Frequently Asked Questions for Undergraduates

  • Contact your advisor early for registration approval, to avoid last minute problems. If your advisor is unavailable, please contact the director of undergraduate studies or department chair for guidance.

  • You may select any full-time faculty member to serve as your advisor. Some students ask a professor who has previously taught them; some students select a professor with research interests compatible with their own. However, you are not required to choose an advisor who has taught you before or with whom you share particular interests. 'If you major in Biopsychology you may select an advisor from either Psychology or Biology. 'If you major in CBS, you may select an advisor from Psychology or someone with cognitive science expertise from the COMP or PHIL departments.

    The majors offered by Psychology are popular. It is possible that the first faculty members you ask to advise you will be unable to take on additional students. Do not take this personally. You may need to contact more than one (or two) faculty members before successfully finding an advisor. It is a good idea to start this process as early as you can (or as soon as you decide on your major). Emailing a potential advisor is a good place to start, but consider making use of the posted list of faculty office hours to follow up your request in person.

    When you have found an advisor, you can submit the advisor change/major declaration form. You should email your past advisor about the change to let them know.

  • There are no differences in the course requirements for a BA versus a BS in Psychology. Psychology sits at the intersection of different distributions/approaches, and so you get to choose between the two degree options. Some students like the Bachelor of Arts because it captures the notion of the liberal arts education offered by Tufts. Some students like the Bachelor of Science because it captures the emphasis we place on the scientific method and research in the field. If you are an international student, you may wish to go with the B.S. so that you can be eligible for the STEM OPT Extension if you major in Biopsychology, Cognitive & Brain Science, Engineering Psychology, or Psychology.

  • The U.S. Government has defined 4 of our majors as STEM eligible; unfortunately, though we disagree, the Clinical Psychology major is not currently classified as such. You will want to confirm these details with the Tufts International Center, but the CIP codes typically used for our 5 different majors are as follows: Psychology: 42.2704; Biopsychology: 30.1001; Cognitive & Brain Science: 30.2501; Clinical Psychology: 42.2801; Engineering Psychology: 30.3101.

  • Note that as of the Fall 2019 semester, any student in any of our five majors may fulfill their statistics requirement by taking PSY 31 or one of four other courses (BIO 132, CEE 6, CEE 156, CSHD 140).'Students who arrived on campus before Fall 2019 may also make use of the old policy, which permitted double-majors in Economics to count EC 13 as their statistics course and double-majors in Math to count MATH 162; these exceptions no longer apply for new Tufts students.'' As has always been the case, the Department does not accept the Statistics AP as a substitute for PSY 31.

    Only statistics courses taken in a psychology department and which include at least one week of coverage of ANOVA can be transferred as PSY 31. A one-semester course that is a mixture of methods and stats does not cover either topic thoroughly enough to receive transfer of credit for either PSY 31 or 32. A two-semester combination course may be able to transfer as PSY 31 credit only, pending review of the syllabus. If you have questions about whether your statistics course credit can be transferred, consult your advisor.

  • Don’t panic! It’s a great idea to plan ahead and try to get major requirements done as soon as you can, of course. We applaud that motivation! And we know that's frustrating when those plans don’t come to fruition. But it is absolutely OK and normal to not take PSY 32 until junior spring or even senior year. The course does have a hard cap of 24 students per lab given the nature of the course and the number of computers in the lab room. We offer the course every semester (and summer), and taking it junior spring or senior fall is totally reasonable (and, again, pretty normal) for majors. PSY 32 is not a prerequisite for very many of our upper-level courses.

  • Courses taken for a grade in a non-Tufts program or university, whether domestic or abroad, can be counted towards the major with approval from the Transfer of Credit committee. Review Transfer of Credit for more information.

  • Seniors who are graduating in May or August must complete this multi-step degree sheet process starting in early November once spring courses are published on SIS (February graduates must complete this process in September):

    1. Apply for a graduation date on SIS.
    2. Download your Student Degree Audit from SIS as a PDF.
    3. Download and complete a major concentration form.
    4. Set up a meeting in early November with your advisor, who will review the degree audit and major concentration form; this is also an ideal time to get approved for spring registration on SIS, if you have not done so already.
    5. Email the degree audit and major form to your advisor who will sign and submit the forms to the degree sheet committee in Psychology. Your form will be returned to you via email within approximately 1 week of submission.
    6. While you wait for that form to be ready, complete the Senior Exit Survey.
    7. After you have registered for Spring classes, download a new, updated version of your degree audit that reflects your Spring classes. Then submit that updated degree audit and your signed major form (and any other signed major or minor forms that you may have) by the deadline.

    Please note that CBS or Biopsych majors with an advisor from a department other than Psychology should follow that department's policies for completing the senior degree sheet paperwork. The second signature on that degree sheet will come from a representative of that department, not from Psychology.

