10 Psychology Courses Typically Required by Colleges and Universities (2022)

If you're a psychology student, you will need to take a number of courses that focus on the science of human behavior. Your goal as a student is not only to fulfill the course requirements of your program department, but to also develop critical thinking skills, research competence, and in-depth knowledge of psychology that will serve you well as you advance in your academic and career pursuits.

Here are some of the top courses you should consider when selecting classes to take as an undergraduate psychology major. You should also keep in mind your coursework if you are minoring in a related area.

1. General Psychology

10 Psychology Courses Typically Required by Colleges and Universities (1)

This introductory course offers an overview of the entire field of psychology. It may seem overwhelming at first, due to the sheer volume of information you'll learn, but this important class lays the groundwork for your future studies.

Remember, however, that the goal of this class is to provide an introduction to the history of psychology and the scientific study of the human mind and behavior. While it may seem like you are skimming over huge topics, you'll be able to delve deeper into these subjects in later courses.

2. History of Psychology

In order to understand contemporary psychology, it's important to look back at the origins and influences of this science. Courses on the history of psychology generally begin with the subject's ancient philosophical origins and explore the contributions of major thinkers up through the modern-day.

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3. Statistics

Statistics courses are a must for any psychology major, whether or not you plan to pursue a graduate degree later on. Statistics offers a core background for understanding how psychologists investigate human behavior.

This course generally focuses on statistical methods and techniques used by researchers. Many psychology graduate programs require at least one undergraduate course in statistics in order to gain admission to the program.

4. Experimental Psychology

A course in experimental psychology is an essential foundation for any psychology major. In this course, you will learn about basic research methods and experimental designs. While course requirements may vary from one school to the next, most experimental psychology courses require students to perform experiments.

5. Physiological Psychology

In order to form a full understanding of the mind and behavior, it's important to develop your knowledge of the brain, neural actions, sensation and perception, basic neuroanatomy, and physiological processes. A course in physiological psychology serves as a good introduction to the field of neuropsychology, although it may be listed under an alternate course title such as behavioral neuroscience, biopsychology, or biological psychology.

6. Cognitive Psychology

In this course, you will learn more about the cognitive process that forms the foundation of human behavior. Cognitive psychology involves the study of internal mental processes—all of the things that go on inside your brain, including perception, thinking, memory, attention, language, problemsolving, and learning.

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7. Abnormal Psychology

Courses in abnormal psychology focus on the biological, environmental, and cultural influences on abnormal behavior. Some of the topics studied in this course might include mood disorders, personality disorders, psychosomatic disorders, and substance misuse.

In addition to exploring the background, assessment,and diagnosis of these disorders, students also explore some of the available treatment approaches.

8. Developmental Psychology

Developmental psychology courses study the course of human development from conception throughout the lifespan. In some cases, students may opt to take an encompassing course that provides an overview of development through life or choose to take a course that focuses primarily on child development.

Developmental psychology courses generally look at developmental changes in biological, emotional, and cognitive domains, as well as how factors such as family, school, peers, and culture impact this growth.

9. Social Psychology

Social psychology courses are focused on the scientific study of social influences on behavior and the interaction between individuals and groups. Topics studied in this class include social pressure, leadership, nonverbal communication, persuasion, obedience, and the bystander effect. Social psychologists are interested in the impact that the social environment and group interactions have onattitudesand behaviors.

While there are many similarities tosociology, social psychology tends to lookat social behavior and influences at a very broad-based level. Sociologists are interested in the institutions and cultures that influence how people behave. Psychologists instead focus on situational variables that affect social behavior.

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10. Personality Psychology

A course in personality psychology offers a solid background in the numerous theories of personality development, including Freudian, psychosocial, behavioral, humanistic, and existential theories.

This area of psychology seeks to understand personality and how it varies among individuals, as well as how people are similar. Psychologists also assess, diagnose, and treat personality disorders that can interfere with day-to-day life.

Psychology Electives You Chould Take

Beyond the general education and departmental requirements, you can then take elective courses based on your interests. Most psychology programs also require a minimum number of psychology electives in order to graduate.

During your first year or two of college, you should concentrate on taking the required general education and major classes. If you end up filling your schedule with elective courses during the early years of your college education, you may find yourself scrambling to play catch up during your junior and senior years.

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By saving most of your electives for the third and fourth year, you'll be able to enjoy some fun and interesting courses when many of your required program courses are starting to get tougher and more challenging.

Electives for Psychology Majors

Many students choose to take elective courses that are related to their futurecareer goals. For example, a student with an interest inconsumer psychologymight focus on electives in areas like marketing, advertising, social psychology,experimental design, and statistics.

