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 (300-level course), rarely offered, or by completing a faculty-supervised Independent Study (PSYC399).
Independent Studies: Please read the information on the web pages below.
- Independent Study (PSYC399)
- Organizing an Independent Study (PSYC399)
- Independent Study Options (PSYC399)
- Conducting an Independent Study (399)
Research Experience Courses
These courses give students the opportunity to satisfy the research requirement in a setting that emphasizes group work. These courses are rare and enrollment may be through individual application. Please see descriptions below about our current Research Experience Courses:
PSYC 362-301 Research Experience in Clinical Psychology (Application deadline is April 2022)
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 2022.
Other Requirements: Permission of instructor. Please email Dr. Hunt (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you are interested in PSYC 362. Application deadline is April 2022.
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
Research Experience in Social Psychology, PSYC 370-301 (Sexuality and Attraction)
Instructor: Edward Royzman
Description: 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.
Prerequisite(s): PSYC170, AND one semester of Statistics (no exceptions will be made)
Other Requirements: Psych 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 2021.
Credits units: 1 CU