psychology

Psychology Major/Minor

Psychology explores how and why the human mind functions the way it does in healthy individuals, as well as abnormal brain function and its effects on life.

The psychology major at Saint Mary’s serves students who plan to attend a graduate or professional school in psychology or a related field, those whose occupations will require knowledge of psychology (teachers, social workers, counselors, etc.), and those who are interested in psychology as a complement to a variety of other studies.

Are you an adult looking to finish your bachelor's degree? Please visit our bachelor's completion program page.

Career Options

Clinical psychologists; counseling psychologists; health psychologists; industrial and organizational psychologists; sport psychologists; neuropsychologists; marriage and family therapists; mental health and substance abuse workers; social workers; program evaluators; research psychologists; and school psychologists.

High School Preparation

Biology; Chemistry; Community Environmental Studies; Health Science; Mathematics; Psychology; Social Science; and Statistics.

Enhance Your Experience

Students who major in psychology oftentimes pursue additional studies in sociology, education, and human services.

Grad School

Psychology majors who graduate from Saint Mary's will find it easy to transition to the university's graduate programs, located in the Twin Cities and Rochester. Pursue your passion with a master's degrees in marriage and family therapy, and counseling and psychological services, a graduate certificate in addiction studies, or a Doctor of Psychology in Couseling Psychology.

Psychology Minor

Psychology minors find it it supplements most any major in the liberal arts. A minor in psychology will provide foundational knowledge helpful to any student's post-graduate career. 

Degree Requirements

A. All of the following

PY111 General Psychology (3 cr.)

General Psychology provides an overview of the methods, fundamental principles, and major perspectives which define the discipline of psychology. Intrapersonal and/ or interpersonal psychological processes involved in the biological basis of behavior, sleeping and dreaming, conditioning and learning, cognition, lifespan human development, abnormal psychology, and psychological treatment. Classical and contemporary research and perspectives including the biological, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic, sociocultural and evolutionary perspectives are explored. Students are actively involved through application, interactive exercises, simulations, and projects.

PY211 Developmental Psychology (3 cr.)

This course explores the study of growth and development across the life span. Students are introduced to the reciprocal nature of biological, cognitive, social and cultural factors on the developing person. This is a research based introduction to understanding the expression of development in everyday life as it extends to family, friendship, youth ministry, school, neighborhood, sports, health care, and social services.

PY220 Abnormal Psychology (4 cr.)

This course investigates the dynamics of abnormal behavior. Disorders manifested in childhood and adolescence, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, somatoform disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse, sexual disorder, and dependence, violence and abuse, and personality disorders are studied. Etiology, diagnosis, prognosis, research, prevention and therapy are considered. The interactions among biological, psychological, social and cultural factors are emphasized.

PY235 Quantitative Analysis for Psychological Science (with lab) (3 cr.)

This course introduces students to statistical procedures relevant to the science of psychology.  Students will examine the theoretical bases and practical applications of descriptive and inferential statistics such as measures of central tendency, analysis of variance, correlation, and regression.  The course will emphasize the numerical and visual representations of data through the use of analysis programs such as SPSS and Excel.  Students will also attend a weekly laboratory session focused on the utilization of statistical analysis software. 

PY305 Learning and Cognition (4 cr.)

Learning and cognition engages students in learning principles and cognitive psychology. Using a historical perspective in psychology, students first examine classical conditioning, operant conditioning, and observational learning, including the ideas of Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, and Bandura. In the second half, the course focuses on the roles of perception, attention, and memory in the process of cognition.  Emphasis is placed on the students' abilities to critically analyze readings, research methodology, and research data, as well as to effectively communicate their ideas in writing.

PY310 Social Psychology (3 cr.)

Social psychology is the scientific study of how we perceive people and social events as well as how we influence and relate to one another. Areas covered include social cognition; prejudice, discrimination and stereotyping; the self; interpersonal attraction and close relationships; helping; aggression; attitudes and persuasion; conformity, compliance and obedience. Applications of social psychology to academics, the workplace, the media, and social relations are examined.

PY335 Scientific Research in Psychology with Lab (3 cr.)

This course is designed to give students an opportunity to develop knowledge and skills associated with research in psychology, including critically evaluating research reports, collecting data, interpreting data analysis, and reporting results.  Emphasis is placed on choices and implications of research design (e.g., comparisons among experimental and non-experimental approaches, threats to internal and external validity), appropriate application of reporting results, and research ethics.  Students will participate in weekly laboratory sessions, which are focused on developing, testing, and reporting research ideas with small groups. 

PY370 Personality Psychology (4 cr.)

Personality psychology examines the question, "What does it mean to be a person?" This course includes historical ways in which we have tried to understand human persons. Classical personality theories including psychodynamic, cognitive, behavioral, trait and humanistic/existential are studied and evaluated. Contemporary research in personality areas such as attachment, temperament, the big five traits, and psychological well-being is studied and integrated with historical and classical approaches.

