2014-15 General Catalog

273 Social Sciences 2 Building
(831) 459-2002

Faculty | Course Descriptions

Program Description

Psychology majors at UCSC are introduced to theory and scientific research in the field. Students begin with lower-division courses that include introductory psychology, precalculus, statistics, and introduction to developmental psychology. Majors take a total of eight upper-division courses. These include Psychology 100, Research Methods in Psychology; six courses in the four areas of psychology—developmental, cognitive, social, and personality psychology; and one upper-division course outside the major from an approved list.

Cognitive psychology focuses on topics such as perception; brain and behavior; motor control; learning and memory; thinking, feeling, and emotions; psycholinguistics; and computational modeling. Our cognitive psychologists extend traditional boundaries in the study of cognition to encompass bodies, physical environments, sociocultural contexts, and information technologies. Social psychology addresses topics such as persuasion and influence, motivation, group processes, intergroup relations, psychology and law, and social justice. Developmental psychology is concerned with processes of cognitive, language, social, emotional, and personality development across the life span. Additionally, both developmental and social psychology are concerned with issues of diversity including ethnicity, culture, gender, income, and family structure. Personality psychology focuses on person-centered processes including attachment, life stories, and adjustment.

In addition to the general psychology major, an intensive major (described below) is also available. The department also administers a major in cognitive science (see separate listing in this catalog under cognitive science). Students primarily interested in clinical and counseling psychology should realize that training in these areas does not occur at the undergraduate level but requires professional training through an advanced degree. UCSC does not offer advanced degrees in clinical or counseling psychology.

Students are encouraged to carry out research projects. Interested psychology majors will find research opportunities in courses, as research assistants in faculty members’ research programs, or through faculty-sponsored independent study. This research may be carried out in specialized research laboratories or in the field. Students usually join an ongoing project in which a faculty member is engaged. Students who are especially interested in a career involving empirical research should become involved in a professor’s ongoing research by their junior year. Some recent research topics include “Learning in Infancy,” “Parent-Child Conversations,” “Reading Aloud,” “Learning About Psychology Through Conversation,” “Complexities of Privilege,” and “Program Evaluation of Biophysics Course.”

Preparation for the Major

Students interested in pursuing the psychology major should complete Psychology 1, 2, and the precalculus mathematics requirement. Psychology 1 and 2 should be taken for a letter grade. After completing these three lower-division required courses, students may petition to declare the psychology major subject to the grade requirement described in the Qualification to the Major section below.

High school students considering psychology as their university major find that the best preparation is a solid general education in English writing, mathematics at least through precalculus, biological and physical sciences, and social sciences.

Transfer Students

Junior transfer students should express an interest in psychology on their UCSC application for admission.

It is expected that prospective transfer students will have completed most, if not all, of the lower-division requirements. The lower-division requirements include Psychology 1, 2, 10, and AMS 2 or 6 (or equivalent). The psychology faculty recommends that all lower-division requirements be completed by the end of the sophomore year. In order to declare the major, transfer students must meet the grade requirement described in the Qualification to the Major section below.

Students who want to fulfill requirements with courses taken at other colleges must petition for the substitution of their transfer courses at an orientation session or at an appointment with the department adviser. Psychology 100, Research Methods in Psychology, must be taken at UCSC. Students planning to transfer to UCSC should check with the advising office of their present college, or refer to

Transfer students are strongly encouraged to speak with an academic adviser at the Psychology Department office prior to enrolling in classes in order to determine their status and begin the actual declaration of major process.

General Psychology Major

Twelve courses are required for the general major: four lower-division courses in preparation for the major and eight upper-division courses. The lower-division courses are prerequisites for virtually all of the upper-division courses and should be completed as early as possible, or by the end of the sophomore year. Some upper-division courses have additional prerequisites.

Lower-Division Requirements


1        Introduction to Psychology (or equivalent)

2        Introduction to Psychological Statistics (or equivalent, including Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L)

10      Introduction to Developmental Psychology

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 2 or 6, Precalculus for Statistics (or equivalent, including Applied Mathematics and Statistics 2 or 3 or 6 or Mathematics 3 or 4 or 11A)

Psychology 20, 40, and 60 are strongly recommended.

Upper-Division Requirements

Students must complete at least eight upper-division courses (a minimum of 42 credits), including appropriate substitutions noted below. The courses include Psychology 100, Research Methods in Psychology; two courses from each of any two of the following subfields; one course from the remaining two subfields; and one course from outside the major.

