Swift Thinking: Winter 2015

Registration Information

Spring Courses

A table showing our anticipated course offerings for Spring is available online. The table includes information on meeting days and times. In addition, it indicates which major and minor requirements each course can fulfill, whether a course is available for preregistration, and whether you need permission to enroll.

Please check this table and the registrar's website for updates.

Preregistering for Spring Courses

The psychology department will be offering preregistration through CAESAR for most of our courses the week prior to regular registration. All students listed as psychology or cognitive science majors or minors in the registrar's system should be able to preregister through CAESAR for these courses. The only courses not available for preregistration for Spring quarter are the PSYCH 397/398/399 research courses.   

Preregistration times are announced by the Registrar's Office. You can preregister for a maximum of two courses. 

Wait Lists

Psychology courses are very popular, and they often close during registration. What should you do if a course you want to take has closed? Please use the electronic wait list function on CAESAR. If you try to add a course that is full, CAESAR will tell you that there are no openings and will ask if you would like to be on the wait list. As students drop the course, we will check the electronic wait list and send permission numbers to students who have the opportunity to enroll.

Registering for PSYCH 205-Research Methods

Students listed in CAESAR as majoring or minoring in psychology, cognitive science, or music cognition may preregister for PSYCH 205 through CAESAR. We are offering three sections next quarter. Make sure you have the statistics prerequisite before you enroll.  PSYCH 201-Statistical Methods in Psychology or an approved substitute is a prerequisite for all sections of PSYCH 205, and those who lack the prerequisite will be required to drop the course. You must complete the prerequisite before taking PSYCH 205.  For example, if you are in PSYCH 201 this Winter, you may sign up for PSYCH 205 for Spring because you will complete PSYCH 201 before Spring quarter starts. However, you may not take both PSYCH 205 and the prerequisite during the same quarter.

Registering for PSYCH 397, 398, and 399

One great way to learn more about psychological research is to become actively involved in research activities through PSYCH 399-Independent Study or the two-quarter PSYCH 397-Advanced Supervised Research. This is especially valuable for students considering graduate study in psychology, and it can be an educational and enjoyable experience for others as well. To enroll in PSYCH 397 or PSYCH 399, you should get an application online at the bottom of our webpage on doing research for course creditThe application is a PDF form, so you can fill it out and print it, then have it signed by the professor with whom you will be working. Once your application is signed, place it in the box on top of the Undergraduate Program Assistant’s desk in Swift 102.  As soon as your student-specific permission has been entered into CAESAR, you will receive an email to let you know that you can add the course to your schedule.  This must be done before the add period closes, so please plan accordingly. 

Remember that PSYCH 205-Research Methods in Psychology is a prerequisite for PSYCH 397. For more information on 397 and 399--including the differences between them, how they count towards requirements, and tips on finding a research adviser--see our webpage on doing research for course credit.

Special Courses For Spring Quarter

In Spring 2015 the psychology department will be offering one section of PSYCH 314-Special Topics and two sections of PSYCH 357-Advanced Seminar in Personality, Clinical, or Social Psychology.  The topics and course descriptions for these special courses, as well as their prerequisites, are listed below.

PSYCH 314 – SPECIAL TOPICS IN PSYCHOLOGY

PSYCH 314 counts toward the 300-level requirement for psychology majors and minors. It does not count toward the Column A (personality/clinical/social) or Column B (cognitive/neuroscience) requirement.

PSYCH 314-20: In Search of the Engram 

Aryeh Routtenberg

This course will review the original writings of Hebb and his teacher Lashley in the late 1940s on the neurological basis of memory which will lead into more recent research including how their insights of the 40's have been applied and understood in  the context of modern imaging methods applied by Tonegawa and others up to 2015.  Background in neuroscience or biological science recommended. 

PSYCH 357– ADVANCED SEMINAR IN SOCIAL, PERSONALITY, OR CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY  

PSYCH 357 counts toward the Column A (personality/clinical/social) requirement and also fulfills the Row 2 (upper-level research) requirement for students majoring in psychology. In addition, it counts as a 300-level course for both majors and minors.

PSYCH 357-20: Advanced Seminar: Psychology of Food

Sara Broaders

This course will explore the psychology of food and eating.  We’ll look at evolutionary, social, cultural, cognitive, and biological perspectives on eating behavior and food choice. Among the issues that we’ll explore are: why we eat, what we eat, how much we eat, what we won’t eat, and why we sometimes eat too much. Since this is an upper-level research course, we will focus on psychological theories, methodological issues, and empirical research in this area.  Students will also engage in designing, conducting, analyzing, and writing up an empirical research project during the quarter.

NOTE: We will NOT be covering eating disorders. This course is about normal processes and influences on eating behavior and food choice.

