Frequently Asked Questions about the Psychology Department
Information for both Majors and Non-Majors
The Department of Psychology offers the following laboratory courses:
- PSYC BC1010 Introductory Laboratory in Experimental Psychology
- PSYC BC2107 Psychology of Learning (BC2106 Psychology of Learning Lab)
- PSYC BC2115 Cognitive Psychology (BC2114 Cognitive Psychology Lab)
- PSYC BC2110 Perception (BC2109 Perception Lab)
- PSYC BC2119 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience (BC2118 Systems and Behavioral Neuroscience Lab)
- PSYC BC2125 Psychology of Personality (BC2124 Psychology of Personality Lab)
- PSYC BC2129 Developmental Psychology (BC2128 Developmental Psychology Lab)
- PSYC BC2138 Social Psychology (BC2137 Social Psychology Lab)
- PSYC BC2156 Clinical Psychology (BC2155 Clinical Psychology Lab)
Students have two options to fulfill the College Science Requirement:
1.) Take two lectures, one with its associated lab course chosen from Groups 1 or 2 (listed above), OR
2.) Take PSYC BC1010 lab, with either PSYC BC1001 Introduction to Psychology lecture (or its equivalent) or BC1020 Behavioral Research Methods and Analysis, followed by one more lecture from Group 1 or 2.
Group 1 and Group 2 PSYC labs must be taken with their associated lectures at the same time in the same semester.
BC1010 should be taken prior to a Group 1 and 2 lab; and a student must have completed or be concurrently enrolled in BC1001, or its equivalent.
You can take a course to satisfy a GED requirement (in this case, a psychology laboratory) for a P/D/F grade. This is a College rule, and not a Departmental one.
Please also refer to the College Catalogue for information on Requirements for a Liberal Arts Degree.
The Psychology Club, now Psyched: The Barnard Psychologcal Society, is open to all students interested in psychology (not just majors and minors). In the past they've hosted such events as a graduate school panel, a meet and great with members of the faculty, and a movie night. For information about the next event or to sign-up, please visit the Society's page.
Although lecture and laboratories are listed as individual courses with their own call numbers and credits, the courses are linked, conceptually and formally. This means that the only way to get credit for lab is to receive a passing grade in the corresponding lecture course. Practically, this means that you must enroll in corresponding lecture and lab courses concurrently. The only exception to this rule is BC1010 Introductory Laboratory to Experimental Psychology since there is no attached lecture to this lab course.
In order to enroll in a lab or statistics course in the Department of Psychology at Barnard College, students must have taken BC1001 Introduction to Psychology, or its approved equivalent. For BC1010, students may concurrently be enrolled in BC1001.
Yes. Getting involved in psychology outside of the classroom gives students the opportunity for hands-on experience in a lab, and/or with data collection, and ultimately helps a student to learn what type of work they like and don't like. This is also an opportunity for a student to explore a unique question or go further in depth into an idea from a course. Lastly, working with a mentor in a research/lab setting gives students a resource for stronger letters of recommendation if applying to graduate school.
To begin, you should contact your advisor, the department chair, the departmental representative or the psychology faculty member with whom you know you want to work as soon as you have an idea for a project or to discuss research options. If you do not have a mentor in mind, take a look at our Faculty Specialization page. If you decide to work with someone outside of Barnard or Columbia, you will need a Barnard faculty member as an on-campus supervisor/liaison. Once you have identified a Barnard faculty member, you can enroll in PSYC BC3601-3608 (the course number depends on the semester/year).
While the research might differ slightly across laboratories and with different mentors, each student will be expected to read a set of original scientific readings of articles relevant to the research field; participate in weekly meetings with the supervisor; as well complete additional hours of research, and data analysis; and complete a culminating final project or paper.
Yes, with permission ahead of time from the Departmental Representative or Chair. Note that only two semesters of Independent Study can be applied to the major requirements, but more can go towards total graduation credits.
Surprise - No, you should bring it to the Departmental Representative. Because the Psychology Department is so big, many of the Chair's responsibilities are carried out by the Departmental Representative, including transfer credit approvals, major declarations, changes of advisor, and pre-approval of summer classes. Pretty much everything that needs to be signed that pertains to undergraduates is the responsibility of the Departmental Representative. If the Departmental Representative is not in, and the issue is an uncomplicated one, you can leave the form in the Departmental Representative's door slot and pick it up later after it has been signed. You may want to send an email to let the Departmental Representative know that you have dropped it off.
