What is Psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind and behaviour. Inquiries in psychology include how we are influenced by others, why we become the persons that we are, how our brains work, and why people sometimes behave in seemingly unusual or even bizarre ways. The study of psychology seeks to understand people both out of curiosity and for numerous applied reasons, ranging from business management to promoting personal wellbeing.
Whom do I contact with questions about the major?
Faculty members and current students are useful resources for many questions. Please don’t hesitate to contact the Head of Studies or your major advisor (if applicable) as well.
Who is my major or minor advisor?
The Head of Studies assigns major advisors, typically reviewing these assignments at the beginning of each academic year. All Psychology minors technically have the Head of Studies as their minor advisor, though other Psychology faculty can also provide useful information about content and requirements.
What are the major and minor requirements?
The full details can be found here, but briefly, both majors and minors must take both Understanding Behaviour and Cognition (YSS2201) and Statistics and Research Methods for Psychology (YSS2216). Psychology majors need to complete a lab course, a capstone project, and six additional courses within the major; a checklist form of these requirements is here. Psychology minors need only complete an additional three courses within the major.
How often will Psychology courses be offered?
The frequency with which a course can be offered varies by the type of course.
- Understanding Behaviour and Cognition – At least one section per semester.
- Statistics and Research Methods for Psychology – One section per semester.
- At least one laboratory course each year, though we are looking to increase the frequency to one laboratory course per semester.
3000-level courses (non-laboratory)
- Most courses repeat yearly, though one offering every three semesters is possible.
- Some courses in the list may be one-off offerings, depending on faculty availability and student interest.
- Once every two years, though with a fair amount of variability depending on faculty interests and commitments.
What if I have course conflicts?
Please consult with the Head of Studies and Registry as soon as you identify a problem. Not all course conflicts can be resolved, but we would at least like to be aware of them and take them into consideration for future reviews.
Which Psychology courses will be offered soon?
Suppose I want to study a topic for which there is no Yale-NUS course. What should I do?
Study abroad opportunities at a variety of partner institutions allow students to complete modules that may not be readily available at Yale-NUS or NUS. In addition, Psychology faculty frequently offer individual or small-group independent study modules around topics proposed by students; such 2 modular credit (MC) modules are frequently designed by students in consultation with faculty. Finally, many students gain research experience in a variety of topics during the semester or summer, either in laboratories at Yale-NUS or elsewhere in Singapore.
When should I study abroad?
In most cases, it is not advisable for students to go abroad during their capstone year. Beyond that, it is up to you what works best for your schedule.
Due to the structure of the major and the nature of psychology, most courses transfer back to Yale-NUS to be counted as major electives rather easily. We have found it rather more difficult to map Statistics and Research Methods for Psychology (YSS2216) and laboratory courses onto our requirements. Hence, you are strongly urged to complete these courses at Yale-NUS. Ensuring a more common experience in such foundational courses is one reason that we now offer them every semester.
Where can I go for my study abroad?
Psychology is a popular discipline, and almost every institution of higher learning has a psychology department. Many are excellent.
The Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) website has a helpful page with a growing list of partner programmes currently available, as well as information on how to apply for non-partner programmes.
What is a capstone project?
The capstone is a year-long and partially self-directed project which all students carry out with the guidance of Yale-NUS faculty and other subject matter experts. More details about the capstone experience can be found in a piece published by a Yale-NUS student in April 2017 here. More information about psychology capstones specifically can be found here.
Who can be my capstone advisor?
Each student must have a primary advisor who has a faculty appointment within the Psychology major at Yale-NUS, on either a permanent or ad hoc basis. Depending on student interests and needs, however, a secondary advisor (who may have more relevant content expertise) can be anyone from Yale-NUS, NUS, Yale, or elsewhere, so long as that person is agreeable to the arrangement.
How should I choose a capstone topic?
Read about potential areas of interest, and discuss ideas with faculty members and fellow students. Although Bernard Shaw’s adage that “reading rots the mind” applies to many stages of the capstone process, early exploration will likely prove useful. See whether a given topic still interests you once you’ve gone down the rabbit hole a bit.
Don’t be afraid to start testing ideas well in advance of your final year. Often a capstone project grows out of a class assignment or research attachment. Indeed, interesting questions often present themselves during the research and writing process, as that is when bridgeable gaps appear.
How should I choose a capstone advisor?
Foremost, although we heavily weigh student preferences when determining student-supervisor pairings, other factors must be considered as well. Chief amongst these are the workloads of the faculty, as well as faculty preferences.
During your third year, talk or correspond with potential capstone advisors. Doing so will allow both parties to get a better sense of the intellectual and stylistic fit. You likely have an idea of these aspects already, but the considerations for capstone supervision are rather different from choosing a course instructor or just having an interesting conversation.
What else should I consider when planning my capstone?
At least two things.
1) Think very hard about what you want to get out of your capstone experience, and be strategic to further those goals. Of particular relevance is deciding to what degree you want to align yourself with your capstone supervisor’s expertise and research aims. There are trade-offs to keep in mind. If your primary aim is to develop and address your own question, then realise that you will have to be more independent in navigating the literature, designing and implementing the experiment(s), and staying motivated through a long slog. If your primary aim is to develop a publishable piece or get a better idea of how a psychologist works and thinks, then you may be better served by co-developing a project instead. The advantage of this approach is that you can then better leverage your advisor’s topic expertise, existing experimental threads, and excitement.
2) Keep the scope reigned in. PhD students frequently have to be reminded that their dissertation need not win a Nobel Prize or shake the very foundations of their field. A dissertation is a major personal work of scholarship, representing a solid and coherent body of work that makes an intellectual contribution to a given field. Such a substantial yet measured aim is the goal of multi-year, full-time programmes, so keep in mind that your capstone should be something more modest and circumscribed. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t address big questions, just that you should be realistic about what time, interest, and experience allow in terms of implementation. Some advisors build a list of potential projects that can give you a better idea of what faculty think are doable, and these embryonic projects can then be co-developed into a capstone.
Internships & Careers
Where can I find information on Psychology-related internships?
The Centre for International & Professional Experience (CIPE) offers a range of corporate and public-interest internship opportunities. Psychology students can find relevant opportunities across the various listed clusters, such as in the Health, Education, Environment, Communications, and Policy & Public Sectors.
What do Psychology majors do after graduation?
Psychology majors can be found in a wide array of fields. These include social work, health policy, personnel management, ergonomics, education, clinical practice, and research. Many of these fields require advanced study; many include on-the-job training instead.
Majors from the Class of 2017 joined the following organisations after graduation: Institute of Mental Health, Singapore Public Service, National Council of Social Service, Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, National University of Singapore, UWC Japan, a Virtual Reality start-up and more. Some went into graduate schools at University College London, the Yale University School of Public Health, Fuller Theological Seminary, and more.
To find out more about Psychology careers and how their development is supported at Yale-NUS, please see the CIPE Career Services page.
How can I get research experience?
There are numerous opportunities within the College and elsewhere. Foremost, Yale-NUS Psychology faculty all conduct research involving undergraduates, so writing to them directly with your interests is a good idea!
You can also find opportunities through CIPE, particularly those related to their Summer Research Programmes. These programmes include faculty-led research projects, student-initiated research projects, and other research attachments in Singapore or abroad.