Psychology concerns the study and understanding of thoughts, feelings, and behavior. The courses offered by the department are directed toward the study and appreciation of the complex factors that influence behavior and covert experience in people and other animals, using methodology designed to enhance objectivity and responsibility. Studying psychology has a twofold function: (1) to further the intellectual development of the student; (2) to enhance preparation in professions within and related to psychology, such as clinical practice, research, counseling, education, social work, medicine, law, and business.

Major Requirements

The major consists of twelve 4-unit courses (48 units). Students may apply to the major and receive credit for upper-division coursework after having successfully completed Introduction to Psychology and Methods in Psychological Science. Majors select an academic advisor from among the department’s full-time faculty for consultation regarding their course programs. Though not strictly sequenced, the major is structured to provide both breadth and depth.


Students must receive a grade of C- or better.

PSYC 101Introduction to Psychology

4 units

PSYC 200Methods in Psychological Science

4 units

PSYC 201Statistics in Psychological Science

4 units


Students must survey psychology’s diverse subdisciplines by taking at least six courses (24 units) listed within our four Domains: Biologically Based Analyses, Information Processing, Interpersonal and Intergroup, and Application-Oriented. To fulfill the breadth requirement, students must take at least one course in each of the four Domains to fulfill this requirement. To fulfill the depth requirement, at least one of the six required Domains courses must be at an advanced (400) level.

Biologically Based Analyses Domain

PSYC 312Physiological Psychology

4 units

PSYC 322Physiological Psychology

4 units

PSYC 336Evolutionary Psychology

4 units

PSYC 403Psychophysiology

4 units

Information Processing Domain

PSYC 301Learning

4 units

PSYC 302Perception

4 units

PSYC 306/COGS 306Cognitive Psychology

4 units

PSYC 436Comparative Cognition

4 units

PSYC 444Thinking and Reasoning

4 units

Interpersonal and Intergroup Relations Domain

PSYC 321Developmental Psychology

4 units

PSYC 323Social Psychology

4 units

PSYC 448Theories of Personality

4 units

Application-Oriented Domain

PSYC 223Social Psychology of Intergroup Relations and Dialogue

4 units

PSYC 330Abnormal Psychology

4 units

PSYC 334Health Psychology

4 units

PSYC 340Organizational Psychology

4 units

PSYC 431Clinical Psychology

4 units


Choose three additional Psychology courses.

* Some Kinesiology courses may be counted as electives.

** Up to 4 units in Independent Study / Honors courses (PSYC 397/PSYC 499) will be treated as one 4-unit, elective course, even if the units are accumulated over multiple semesters.


The Psychology department has elected to take a "writing-across-the-major" approach to the College’s second stage writing requirement. The department has selected an approach that is both evaluative and educational. See the Writing Program for additional information.

Toward the end of the fall semester of their senior year, students will submit a portfolio containing writing samples from 300/ 400 level courses taken for credit toward the Psychology major to the department. The portfolio will include at least twenty finished text pages, including (1) a research paper (empirical or library) of at least eight text pages, and (2) evidence of mastery of APA publication style. One writing sample in the portfolio must be (3) on a topic that required integration of information from two or more sub disciplines, and one writing sample in the portfolio must be (4) on a topic that required understanding of the variation between individuals, groups, or species relevant to social justice and/or well-being. Academic advisors will assess students’ work. If the portfolio does not pass after an attempt at revision, the student will be informed that s/he will need to complete a supplemental writing assignment to address any writing skill deficits. Refer to the Department Moodle site for more details.


Senior majors must take and pass a comprehensive examination early in the semester that precedes graduation (i.e., spring of senior year for most students).


Honors in Psychology may be awarded to qualified students. Eligible students are those who have earned an overall college grade point average of 3.25 or better and a grade point average in Psychology of 3.5 or better, and completed an empirical project that demonstrates the student's psychological sophistication, intellectual creativity, and research skills, culminating in an APA-style manuscript. Only courses completed at Occidental are used to calculate grade point average. Consult the Psychology Department Moodle website for information pertaining to the honors proposal, thesis readers, enrollment expectations, and the evaluation process including critical dates.


The department will apply toward the psychology major most broad-based courses in Introduction to Psychology taken at accredited colleges and universities. Students with an Advanced Placement score of 4 or 5 on the Psychology examination or with an International Baccalaureate Psychology exam score of 6 or 7 will be placed out of Introduction to Psychology. In addition to Introductory Psychology, the department will accept a maximum of two psychology courses taken at other institutions and passed with grades of C or better toward the completion of the Psychology major. Please consult with your academic advisor and the department chair for course approval. Students transferring from another institution in the junior year or students who have taken a leave of absence for more than 1 semester may transfer Introductory Psychology and up to four other psychology courses, with approval from the department chair.


Psychology Courses


Regular Faculty

Andrew Shtulman, chair

Associate Professor, Cognitive Science; Psychology

B.A., Princeton University; Ph.D., Harvard University

Nancy Dess

Professor, Psychology; Advisory Committee, Kinesiology; Advisory Committee, Neuroscience

B.A., U.C. Los Angeles; Ph.D., University of Minnesota

Andrea Hopmeyer

Professor, Psychology

B.A., Clark University; M.A., Ph.D., University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Brian Kim

Associate Professor, Psychology

B.A., Cornell University; M.A., Ph.D., Michigan State University

Lynn Mehl

Professor, Kinesiology and Psychology

B.S., M.S., Ph.D., University of Southern California

Jaclyn Rodríguez

Professor, Latino/a and Latin American Studies

B.A., Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., University of Michigan

On Special Appointment

Clinton Dale Chapman

Non-Tenure Track Associate Professor, Psychology

B.S., M.S., Montana State University; Ph.D., University of Oklahoma

Susan Geffen

Full-Time Non-Tenure Track Assistant, Psychology

M.A., Ph.D., University of Southern California

Patricia O'Neill

Part-Time Non-Tenure Track Associate Professor, Psychology

B.A., Occidental College; M.A., Ph.D., Alliant International University

Doug Wilson

Part-Time Non-Tenure Track Assistant Professor, Psychology

B.A., University of Georgia; M.A., University of Santa Monica; Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute