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Swift Thinking: 2010 Spring

New Requirements for Majors and Minors in Psychology

New requirements for students majoring or minoring in psychology have been approved by the Weinberg College Curricular Review Committee. They will go into effect in Fall 2010 and will be included in the 2010-2011 Undergraduate CatalogCurrent freshmen, sophomores, and juniors can choose to graduate under either the current requirements or the new ones. (You will indicate which you’re following when you file your graduation petition, one year prior to your expected graduation.)You must choose one set of requirements or the other; you can't choose parts from each. Students entering Northwestern in September 2010 or later will follow the new requirements. 
Students graduating in June or August 2010 must follow the current requirements.

Changes to the requirements for a major in psychology

Major requirements will change in three ways.  1. All majors will need to complete at least 11 psychology courses, increased from 10: 110, 201, 205, and at least 8 more courses, falling into specified categories. This brings us more in line with requirements for other social science majors. We will continue to require two courses from Column A (social/personality/clinical), two courses from Column B (cognitive/neuroscience), and three 300-level courses, at least one of which must be an upper-level research course. 

2. All majors will need to complete at least two 200-level courses in addition to Psych 201 and 205. Cog Sci 210 and 211 can count toward this requirement. This will ensure breadth of exposure to subfields within psychology.

3. Many more courses will be included among those that count as “related courses”for the major; students will have new options from which to select these formal studies and natural science courses. In addition to the 11 psychology courses required under the new rules, students majoring in psychology will need to complete 5 related courses:

table showing the new major requirements is available online.

Change to the Requirements for a Minor in Psychology

Students minoring in psychology will be required to complete at least one 200-level course in addition to Psych 201 and 205. Cog Sci 210 and 211 can count toward this requirement. Other requirements for the minor remain unchanged.
table showing the new minor requirements is available online.

Registration Information

Fall Courses

Tables showing our anticipated undergraduate course offerings for Fall 2010 and a still-tentative Academic Year 2010-2011 course plan can be found online. Please check the registrar's website for updates to these schedules and descriptions of psychology courses.

Preregistering for Fall Courses

The psychology department will be offering preregistration through CAESAR for most of our courses the week prior to regular registration. To see which courses are available for preregistration, look at the “prereg” column in our Fall 2010 course schedule. All students listed as psychology or cognitive science majors or minors in the registrar's computerized system should be able to preregister through CAESAR for these courses.Note that PSYCH 205-Research Methods is available for preregistration; no permission numbers will be required. More information on PSYCH 205 registration is below

Preregistration times are announced by the Registrar's Office. You can preregister for at most two courses.

Most courses not available for preregistration are those for which students need department consent in order to enroll. Psych 397, 398, and 399 require department permission throughout the registration period. See the section below on  Courses Requiring Department Permission for additional information on these courses.

Wait Lists

Psychology courses are very popular, and they often close during registration. What should you do if a course you want to take has closed? That depends on which course it is.

For most of our courses, we will be using the "electronic wait list" function on CAESAR. If you try to add a course that is full, CAESAR will tell you that there are no openings and will ask if you would like to be on the wait list. As students drop the course, we will check the electronic wait list and send permission numbers to students who can enroll.

All psychology courses will require department permission during the add period (the first week of fall classes). Course professors will prepare lists of students whom they have agreed to add to their courses, and these students will then receive permission numbers. In many cases, available slots will be offered to interested students who come to the first class and are nearest the top of the CAESAR wait list.

Registering for Psych 205-Research Methods: A New Policy

The registration policy for PSYCH 205-Research Methods in Psychology is changing.Students will no longer need to visit the department office to get permission numbers for this course.

The new plan.  Students listed in CAESAR as majoring or minoring in psychology, cognitive science, or music cognition may preregister for PSYCH 205 through CAESAR without a permission number. Make sure you have the statistics prerequisite (see below) before you enroll. Once regular registration starts, any student with the prerequisite may enroll; no permission number will be needed. 

PSYCH 205 will likely fill during preregistration. Please be sure to preregister online using CAESAR as soon as you are able. When a section fills, a CAESAR wait list will be started. If students drop the course, we will check the wait list and send permission numbers to students who can enroll. 

Statistics prerequisite.  PSYCH 201-Statistical Methods in Psychology or an approved substitute is a prerequisite for PSYCH 205. We will regularly check class rosters for PSYCH 205 during the registration process. Those who lack the prerequisite will be required to drop the course. You must complete the prerequisite before taking PSYCH 205.  For example, if you are in PSYCH 201 this Spring, you may sign up for PSYCH 205 for Fall because you will complete PSYCH 201 before Fall quarter starts. However, you may not take both PSYCH 205 and the prerequisite during the same quarter. 

Courses Requiring Department Permission

One great way to learn more about psychological research is to become actively involved in research activities through Psych 399-Independent Study or the two-quarter Psych 397-Advanced Supervised Research. This is especially valuable for students considering graduate study in psychology, and it can be an educational and enjoyable experience for others as well. To enroll in Psych 397 or Psych 399, you should get an application in the department office, fill it out, and have it signed by the professor with whom you will be working. Then, take the signed application to the department office to get a permission number for the course; permission numbers will be available beginning Monday, May 10. Remember that Psych 205-Research Methods in Psychology is a prerequisite for Psych 397. For more information on 397 and 399--including the differences between them, how they count towards requirements, and tips on finding a research adviser--see our webpage on doing research for course credit.

Students who will be taking Psych 398-Senior Thesis Seminar next year will also need permission numbers. These will be available in the department office beginning Monday, May 10, for everyone on the list of students selected to participate in our honors program next year.

Special Courses for Fall Quarter

Psych 314 – Special Topics: The Psychology of Beauty (Dr. Renee Engeln-Maddox)

The purpose of this course is to thoughtfully consider psychological theory, methodology, and empirical data relating to questions such as the following: What is it that makes us find beautiful people beautiful? How can evolutionary psychology explain why we find certain features beautiful?  Where does this theory fail in terms of predicting perceptions of beauty? Is beauty really in the eye of the beholder? How have beauty ideals shifted over history? How are gender roles and sexual orientation related to beauty? Why is beauty associated with femininity? What cultural biases help those perceived as beautiful and hurt those perceived as lacking in beauty? Are beautiful people happier or more successful? In what ways are beauty standards sometimes destructive? How do cultural standards of beauty relate to disorders such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and body dysmorphic disorder?  The only pre-requisite for this class is Introduction to Psychology (Psych 110).  The teaching method will be a combination of lecture, class discussions, student presentations, and in-class activities/demonstrations.  See the registrar's webpage for further information. 

Psych 314 – Special Topics: Schools of Psychotherapy (Dr. Carol Donnelly)

Psychology 303 is a pre-requisite for this course. Clinical psychology is the application of theoretical perspectives to an individual, couple, or group for the purpose of psychological healing. Within a ‘biological-psychological-social’ framework, this course will investigate the major theoretical perspectives in clinical psychology, their views on normal and abnormal development, and approaches to therapeutic interventions. Special attention will be given to competing and controversial perspectives both between and within paradigms. The emphasis will be on Psychodynamic, Cognitive-Behavioral, Humanistic, and Psychopharmacological approaches, with some background discussion of recent developments in neuroscience. See the registrar's webpage for further information.

Psych 357 -- Advanced Seminar in Personality, Clinical, or Social Psychology: Depression (Dr. Kate Stroud)

Dr. Stroud is a clinical psychologist and postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern’s Family Institute.  This course can count toward both the Column A(personality/clinical/social) and upper-level research requirements for psychology majors. Prerequisites include Psychology 205 AND Psychology 303. This course will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of depression. Topics will include assessment, models of etiology and course, effective approaches to prevention and intervention, and depression in specific populations. Readings will expose students to current methods and research findings. See the registrar's webpagefor more information.

