A student writes on a whiteboard while the professor looks on.
Program Overview

Psychology

Where the sciences and liberal arts meet.

Professor Paul Thibodeau works with a student as part of Oberlin's STRONG program (Science and Technology Research Opportunities for a New Generation).
Photo credit: Jennifer Manna

Quantitative Tools, Analytic Reasoning, Interpersonal Skills

Psychology is the scientific study of feelings, thought and behavior. Work in Oberlin’s psychology department is broad-ranging, from the study of physiological reactivity to facial recognition to factors influencing social change and cultural difference. The psychology department exemplifies Oberlin’s strong liberal arts curriculum, bringing together strong training in quantitative skills, critical thinking, and collaborative teamwork. All of our students do research in the classroom, taking two full semesters of statistics and one or more courses in applied research. Oberlin’s psychology majors hone speaking and writing skills through seminars and collaborative projects and work with faculty and peers to solve problems that make a difference in the real world. Our department combines strengths in clinical, developmental, social, and cognitive psychology to prepare students for pathways in business, environmental sustainability, the law, clinical and counseling work, medicine, data science, and public health.

A Meaningful, Collaborative Research Community

Oberlin’s psychology faculty work one-on-one with students at the forefront of research to explore questions ranging from the metaphorical basis of understanding to the neurological underpinnings of behavioral disorders. An integral part of the major, the lab experience provides students with a home to connect with peers while honing valuable pre-professional skills. From their first year on, Oberlin’s psychology students enter an academic community that is welcoming, dynamic, flexible and stimulating.

More than 80% of psychology majors conduct research outside the classroom

Research that Makes a Difference

Psychology professor Nancy Darling led a team of student researchers to develop 1step2life, an app-based technology helping adolescents manage chronic pain. The app was awarded top prize at Oberlin's seventh annual LaunchU competition for entrepreneurship.

A professor makes a presentation in a business setting (not a classroom).
Introductory classes are capped at 40 students with seminars at 15 to support engaged learning

Senior Workshops and Portfolios

During their last semester in residence, Oberlin’s psychology majors work directly with faculty mentors to polish an original Senior Portfolio, highlighting their skills and experiences, and preparing them for life after graduation. Students begin working with learning portfolios early in their Oberlin education to craft a cohesive academic and cocurricular plan.

A student explains a point in a small group setting.

Featured Courses

PSYC 209

Complex Cognition

How are we able to learn languages, make decisions, and predict the future? This course covers a variety of topics relating to the scientific study of high-level human cognition, including thinking, problem solving, language, and reasoning.

Taught by
Paul Thibodeau
PSYC 215

Introduction to Clinical and Counseling Psychology

This course offers a broad introduction to the fields of clinical and counseling psychology. Topics will include the histories of clinical and counseling psychology, major theories and interventions for treating mental health, research methods, and professional considerations (e.g., ethics, cultural adaptation). Emphasis will also be placed on the broad diversity of the human experience as it pertains to mental health and well-being. This course may assist you in evaluating clinical/counseling psychology as a potential career but will not provide you with the skills to assess/treat psychopathology.

Taught by
Christine S. Wu
PSYC 308

Community-Based Social Marketing

This course will give students training in Community Based Social Marketing, an empirically driven approach to promoting sustainable behavior. Students will design, implement, and evaluate behavior change programs on campus and in the community, gaining experience in all phases of the research process, from literature reviews and research design to data collection, analysis, and report writing.

Taught by
Cynthia (Cindy) Frantz
PSYC 431

Cognitive Science and the Law

This interdisciplinary course examines how the fields of neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, and criminology have impacted the law. We will consider current legal standards and rules in regards to topics such as brain damage and responsibility, brain development, addiction, eyewitness memory, and emotion. Students further explore the emerging intersections between neuropsychology and the law in light of technological advancements in neuroimaging.

Taught by
Patty deWinstanley

Student Profiles

Researching Mental Health

Psychology and Environmental Studies major Ify Ezimora ’19 pursued research with a number of faculty. She now applies the skills she gained as an undergraduate to her current role as a clinical research assistant at Rhode Island Hospital, Hasbro Children’s Hospital, and the Miriam Hospital.

Ify Ezimora

Goldwater Scholarship Winner

A psychology major with a statistical modeling minor, Olivia Goldstein ’21 works at the forefront of mental health and emotional response inhibition.

Olivia Goldstein

From Music to Psychology

Elayne Zhou ’18 has always been passionate about helping people, but it wasn’t until she got to Oberlin that she saw how research improved people’s lives. She is now a lab manager studying behavioral disorders at UC Riverside.

Elayne Zhou

What does Psychology at Oberlin look like?

Students test a subject using visual stimuli on a computer screen.

Students who work in Professor Sara Verosky’s lab study the remarkable human ability to recognize faces.

Photo credit: Jennifer Manna
A group of 11 smiling students in a somewhat formal pose.

The students in Professor Nancy Darling’s lab were recognized for their work developing an app for adolescents living with chronic pain.

Photo credit: John Seyfried
Two students show their research poster, which includes bar charts, a Venn diagram, and sections of text titled Introduction, Method, Results, and Summary.

Psychology students present research on affective self-regulation at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Research in Psychopathology.

Photo credit: Courtesy of Oberlin College
Students engaged in classroom discussion.

Advanced seminars in psychology are collaborative and discussion-driven forums for sharing ideas.

Photo credit: John Seyfried

Next Steps

Get in touch; we would love to chat.


Flowering trees on campus.