The psychology undergraduate bachelor's degree program at Clarkson provides a solid foundation in the fundamental areas of psychology, as well as plenty of opportunities for hands-on professional experience. 

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Psychology is the study of mind and behavior, from exploring the activity of individual brain cells to the complex interactions between individuals and society. Psychologists also try to understand the nature and causes of abnormalities and search for effective treatments to relieve chronic mental health suffering.

Participation in at least one semester of professional experience is a requirement of the psychology major  — and you may decide to do more than one semester. Professional experiences include cutting-edge research with psychology faculty, working/volunteering at organizations related to your career interests, and working with mental health professionals or school psychologists.

Clarkson offers a program with the St. Lawrence Psychiatric Center that allows you to work with clinical psychologists. Professional experiences like these help develop problem-solving, critical-thinking and communication skills that are critical in the workplace — and also allow you to begin networking for your future career. 

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Psychology Careers

Psychology is an excellent major if you are interested in a career as a lawyer or health care provider (e.g., physician, physical therapist, physician assistant, occupational therapist) or a career in business (e.g., MBA). All of these areas require an ability to understand and deal with people, problem solve, think critically and communicate, and Clarkson will provide you with these critical skills. There are also a wide variety of careers that are directly related to psychology, including:

  • Clinical psychologists assess and treat people with psychological problems, such as anxiety and depression. Careers in this area require a graduate degree in psychology.
  • Counseling psychologists foster and improve normal human functions across the life span by helping people solve problems, make decisions and cope with the stresses of everyday life. Careers in this area require a graduate degree in psychology.
  • Developmental psychologists study human development across the life span. Career opportunities for those with bachelors' degrees include gerontology aide, child life specialist and non-profit organizations dealing with children. Opportunities for those with graduate degrees include scientist/practitioner, product development and media consultant and social policy research.
  • Educational psychologists study how people learn and develop the methods and materials used to educate people of all ages. Recently there are increasing possibilities in the military and in industry for doctoral-level educational psychologists. New opportunities in evaluation of social problems and policies are opening for those with master’s degrees.
  • Forensic and legal psychologists apply psychology in legal settings. Opportunities with a bachelor’s degree include police officer, correctional officer, probation & parole officer, juvenile detention worker and forensic science technician. Opportunities with a graduate degree include correctional psychology, forensic examiner, police psychologist, trial consultant, criminal profiling and political consulting
  • Health psychologists are concerned with how psychological variables (e.g., personality traits and stress) and social environments (e.g., family and community support) affect both mental and physical health. Career opportunities with a bachelor’s degree include recreational therapist, occupational therapy assistant, physical therapy assistant and health educator. Opportunities with a graduate degree include research and teaching in academic, service delivery and public health settings.

Industrial/organizational psychologists are concerned with the relationship between people and the workplace. There are three main areas in I/O psychology:

  • Consumer psychologists help organizations understand how and why consumers choose certain products over others and find out what consumers want. Career opportunities with a bachelor’s degree include advertising, real estate, retail and public relations. Opportunities with a graduate degree include market research and product development consultant.
  • Environmental psychologists study the interaction between people and their environments. This knowledge is applied to the design of the work place, hospitals, schools, etc., to maximize productivity and efficiency, reduce stress and minimize risks. Careers in this area require a graduate degree.
  • Human resource managers recruit employees, provide training and development activities to help employees achieve their best, organize and implement performance appraisals, ensure that employees and management practices conform to government regulations and manage personnel policies and employee benefits, compensation and records. Opportunities at the bachelor’s degree-level include human resource generalist, recruiting and placement specialist, training and development specialist and compensation and benefits specialist. Opportunities at the graduate degree-level include consultant and usability specialist.
  • Neuropsychologists administer psychological tests to evaluate cognitive and behavioral function following brain injury in order to design and administer rehabilitation programs to help patients regain function. This career tract requires a doctoral degree in neuropsychology
  • Psychometrics, quantitative & experimental psychologists are concerned with methods and techniques used to acquire and apply psychological knowledge. Career opportunities for those with bachelors' degrees include insurance underwriter, computer programmer, computer support specialist and budget analyst. Opportunities for those with graduate degrees include operations research analyst, computer systems analyst, database administrator, actuary, financial analyst and jobs in data mining.
  • School psychologists are concerned with the intellectual, educational, social and emotional development of children. Opportunities at the bachelor’s level include teacher, childcare worker, teaching assistant and early childhood behavioral specialist. Opportunities for those with graduate degrees include school psychologist and school counselor.
  • Sports psychologists help athletes perform their best. This can be accomplished by teaching the athlete visualization techniques, stress management and team-building skills. Sports psychologists also work with coaches to help them become better at leading and motivating teams. Opportunities with a bachelor’s degree include fitness instructor, recreational worker, physical education teacher, sport instructor, coaching and sport reporting. Career opportunities at the graduate level include research and teaching in academic settings and private practice/consulting.