B. One of the following:

PY340 Biopsychology (3 cr.)

Biopsychology provides an overview of physiological, genetic and evolutionary explanations of behavior. Areas covered include neurophysiology, psychopharmacology, brain imaging techniques, addiction, learning and memory, body weight regulation, circadian rhythms, stress and health, psychological disorders and biological therapies. The interrelationships among social, genetic and neurologic processes are examined.

PY341 Health Psychology (3 cr.)

This course is designed to focus on foundations and current research on the topic of stress in the area of health psychology.  Physiological and psychological components of stress, as well as classic and current research into the human experience of stress will be explored.  In addition, this course will help students develop skills necessary to examine and analyze psychological research. 

C. The following or section D:

PY489 Thesis Planning (1 cr.)

This course is taken before the student conducts a thesis study. Students are required to identify an area for research, conduct a literature review, select or construct appropriate instrument/apparatus, design, write, and present a research proposal. Pilot work is expected. The course is conducted primarily on an independent basis in consultation with the instructor. Graded pass/no credit.

PY490 Research: Data Collection (1 cr.)

In this course, students conduct collect data for their experiment or study, enter the data, and start to analyze the data. Independent research is emphasized in consultation with the instructor and an advisor.

PY491 Thesis (1 cr.)

In this course students analyze, interpret, and integrate their findings for their experiment or study complete a written report following APA guidelines, including an extensive literature review, and make a formal presentation. Independent research is emphasized in consultation with the instructor and an advisor.

D. The following or section C:

PY488 Internship Planning (1 cr.)

This course is taken the semester before a student does an internship. Students are required to acquire relevant information about possible internship sites; contact prospective supervisors; discern whether one has sufficient interest, motivation and training for said internship. Students meet with department faculty for an interview, prepare self goals and objectives and create a resume, and conduct a literature review relevant to the chosen site. Students meet individually and in groups with the instructor. Graded pass/no credit.

PY496/497 Internship in Psychology (1–17 cr.)

Students participate in supervised field work. Placements include group homes, residential treatment centers, day treatment centers, nursing homes, hospitals, psychological clinics, personnel offices, chemical dependency centers. Three credits may be letter graded and the remaining credits are graded pass/no credit.

PY498 Internship Integration (1 cr.)

Students research and write an integrative in-depth paper based upon the student's internship experience. The course is taken subsequent to or concurrent with the internship. An extensive literature review is conducted, including theoretical and empirical studies. Students make a formal public presentation based on their paper and internship. Graded pass/no credit.

E. Seven credits chosen from:

PY300-302 Collaborative Research II–IV (1 cr.)

In this course, students continue with a research team to explore an on-going research question. Each student is involved in literature review, hypothesis generation, research design, data collection, data analysis, and interpretation. Students join the team at whatever stage the project is at. Each student experiences all stages of the research process, but at times these are not in the order described above. Over the course of a project, students gain all of these skills but may not gain all skills in a given semester. Students are expected to demonstrate gains in leadership, skills, synthesis, and writing in each subsequent semester of collaborative research.

PY306-309 Special Topics in Psychology (1-3 credits cr.)

These courses are designed to provide an opportunity to survey and discuss current trends and meet special need of students. Often the course includes both a theoretical and experimental emphasis. Topics vary from year to year depending on student and faculty interest.

PY470-479 Seminars in Psychology (1–3 cr.)

These are courses of particular areas of psychology determined by faculty and student interest. Seminars offerings are predicated upon faculty availability. Topics have included: Psychology of Aging, Health Psychology, Positive Psychology, Psychology of Emotion and Sport Psychology.

A. The following courses:

PY111 General Psychology (3 cr.)

General Psychology provides an overview of the methods, fundamental principles, and major perspectives which define the discipline of psychology. Intrapersonal and/ or interpersonal psychological processes involved in the biological basis of behavior, sleeping and dreaming, conditioning and learning, cognition, lifespan human development, abnormal psychology, and psychological treatment. Classical and contemporary research and perspectives including the biological, cognitive, behavioral, psychodynamic, humanistic, sociocultural and evolutionary perspectives are explored. Students are actively involved through application, interactive exercises, simulations, and projects.

PY220 Abnormal Psychology (4 cr.)

This course investigates the dynamics of abnormal behavior. Disorders manifested in childhood and adolescence, eating disorders, anxiety disorders, dissociative disorders, somatoform disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia, substance abuse, sexual disorder, and dependence, violence and abuse, and personality disorders are studied. Etiology, diagnosis, prognosis, research, prevention and therapy are considered. The interactions among biological, psychological, social and cultural factors are emphasized.

B. 13 additional credits in psychology.