Other students might opt to take some elective courses in psychology along with classes in other interest areas. For example, a student interested in pursuing a career inart therapymight take fine arts classes as part of her undergraduate electives.

Some of the electives that might be of interest topsychology majorsinclude courses in:

  • Sociology
  • Public affairs
  • Social work
  • Anthropology
  • Communications
  • Criminal justice
  • Biology
  • Health sciences
  • History
  • English composition
  • Statistics
  • Political science
  • Philosophy

As you choose electives, think about how these courses relate to your career goals.

If you plan on being a research psychologist, classes in statistics, writing, andresearch methodswould prove particularly useful. On the other hand, if you're thinking of a career in mental health, courses in biology and health sciences might be the most beneficial.

Talk to Your Advisor

Whether you are earning a BA or BS in psychology, selecting the classes that are right for your academic plan is important. This is why it is so important to talk to your academic advisor. Your advisor can inform you about specific university requirements, as well as make additional suggestions based on your major, interests, and goals.

A good idea is to make a four-year academic plan outlining the courses that you would like to take each semester. This not only ensures that you meet all of the requirements of your degree program, but it also allows you to see where you can schedule in elective courses.

A Word From Verywell

College is a time to prepare for your future and explore your academic interests. Consider your future plans when picking classes. If you are thinking that you might want to go to graduate school, research which classes you will probably need to take in order to apply to these programs. Taking a hard look at the different classes you will need now and in the future may help you determine if going to graduate school in psychology is the right choice for you.

While you should certainly focus on your core courses first and foremost, you should plan on scheduling at least a few elective courses in order to get the minimum credits needed to graduate.

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Elective courses are an excellent way to learn more about new subjects and broaden your education, so spend some time browsing through your school's course catalog to familiarize yourself with what is available.


What subjects do I need to study psychology in college? ›

Overall, a combination of good, academic A level subjects is required. Psychology A level is desirable, but not usually required. Other preferred subjects include sociology, geography, anthropology, economics, politics, philosophy, and history.

What are the main subjects for psychology? ›

A course in experimental psychology is an essential foundation for any psychology major. In this course, you will learn about basic research methods and experimental designs.

Why are psychology courses required? ›

Psychology helps you understand people.

Understanding how and why people act can give a new perspective on communication and human relations. Understanding how large groups of people tend to think and feel is also useful in many aspects of the professional world.

Do I need maths for psychology? ›

There are certain specializations in psychology where being good at math is useful, but it's not a requirement. Psychologists who go into research or social psychology usually end up dealing with a lot of statistics and other math-driven analytical techniques. Although it's definitely math, it's not rocket science.

Do you need biology for psychology? ›

All PSY programs require 4U Advanced Functions or Calculus math course and 4U Biology, as Psychology is considered a science discipline (we accept out of province equivalents).

What kind of math do you need for psychology? ›

A basic grasp of algebra is beneficial for this and other research-related classes. In fact, to set you up for success in stats, National prefers you complete Algebra I and Algebra 2 first. (A passing grade on a placement test can also suffice.)

What do you study in psychology at University? ›

You will study theories of behaviour, how the brain and mind work and develop skills to design experiments and collect data. Psychology is useful for a wide range of careers including social work, media and business, as well as being a first step to qualifying as a psychologist.

What is psychology course in college? ›

Psychology majors develop a broad understanding of human behavior as well as the skills to understand and interpret research findings concerning human behavior. The psychology curriculum includes courses in cognitive, developmental, behavioral and neural studies, learning, personality, social and clinical psychology.

What classes do you have to take in college? ›

Core Classes
  • Examples of core classes include math, science, foreign language, writing, history and psychology.
  • Some colleges and universities may allow students to opt out of certain core classes, such as a foreign language, if they have already earned Advanced Placement or dual credit for that class in high school.
1 Apr 2022

How many types of psychology are there? ›

Eight types of psychology to consider a career in include: abnormal, biopsychology, social, cognitive, developmental, personality, forensic and industrial-organizational.

Is psychology a required class in high school? ›

However, it's not until high school that students typically have a chance to learn about psychology specifically. Even then, high school psychology courses are usually offered as electives, not required classes. Most high schools offer just one or two psychology courses, at most.

Does psychology require a lot of writing? ›

The ability to write well is one of the most important skills you can gain as a psychology major. Most psychology courses require a significant amount of writing, including essays, case studies, research reports, and other papers.

Does psychology require calculus? ›

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.

