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Academic Advising Information for Psychology Students


This page contains important information regarding course advisement and the psychology major. It is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of college advising policies; it is simply here as a resource for some of the most commonly-encountered issues of advising in the psychology department. For complete information about academic advising at Plattsburgh State, please visit the Academic Advising web pages.

If you are looking for information about careers and/or graduate school in psychology, please visit our Careers and Graduate School pages.

Basic Program Requirements

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General Education (GE) Requirements

Plattsburgh State’s general education web page describes the general education requirements. You can see a list of courses that satisfy a particular GE requirement by logging on to Banner, select Master Schedule Search, and use the drop-down menu to search for courses under a particular GE code.

Note that Psy 101 satisfies the general education social sciences requirement. The credits count only once toward your degree, but the course fulfills both the psychology requirement and the general education requirement.

Course Advisement

Students must obtain their Banner Registration PINs from their advisors during the 2-week advisement period. The faculty have varying policies regarding administering PINs and meeting with advisees during this time; please contact your advisor to find out what is expected of you in this regard. If you don’t know who your advisor is, you can call the Psychology main office (x3076) to find out. You can also find out by logging on to the Banner web registration system. If you know who your advisor is, you can find out his/her contact information from the faculty directory webpage.

Changing Advisors

Your advisor is here to help you. If you are finding that the relationship is not working for you, you should request a different advisor. Your current advisor will not be offended — one advisor may simply fit your own personal style better than another. If you wish to change advisors, simply go to the Psychology Department office (Bmt 211) and ask to be reassigned.

Course numbering scheme

  • The first digit indicates how advanced the course is. For example, Psy 101 is intended for students who have had no psychology courses, while Psy 414 is intended for juniors or seniors who have completed most 100-, 200-, and 300-level psychology courses.
  • For 300- and 400-level courses, the second digit indicates the content area. If the middle number is “1” (e.g. Psy 311, 414, 415, etc.), it is a developmental course; 2=cognitive, 3=biopsychology, 4=personality, and 6=social.

Majors are required to take three 400-level courses, each with a different middle number. The purpose of this rule is for you to take advanced courses from different areas of psychology. You may of course take more than 3 courses — additional courses will just count as electives.

Course sequence

Some courses need to be completed before you are allowed to register for others. Pay close attention to prerequisites when registering for courses.

  • Psy 101 must be completed before you can take any other psychology course (except Psy 105, which you can take at the same time).
  • Psy 205 and 206 must be taken before Psy 304. Please be sure to plan ahead with these courses.
  • 300-level courses (except for Psy 304) can be taken in any order, and at any time after you complete Psy 101. If you do not feel confident in your understanding of basic research methods and variables that you learn about in Psy 101, it is probably a good idea to take Psy 205 before taking a 300-level course.
  • Psy 409 can only be taken by juniors or seniors who have completed Psy 101, 105, 205, and 206.
  • The 400-level courses that fulfill the major requirements have 300-level courses as prerequisites. The 300-level prerequisite will have the same middle number as the 400-level course. For example, you need to take Psy 321 (Cognitive Psychology) before you can take Psy 422 (Human Learning and Memory).

For a suggested sequence of courses to take, please look at the Course Selection Model.

Graduation Requirements

In order to graduate with a psychology major, you need to be sure you have satisfied the following requirements:

  • A minimum grade of C in PSY 101.
  • A minimum overall GPA of 2.0 in all psychology courses. Note that it is possible (though not recommended!) to earn a D in a course and still maintain a 2.0 GPA, provided you perform well in your other psychology courses.
  • Passing of the Psychology Senior Examination (PSY 408).
  • Upper-division course requirement — a minimum of 42 credit hours of upper-division courses (300-level or 400-level) is required for graduation. At least 21 of these credits must be earned at SUNY Plattsburgh, and not more than 21 credits may be transferred in. Note that completing the psychology major will earn you 30 of the 42 credits. The other 12 need to be earned through electives or general education courses. Keep this in mind when registering for non-psychology courses.
  • No more than 4 credits of physical education courses (PED 100-194) will count toward your degree.

Financial Aid Considerations

If you have financial aid, keep in mind that you must:

  1. maintain a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0 at Plattsburgh.
  2. complete at least 12 credits of non-repeat courses required for graduation each semester.
  3. not withdraw from too many courses.
  4. declare a major before earning 57 credits.
  5. graduate within four to six years (eight to twelve semesters.)

Consult the Financial Aid Office for exceptions. The actual standards are described on the Financial Aid web page.

