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Tips for Course Selections in the Psychology Major

We believe that all Psychology majors, whatever their special interests, should be well-grounded in the scientific research methods of our field and familiar with the basic theoretical perspectives offered by the biological, behavioral, and cognitive subfields of psychology.

Although you should work with your advisor to select and sequence those Psychology courses that will best fit your needs and goals, and also consult our B.S. Roadmap and B.A. Roadmap,  there are a few general recommendations that apply to all majors:

  • In selecting your Psychology courses it is very important that you enroll in courses for which you have completed the prerequisite(s). Check prerequisites and Psychology course descriptions in the Undergraduate Catalog.
  • B.A. and B.S. students should try to take Psychology 211 (Psychological Statistics) and 220 (Research Methods) early in the major. 211 is a prerequisite for 220, and because 220 builds on 211, they should be taken close to each other. These courses also provide an excellent background for all other courses in our department and are prerequisites for the required laboratory course in the B.S. degree.
  • The Department typically offers one section of Psychology 250 each semester. 250 is a 6-hour class that combines Psychological Statistics & Research Methods and is thus an alternative way to complete the required 211 and 220 courses for students enrolled in the B.S. program. Classes meet multiple times a week for a total of six hours of instruction. It is designed for students who seek to accelerate their study of psychology or who wish to combine the study of statistics and research design. It is strongly recommended that students complete a mathematics course before taking this class.
  • If you are in the B.S. degree program, we do not recommend taking all three of the required 200-level content area courses [e.g., Psychology 213 (Conditioning and Learning), 214 (Behavioral Neuroscience), and 215 (Cognitive Psychology)] at the same time. The Psychology Department uses course numbers to indicate the general order in which we believe courses should be taken. Course numbers are NOT an indication of ease or rigor of a course. 200-level courses are foundational courses whose content is fundamental to the understanding of courses numbered 300 and above. We suggest that B.A. and B.S. students enroll in 200-level courses early in the major.
  • If you are in the B.S. degree program, the laboratory course should closely follow Psychology 220 (Research Methods) because the content of Methods is directly relevant to the design and execution of research projects in the lab. Laboratory courses are offered in six areas (Conditioning and Learning, Social Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience, Sensation and Perception, Cognitive Psychology, and Developmental Psychology). Check the lab prerequisites in the catalog, and keep in mind that the Department has not regularly offered lab courses in the summer.
  • Juniors and seniors should be aware of courses offered occasionally as Psychology 410 (Special Topics in Psychology). The content of Special Topics courses changes frequently, allowing faculty members to cover areas of psychology that are of current interest and for which there is no designated course in the curriculum. Remember, no more than 6 semester hours of 410 may count toward the major.
  • Students who are planning to pursue graduate study in psychology would be well served by enrolling in the B.S. degree program, which requires additional hours in advanced coursework such as Psychology 390 (Advanced Psychological Statistics). 
  • Remember that Psychology 497 (Tutorial), 498 (Independent Study), 448 (Bachelor's Essay in Neuroscience), and 499 (Bachelor's Essay) have special requirements (e.g., Independent Study requires junior or senior standing and a GPA of 3.0 or higher in psychology). These courses enable qualified and motivated students to work in depth on a topic of interest, under the guidance of a member of the department. You can find more on this topic under the Graduate Study area of our advising website.  These courses are available to majors in both the B.A. and B.S. degree programs.
  • B.A. and B.S. students interested in the application of psychological theories and principles in an applied community field setting should look at our academically-based Psyc 397 (Internship Experience).  If you are interested in a community internship that is not for academic credit, you may wish to check the Career Center's Certificate Internship Program

Finally, here are some points to keep in mind in relation to your math course selections:

  • Take at least one of your math courses prior to enrolling in Psychology 211 (Psychological Statistics) or Psychology 250 (Psychological Statistics & Research Methods).
  • Your math placement score (which is calculated on the basis of your SAT math performance and your most advanced high school math course) determines which math courses you will be allowed to enroll in. If you have any questions about your math placement, please contact the Associate Chair of the Department of Mathematics. 
  • B.A. students typically complete the Psychology mathematics requirement with Math 104 (Elementary Statistics) and either Math 105 (Calculus for Business and the Social Sciences), Math 111 (Pre-Calculus Mathematics), or a higher-level calculus course.  Note that Math 101 and Math 103 count as elective credit hours towards graduation, but cannot be used to fulfill the Psychology mathematics requirement. 
  • B.S. students must complete the Psychology mathematics requirement with a statistics course [Math 250 (Statistical Methods I)] and a calculus course [either Math 111 (Pre-Calculus Mathematics), Math 120 (Introductory Calculus), or a higher-level calculus course]. 
  • Please note that B.A. and B.S. students may complete the Psychology mathematics requirement with advanced math courses such as Math 220 (Calculus II), HONS 115 (Honors Calculus), or any Honors math course with a calculus prerequisite.  Be sure to check the prerequisites before you enroll in any of these courses.