For any student entering Barnard in Fall 2016 and thereafter: A score of 4 or 5 on the Psychology Advanced Placement (AP) exam or a score of 5 or 6 on the International Baccalaureate (IB) exam does allow you to be exempt from BC1001 Introduction to Psychology, however another PSYC course must be taken in its place. This includes students who elect a Major or Minor in Psychology, as well as non-major students who choose to fulfill the College's General Education Requirements with Psychology. If you choose to take BC1001, the College will also count your acceptable AP and IB scores as 3 credits toward your degree. Further information may be found on the Registrar's website.
For students who entered Barnard College before fall 2016, the major distinction is that the College will not give a student credit for AP/IB as well as credit for BC1001. That is, if you enter Barnard with a score of 4 or 5 on the AP/IB and choose to take BC1001, you would not also get three points toward graduation.
All majors are encouraged to enroll in PSYC BC 1101, and to do so early on in their academic careers. However, a course in statistics from an institution other than Barnard may be used to satisfy the requirement if this course is approved by the Departmental Representative. Note: a student who takes PSYC W1610 Statistics for the Behavioral Scientists may not also receive credit for PSYC BC1101 (they are considered overlapping courses). See our Overlapping Course list for more information.
Note that there are two steps here - the first is getting college credit for a course, that is, getting it listed on your transcript. The second is getting it to count toward your major. The first part falls under the domain of the Registrar's office. They will give you a form to fill out with the courses you have taken (or intend to take) elsewhere. If these include psychology courses, those courses will need to be approved by the Departmental Representative. The Departmental Representative will initial the form in the box where it asks for the Chair's initials. For a course to be approvable, it must be offered at an institution that grants a Bachelor's degree, and the course needs to be creditable towards that degree. Be careful - many community colleges, junior colleges, and night school classes won't be approvable.
As for the second part, courses from other institutions can also count towards the major. This process falls under the domain of the Psychology Department. Download this Form, fill it out, and give it to the Departmental Representative to sign. Note that while some courses are readily approvable (most Introductory Psychology courses and intermediate-level electives are), others are not. For example, it is extremely difficult to find an outside course that fulfills our laboratory requirement, and courses fulfilling the Group s 1 and 2 distributions must closely match the equivalent Barnard course in content. Be prepared to provide a course description and syllabus for any courses you want to apply toward the major.
We strongly advise that you have courses at other institutions approved before you take them - especially summer courses and courses for a semester abroad. You don't want to discover after the fact that you cannot get expected credit for a course or that it won't apply toward your major requirements.
Please contact Beyond Barnard or Prof. Kathleen Taylor who is the Department's clinical advisor. If a student would like to work with someone in the Department, she should contact that faculty member directly. Some information about available job and internship opportunities is available on the bulletin board outside the Department. Some students also find the Psychological Services and Counseling Placement List helpful.
The Overall GPA (which does not appear on the Barnard transcript) includes letter grades from all courses, including, transfer, summer school, study abroad courses.
The Barnard GPA (which does appear on the transcript) includes only letter grades of those courses the student took during the fall and spring semesters while enrolled at Barnard, be it at Barnard or Columbia. Note that for AY20-21, the summer semester will be included.
The Major GPA includes passing letter grades (C- and above) from all of the required PSYC courses. If a student has completed more than the required courses and wishes for these grades to be included in her Major GPA, they must contact the Department Administrator. The non-PSYC courses required for the major are not included (note, these can be taken as "pass-fail" assuming the student receives a "pass").
Information for Psychology Majors and Minors
Students typically declare their major at the end of their sophomore year, before program filing. Keep your eyes open for the program planning meeting where you can learn about the major and meet the faculty. You can also declare your major earlier, or change your major at other times. If you are a junior planning to change to a psychology major from another department, you should meet with the Departmental Representative (or your future advisor) to discuss your program and see if it is possible to finish the requirements in time to graduate.
Welcome to the Department! Your first step is to find an advisor. You can start by checking the list of advising faculty and their interests on the next section. You may want to speak with a few potential advisors before selecting one. Go to their office hours, send them an email, or speak with them after class and find out if they are taking on advisees. If you contact several faculty members and are unable to secure an advisor, please contact the Department Administrator or the Department Chair. Once you have found someone you like who agrees to advise you, get a major declaration form from the Registrar's office. Fill it out with your information and your advisor's name, and bring it to the Departmental Representative to sign. Then take the signed form back to the Registrar. Your new advisor's name should show up in your on-line record within a day or two.
Choosing an Advisor
A student chooses a major advisor when she declares her major at the end of the sophomore year. The major advisor will approve her programs and monitor her progress in the major during the junior and senior years. Psychology majors may select an advisor on their own, or in consultation with the Departmental Representative.