Psych 358 – Advanced Seminar in Cognition or Neuroscience: Visual Cognition (Prof. Steve Franconeri)

This course can count toward both the Column B (cognition/neuroscience) and upper-level research requirements for psychology majors. Prerequisites include Psychology 205 AND one course in cognition and/or neuroscience (e.g., Psych 212, 228, 312-1, 324, 364, 365, Biol Sci 306, 326, Cog Sci 210, or Com Sci 303). This seminar will survey research in high-level visual perception, through a textbook plus discussion of both classic and cutting-edge research papers.  How do visual illusions work?  Why is it so hard to find Waldo?  Why can movie editors make mistakes, but we don’t notice?  What is attractive about a painting’s composition, or a person’s face or walk?  Course topics include visual attention; perceptual organization and grouping; scene perception and visual memory; social perception of faces, bodies, and emotions; and aesthetic appreciation of visual art and composition.  Students will participate in class discussions, post comments to a Blackboard discussion the day before each class, make presentations on articles on topics of interest, write a final paper proposing further research on their chosen topic, and evaluate a rough copy of another student’s paper. See the registrar's webpage for more information.

News from the Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA)

by Scott Beymer, UPA President

Spring Quarter is an exciting time for the Undergraduate Psychology Association!  We will be hosting our annual Graduate Student Panel featuring graduate students from the psychology department right here at Northwestern.  The panel will be held on May 6th at 5:00 p.m. at Tech M152.  Reminders will be sent through the UPA listserv.  During April, we petitioned for ASG recognition and earned T-status.  What this means is that we are on the road to having full recognition and receiving all the great resources that come with it.  After this transitional period, additional funding will allow us to increase programming, so keep your eyes open for new and exciting events!  The elections for the 2010-2011 Executive Board were also held at the beginning of April. We are proud to announce the new board members:

President: Scott Beymer
Vice-President: Aime Lynn Goudie
Secretary: Caroline Dzeba
Treasurer: Stephanie Tang
Academic Chair: Katie Belleville
Events Chair: Janice Li
Community Service Chair: Kathryn Rulon

We are extremely excited for all of the upcoming events and creative activities that the new board has to offer!  First, the UPA would like to encourage all psychology majors and minors to nominate their favorite psychology professor for the UPA Distinguished Teaching Award. Each year, the UPA recognizes a professor who has “demonstrated dedication to undergraduates, creativity in the classroom, and enthusiasm for his/her field.” If you would like to submit a nomination, please write a brief paragraph explaining why your professor is a great candidate for this award and submit it to Caroline at

We are currently in the process of establishing a Psychology Alumni Network for undergraduates who are majoring or minoring in psychology.  Further details will be given when the plans are finalized.  By popular demand, this quarter will also have aMovie Night hosted by Dr. Renee Engeln-Maddox.  Information on the date and time will be provided through the UPA listserv.  Stay tuned for some volunteer opportunities that we are in the process of developing.
In addition, we will be continuing our popular ‘Lunch with a Prof’ this quarter, beginning with Prof. Michael Bailey!  Keep an eye out for the next lunch advertised on the UPA listerv.  The board is excited for next year, and we have already begun generating some ideas for fall quarter events. However, we would love to hear your ideas for UPA events! Please email Scott at with your suggestions. If you would like to receive email updates about our events, please email Aime Lynn at to subscribe to our listserv.

Finally, we would like to thank our members for their enthusiasm and for attending our events this year. We hope that we have been a resource for you, as well as a way to connect to other psychology students and professors. Thank you again for a wonderful year!

Psychology Honors Students and the Undergraduate Research Symposium

The psychology department has a stellar group of honors students this year!  Please consider attending the 2010 Undergraduate Research Symposium to see many of these students present the results of their honors research. The symposium will be held in Norris University Center on Monday, May 24. In addition to learning more about the impressive research efforts of these students, attendees can vote on their favorite posters.  Those students receiving the most votes will receive “People’s Choice” awards!

2009-2010 Honors Students in Psychology
Katherine Adamski
Prerana Baranwal
Jesse Bastiaens
Brian Bohl
Joseph Dadabo
Nora Ellingsen
Anna Gutina
Clifford Haimann
Melissa Hansen
Timothy Herrmann
William Hooper
Elizabeth Kacel
Emily Kim
Mihwa Kim
Arundati Nagendra
Stephanie Richman
Emilie Ross
Alex Russell
Jared Salisbury
Rachel Salk
Aditi Srinivasan
Bonnie Vu
Joshua Waytz

Summer Study in Psychology

Several psychology courses will be offered at Northwestern during the summer session. These include some courses taught during the regular academic year and some summer-only sections of Psych 314-Special Topics in Psychology. To learn more about NU Summer Session courses, see the summer session website.  