Psychology 100, Research Methods in Psychology

Developmental (courses numbered 101-119)

Cognitive (courses numbered 120-139)

Social (courses numbered 140-159)

Personality (courses numbered 160-179)

Upper-division courses and their catalog descriptions are grouped within each of the subfields. At least one upper-division seminar course must be completed; these courses are identified within their catalog description by the phrase “satisfies seminar requirement.” No more than two psychology courses numbered 183, 191A, 193, 194, and 195 may be used toward the upper-division requirements; however, these courses cannot be substituted for 101-179 courses in the same subfield as each other, or in a subfield in which the student has not taken a course in the 101-179 series. The eighth upper-division requirement must be a five-unit UCSC course outside of psychology chosen from a list of courses approved by the department. These lists of approved non-psychology courses are posted on the Psychology Department web site. At least six of the eight courses (including Psychology 100, Research Methods in Psychology, must be taken through the psychology program at UCSC, not transferred from elsewhere. After all substitutions have been made, students must satisfy the fundamental requirement that they take at least one upper-division UCSC psychology course from each of the four subfields.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in psychology is satisfied by completing Psychology 100, Research Methods in Psychology, and a seminar. Seminar courses are designated in the campus catalog with the text “satisfies seminar requirement.” 

Program Planning Notes

Because some upper-division courses have additional prerequisites, students should read the descriptions of the upper-division courses carefully, noting the prerequisites for courses of interest to them.

Psychology Major Planners

Following are two recommended academic plans for students to complete during their first two years as preparation for the psychology major. Plan One is a suggested guideline for students who are committed to the major early in their academic career. Plan Two is for students who are considering the major or who need more preparation. Students should note that Applied Mathematics and Statistics 2 or 6 is a requirement for the major and is a prerequisite for Psychology 2 and Psychology 100. Courses 20, 40, and 60 are recommended electives and are prerequisites for some upper-division psychology courses.

Plan One






AMS 2 or 6




PSYC 40 (recommended) PSYC 60 (recommended)


PSYC 100

(Begin upper-division coursework)

PSYC 20 (recommended)

Plan Two












AMS 2 or 6



PSYC 100

(Begin upper-division coursework)

The Intensive Psychology Major

The intensive major is an option that any psychology major may choose to undertake. The intensive major would be advantageous for a student intending to go on to a graduate program in any area of psychology. Students intending to take the intensive major should declare this on their proposed study plan during the junior year, outlining their plan for completing the requirements. The intensive major requires 18 courses.

Requirements for the Intensive Major

Lower-Division Requirements

Psychology 1      Introduction to Psychology (or equivalent)

Psychology 2      Introduction to Psychological Statistics (or equivalent, including Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L)

Psychology 10    Introduction to Developmental Psychology

Applied Mathematics and Statistics 2 or 6 Precalculus for Statistics (or equivalent, including Applied Mathematics and Statistics 3, or Mathematics 3 or 4 or 11/A)

Upper-Division Requirements

Fourteen upper-division courses are required for the intensive major. These courses must include Psychology 100 and two courses from each of the following four subfields, one of which must be a seminar:

Developmental (courses numbered 102–119)

Cognitive (courses numbered 120–139)

Social (courses numbered 140–159)

Personality (courses numbered 160–179)

No more than two psychology courses numbered 183, 191A or 193, may be used toward the upper-division requirements; however, these courses cannot be substituted for 101-179 courses in the same subfield as each other, or in a subfield in which the student has not taken a course in the 101-179 series.

Psychology 181, Psychological Data Analysis, Psychology 182, Advanced Research Methods, or an equivalent course approved by the department

Two quarters of Psychology 194, Advanced Research or 195, Senior Thesis

Two upper-division courses from one or more related areas outside of psychology from lists of courses pre-approved by the Psychology Department and posted on the department’s web site, These two courses will not count toward the nine upper-division requirements listed above. (These courses may not include psychology courses cross-listed with other programs or taught by psychology faculty.) These courses also cannot be counted twice in cases of double majors or minors.

Cognitive Science Major

The Psychology Department is the administrative home for the cognitive science major. Requirements for the cognitive science major may be reviewed under its separate entry in this catalog.