  • Students interested in doing independent study (including Senior Honors Thesis) must find a supervising full-time faculty member in the Psychology Department and get their approval before registering for the course. When registering for the course on SIS, please make sure to select the appropriate faculty supervisor from the drop-down list of names provided. For more information on independent study, review undergraduate Honors.

  • Students interested in doing a Senior Honors Thesis must find a supervising faculty member and register for PSY 199 on SIS, making sure to select the appropriate faculty supervisor from the drop-down list of names provided. Thesis students must also fill out a Thesis Honors Candidate form, or picked up in Dowling Hall, and must be submitted to Dowling by early October. Learn more information about the Senior Honors Thesis.

  • To be considered for membership in Psi Chi, please complete the Application Form. Return the completed form and any required supporting materials to Professor Alex Queen in the Psychology Department by October 1 for Fall semester induction, and February 1 for Spring semester induction. Learn more about Psi Chi eligibility.

  • To the first question, the answer is by asking a professor. Make an appointment and just ask. Professors doing research want students to work with them. To the second question, the answer is to inspect the list of faculty research areas in the student handbook. These should give you some idea of who is doing what. Several members of the faculty are affiliated with research laboratories and centers. An interest in a professor's area of specialization and some prior reading are useful but not always necessary. In some areas, special knowledge is required (e.g., statistics or experimental design). In most areas, professors are able to provide on-the-job training. After a course in the area of expertise of a professor, a student is in a good position to help on research, especially if the student has done well in the course. Sometimes a professor's research group is full, so if your request gets a "no thanks" from Professor A, ask someone else in the department or ask Professor A at a later time.

    Students interested in doing any form of independent study (including Senior Honors Thesis) must find a supervising faculty member and complete an Independent Study form that can be downloaded from this site or picked up in the Psychology Department office, in addition to registering for the course via SIS. Those registering for a Senior Honors Thesis (PSY 199) must also fill out a form which can be picked up in Carol Downing's office in Dowling Hall. For more information on independent study and writing a Senior Honors Thesis, view Undergraduate Honors.

    Also check out The Tufts Summer Scholars Program for future research opportunities.

  • Definitely. Schools look for distinctive characteristics in their candidates and place an emphasis on your research experience. If you can tell your research story to the graduate schools in a way that shows how much you learned, you will look more qualified and more interesting. Who wouldn't rather have interesting people around? Professors get to know students with whom they do research. Hence, professors' letters of recommendation to graduate schools are often more detailed and interesting when students have worked in their research labs. Furthermore, starting to get involved with research is the beginning of the process leading to a capstone Senior Honors thesis in the department.

  • Yes. The playing with ideas behind research is great fun and figuring out the results is like your own personal puzzle. Sure, there is a lot of effort involved in running a study. You often have to perform the same task many times with skill and dedication, but the rewards are outstanding. Developing and understanding a particular research problem is one of the most exciting things you can do in your academic career and we in the Psychology Department are excited to get you involved.

  • Yes, you can get course credit for independent research at three levels. PSY 91/92 is for students just getting involved in research, and PSY 191/192 is a more advanced course in which a greater amount of independence and productivity is expected. However, no more than two independent study type courses (PSY 91/92, PSY 97/98, PSY 99, PSY 191/192, PSY 181/182, PSY 199) may be counted toward the major. These options are also available during the summer, but requires Tufts Summer School enrollment and advanced coordination with a supervising faculty member.

  • Yes. If the research is to be conducted during the Fall or Spring Semesters and directly supervised by a Tufts faculty member, simply sign up for either PSY 91/92, or PSY 191/192 with the permission of your Tufts faculty supervisor. If the research is being supervised remotely by non-Tufts faculty member, you must first find a Tufts faculty member who is willing to serve as your Research Coordinator. This individual is responsible for evaluating your research activities through communications with your off-campus Supervisor. Once a faculty Research Coordinator is obtained, sign up for PSY 99 (Pass-Fail only). These options are also available during the summer, but requires Tufts Summer School enrollment and advanced coordination with a Tufts faculty member. Students are responsible for finding their own off-campus research opportunities. Paid research assistantships are not eligible for academic credit.

  • No. All you need to do is take the courses required for the research and enjoy yourself while learning.

  • No. Scoring clinical tests often requires multiple people in order to get reliabilities. Coding conversations, interviews, and social interactions are tasks many psychologists do as part of their research. Undergraduates have conducted naturalistic observations of children in playgrounds and museums. They've also conducted archival analyses of pre-existing data.

  • Yes and No. It can be helpful, but courses like PSY 91/92 and PSY 191/192 can be based on using your interests, your design, and your execution. Just make sure you ask a professor who's interested in the general area of your research concern to sponsor you. Our department is committed to your civil liberties as a student: you have the right to generate your own research and earn credit for doing it. Seeing students do just that, makes us proud to be your professors.

  • The Psychology Department has created a detailed FAQ document specifically for the Clinical Psychology major. Review the FAQs for Clinical Psychology.