How hard is a psychology degree? ›

Psychology is a challenging major, and many of your tasks will need you to reference sources from online journal article databases and support many of the claims you make. There will also be plenty of lectures, however, your learning will be focused on reviewing various academic viewpoints and empirical evidence.

What science should I study for psychology? ›

Social Sciences

Many university psychology programs recommend that high school students take plenty of social science courses including economics, history, government, geography, and sociology.

Do you need chemistry in psychology? ›

Is chemistry important for psychology? Yes, chemistry is important in psychology because there are so many chemical components in the brain that give rise to emotions and behavior.

Which course is best in psychology? ›

Here are the best Psychology courses at the master's level/after graduation:
  • MSc Clinical Psychology.
  • Master of Psychology.
  • MA Counselling Psychology.
  • MSc Behavioural Science.
  • MSc Developmental Psychopathology.
  • MA Developmental Psychology (Research Methods)
  • MA Ed Curriculum, Instructional and Educational Psychology.

What grades are needed for psychology? ›

All applicants must have A-level or AS level or GCSE Mathematics at B or above. BSc: Two A-level subjects from mathematics, psychology or other science subjects (or mathematics plus one science subject).
Other typical A-levels taken by psychology students include:
  • English.
  • general studies.
  • history.
28 Mar 2018

Which grade is needed in psychology in Kenya? ›

Entry Requirements:

Mean grade C+ (plus) at KCSE or equivalent with at least C (plain) in English and Mathematics, or. Mean grade of C (plain) with a diploma (passed with credit) in any field of study from a recognized institution of higher learning.

How long is psychology in college? ›

If you're attending school full-time, you can earn a bachelor's degree in psychology within four or five years. If you decide to go for your master's degree, expect another two to three years. A doctorate degree in psychology can take anywhere from four to seven years.

What subjects do I need to study psychology in Nigeria? ›

(i) 'O' Level:5 'O' Level Credits including English Language, Biology and Mathematics and at least two other Social Science subjects from any of the following: Government, Economics, Geography, Civic Education and Social Studies.

How hard is psychology degree? ›

Psychology is one of the more difficult degrees and many of your assignments will require you to cite your sources and will require you to back up a lot of the arguments that you have.

Is a psychologist a doctor? ›

Is a clinical psychologist a doctor? Despite the word “clinical,” a clinical psychologist isn't a medical doctor. They usually can't order medical tests, like blood or imaging tests, and they generally can't prescribe medication.

Can you do psychology without science? ›

A. In case a student wishes to pursue BSc in Psychology, then it is necessary for him/her to study Science stream in Class 11 and 12. For a BA in Psychology, it is not mandatory to study Science.

Can I do psychology with a D+? ›

- Psychology of personality. - Project. - Counselling practicum. Course entry requirements: KCSE minimum grade of D+ or KCE Division 3 or the equivalent.

How much is a psychologist paid in Kenya? ›

Salary range for the majority of workers in Psychologists - from Ksh27,359 to Ksh106,877 per month - 2022. A Psychologists typically earns between Ksh27,359 and Ksh72,309 net per month at the start of the job. After 5 years of service, this is between Ksh42,011 and Ksh123,350 per month for a working week of 52 hours.

What is medical psychology course? ›

Medical psychology, or Medico-psychology, is the application of psychological principles to the practice of medicine, primarily drug-oriented, for both physical and mental disorders.

Is psychology a BA or BS? ›

A bachelor's degree in psychology builds critical thinking and analytical skills employers value while preparing students for graduate study in the field. Learners can pursue a BA and explore psychology alongside other liberal arts, or they can earn a BS and build additional science and mathematics competencies.

Which degree is best for psychology? ›

A bachelor's degree offers the best pathway to a variety of psychology careers. Graduates may take positions in social and community services, human resources, and rehabilitation services or pursue employment in non-psychological fields such as business, criminal justice, and education.

How long is a PhD in psychology? ›

Ph. D. in psychology programs take between five to seven years to complete, and typically include one year-long internship.

Can arts student study psychology? ›

Yes, Humanities students can study Clinical Psychology course. Colleges in India offers Clinical Psychology course for even Humanities, Arts etc students. Admission is based on entrance exam or merit obtained in qualifying exam.

How many years does it take to become a psychologist in Nigeria? ›

Psychology is a course in the faculty of the Social sciences. Upon completion of a course in Physiology, students are awarded a Bachelor of Science. Depending on your mode of entry into the university, Psychology takes three to four years to study in Nigeria.

Is Biology compulsory in jamb for psychology? ›

UME (University Matriculation Examination) candidates who apply for admission via JAMB are required to take the following subjects: Biology, English language and two other subjects such as Government/History, Physics, Chemistry, and Literature.


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