 2024.

Prerequisite(s): PSYC 1462 (old number PSYC 162)

Other Requirements: Permission of instructor required. Please email Dr. Hunt ( if you are interested in PSYC 4462. Application deadline is April 2024.

Semester: Fall and Spring. This is a year-long course, so a two-semester commitment is required, always starting in the Fall.

Credits units: 2 CUs


PSYC 4440 Research Experience in Social Psychology (Sexuality and Attraction)

Instructor: Edward Royzman

Description: Spring semester only. Students will design, conduct, and report on an empirical question in social psychology. Class discussions will help students formulate their projects and provide an opportunity for reports. The class max is 12 students. Admission to the course is by lottery.

Prerequisite(s): PSYC 170 (new number PSYC 1440), AND one semester of statistics (no exceptions will be made)

Other Requirements: Psychology majors only; permission of department required. Admission to the course is by lottery (please submit your request to Claire Ingulli)

Semester: Spring semester only. Not offered in Fall 2024.

Credits units: 1 CU 


PSYC 4281 Research Experience in Computational Neuroscience (Models of Mood)

Instructor: Nicole Rust

Description: What does happiness depend on? Could we build a model to predict how somone's happiness will fluctuate over time? Even if it just works in a simple scenario, having a mood model is an insightful first step towards understanding what causes mood to change. In this course, we will replicate a published experiement designed to predict how happiness changes as individuals play a simple gambling task.  No prior experience in computer programming is assumed or necessary; instead, students will be taught how to code in MATLAB from first steps. Students will collect, analyze, and fit models to behavioral data through weekly assignments that graudally build in complexity across the semester. In addition, students will participate in a journal club in which we read and discuss 20 papers to learn more about mood. Finally, each student will design a unique mood experiment at the end of the course.

Prerequisite(s): PSYC 0001, AND one semester of statistics

Semester: Fall 2024

Credits units: 1 CU


PSYC 4340 Research Experience in Perception (Classic and Modern Research in Perception Science)

Not offered in 2024-2025

Instructor: Johannes Burge (

Description: This course will provide an in-depth treatment of one classic and one present-day research paper on fundamental aspects of visual perception. The course will begin with the remarkable research of Hecht, Shlaer, & Pirenne (1942) "Energy, quanta, and vision". This paper demonstrated that evolution has endowed the human eye with the most sensitive light detectors allowed by the laws of physics. The course will continue with a deep-dive on Burge, Rodriguez-Lopez, & Dorronsoro (2019) "Monovision and the misperception of motion", a paper authored by the professor teaching this course.  This project showed that monovision corrections, common prescription lens corrections (that some of your parents might be wearing), can induce dramatic motion illusions that may compromise public safety. For both papers, we will discuss in detail how the experiments were set up, we will learn about the tools used to analyze the date (including signal detection sand probablility theory), and use these tools to analyze data in the same way that the original authors did.  In the case of the second experiment, we will see the actual display equipment used to collect the data, unpack the stereo-geometry necessary for understanding the illusion (and also why 3D movies work), and gain hands-on experience on how to model perceptual illusions. Our treatment of these two experiments will be enriched by discussion of closely related original research papers. Some programming experience is desirable. Periodic MATLAB coding assignments will solidify key concepts.

Prerequisite(s): PSYC 1340, AND one semester of Statistics. Some programming experience is desirable.

Semester: Spring. Not offered in 2024-2025

Credits units: 1 CU