Psychology Curriculum & Academic Options

Major in Psychology

The Psychology undergraduate bachelor's degree program consists of 32 credit hours of the 120 required. There are also 49 credit hours of electives. This flexibility allows you to tailor curriculum to match your career interests. Psychology majors take courses such as:

  • Personal Relationships
  • Educational Psychology
  • Cyberpsychology
  • Psychology of Psychoactive Drugs
  • Consumer Behavior
  • Learning and Memory
  • Animal Learning and Cognition
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Motivation and Emotion
  • Counseling Psychology: Theory and Practice
  • Neuroscience and Society
  • Abnormal Psychology
Core Requirements

The psychology program consists of 32 credit hours in psychology and 9 credit hours in mathematics. 49 credit hours are in free electives, which is enough to complete a minor or second major if you so choose.

Click here for a sample curriculum schedule

All courses are 3 credits unless noted.

Students are required to complete the following courses:


  • PY151 Introduction to Psychology
  • PY253 Social Psychology
  • PY255 Cognitive Psychology
  • PY456 Experimental Psychology
  • PY457 Experimental Psychology Lab (2 credits)
  • PY496 Directed Research (1-6 credits)

Professional Experience

Students are required to complete one of the following Professional Experiences:
PY401 Internship: Counseling Psychology (1–6 credits)
or PY402 Internship: Personnel Relations (1–6 credits)
or PY403 Internship in Psychology in Health Care Environments (1–6 credits)

Clarkson Common Experience

The following courses are required for all students, irrespective of their program of study. These courses are offered during the fall semester, with FY100 First-Year Seminar being required of only first-year students. Both FY100 and UNIV190 are typically taken during the fall semester of the first year at Clarkson.
FY100 First-Year Seminar (1 credit)
UNIV190 The Clarkson Seminar (3 credits)

Core Electives

Students must complete three of the following courses:


  • PY246 Educational Psychology
  • PY286 Organizational Behavior I
  • PY310 Human Sexuality
  • PY311 Cyberpsychology
  • PY315 Personal Relationships
  • PY317 The Psych of Psychoactive Drugs
  • PY319 Current Readings in Animal Behavior
  • PY321 Consumer Behavior
  • PY335 Personality
  • PY340 Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology
  • PY361 Motivation and Emotion
  • PY363 Judgement and Decision Making for the Biomedical Sciences
  • PY370 Developmental Psychology
  • PY411 Counseling Psychology
  • PY412 Psychiatric Center Professional Experience
  • PY453 Advanced Topics In Social Psychology
  • PY459 Neuroscience and Society
  • PY460 Neurobiology
  • PY461 Judgment and Decision Making
  • PY462 Abnormal Psychology
  • PY463 Health Psychology
  • PY480 Directed Study in Psychology
  • PY481 Directed Study in Social Psychology
  • PY482 Directed Study in Physiological Psychology
  • PY483 Directed Study in Cognitive Psychology
  • PY491 Directed Research in Health Psychology
  • PY492 Directed Research in Psychophysiology
  • PY493 Directed Research in Cognitive Psychology
  • PY494 Directed Research in Social Psychology
  • PY900 Thesis/Dissertation in Psychology

Cognitive Psychology

Students must complete one of the following courses:

  • PY357 Human Cognitive Evolution
  • PY358 Animal Learning & Cognition
  • PY359 Perception 
  • PY360 Learning & Memory
  • PY461 Judgment & Decision Making

Physiological Psychology

Students must complete one of the following courses:

  • PY454 Physiological Psychology 
  • PY458 Cognitive Neuroscience 
  • PY460 Neurobiology 


Students must complete three courses in mathematics (MA) numbered 100 or above, including one calculus and one statistics course for a total of 9 credits.

Knowledge Area/University Course Electives

Students will have at least 15 credit hours available to use toward Knowledge Area and/or University Course electives to satisfy the Clarkson Common Experience requirements.

