FAQs for the 2020-2021 Academic Year

Psychology Department FAQs

Williams College has made the decision to convene an in-person semester for the fall of 2020. This has surely inspired questions among students in the psychology department. Below is a list of  frequently asked questions and our best answers to date. Please note that these questions and answers are relevant only to the 2020-21 academic year.

Q1. Are there changes in the requirements for the psychology major?

No. There are no significant changes in the major requirements. You will still need to complete nine approved courses for the major. Typically, these will consist of 101 (Introductory Psychology), 201 (Experimentation and Statistics), three other 200s, three 300s (at least one of which includes an empirical project), and one 400-level course (to be taken in the senior year). Students who do not take PSYC 101 will need to take an additional approved course. Please discuss specific questions about your situation with your departmental advisor or the chair.

Q2. When and how will academic advising happen?

Please see the registrar’s website for general information about academic advising and preregistration. Briefly, rising juniors will complete the major declaration form remotely during the week of Aug 3-7. The preregistration period for all students will occur between Aug 10-17. In early August, current majors will be able to schedule a remote appointment with their faculty advisor to discuss course plans for the fall semester.

Q3. How will large courses be taught in order to comply with distancing guidelines?

Some large courses will be taught entirely remotely. Others may be taught with the enrolled students divided into smaller groups that will alternate in-person attendance in class. Note that all classes will be able to accommodate remote students. Please look at the “Notes” section of each  course description for further details on the instructional approach that is anticipated.

Q4. If a class is scheduled for in-person meetings, but I am only able to attend remotely, will I be able to take it?

Absolutely. Any course that includes an in-person component will be open to students taking the course remotely. However, it may be the case that discussion sections or project groups will be organized such that students taking the course remotely will meet together and those taking the course in-person will meet together. Please contact the professor with specific questions.

Q5. Will courses that typically offer labs still include laboratory components?

Yes. The psychology department remains very committed to ensuring that students gain experience in empirical methods and many of our courses have laboratory components. Faculty are working hard to adapt to our new circumstances. Courses scheduled to include laboratory experiences (e.g., PSYC 201, 300-level empirical project courses) will continue to include those components. Some lab experiences may happen remotely. For example, if a lab group is conducting experiments on-line, the participation/experience of students working remotely will be comparable to those who may be meeting in person. Other lab experiences may involve necessary in person activities. In those circumstances, faculty will work with any students enrolled remotely to make sure they are deeply involved in the project.

Q6. Will I still be able to complete my thesis project?

All students who were planning to complete a senior honors thesis should discuss the situation with their advisors.

Q7. Do I still need IRB approval for research with human participants even if my participants aren’t on campus and/or I’m not on campus?

Yes. Please discuss your research plan with your research advisor.

Q8. Will we still have department “extracurricular” events such as careers and graduate study panels, social events, etc. 

Definitely! The careers and grad study panels will be held remotely. We hope that this adjustment will increase our ability to include a wide range of panelists, including alums in interesting careers. Distancing requirements will certainly affect the ways in which we gather for social events but we remain committed to gathering (remotely and/or in person) in ways that allow us to celebrate, share, and learn from each other!

Q9. I love research and I’m hoping to work in a lab. Will I be able to do that? 

First, that’s great! Research is at the heart of psychology and we are excited that you want to become involved. You should definitely reach out to the faculty whose research programs are of interests to you. Unfortunately, the need for social distancing and limits on the amount of time individuals can work in close proximity may affect the number of students who can work in faculty research labs. That said, individual faculty are well positioned to speak with you about the work they are doing and possible ways in which students can become involved.