Prerequisite:  Psychology 205

PSYCH 357-21: Identity and Motivation

Mesmin Destin

The discussion-based course focuses on the connection between conceptions of the self and goal-oriented motivation, with particular attention devoted to the influence of social, structural, and cultural forces. The first segment of the term will cover classic theoretical work concerning the self and identity. Next, we will consider the relevance of a variety of social influences on identity and motivation. Finally, the course will close with a survey of contemporary identity-based intervention research and practical applications relating to trends in social inequalities, including education and health.

Prerequisite:  Psychology 205

Graduation Petitions

All Northwestern undergraduates are supposed to complete and submit Graduation Petitions one year prior to their intended graduation date (e.g., by the end of this Winter quarter if you expect to graduate in March 2016, and during Spring 2015 if you expect to graduate in June 2016).  If it’s time to do your Graduation Petition, set up an appointment with an adviser via email at  psych-advising@u.northwestern.edu or contact Lorrie Hansen in the department office (Swift 102, 847-491-5190).  Be sure to bring a copy of your CAESAR Degree Progress report to the meeting.

Doing your Graduation Petition on time makes sure you are on appropriate graduation lists and that you, the adviser, and the Registrar’s Office agree on what requirements you still need to complete. It also provides an opportunity to talk about your experiences in the department thus far and your plans for the coming year and beyond.

You can read more about the petition process and access petition forms on the Registrar’s website. A good place to start is the Registrar's Graduation Page.

News from the Undergraduate Psychology Association (UPA)

Hope everyone is having a great Winter Quarter and midterms aren’t hitting too hard. With the quarter (and the snow) in full swing, the UPA board has been working hard to provide some new opportunities for majors and minors this quarter, alongside our traditional programming!

Our first event this quarter was a volunteer opportunity at Children’s Home and Aid.  We had full attendance at our pilot trip and have more dates in the mix to make this into a regular volunteering opportunity! Look out for more information about our next trip on Sunday March 1st.

In addition, this quarter we are excited to offer two Lunch with a Professor events! The first is on February 11th at 12PM with Professor Sara Broaders! Professor Broaders is an Associate Professor of Instruction and the Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychology.  She teaches a variety of courses.  Her research interests are on student technology use in the classroom, and the role of gesture in cognition and communication.  The second will be on February 16th at 12:30PM with Professor Eli Finkel! Professor Finkel teaches undergraduate and graduate-level courses and conducts research in the Northwestern Self-Control and Relationships Lab. Students who attend these lunches are provided with a meal voucher to the Norris food court, and engage in conversation with the professors over lunch.  If you are interested in attending, please email upa.northwestern@gmail.com.

Along with our Lunch with Professor events, we are also excited to announce that we will be holding a panel during Reading Week that will focus on helping you understand what you can do with your Psychology degree. Panelists will come from various backgrounds in Psychology including research, academia, therapy, and industrial organization psychology. They will speak about their experiences and give students a better sense of the different types of career paths that exist in the field as well as distinguish between the various psychology degrees available. Be sure to keep an eye out for more information on this great event!

Finally, this quarter marks the beginning of the transition to a new UPA board. Elections will be held at the end of this quarter, so if you are interested in running for a position, be on the look out for an email with more information. We are always excited to see new faces and to meet with anyone interested in being on the board next year, just send us an email!

To learn more about UPA’s events and opportunities join the listserv by sending us an email to upa.northwestern@gmail.com. Also be sure to check out and like our Facebook page, “Northwestern Undergraduate Psychology Association.” And as always, if you have any suggestions, comments, or questions about UPA, please contact us! We look forward to seeing you all at our events this quarter. Stay warm!

The Senior Honors Program: Announcement for Current Juniors       

Each spring a few juniors with outstanding records in psychology are invited into Psychology 398, the Senior Honors Program. Each participant in the honors program conducts a year-long research project under the guidance of a faculty member. The project culminates in the preparation of a senior thesis. In addition, honors students participate in a special honors seminar. Those students who fulfill all the requirements for the Honors Program are recommended to Weinberg College for graduation with Honors in Psychology. (Final decisions are made at the College level.)

Students interested in participating in the Honors Program next year will need to submit formal applications this Spring. At this point prospective Honors Program candidates should be thinking about who might be their thesis adviser.  Updated information on this program, including details on how to apply, will be posted on our website on Honors in Psychology soon.  The deadline for applying is April 10, 2015.

University Resources for Students Interested in Research

Are you thinking about doing an internship in some area that interests you? Many psychology students do internships for academic credit through Northwestern’s  Chicago Field Studies program. Internships are available with a wide range of Chicago-area businesses and organizations—organizations focused on mental health, education, and other social services, legal and environmental organizations, financial services, health clinics, start-ups, and market research groups, among others. For more on options for psychology students, including a list of sites where psychology students have interned, see our webpage on Psychology and Chicago Field Studies.

