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Research Philosophy

In addition to the traditional liberal arts mission, the Psychology faculty at Colorado College is committed to teaching psychology as a science and to providing research opportunities for students. Learning the theoretical underpinnings and practicing the conduct of research plays a central role in four courses in the requirements for the major – PY205 (Introduction to Methods and Statistics), PY305 (Topics in Advanced Methods and Statistics), PY251 (Psychological Investigations), and PY451 (Final Project). The research and project experience students gain in these courses, and throughout the major, provides a strong foundation for students wishing to pursue graduate work in experimental psychology or in clinical and counseling psychology. This work also promotes success in a wide variety of other career paths by fostering valuable and marketable skills such as data management, technical writing, presentation, time-management, planning, and information/data searching and compilation, to name a few. These courses also promote direct faculty mentoring in a one-on-one context with students. Students completing the major requirements, including these courses, are well-trained to digest, interpret, and critically evaluate the ever-increasing volume of information and data encountered in the modern world.

Research Courses and Requirements

To satisfy major requirements, all majors must take one PY205 Introduction to Methods and Statistics course, at least one PY305 Topics in Advanced Methods and Statistics course, and at least one unit of either PY251 Psychological Investigations or PY451 Final Project.  PY305, PY251, and PY451 are topical such that taking additional units of each course is possible for interest or perhaps to fill other requirements. (See the Major Requirements page and discuss with your advisor.)

PY205 Introduction to Methods & Statistics

PY205 provides a foundation for critical thinking, the process of scientific inquiry, research ethics, APA-style writing, basic issues in measurement and statistics, and presentation of empirical results. These skills might be of interest to majors from any department.  This course is a required prerequisite for the other courses listed here and is available through standard preregistration.

PY305 Topics in Advanced Methods & Statistics

PY305 builds on PY205 to explore more advanced methodological and statistical techniques with more in-depth utilization of software or apparatus. Different sections focus on different content such that multiple units can be taken for multiple credits. The content is designed for the curricular needs of psychology and neuroscience majors but also might be of interest to other majors with the PY205 prerequisite and is available through standard preregistration.

PY251 Psychological Investigations

Psychological Investigations, building on the foundation of PY205, is designed to be a flexible research apprenticeship working directly with a faculty member. The content and structure of the work will flow from the faculty advisor’s research and interests. In some instances, it might take the form of contributing to the ongoing line of research of the faculty member. In others, the student might contribute to the design of a new project reflecting joint student-faculty interests. This course is typically initiated and completed in a single block. Registration for a PY251 course is Consent of Instructor (COI) only, via direct communication with the faculty member or through the application process (described below).

PY451 Final Project (Thesis)

Final Project, building on the foundations of PY205, and often PY305, is a more structured start-to-finish research project resulting in a formal paper. This thesis work is required for consideration for distinction in Psychology or Neuroscience. Collaborating with a faculty advisor, students will independently produce either a Literature Review, Empirical Project, or Directed Field Study. While the bulk of the work for this course takes place in a single block, the logistics and needs of the project often require attention in blocks before or after the registered unit. Many PY451 students have presented or published their work at national conferences or in professional journals, though this is not an expectation nor a requirement for a strong performance in the course. PY451 is highly recommended for any student considering applying for graduate work in the field. Registration for a PY451 course is Consent of Instructor (COI) only, via direct communication with the faculty member or through the application process (described below).

  • Literature Review. A critical review and synthesis of the literature using primary research that addresses a particular research question or issue formulated by the student and advisor.

  • Empirical Project: An empirical data collection and statistical analysis that addresses a particular research question or issue formulated by the student and advisor.

  • Directed Field Study: A service project in the community under the direct supervision of a Colorado College faculty member and community site supervisor resulting in a final paper relating the practicum to the existing literature.

Important PY451 Dates:

  • Block 7, First Monday – Final Paper for Second Reader Due
  • Block 8, Advisor Specified – Final Revised Paper Due for Primary Reader
  • Block 8, Second Friday – Psychology & Neuroscience Poster Presentation Day

PY251 & PY451 Application Process

To ensure all majors can be matched with advisors to complete the required Research unit of the major requirements before the end of their Senior year, a formal application process will be conducted for majors in their Junior year. Details of the process will be communicated and result in an application submission deadline of Block 6, Third Monday. Questions about the application process can be directed to Mark Saviano or other Psychology Department faculty or staff.

Research Links


Funding Opportunities

Psychology Department Funding

The Psychology Department supports majors' research projects through the Sabine Fund. Psychology and occasionally Neuroscience majors can request funds from the Department Chair. Neuroscience majors can request funds from the Vernon Smith Fund. Applications are considered on a rolling basis. Speak to your advisor about applying.

The Psychology Department may also provide other project resources, such as loaner laptops, recording devices, or other equipment.

Colorado College Funding Opportunities for Students

The College maintains a web page detailing the many sources of college-wide funding for which students may apply. Students are strongly encouraged to investigate these excellent opportunities.

Nationally Competitive Fellowships, Scholarships, and Grants Opportunities Pages

The College maintains a web pages describing a number of nationally competitive fellowships, scholarships, and grants.

Report an issue - Last updated: 04/23/2021