The advisor must be a full-time faculty member but beyond this, it could be a professor the student likes or has taken a course with; or it could be a professor whose specialty or area of research is of interest to the student. All Barnard Psychology faculty members are familiar with the broad range of sub-disciplines within psychology and will often be able to provide guidance in areas other than their own. Please note that the student is permitted to change advisors. Students whose advisor goes on leave should choose another advisor as soon as possible, in consultation with the Departmental Representative.
Listed below are the areas of research and academic interests of the full-time faculty in the Barnard College Department of Psychology. This information is provided to help students choose an advisor upon declaring a psychology major.
Professor Peter Balsam's general area of interest lies in learning and conditioning. He has active research programs investigating influences of learning on behavioral development, the analysis of how new behavior is learned, and the role of time and time perception in learning.
Office: 415H Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Robert Brotherton studies the psychology of conspiracy theories, including political attitudes, distrust, belief formation, and magical thinking more generally. His approach spans social, cognitive, and personality psychology.
Office: 415M Milbank; email: email@example.com
Professor Tovah Klein's general research area is the development of children's social relationships. Specifically, her work focuses on how parents' understanding of relationships may be related to how they socialize their children. Current research examines toddlers' early peer interactions and parental factors, which contribute to these early peer relationships.
Office: 415M Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Ken Light’s general area of research is in behavioral neuroscience, with an emphasis on individual differences in intelligence in mice. He has also conducted studies on visual illusions in humans and the genetic and molecular bases of learned fear in mice.
Office: 415M Milbank; email: email@example.com
Professor E'mett McCaskill is a Clinical Psychologist and Neuropsychologist with research and clinical interests in cognition, psychopathology and culture. Dr. McCaskill seeks to contribute to knowledge of cognitive profiles of specific mental disorders and their relevance to symptomatology and treatment within variable cultural contexts. Complex Trauma, PTSD and Substance Use Disorders are of central focus. In addition to teaching and research, Dr. McCaskill is a clinician trained in psychotherapeutic interventions and clinical neuropsychological assessment. She is also an Ethicist with scholarly interest in ethical issues relevant to psychologists and neuroscientists.
Office: 415O Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Koleen McCrink’s research focuses on the development of numerical cognition from infancy through adulthood. Specifically, she is interested in how we are able to not only represent different amounts, but also perform operations over these representations. By studying why and how infants, children, and adults perform mathematical operations, we can learn about the cognitive architecture of the mind – and how this changes as a function of experience, maturation, and culture.
Office: 415K Milbank; email: email@example.com
Professor Joshua New's research focuses on human visual cognition – how a host of perceptual and cognitive mechanisms can all function together to provide us an immediate yet richly interpreted experience of the world. He studies how these psychological processes have each been shaped by ancient biological problems and priorities. Some of his present interests include why some things like spiders and direct eye gaze so easily capture our attention, why time can appear to slow down during dangerous events, and how the visual system can hide injuries to itself (blind spots) from awareness.
Office: 415A Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org *Departmental Representative
Professor Kara Pham’s general area of research is in behavioral neuroscience, with emphasis on stress, fear learning, and hippocampal neurogenesis. She has also conducted studies on developmental neurobiology and addiction.
Office: 415N Milbank; email: email@example.com
Professor Robert Remez studies healthy human adults, in particular, the way individuals of this exotic species communicate with one another. His experiments usually examine a psychological aspect of speaking and listening to speech, and sometimes incorporate sounds produced by computers, musicians, twins, and Brooklynites. Office: 415C Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Russell Romeo's research interests are primarily in developmental behavioral neuroscience. Using animal models, his work focuses on how gonadal sex hormones and adrenal stress hormones influence the pubertal maturation of the nervous system and behavior. He is also interested in how adverse experiences early in development may lead to negative behavioral, emotional and physiological outcomes in adulthood.
Office: 415B; email: email@example.com *Department Chair
Professor Ann Senghas’ area of specialty is language development. Her research investigates the manner in which young children learn to understand and to produce language. Her current research follows a developing language that is taking its form from the innovations of young learners, a sign language produced by a community of deaf children in Nicaragua.
Office: 415G Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Rae Silver's research area is physiological psychology, with a special interest in anatomy and behavioral endocrinology. The work focuses on hormonal control of reproductive behavior and on circadian rhythms in behavior. One line of research focuses on sex differences in circadian parental behavior of birds. Another line of inquiry involves the use of brain transplantation techniques to study the function of the neural clock in hamsters.
