Frequently Asked Questions

How is Cognitive Sciences different from Psychological Sciences? Linguistics? Neuroscience? Philosophy?
Cognitive Sciences is an interdisciplinary major that combines methods from multiple disciplines. It overlaps with all of these areas, but combines select portions of each of them to provide a more varied perspective. For more information, please refer to the Cognitive Sciences website.

Consider using AP credit. However, there is a nontrivial difference between a high school PSYC 101 course and PSYC 101 taught at Rice by leading researchers in the field of psychology. If you feel that you want a more in-depth introductory class, we encourage you to take 101 here at Rice.

I'm pre-med. When should I take PSYC 101?
Take PSYC 101 as close to the MCAT as possible. The MCAT behavior section is new as of 2016, and it is best to wait in case there are additional changes/updates. You'll remember more if you take PSYC 101 just before the MCAT. You'll have a better chance of getting into the PSYC 101 section you choose if you wait until after your first year because of early registration and because some instructors give advanced students higher priority.

I'm interested in doing research with a faculty member. When should I get involved? Are there any prerequisites for doing research in a lab?
You may get involved in research at any point during your time at Rice. Most students wait until at least their sophomore year so that they have a basic foundation in psychology coursework, including exposure to PSYC 101, PSYC 202, and PSYC 203. Each lab sets their own prerequisites, which may include minimum GPA requirements or specific coursework. Completion of PSYC 339 and/or PSYC 340 is encouraged, but not strictly required.

How can I find a faculty member to work with?
The department's Supervised Research page contains information on the research interests of all of our faculty members. In addition to providing an overview of each lab's current research projects, there are links to individual lab webpages as well as information regarding the tasks that students in that lab work on, required or suggested prerequisites, current availability, and contact information for the faculty member or graduate student responsible for recruiting undergraduate lab members. You may also learn a lot by looking at faculty webpages (many have lab pages) and by talking to other undergraduates who have worked in labs. Some faculty members prefer students who have taken courses with them and/or in their area of research.

Are there opportunities to work with faculty at other institutions?
Yes. Rice has partnerships with institutions in the Texas Medical Center that are conducting psychology-based research. Current opportunities are listed on the Supervised Research page. If you are interested in working with one of these labs, please contact them directly. After you have been accepted to the lab, you will need to set up a meeting with Dr. Bryan Denny to discuss the details of registration and sign a research contract.

Can I get PSYC 485 credit if I am doing research at another university over the summer?
Rice does not currently offer direct credit for students doing research at other undergraduate degree-granting institutions. However, it is possible to receive transfer credit if you register for that university's equivalent of PSYC 485. Please contact Dr. Phil Kortum for more information on transfer credits.

I am interested in doing an Honors Thesis. Where should I start?
First, you need to find a faculty sponsor who will agree to work with you on your proposal over the summer of your rising senior year. All IRB issues should be resolved around this time, too, including your certification to conduct research on humans. For the other requirements, you can visit our Honors Program page. Do not forget, if you choose to enroll in RUSP (HONS 470/471), you should not enroll in PSYC 499!

I want to make sure that I am on track to graduate with my major. Do I need to meet with an advisor? When and how often?
Currently, Dr. Louretha Adams and Dr. Colette Nicolaou are responsible for doing degree audits. All seniors who have applied to graduate in the spring will be reviewed, via Degree Works, during the end of January prior to graduation in May. You do not need to request this audit nor do you need to get a form signed that says you are approved to graduate. Dr. Parsons notes her approval to Degree Works, and the Registrar’s office gets that information. However, it is a good idea to look at your progress prior to the start of spring semester. You may either request an audit via email or schedule a meeting with an advisor. You are welcome to contact an advisor at any time to discuss progress towards completing your Psychological Sciences major.

Are there any awards I might be eligible to receive as a PSYC major?
Yes, there are currently three different awards for which seniors are eligible. Please see our Undergraduate Awards page for more information on these awards.

I have a course registered under another major (e.g. BIOC) that is also cross-listed in PSYC. However, it won't show up under my PSYC major in DegreeWorks. Do I need a note from a psychology advisor to the Registrar to have this changed?
Yes. Dr. Louretha Adams and Dr. Colette Nicolaou are the only ones who can approve this. Please contact them for help resolving the issue.

What can I do with a PSYC major?
A PSYC major from Rice University prepares students for many different post-graduate experiences. Please refer to the American Psychological Association’s website for some suggestions. You may also find the publication “The Psychology Major” useful. Of course, you may also schedule an appointment with a major advisor to discuss these issues at any time.