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Psychology Meets Computers

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At first glance, you might not think psychology is even remotely related to computer science. But it's people who create the computer applications and people who use the applications. And in order for computers to be useful, programs and applications need to be intuitive and easy to use.

Have you ever been frustrated trying to figure out how to use an app on your cell phone or, conversely, loved an app because it didn't take much time to figure out how to use it? It's called human-computer interaction, and people who understand psychology understand how people think. And that makes for better interactions for people using computing devices, whether it's a cell phone or iPad app, an Excel spreadsheet, or a complicated database.

Kayla LooneyKayla Looney, a senior in applied computer science with a focus on psychology, interned at Intel. She's doing the psychology track because she wants to know how people use technology and how it affects their lives. "The future is exciting as far as technology is concerned," she says.

Top reasons to major in computer science with an emphasis in psychology

  • Computing is part of everything people do
    Computers and technology touches almost everything we use including the cars we drive, the airplanes that take us hundreds of miles away, or our cell phones we can't live without. And the usability of these applications is as important as their functionality.
  • Solve complex and challenging problems and make a positive difference in the world
    You could help people save lives by writing usable software to control ultrasounds, MRIs and new medical technologies; help save the Earth by writing software that helps people monitor the environment or contributes to alternative energy solutions.
  • There are lots of high-paying, flexible jobs
    Computer science is among the highest paid college degrees and its jobs are growing at twice the national average. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, starting salaries in 2012 was $60,038 for computer science graduates. Among these are usability specialists.
  • You could earn $40,000 on internships while in school
    At Oregon State, the Multiple Engineering Cooperative Program allows you to go on two six-month internships and earn 70% of the typical full-time salary. Many students get hired at one of the companies after they graduate.
  • Collaborate with other people
    It takes a team to create solutions to complex problems, so you'll work with people with different kinds of skills, both inside and outside the field. You'll also have opportunities to make your individual contributions by seeing things in a way that other people haven't thought about.
  • Be creative and innovative
    Coming up with ways to make computers and applications easy to use takes a lot of creativity, innovation and imagination, so you will always find new challenges in your work.
  • The future opportunities are limitless
    There are things that people haven't even thought of that are yet to come. And you can be a part of that — an exciting future where the possibilities are endless!

Things you could do with a computer science degree with an emphasis in psychology

  • Analyze users' experiences to help make software appealing, usable, and useful
  • Help develop software for rehabilitation technology
  • Create new and better user interfaces
  • Create new styles of games for education and fun



  • CS 160 - Computer Science Orientation
  • CS 161 - Introduction To Computer Science I
  • CS 162 - Introduction To Computer Science II
  • COMM 111 - Public Speaking
  • WR 121 - English Composition
  • MTH 231 - Elements of Discrete Mathematics
  • MTH 251 - Differential Calculus
  • PSY 201 - General Psychology
  • PSY 202 - General Psychology



  • CS 325 - Analysis of Algorithms
  • CS 344 - Operating Systems I
  • CS 352 - Introduction to Usability Engineering
  • CS 361 - Software Engineering I
  • CS 362 - Software Engineering II
  • CS 372 - Introduction to Computer Networks
  • CS 381 - Programming Language Fundamentals
  • PSY 437 - Motivation
  • PSY 442 - Perception


  • CS 261 - Data Structures
  • CS 271 - Computer Architecture and Assembly Language
  • CS 275 - Introduction to Databases
  • MTH 252 - Integral Calculus
  • ST 314 - Introduction to Statistics for Engineers
  • WR 222 - English Composition
  • WR 327 - Technical Writing
  • PSY 301 - Research Methods in Psychology
  • PSY 340 - Cognition
  • PSY 370 - Personality


  • CS 331 - Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • CS 391 - Social and Ethical Issues in Computer Science
  • CS 419 - Visualization
  • CS 419 - Research Methods
  • CS 434 - Machine Learning and Data Mining
  • CS 444 - Operating Systems II
  • CS 461, 462, 463 - Senior Capstone
  • PSY 494 - Engineering Psychology

Become a computer science major

Contact one of our advisors:

Amy Vincent

Calvin Hughes

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