2018-2019 University Catalogue 
    Jun 17, 2024  
2018-2019 University Catalogue [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Psychological and Brain Sciences

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Professors Braaten, Keating (Chair), Kelly, S. Kraly, R. Shiner, Tierney
Associate Professors Conti, Hansen, D. Johnson, Martinez, Yoshino
Assistant Professors Cooley, Liu, Tomlinson, Philbrook
Visiting Assistant Professor Dyer
Lecturer Albert

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBSC) offers two areas of concentration, Psychological Science and Neuroscience.

The core of psychological science is the study of human and animal behavior. As a discipline, it is dedicated to identifying and understanding basic and complex processes including sensation and perception, learning and memory, thought and language, motivation and emotion, development, personality, psychopathology, and social interaction. These processes are examined from a variety of levels of analysis; from the genetic and neuronal, to physiological and cognitive systems, and to whole organism responses and group interactions. By its very nature, psychological science has relevance to a wide range of practical, human problems.

Neuroscience is the scientific study of the anatomy and physiology of neurons and neural circuits. The Neuroscience program at Colgate is one of the first two established at undergraduate institutions in the U.S., and has a particularly strong focus on brain-behavior relationships. Its interdisciplinary faculty are drawn from the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and the Department of Biology. Additionally, majors take courses in the fields of chemistry, computer science, math, philosophy, and physics. In addition to a broad education, the program offers students the opportunity to focus their research interests on a variety of levels of nervous system functioning, ranging from the activity of single neurons to the behavior of complex organisms.

For more information about the Neuroscience program, please visit the Neuroscience  program page.

Psychological Science

Psychological science offers two introductory courses:

 , a topics course designed for non-majors, and  . For entry into the major, students must pass   and   with a C– or better. Students not meeting these expectations must consult with the department chair and petition the department to request entry into the major.

The department offers a wide range of courses covering topical areas in the field as well as basic ( ) and advanced research methods ( / ). In consultation with their departmental advisers, majors are encouraged to select a variety of 200- and 300-level courses in order to acquire breadth of exposure to the broad content and methodologies comprising psychological science. All majors, especially those planning graduate study in psychology, are urged to take more courses in the department than minimally required for the major.


Kevin Carlsmith Prize — in recognition of an outstanding senior interested in social, personality, or clinical psychology.

The Sarah Kulkofsky Award — established in memory of Sarah Kulkofsky ‘02, to be awarded each year to an outstanding senior interested in cognitive or developmental psychology.

The Phil R. Miller Prize — established in memory of Lt. Phil R. Miller ‘41, who lost his life in the service of his country in World War II, and awarded to a junior or senior psychology major demonstrating unusual interest in and capacity for work in psychology.

The Service Award in Psychology — awarded by the department for outstanding contributions to the psychology department through exemplary leadership, service, and achievement.

Advanced Placement

Entering students who receive scores of 5 on the Advanced Placement examination in psychology are eligible to receive one psychology course credit toward graduation, which will be recorded as


Honors and High Honors

The requirements for achieving honors and high honors in psychological science are as follows:


  1. Overall GPA of 3.30 or better
  2. Major GPA of 3.50 or better, calculated across all courses counting toward the major (including PSYC 499 ).
  3. A two-semester independent research project of high quality
  4. Satisfactory oral examination performance on the subject matter of the senior thesis and related fields.

High Honors

  1. Overall GPA of 3.50 or better
  2. Major GPA of 3.70 or better, calculated across all courses counting toward the major (including PSYC 499 ).
  3. A two-semester independent research project of very high quality
  4. An oral examination performance that demonstrates mastery of the senior thesis and related fields.

International Exam Transfer Credit

Transfer credit and/or placement appropriate to academic development of a student may be granted to incoming first year students who have achieved a score on an international exam (e.g., A-Levels, International Baccalaureate) that indicates a level of competence equivalent to the completion of a specific course in the department. Requests should be directed to the department chair. Any such credit may not be used to fulfill the university areas of inquiry requirement, but may count towards the major. 

Transfer Credit and Study Groups

Transfer of psychological science credit from other institutions by students already matriculated at Colgate requires prior written permission from the registrar and the department. Normally, no more than one transfer course or one Colgate Study Group course may count toward the major/minor.

Colgate sponsors study-abroad programs in the natural sciences and mathematics at Cardiff University in Wales and at the University of Wollongong near Sydney in Australia. See Off-Campus Study .


Majors and Minors



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