Office: 415I Milbank; email: email@example.com
Professor Lisa Son investigates human learning and memory, with a special interest in metacognition. She has recently focused on the type of study strategies that can enhance long-term retention, such as spacing strategies, or the distribution of study across relatively long periods of time. In addition, she has examined metacognitive illusions such as over- and under-confidence, and thus, has begun to test how it is that people know that they do not know. Her investigations have been conducted on various populations, including those of adults, young children, and monkeys.
Office: 415F Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Steve Stroessner leads the social cognition research lab. His work has historically focused on the psychology of stereotyping and prejudice, examining how cognitive and motivational factors influence intergroup perception, judgment, and behavior. More recently, his research has begun to explore the social psychology of non-social perception, ranging from investigating social categorization processes in basic perception to exploring social responses to robots.
Office: 415D Milbank; email: email@example.com
Professor Kathleen Taylor is now a clinical psychologist after a 20+ year career in neuroscience research. In addition to teaching she is part of a cognitive-behavioral therapy practice in New York City where she specializes in the treatment of trauma, and often works with individuals with borderline personality disorder. Professor Taylor is the Preclinical Adviser in the Psychology Department.
Office: 415F Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Professor Tara Well is currently writing a book called “The Power of Self-Reflection” which presents a technique that demonstrates the power of gazing at one’s own reflection in the mirror. As a motivational psychologist, she has been using the technique with individuals and in research studies at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her research finds that gazing at one’s reflection in the mirror without an agenda actually reduces stress, anxiety and depression and increases self-compassion. Professor Well is a motivational psychologist with expertise in the areas of nonverbal communication, meditation, and emotional regulation.
Office: 415E Milbank; email: email@example.com
Professor Michael Wheaton's research focuses on the nature and treatment of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and related conditions. As a clinical psychologist, Dr. Wheaton is most interested in improving psychotherapy for these conditions, particularly cognitive-behavioral interventions. He is also interested in the cognitive mechanisms that underlie these disorders.
Office 415J Milbank; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can change your advisor at any time. The process is the same as declaring a major. Check the list of advising faculty on the Choosing an Advisor page. Once you have identified a professor who agrees to advise you, pick up a Change of Advisor form from the Registrar's office, fill it out, and bring it to the Departmental Representative to sign. Then take the signed form back to the Registrar.
You should declare your minor after you have finished all of the requirements, or partway through the second semester of your senior year if you are finishing up the minor then. Check out the requirements for the minor. Once you've fulfilled all the requirements, get a minor declaration form from the Registrar's office, fill it out, bring it to the Departmental Representative (not the Chair) to sign, and return it to the Registrar. Note: if you have taken a course Pass/D/Fail which you would like to use for the Psych Minor, once the minor declaration form has been signed and submitted to the Registrar's office, the Registrar will uncover the letter grade that the professor of the course assigned to you (faculty do not know necessarily that you are taking a course pass/fail). Assuming you received a C- or better, this course can be applied ot the minor requirements.
Titles of past presentation can be found here and copies of past senior theses and senior requirement papers are available in the Department.
There are different ways in which the Department and Barnard can recognize distinguished performance and participation as a psychology major.
The following awards, administered according to the provisions of their respective donors, were established to honor students who have shown exceptional distinction in their studies. Students do not apply for these awards; rather, recipients are selected and nominated by Faculty, and confirmed by the Committee on Honors.
- The Alpha Zeta Club Graduate Scholarship: For graduating seniors who show promise of distinction or to outstanding recent Barnard graduates who are candidates for higher degrees.
- The George Wellwood Murray Graduate Fellowship: For graduating seniors who show promise of distinction in the humanities and/or the social sciences and who will pursue graduate study at a university or college of approved standing.
- The Grace Potter Rice Fellowship: For graduating seniors who show promise of distinction in the natural sciences or mathematics and who will pursue graduate study at a university or college of approved standing.
These awards are bestowed upon psychology students at the department level. Faculty nominate individual students, and allow for multiple recipients for each award.
- The Hollingworth Prize for an outstanding research project in psychology
- The Millennial Psychology Prize for a student who plans to continue her scientific or professional training in psychology, or a related discipline
- The Ida Markewich Lawrence Prize for the best paper in psychology, preferably child psychology, by a major
- The Faculty Recognition Prize for Distinguished Achievement in Psychology
- The Faculty Recognition Prize for Continued Dedication to Psychology
- The Intellectual Frontiers Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Psychology
- The Spirit of Inquiry Prize for Distinguished Accomplishment in Psychology
- The Young Scholar Prize for an Outstanding Research Project in Psychology