Free Electives

Students will have approximately 49 credit hours available to use toward courses of their choice.

Related Minors

The Department of Psychology offers several psychology-related minors to complement your psychology degree, as well as a psychology minor if you are planning on majoring in something else. 

All Clarkson Minors, Concentrations and Tracks


Psychology Minor

Graduates who have studied psychology have a lot of valuable skills that can be applied to a wide variety of careers.

The most obvious skill is the basic understanding of human behavior and thought processes. However, psychology minors also develop the critical skills of problem-solving and communication. These skills include being able to formulate a problem; acquiring the information needed to solve the problem, either through researching the existing literature or designing methods to collect new data; analyzing and interpreting the information; integrating the information and applying it to the problem; and communicating the solution to others.

All courses are 3 credits unless noted.

Psychology Minor Core Requirements

Students are required to take of the following courses:

  • PY151 Introduction to Psychology
  • PY253 Social Psychology
  • PY255 Cognitive Psychology

Psychology Electives

Students must take three PY courses numbered 300 or above.

Biology, Behavior and Society Minor

A diverse group of disciplines attempt to document and explain the origins and functions of human cognition, social behavior and social organization. Our minor in biology, behavior and society (BiBS) exposes students to such diverse disciplinary traditions and their conflicts and debates in the present and past. This minor provides students with the knowledge and skills to become informed, critical and reflective citizens that can make balanced decisions about the intricate relationship between biology, psychology, culture and society.

The four core course requirements within this degree program provide the interdisciplinary foundation for psychology, biology and social science. The three additional electives give students a depth in specific areas while continuing to offer an interdisciplinary set of perspectives.

All courses are 3 credits unless noted.

Core Requirements

Students are required to complete the following courses:

Required Courses

  • HIST270 Introduction to Culture, Society & Biology 
  • BY/PY340 Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 
  • BY/PY357 Human Cognitive Evolution 
  • SAS300 Arts and Sciences Seminar (1 cr)

Independent Study

Students must take an independent study course under the mentorship of their advisor:
SAS499 Biology, Behavior and Society Minor Portfolio (1 cr)

Core Electives

Students are required to complete one course from each of the following:

Category 1

  • ANTH220 Understanding the Americas 
  • ANTH225 Global Perspectives on Sexuality 
  • ANTH230 Introduction to Race and Ethnicity 
  • ANTH270 Environment, Technology and Society 
  • ANTH325 Sex and Commerce 
  • ANTH330 Men and Masculinities 
  • HIST320 Medicine and Society in America 
  • HIST326 Modern Sex 
  • HIST327 History of Women in America 
  • HIST328 History of Gender and Sex 
  • HIST329 History of the American Family
  • HIST342 War and Gender 
  • HIST350 History of Nazi Germany 
  • HIST351 History of the Holocaust
  • SOC330 Health, Wealth, Inequality and the Environment 
  • POL/SOC350 International Development and Social Change 
  • SOC385 Food and Society 
  • SS220 Introduction to Gender 

Category 2

  • BY/PY319 Current Readings in Animal Behavior 
  • BY/PY358 Animal Learning and Cognition 
  • BY460 Neurobiology 
  • BY420 Evolution 
  • EC384 Game Theory and Economic Strategy 
  • HIST/PY459 Neuroscience and Society 
  • OS286/PY286 Organizational Behavior 1 
  • PY253 Social Psychology 
  • PY310 Human Sexuality 
  • PY315 Personal Relationships 
  • PY360 Learning and Memory 
  • PY453 Advanced Topics in Social Psychology 
  • PY461 Judgment and Decision Making 
  • PY463 Health Psychology 
Cognitive Neuroscience Minor

Cognitive neuroscience is the study of the physiological and biochemical mechanisms underlying higher-order human cognitive processes, such as attention, memory, perception and emotion.

If you are interested in pursuing a career in the clinical health sciences (medicine, physical therapy, clinical psychology, neuropsychology) and you want to do basic and applied research on the central nervous system, the cognitive neuroscience minor might be a great choice for you.

All courses are 3 credits unless noted.