Qualification to the Major

Students may petition to declare the psychology major once they have completed three lower-division courses: the mathematics requirement, Psychology 1, and Psychology 2 (or Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L). To be admitted to the major, students must demonstrate the attainment of foundational skills by receiving a grade of at least B- in (a) Psychology 1 and (b) Psychology 2 (or Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L). Students who pass these courses but do not achieve the required level of proficiency (i.e., who receive a grade of C, C+, or P) have alternative means of demonstrating foundational skills by: (a) completing Psychology 10 with a grade of B- or higher if the student did not receive a B- or higher in Psychology 1; (b) completing Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L with a grade of B- or higher if the student did not receive a B- or higher in Psychology 2; or (c) completing Psychology 2 with a grade of B- or higher if the student did not receive a grade of B- or higher in Applied Mathematics and Statistics 5 or 7/L.

Every student who satisfies qualification to the major and who petitions to declare the major by the declaration deadline will be admitted to the major. Students who satisfy the qualification to the major but who petition to declare the major after the deadline will be considered on a case-by-case basis for admission to the major; admission is not guaranteed. Students who did not satisfy the major admission requirements but believe that there are extenuating circumstances concerning their performance in the foundational courses may file a written appeal describing these circumstances; however, such appeals are rarely granted.

Comprehensive Requirement

UCSC requires that every student satisfy a senior exit/comprehensive requirement prior to graduation. Psychology students will satisfy this requirement by receiving a passing grade in one of our seminars. Passing a seminar course is also required for the major. Courses that meet this requirement are designated as seminars in the campus catalog as “satisfies seminar requirement.”

Academic Advising

Students are encouraged to approach faculty in their area of interest for further advising no later than the first quarter of their junior year to discuss an upper-division program of study and to plan for graduate training in psychology. As a supplement to academic advising offered by faculty members, the Psychology Department has an advising office located at 273 Social Sciences 2 Building, (831) 459-2002. The adviser assists students in obtaining information regarding major requirements and petitions, course planning, substitution of transfer courses for advance enrollment, careers, and graduate schools. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the advising office throughout their college career.

Senior Thesis

Students with adequate substantive and methodological preparation and a consistent record of strong academic performance may be eligible to apply to write a senior thesis. Students should initiate plans for a thesis no later than the first quarter of their senior year. Most faculty prefer to sponsor senior theses that are integrated with faculty research, so students are encouraged to talk with faculty before choosing a senior thesis topic. Information and applications are available in the department office, 273 Social Sciences 2.


Honors in the psychology major are awarded to graduating seniors whose academic performance is consistently excellent (i.e., GPA in psychology courses is 3.6 or higher) by a committee of psychology faculty. Highest honors in the major are reserved for students with consistently excellent academic performance and an honors-level senior thesis.

Psychology Field-Study Program

The Psychology Field-Study Program provides qualified students an opportunity to apply classroom learning to direct experience in a community agency. Each year about 200 students develop new skills and clarify personal and professional goals by working as interns in schools, corporations, law enforcement agencies, research organizations, mental health services, and other social service agencies where they are supervised by professionals. Psychology faculty members sponsor the students’ field study helping them to integrate their field experience with coursework and guiding them in related academic projects.

The two-quarter program is open to junior and senior psychology majors who must apply at least one quarter in advance. There are information meetings and individual meetings to help students develop a learning plan, select a placement, and choose an academic project. Application information is included in the information meetings.

Graduate Program

The psychology program offers three areas of specialization leading to the doctoral degree: cognitive, developmental, and social psychology. The program does not offer courses, training, or supervision in clinical psychology. The program prepares students for research, teaching, and administrative positions in colleges and universities as well as for positions in schools, government, and other public and private institutions. Each student is primarily associated with one of the three research areas and participates in the courses and research forums sponsored by the faculty in that area. The program requires full-time enrollment as a graduate student. Although applicants for a master’s degree are not accepted, students in the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) program may obtain a master of science (M.S.) degree by fulfilling specific requirements.

The cognitive graduate program focuses on "Minds, Brains, and Beyond," offering a blend of traditional topics and new directions in cognitive science. With core strengths in language, memory, and perception, we are exploring topics such as: faces, speech, body movements, and embodied cognition; how forgetting helps memory; metaphors and analogies; cognitive aesthetics; natural language use in conversation; cognition and technology; human performance and information processing. Our graduates find careers in academia, tech industries, and more.