Senior Exam (Psy 408)

Passing the Senior Exam is a graduation requirement for psychology majors. The exam is a multiple choice test, covering material from the following courses: PSY 205, 206, 311, 321, 331, 340, 361, and 409. You must have completed (or be currently taking) these classes before you can take the senior exam.

Complete information about the Senior Exam (including dates) is available on the Psychology Department’s Senior Exam web page.

Junior Seminar (Psy 304)

The junior seminar is a small discussion-oriented class that focuses in depth on a particular topic in psychology. The aim of the seminar is to improve written and oral communication skills, and to improve your ability to work in a small group (the class has no more than 12 students). The seminar typically involves discussion of books and/or journal articles, often with students presenting the day's readings to the class. Students are also expected to actively participate in the discussion, and there is a substantial amount of writing, including both short papers (e.g. 1-5 pages) and longer papers (e.g. 8-15 pages).

Past seminars have focused on topics such as early socioemotional development, human sexuality, religion, and autism spectrum disorders. The topics are not always the same each semester, so you should check Banner around mid-semester to find out what topics will be offered. Some faculty also post more detailed descriptions of their seminars on their websites. The seminar can be taken after you complete Psy 205 and Psy 206. Seminars usually fill up quickly, so if you are planning to register for one then make sure you do so the moment registration opens to you!

“Experiential” courses

The psychology department encourages qualified students to participate in learning experiences beyond the classroom. These experiences are described below. You register and earn course credit for each one, just as you would for any other class. All require instructor permission, so be sure to speak with the instructor if you would like to participate in any of these experiences.

Psy 302 — Research Apprenticeship

This course involves assisting a professor with his or her ongoing research project(s). Your duties may range from helping with background research to planning experiments to collecting and analyzing data. You may even have an opportunity to present your work at a conference.

Students intending to apply to graduate programs, particularly doctoral programs, are highly encouraged to participate in a research apprenticeship. You should first find out as much as you can about each professor’s current projects and research interests, and then approach those who are doing work that interests you. In general, professors will only accept students who have done exceptionally well in courses related to the research area, as well as in PSY 205 and PSY 206.

Psy 496 — Teaching Apprenticeship

This course involves assisting a professor in teaching a course. Your duties may include assisting with class activities, holding review sessions, tutoring students, evaluating student assignments, giving a lecture, and leading laboratory groups. Students who have done exceptionally well in a course may be asked to become a TA for that course in a subsequent semester.

Becoming a teaching apprentice is also something that will look good on a graduate school or job application. It gives you an opportunity to display your leadership, responsibility, problem-solving abilities, and communication skills.

Psy 497/498 — Fieldwork/Internship

The fieldwork/internship program gives you practical experience in psychology in field settings. You can elect to work with children, adolescents, or adults in a variety of settings. Some examples of responsibilities include assisting in training programs, helping people with academic or social problems, or answering a crisis hotline. This is an excellent program for students who intend to work in a “helping” profession (counseling, school psychology, etc.). An overview of the fieldwork/internship program can be found on the Fieldwork/Internship page.

Taking Courses Elsewhere

If you intend to take a course at another school, be aware of certain restrictions:

  • You must obtain permission to do so (fill out a Permission to Attend form)
  • If you are a transfer student, there is a limit on the number of credits you may transfer in (67 credits from a 2-year college, 84 credits from a 4-year college). Make sure that taking another course outside of SUNY Plattsburgh doesn’t put you over this limit.
  • Students must earn 30 of their last 36 credits in courses taken at SUNY Plattsburgh.

If you wish to take a course at another school in New York, you can check which courses will transfer by checking the Transfer College List.

Retaking Courses

You may repeat a course in order to raise your grade. Only the most recent grade will be used in the grade point average computation, even if it is lower than previous grades. All grades are recorded on your official transcript.

Also note that if you are retaking a course because you failed it the first time, you must retake the course at Plattsburgh State (you cannot take it elsewhere and transfer it in).

Degree Works

Degree Works allows you to see an overview of your coursework. Requirements are clearly shown as either met, in progress, or not yet met. Your grades for completed courses are shown, as is your major and overall GPA. You should check Degree Works periodically to ensure that you are aware of what you need to do in order to finish on schedule. It is also a good idea to look it over before meeting with your advisor each semester.

Questions, Comments, Suggestions?

If you would like more information about the psychology program at SUNY Plattsburgh, please contact

Department co-chairs
Dr. Katherine Dunham ([email protected])
Dr. Michael Morales ([email protected])

Department secretaries
Ms. Pam LeClair ([email protected])
Ms. Donna Vanderhoff ([email protected])

Psychology Office: Sibley Hall 630

Phone: (518) 564-3076
Toll-free Phone: (800) 441-7215
Fax: (518) 564-3397