BS in Psychological Science

What is psychological science?

The ability to understand and predict how people act and think is more important than ever in addressing many of the greatest challenges we face as a society.  At the same time, the study of behavior and mind is undergoing a rapid transformation.  New technologies are continually being developed across the behavioral, data, and brain sciences.  Advances in cloud and wearable computing, massive open datasets, noninvasive brain imaging, and virtual reality offer powerful new tools for understanding and predicting human thought and behavior.  Psychological science is the rapidly evolving discipline that seeks to understand behavior and mind using rigorous scientific methods.  Psychological scientists are trained to understand how behavior and thought are influenced by neurophysiological, emotional, cognitive, developmental, social, and environmental factors.  With the benefit of emerging technologies, they are gleaning important new insights into how people learn, think, perceive, act, express emotions, make decisions, and interact with others, and applying these discoveries to improve the way we live and work.

The new psychological science major at RPI: Re-envisioning undergraduate education in the science of behavior

Looking ahead, some of the most exciting opportunities in psychological science will be available to students proficient in the use of cutting-edge research methods, data analysis techniques, and technology.  In 2017, Rensselaer launched a new undergraduate program in psychological science to provide students with exceptionally strong training in these areas.  The program is designed for technologically oriented students with interests in the scientific study of behavior and mind and its many applications.

Psychological Science major requirements include the completion of following:

PSYC 1200: General Psychology 

Methods Courses (students take all 3):

1. PSYC 2310: Research Methods and Statistics I

2. PSYC 4310: Research Methods and Statistics II

3. PSYC 4960: Mathematical Methods in Psychological Science

Core Content Courses (students choose any 4):

  • PSYC 2730: Social Psychology
  • PSYC 4320: Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PSYC 4330: Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience
  • PSYC 4370: Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYC 4410: Sensation and Perception
  • PSYC 4450: Learning

Psychology Elective Courses (complete 2)

Culminating Experience (students choose 1):

  • Advanced Seminar in Psychology
  • Undergraduate Research Project
  • Honors Thesis

Psychology elective courses are chosen by students in consultation with departmental advisers.

In addition, students must complete the basic degree requirements in physical, life, and mathematical sciences. Again, students will consult with their advisers in selecting specific courses to meet these requirements in accordance with their individual interests and goals.

Due to the flexibility permitted in course selection, individual curricula may vary considerably within the framework of basic Institute degree requirements. Students are encouraged to supplement basic requirements in science and mathematics whenever feasible in order to take full advantage of Rensselaer's education opportunities. A minimum of 124 credit hours is required to complete this curriculum.

Research Labs and Opportunities:

Students are strongly encouraged to participate in research through RPI’s Undergraduate Research Program. Students may earn course credit or funding for their research project.

Examples of Research Topics in Psychological Science: 

  • Investigate visual memory and perceptual expertise using eye tracking and motion capture technology.
  • Study interplay of cognition, perception, and action in routine interactive behavior.
  • Explore how people perceive and move around in complex, dynamic environments.
  • Investigate olfactory function and training for stress responding and cognition relevant for aging and Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Study effects of environment on stress, cognition, and creativity.

Career Opportunities:

Our goal in fostering proficiency in quantitative methods and technology is to expand the career opportunities for our students. Students will be prepared to pursue careers in a wide variety of sectors (e.g., business, information technology, healthcare, government, education, law). They may further expand their options by pursuing a dual-major with psychological science and another program of study (e.g., biology, computer science, management). Many students will also go on to earn graduate degrees in psychological science, medicine, education, law, business, and other fields.

Program Contact:

Professor Alicia Walf
Undergraduate Program Director, Psychological Science
Carnegie 304, 518-276-3840,

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