Getting practical, hands-on experience in fields you find intriguing can help you see links between your academic studies and real-world issues. It is a good way to learn more about which career paths might be best for you. In addition, it can become a valuable credential when you apply for a job or for graduate study. Keep in mind that many work experiences not labeled as “internships” provide similar opportunities and benefits. See our webpage on Internships and Volunteering for more information and ideas. 

Resources for Students Interested in Research

Also, check out Northwestern’s Office of Undergraduate Research website for all undergraduates interested in, or just thinking about, research. This site addresses such topics as how to get involved in research, how to find research opportunities throughout the university, outlets for presenting research findings, and more. It includes information on proposal writing, as well as examples of successful student proposals from recent years.


Northwestern University’s Undergraduate Research Grants (URG) Program offers Academic Year Grants (up to $1000) and Summer Grants ($3000) to undergraduates pursuing independent research projects. The remaining deadlines for 2015 are February 17 (for Academic Year Grants) and March 13 (for Summer Grants). More information is available at http://undergradresearch.northwestern.edu/our. Under faculty supervision, URG winners immerse themselves in novel scholarly projects in the laboratory, the library, or the studio, on campus and around the world.  All undergraduate students are eligible for these grants. For more information on summer funding, see the next article in this newsletter.

Research and Travel Awards for Undergraduates

Funds for Summer Research

Each summer the Psychology Department offers two or more undergraduates a Benton J. Underwood Summer Research Fellowship.  Professor Underwood was chair of the psychology department and a distinguished researcher in the field of memory. He worked to establish the fund that makes these fellowships possible. Last year, the amount of the fellowship was $3000. Students who accept these fellowships spend most of the summer working on research at Northwestern with a psychology professor. The exact schedule is worked out with the professor who supervises the research. Both current juniors and current sophomores can apply for this award; priority is given to current juniors.  Work on an Underwood project often serves as the foundation for a senior thesis project, but receipt of an Underwood fellowship does not guarantee acceptance to our honors program.

If you are interested in doing research this coming summer, you should look into other funding sources too. All Underwood applicants should also apply for a Northwestern University Summer Research Grant from the Provost’s Office. Weinberg College also has funds for summer research by students (see the webpage on Weinberg College Grants for Undergraduate Research). Psychology students might also be interested in the Summer Undergraduate Research Assistants (SURA) program offered by the Institute for Policy Research. The Cognitive Science Program at Northwestern also offers summer research funding for undergraduates. Different funding sources have different selection criteria, and applying to more than one will enhance your chances of receiving an award. 

To apply for an Underwood Fellowship, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a faculty member to supervise your research and talk with him or her about what you will be doing and what your time commitment will be. You should also talk with the faculty member about the need for Institutional Review Board approval for your planned project.
  2. Prepare an application in which you include (a) a statement describing your plans for this research (this can be the same proposal you submit to the university's grants committee); (b) a copy of your transcript (an unofficial transcript is fine); and (c) information about your general interests in psychology, your relevant course work, your previous research experience, and anything else that you think is relevant.
  3. Have the faculty member who will supervise your research write a confidential letter of support for your application.
  4. Get your application and letter of support to Dr. Sara Broaders via email at s-broaders@northwestern.edu by Friday, March 13.

The Psychology Department Undergraduate Travel Award  

The Psychology department is happy to announce an award to fund student travel to professional conferences. The Psychology Department Undergraduate Travel Award provides funds to support students presenting their work at conferences. The money can be used to pay for conference fees and travel expenses. Preference will go to students who are first author on the presentation. Applications for this award are considered on a rolling basis. Please submit your applications to Dr. Sara Broaders via email at s-broaders@northwestern.edu. Put "Undergraduate Travel Award" in the subject line of the email. In the email, please include the following information:

  • Name
  • Class (e.g., sophomore, junior, senior)
  • Name of conference
  • Conference location
  • Dates of conference
  • Title of presentation
  • Author/s on presentation (in order)
  • Abstract of conference presentation (250 words or less)

In addition to providing this information, please ask your faculty sponsor to write a brief letter of recommendation describing your role in the research. This letter can be emailed to Dr. Broaders as well. Please ask your faculty sponsor to put “Undergraduate Travel Award” in the subject line.

Students applying for the Psychology Department Undergraduate Travel Award should look into other funding sources too. The university provides grants to assist students who are presenting the results of their research at professional conferences through the Provost’s Office of Undergraduate Research Grants program. Information on Weinberg College grants is available through the college website on Grants for Undergraduate Research.