Graduate work in developmental psychology addresses the integration of individual, interpersonal, and cultural processes of development. Our faculty study these developmental processes in diverse communities and institutions, including families, peer groups, schools, museums, and close relationships. We use a mixture of quantitative and qualitative methods. Some research interests of the faculty include: learning by observing, overhearing, and participating; infants’ and children’s cognitive and language development; conversation, narrative, and memory sharing; academic achievement and career aspirations; family/peer/school links; gender development and discrimination; development of personal and social identities; intergroup relations; ethnicity, culture, and development; social policy and educational practice.

The social psychology graduate program at UCSC has a unique mission and focus. We use Kurt Lewin’s model of “full-cycle” social psychology (theory-application-action) to study a broad range of topics related to social justice. In this way, knowledge gained in action-oriented research leads, in turn, to the development of new theory. Accordingly, our students learn to apply psychological theories and data to the analysis and solution of a wide range of social problems. We use a variety of research methods to examine justice-related issues in different cultural, political, and policy contexts. Our students are trained in laboratory, field, and survey methods; they are encouraged to attend to issues of race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, gender, and physical ableness; and, in addition to traditional social psychological approaches, are steeped in critical theoretical perspectives such as feminist theory. Our graduates go on to successful careers in academia as well as in community, government, and non-profit settings. Our approach to research and training, combined with the quality and competencies of our faculty, make our program among the nation’s best for the psychological study of social justice issues. Current faculty research interests include aggression and trauma; educational access; feminisms; institutional analysis; intersectionality; narrative and identity; political conflict, violence, and peace-building; political psychology; poverty and economic justice; power and oppression; psychology and law; sexual identity and society; sexuality; social identity; social policy analysis; and structural inequality.

Graduate students in psychology may obtain a designated emphasis on the psychology Ph.D. diploma indicating that they have specialized in feminist studies and/or Latino American and Latino Studies (LALS) if they meet requirements spelled out by a committee composed of psychology and feminist studies faculty, or psychology and LALS faculty.

Details on the policies for admission to graduate standing and requirements for the Ph.D. degree, as well as the online application can be found on the Division of Graduate Studies web site. The department’s graduate program brochure, and faculty research are available on the department web site.

Students enrolled in the psychology graduate program will complete a first-year and second-year research project. All graduate students must enroll and participate in the colloquium series each quarter (Psychology 230 for cognitive, Psychology 242 for developmental, and Psychology 231 for social). First-year students must take two courses in statistics (Psychology 204 and Psychology 214A) and a two-quarter proseminar sequence during fall and winter quarters. (Psychology 224A and 224B for cognitive, Psychology 244A and 244B for developmental, and Psychology 211A and 211B for social.) Students are also required to serve as a teaching assistant for at least two courses during their graduate career (one of which must be Psychology 10 for developmental and Psychology 40 for social).

Additional requirements for the cognitive area include: three advanced cognitive graduate courses, a graduate course in developmental psychology, a graduate course in social psychology, and a substantive advanced course in a discipline other than psychology.

Additional requirements for the developmental area include: Psychology 225A, Psychology 225B, Psychology 246, one other advanced developmental graduate seminar course, a graduate course in cognitive psychology, a graduate course in social psychology, and a substantive advanced course in a discipline other than psychology. Developmental graduate students are also required to complete a professional practicum between the end of their second year and end of their third year.

Additional requirements for the social area include: Psychology 210, Psychology 248, Psychology 249 or Psychology 261, one other advanced social graduate seminar, a graduate course in cognitive psychology, a graduate course in developmental psychology, and a substantive advanced course in a discipline other than psychology.

Students are required to take their graduate courses as Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory.

After satisfying the formal course and research requirements, psychology graduate students must take an oral examination to qualify as a candidate for the Ph.D., ideally by the end of their third year. The qualifying examination is intended to assess a student’s knowledge of psychology and competence to conduct the dissertation research. For the qualifying examination, students write a major paper that reflects a conceptual analysis of their main research area, prepare a list of readings representative of their expertise in three areas of psychology, and satisfactorily complete an oral qualifying examination.

Within a year of advancing to candidacy, students will prepare a written dissertation proposal that should demonstrate the student’s in-depth knowledge of some research topic, along with a detailed outline of the empirical research to be conducted for the dissertation. The student’s dissertation committee reviews the proposal, and the student will orally defend the proposal for approval by the committee. After the final draft of the dissertation has been completed and submitted to the faculty committee members, students must defend their thesis in an oral exam.

The Ph.D. degree is awarded upon successful completion and submission of the dissertation.

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Revised: 09/01/14