Psychology is a diverse discipline that borders on the biological and social sciences. It is at once a science and a means of promoting human welfare. Reflecting its historical roots in philosophy, physiology, and clinical practice, it embraces a variety of theoretical perspectives, methodologies, and areas of study. The Department of Psychology at Sewanee provides majors and non-majors with the basic principles of psychology within the context of a liberal arts education. Our curriculum emphasizes scientific thinking and equips majors with multiple perspectives and research methods with which to understand behavior and mental processes. Graduates of our program pursue advanced study and careers in a variety of areas, including psychology (e.g., industrial, developmental, clinical, school), other helping professions (e.g., social work, physical therapy), and other fields (e.g., law, medicine, education, business).

Survey, seminar, and upper-level courses are not predetermined--students choose these courses according to their individual interests, focusing on the type of psychology they find most intriguing. Course offerings include Psychology of Personality, Industrial Psychology, Infancy and Adulthood, Psychology of Human Diversity, Pseudo-psychology, Drugs and Behavior, Cognitive Illusions, Psychology of Gender, and Psychology and Popular Culture in the U.S., among many others.

The psychology major combines a broad grounding in psychology with opportunities for depth in selected areas. Majors in psychology begin with one introductory course: an introduction to empirical psychology, organized topically. This course has a full laboratory component focused on the process of scientific inquiry, giving students experience with a variety of research approaches and methodological issues. A course in research methodology prepares students to design and carry out research. Students also choose survey, seminar, and upper-level laboratory courses in areas such as abnormal, behavioral neuroscience, behavior modification, cognitive, community psychology, developmental, drugs and behavior, gender, industrial, judgment and decision-making, personality, and social psychology. Within the major, students choose upper-level courses according to individual interests.

Advanced students may study independently or conduct research under faculty supervision, work as laboratory assistants, or aid faculty members with research. Students have presented their research at Scholarship Sewanee and at professional psychology conferences. Summer internships are available through the Tonya program for those who are interested in gaining experience in business or public service.

Natural Science Core Requirement (applies only to the Class of 2016 and earlier)

Students fulfilling the natural science core requirement in psychology are advised that 100, 251, 357, 358, and 359 are full laboratory science courses. Psyc 101 and all 200-level courses except 202, 206, 213, 251, and 280 are non-laboratory science courses. No 400-level course may be used to fulfill core requirements.

General Distribution Requirements (for all students in the Class of 2017 and subsequent years)

Psychology courses may be used in partial fulfillment of Learning Objective 5. Observing, Experimenting, and Modeling:  The Scientific and Quantitative View.  Three courses required, one with the attribute G5E, one with the attribute G5Q, and one with the attribute G5, G5E, or G5Q.

G.5.E. courses are Psyc 100 and 251.

G.5. courses include Psyc 101, 201, 203, 208, 215, 218, 219, 221, 222, and 254.  Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology and International Baccalaureate (IB) Psychology are also approved as G.5.


Departmental honors are awarded based on distinguished work in psychology during the undergraduate career. Individuals with a cumulative psychology GPA below 3.6 are considered only under extraordinary circumstances. Unlike the college-wide honors (cum LaudeMagna cum LaudeSumma cum Laude), the decision involves consideration of other factors besides GPA, particularly the quality of any additional intellectual accomplishments in psychology such as independent research, conference presentations, and internships.

The Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive exam in psychology consists of a paper that integrates material from three areas in psychology. Ordinarily several possible questions are distributed in January with a mandatory outline submitted in February. The paper is due during the second comprehensive examination period for the Easter semester. 

2019 Comprehensive Exam Guidelines

2019 Comprehensive Exam Questions