Taking Summer Courses at Another School

If you plan to take psychology courses at another school this summer and want to count them toward your Northwestern degree, then you must have prior permission from the Weinberg Office of Undergraduate Studies and Advising (OUSA) and from our department. Take your course descriptions to the OUSA at 1922 Sheridan Road, pick up the relevant forms, and then see either Dr. Linsenmeier or Dr. Broaders to talk about getting psychology department approval. You can schedule an appointment to see either of them by contacting Brenda Robertson in the department office (Swift 102, phone 847-491-5190). Weinberg College guidelines and the petition form for courses taken away from Northwestern are also available online.

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Graduate School Information

If you're thinking of doing graduate work in psychology, the department has several resources you may find helpful. One resource is the department webpage on graduate study in psychology. In addition, our faculty members and graduate students can provide you with useful information about choosing a field of specialization, applying to graduate school, and what life as a graduate student is like.

If you're interested in clinical psychology, be sure to take a look at Considering Graduate Study in Clinical Psychology .

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Juniors: Time To Do Your Graduation Petition

Spring of the junior year is the usual time to file a Graduation Petition. You need to have the petition reviewed and signed by an adviser in each major and each minor you plan to complete. This is important for making sure that you haven't overlooked or misunderstood any graduation requirements--and that you and the degree auditors in the Registrar's Office agree on how your courses fit department, college, and university rules. It's also a good opportunity to think about how you'd like to spend your final year as an undergraduate student.

Forms should be submitted to the Registrar's Office a full year before you plan to graduate. If you expect to graduate next June with a major or minor in psychology, then this quarter is the time to do your petition. Students in each of Northwestern’s undergraduate schools can find the appropriate form in the “Graduation” section of the Registrar's website; the form for WCAS students is also available in the department office. You should fill the form out and then discuss it with a psychology department adviser. To schedule an appointment, contact Brenda Robertson in Swift 102 (phone 847-491-5190). Our tentative 2010-2011 course schedule may be helpful to you as you complete the form. 

After your form is signed, turn it in to the Registrar's Office. Be sure to look carefully at the feedback you get from the Registrar's office after you submit this form.

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Seniors: Graduation Reception

The psychology department will honor all students graduating with a major in psychology at a reception on Friday, June 18, 2010. The reception will he held from 2:00-3:30 P.M. on the first floor of Swift Hall. All of our graduating seniors and their families are invited to attend and to celebrate with us!

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Awards and Accolades

Congratulations to the many psychology majors and minors who have won awards, presented papers at conferences, or been involved in other special activities this year. Listed below are some of the students in our department who have received recognition for their achievements this year.

Three students will receive Benton J. Underwood Fellowships from the Department of Psychology for their research this summer: 

Zhen Cheng (working with Prof. Joan Chiao) 
Reina Uchino (working with Prof. Dedre Gentner) 
Elizabeth Wilson (working with Prof. Mike Bailey)

Nine students will receive Northwestern University Undergraduate Research Grants for their research this summer:

Scott Beymer (working with Prof. Wendi Gardner) 
Rebecca Blackwell (working with Prof. Ken Paller) 
Sophia Espinoza (working with Prof. David Rapp) 
Talia Seidman (working with Prof. Emily Durbin) 
Max Sutton-Smolin (working with Prof. David Rapp) 
Stephanie Tang (working with Prof. David Rapp) 
Heather Waldron (working with Dr. Renee Engeln-Maddox) 
Lindsey Zamarripa (working with Prof. Sue Hespos) 
Julian Zlatev (working with Prof. Bill Revelle) 

Two students received Lois Elizabeth Henrikson Undergraduate Travel Awards. These awards provide funding for undergraduate psychology students traveling to conferences to present their research. Award winners this year were given to Timothy Herrmann and Rachel Salk, who will both be presenting their research (conducted in collaboration with Dr. Renee Engeln-Maddox) in Boston at the annual convention of the Association for Psychological Science (APS). 

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