Cognitive Neuroscience Minor Core Requirements

Students are required to complete the following courses:

Basic Sciences

  • PY151 Introduction to Psychology 
  • BY140 Biology I: Inheritance, evolution and diversity 
  • BY142 Biology I Laboratory (2 credits)
  • BY160 Biology II: Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • BY162 Biology II Laboratory (2 credits)
  • CM131 General Chemistry I (4 credits)*
  • CM132 General Chemistry II (4 credits)*
  • PH141 Physics for Life Sciences I (4 credits)**
  • PH142 Physics for Life Sciences II (4 credits)**

Cognitive Neuroscience

  • BY/PY458 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • BY/PY454 Physiological Psychology ***
  • BY/PY460 Neurobiology

*CM103/105 and CM104/106 will also satisfy the chemistry requirement.
**PH131 and PH132 will also satisfy the physics requirement.
***Biology majors taking the cognitive neuroscience minor cannot use PY/BY454 as one of their biology elective courses.

Cognitive Neuroscience Minor Core Electives

Students must complete two courses from each of the following:


  • PY317 Psychology of Psychoactive Drugs 
  • BY/PY358 Animal Learning and Cognition 
  • PY/BY357 Human Cognitive Evolution 
  • BY/PY359 Perception 
  • PY360 Learning and Memory 
  • PY462 Abnormal Psychology 
  • PY463 Health Psychology 


  • BY360 Physiology 
  • BY480 Advanced Cell Biology 
  • BY214 Genetics 
  • BY310 Developmental Biology 
  • BY350 Comparative Anatomy 
  • BY471 Anatomy and Physiology I 
  • BY472 Anatomy and Physiology II
Health Concentrations & Tracks

Our department also offers a Professional Concentration in Health Psychology, which is aimed at Psychology majors interested in careers in the health sciences. Students who are interested can also choose a professional advising track in one of six health sciences: pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-vet, pre-physical therapy, pre-occupational therapy, or pre-physician assistant.

Health Psychology Concentration

The Professional Concentration in Health Psychology is aimed at Psychology majors interested in careers in health science. The Professional Concentration in Health Psychology can be obtained by completing any six (6) of the courses listed below (18-21 credits). Note that three (3) of these courses must be used as undesignated free elective courses and cannot be used for the Psychology major. 

  • PY454 Physiological Psychology
  • PY458 Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PY463 Health Psychology
  • PY310 Human Sexuality
  • PY317 The Psychology of Psychoactive Drugs
  • PY462 Abnormal Psychology
  • PY253 Social Psychology
  • PY361 Motivation and Emotion
  • PY360 Learning and Memory
  • PY412 Psychiatric Center Professional Experience
Pre-Health Sciences Advising Tracks

Clarkson offers a range of pre-health science programs preparing you for medical, dental, veterinary, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physical therapy school or a physician assistant program.

All of these healthcare careers are among the Top 20 Best Healthcare Jobs according to U.S. News and World Report 2020. At Clarkson, we strive to prepare our students to successfully reach their career goals and aspirations. This is done through special advising and personalized attention, access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources, relevant coursework such as our Health Coaches class and minors such as our minor in Medicine and Healthcare, and opportunities for hands-on research opportunities within the scope of medicine and healthcare. 

In our Pre-Health Sciences tracks, students pursue a major of their choosing, such as biologypsychology or chemical engineering, and then work with a team of Clarkson faculty and staff to ensure they are prepared for the next stage in their education or career.

We currently offer Pre-Health Sciences tracks in:

Twelve Clarkson Pre-Health students recently completed a week of volunteering in Denver. Read about their experience.

Experiential Learning

Research Opportunities

Our low faculty-to-student ratio in the Psychology department allows us to provide you with hands-on learning experiences, including directed research in which you work closely with a faculty member on an experiment of mutual interest (see research interests listed on each faculty member's individual website).

The research experience provides the opportunity for psychology majors to apply information learned in the classroom, as well as to acquire a number of skills sought by employers, namely, critical thinking, problem solving, working in teams and communication skills.

Clarkson students' psychology research projects are often presented at undergraduate research and scientific meetings and are occasionally published as research articles.

Internship and Co-op Opportunities

If you are interested in pursuing a career in clinical psychology, there are a number of clinically oriented internships, including the Ogdensburg Mental Health Clinic, Canton-Potsdam Hospital's Chemical Dependency unit, NYSARC, Renewal House and the Reachout crisis hotline. Business-related internships are also available locally and in Clarkson’s Human Resources office. You can also develop your own internship experience — in Potsdam, at home over the summer or elsewhere. Indeed, your internship could involve any work or volunteer experience that is related to psychology. Check with your advisor for details.

Explore Psychology for Yourself

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