Frequently Asked Questions

Will Washington and Lee offer me credit for work in A.P. Psychology?

The Psychology department only awards credit to students that score a 5 on the A.P. Psychology exam. Students that do qualify are awarded 3 credits within the psychology departments. These credits are awarded in one of the four "intro" classes: Brain and Behavior (Psych 111,) Cognition (Psych 112,) Principles of Development (Psych 113,) or Social Psychology (Psych 114.) Students pursuing a degree, either B.A. or B.S., are awarded these credits for degree requirements.

Does Washington and Lee offer concentrations in specific areas of psychology as a degree requirement?

The Psychology Department embraces the liberal arts approach; thus, the answer is a resounding "No." There is an intentional effort to expose students to the diverse elements of psychology to provide a more comprehensive knowledge of the field (including both time in the classroom and lab.) The structure of both the B.A. and B.S. programs is designed to encourage all students within the program to gain experience with as many aspects of psychology as possible and to discourage students from specializing in one area too soon.

What are the differences between the B.A. and B.S. programs for psychology?

Originally there were larger distinctions between the B.A. and B.S. program than exist now. When the programs were first designed the B.S. program was intended for students that wished to continue psychology in higher education and into graduate schools. However, this distinction is slowly fading.

As it currently stands, the largest difference between the programs is the amount of lab experience required for the degree. The B.S. program in psychology requires nine to ten more credits (about three classes) of lab work. Additionally the required cognate course of each major differ in scope; while cognates for the B.S. degree include introductory lab courses for relevant sciences, i.e. biology and chemistry, the B.A. cognates also include courses from anthropology, economics, management, philosophy, politics, and sociology.

Another significant differences between programs includes the senior thesis. The senior thesis for the B.A. program requires students to write a proposal for a psychological experiment. This is designed to grant students the opportunity to move outside the writing and experimental design experiences of previous classes and work on their own under faculty supervision. However, in the B.S. program students are also required to set up and perform their proposed experiment and write a journal article (in A.P.A. format) detailing the results of their experiment.

Does the Psychology Department offer Honors Programs?

Honors programs are available for both the B.A. and B.S. in psychology. General information about the program can be obtained in the current Washington and Lee Course Catalogue (available from Admissions Office or the University Registrar.) Students are required to discuss admission into the Honors program with the department head, as well as their faculty advisor. Further information for current and prospective students is available from psychology faculty and outlines for the Honors Program can be found outside the psychology computer lab in Parmly Hall (P 225.)

How can I find tutors for Psychology class?

The Dean of Freshmen, Dean Watkins, is undertaking a new project to organize a list of student tutors for each department within the university. The list of available tutors is a continual "work-in-progress" and all students looking for aid are advised to contact the office of the Dean of Freshmen.

How can I get involved in research with the psychology department?

The psychology department offers several different chances for students to become involved with research. The Summer Research Scholar program is one opportunity that students will have to engage in research. The program allows students to stay in Lexington during the Summer break working with both students and professors on a common research project. While the summer work offers no academic credit, students are given a stipend for their work.

Students are also able to have similar research experiences throughout the school year by registering for the Tutorials in Psychology (Psych 431, 432, 433.) The Tutorial classes are highly flexible and projects may range from assisting a professor in a current project to an independent student project with a faculty member acting as an advisor. The Tutorial classes are offered as credit courses, as such students receive no monetary compensation, unlike the Summer Research Scholars program.

In addition to the Tutorials classes, students also have the opportunity to register for internships. Internships allow students to work with community organizations such as Head Start, Project Horizon (a local program designed to offer aid to victims of domestic violence), and area day care programs. Like the Tutorial classes, students receive course credits instead of monetary compensation.

What types of research facilities does the Psychology department offer?

Each professor within the department has their own laboratory areas, so the facilities of the department are as varied as the faculty interest. Specifically, however, the facilities include labs for the study of human and animal behavior, histology, cognitive psychology studies (learning and memory), and neurophysiology. By clicking here you can take an online tour of Dr. Lorig's neurophysiology lab and learn about some of his current research in human olfaction.

What about the Psychology GRE for graduate study?

ETS (Educational Testing Sources) offers a GRE (Graduate Record Exam) subject test for psychology. While Washington and Lee does not require students to take the Psychology GRE, the test is advised for all students that plan to enter graduate school to study psychology or related fields. The following information is taken from the ETS website for the Psychology Subject test:

The test has about 215 questions drawn from courses most commonly offered at the undergraduate level, in three categories:

  1. Experimental or natural science (about 40% of the questions), including learning, language, memory, thinking, sensation and perception, physiological psychology, and ethology.
  2. Social or social science (about 43% of the questions), including clinical and abnormal, developmental, personality, and social psychology.
  3. General (about 17% of the questions), including the history of psychology, applied psychology, measurement, research designs, and statistics.

The test's total score includes the questions in all three categories. The test has two subscores: an experimental psychology subscore consisting of category 1 questions only and a social psychology subscore consisting of category 2 questions only.

The Psychology department recommends the required classes of History and Systems of Psychology (Psych 304) and Theories of Personality (Psych 202) as the best single classes to help prepare for the Subject test. The department also encourages students to study through introduction level text-books to find areas they are weak in as well as obtain study aids made available from ETS.

The Psychology subject test is offered every Fall term at Washington and Lee; however, students must consult the GRE website or Washington and Lee Career Services for more detailed information on testing dates.

Are there any student organizations for students interested in psychology?

Students of Neuroscience and Psychology (SNAP) is Washington and Lee's "psychology club. The organization is headed by President: Murray Abernethy; Vice President: Michelle Moore; Treasurer: Bradley Matthews, and Dr. Julie Woodzicka, SNAP's faculty advisor. The following is SNAP's mission statement:

The purpose of creating a Psychology and Neuroscience Club is threefold. First, SNAP will provide a social network for students interested in Neuroscience and Psychology. Second, it will offer educational opportunities in the form of guest speakers recruited in the areas of member interest. The final function of the club will be to supply students with information and guidance on life post-graduation. SNAP will help majors with the application process to graduate school as well as assisting those interested in entering the work force to find jobs. In summary the Students of Neuroscience and Psychology Club will function as a social, educational, and professional link for psychology majors and those interested in learning more about psychology.

SNAP will also be linked with Psi Chi, the National Psychology Honor Society. SNAP will provide students with information about Psi Chi membership, while encouraging them to apply for the honor.

W&L also has a chapter of Psi Chi, the national honorary society for psychology