Majoring in Psychology FAQs


The SUNY Oswego Psychology Department focuses on the scientific study of the fundamental principles of human behavior, as well as its application to improve human welfare. All psychology majors at SUNY Oswego will be expected to want to gain the following:

  • A solid foundation in general psychology
  • Foundational backgrounds in each of the department's four major fields of study: biological, cognitive, developmental, and clinical/social psychology
  • Greater depth of understanding in specific sub-field areas of psychology
  • A mastery of basic statistical theories and tests
  • A detailed understanding of the scientific methods used to collect psychological data
  • The ability to carry out scientific psychological research

The principal focus of the psychology major is to both provide students with an education in psychology and to train students to conduct scientific research in psychology according to the best practices available. The Psychology Department is eager to help students learn how to become future researchers and clinicians who understand psychology at a scientific level, and are eager to embrace the statistical and methodological tools, empirical research, and engage in  evidence-based decision making. Psychology majors are expected to be well-prepared for graduate studies in psychology, social science research, and clinical intervention/prevention using a scientific practitioner model.

For students contemplating majoring in psychology, the following questions should be asked:

Do I enjoy psychology and consider it a science?
Students should have completed PSY100 satisfactorily and enjoyed the material and the special topics discussed in this course.

Am I ready for rigorous courses in statistics and research methods?
Psychology majors take statistics and research-intensive courses. Psychology majors should have satisfactorily completed basic math classes (such as Math 102) and should be quite comfortable using numbers and mathematical formulas. Moreover, because psychological science is based on data collection and analysis, majors should be comfortable learning how to critique and create research designs, use scientific research instruments and computer software to analyze data.

Do I like thinking and writing scientifically?
Students majoring in psychology will be required to think about the science of psychology and be able to discuss the relative merits of existing psychological research. Majors will also often be required to write professionally oriented, scientific papers following stringent thematic and grammatical guidelines created by the American Psychological Association. The papers majors write will be consistent with papers found in the professional psychological literature.

Are there other majors on campus that might help me meet my educational/career goals?
The Psychology Department presumes that students majoring in psychology understand that psychology is a science and want to learn how to conduct psychological science. As such, psychology majors are expected to not only learn about psychology, but to gain a comprehensive understanding of how to conduct psychological research. Students who are not fully interested in either learning the detailed science of psychology and/or acquiring a sophisticated understanding of how to conduct psychological research may be interested in minoring in psychology instead. If you have any questions or concerns about majoring in psychology, the Career Center is a great source of information and tools to help you select a major that best suits your interests, skills and future plans. Also, consider talking to a faculty member in Psychology and the Psychology Advisement Coordinator. Again, the psychology major is intended for students who are interested in learning about psychological science and how to conduct psychological research according to the best practices available.