Psychology Major

Students entering the University of San Diego and/or declaring a major during 2016-2017, should follow information contained in the printed course catalog (also known as the "catalog of record") published on October 1, 2016. Access the catalog of record at

Preparation for the Psychology Major

Required Courses
PSYC 101Introductory Psychology3
PSYC 230Research Methods in Psychology3
PSYC 260Statistics3

MATH 130 is strongly recommended. To maximize successful completion of the major we strongly recommend that students take BIOL 104 or BIOL 114 to satisfy the core curriculum life sciences requirement.

Major Requirements

A minimum of 28 units of upper division coursework in psychology is required and must be distributed as follows:

PSYC 342Biological Psychology
Select one of the following:
PSYC 354Behavior Disorders of Childhood
PSYC 355Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 356Psychological Assessment
PSYC 357Health Psychology
PSYC 359DHealth Psychology of Women and Ethnic Groups
PSYC 466Methods of Evidence-Based Psychotherapy
Select one of the following:
PSYC 332Learning and Behavior
PSYC 336Cognitive Psychology
Select one of the following:
PSYC 314Developmental Psychology: Childhood and Adolescence
PSYC 316Developmental Psychology: Adulthood and Aging
PSYC 318Child Development Across Cultures
Select one of the following:
PSYC 322Social Psychology
PSYC 324DCross-Cultural Psychology
Capstone 14
Select one Capstone course from the following:
PSYC 470Advanced Research Methods Animal Behavior Capstone
PSYC 471Advanced Research Methods Clinical Psychology Capstone
PSYC 472Advanced Research Methods Cognitive Psychology Capstone
PSYC 473Advanced Research Methods Developmental Psychology Capstone
PSYC 474Advanced Research Methods Health Psychology Capstone
PSYC 475Advanced Research Methods Conditioning and Learning Capstone
PSYC 476Advanced Research Methods Social Psychology Capstone
Upper-Division PSYC Electives9
PSYC 492Major Field Test in Psychology 20

The Social Science Teaching Credential

Students wishing to earn a social science teaching credential may do so while completing a major in psychology. The specific requirements for the teaching credential differ from the general requirements for the psychology major. Students interested in pursuing a social science teaching credential should consult the School of Leadership and Education Sciences.

Recommended Program of Study, Psychology

The recommended program of study is intended as a guide to students in planning their college program. It is not expected that students will adhere rigidly to the sequence of suggested courses. For example, a student may take ENGL 121 in the second semester of the freshman year equally as well as in the first semester.

Freshman Year
Semester IHours
PSYC 101Introductory Psychology (or Preceptorial)3
ENGL 121Composition and Literature3
MATH 115 130College Algebra
Survey of Calculus
Semester II
Select one of the following:3-4
BIOL 104Topics in Human Biology 
BIOL 114Topics in Human Biology with Lab 
PSYC 230Research Methods in Psychology3
Sophomore Year
Semester I
PSYC 260Statistics3
Semester II
Upper-Division PSYC3
Junior Year
Semester I
Upper-Division PSYC6
CC or electives9
Semester II
Upper-Division PSYC16
CC or electives9
Senior Year
Semester I
Upper-Division PSYC16
CC or electives9
Semester II
Upper-Division PSYC6
CC or electives9

When  offered as “W” courses, these fulfill the core curriculum upper division writing requirement. When offered as "O" courses, they fulfill the core curriculum oral communication requirement.


As part of the department’s assessment program, each graduating senior is required to take a major field test in psychology and senior exit survey (PSYC 492). A student who fails to do so may be restricted from graduating.

A minimum grade of C– in the 28 units of upper division course work in psychology used to complete the requirements for the major, and a minimum GPA of 2.00 in all upper division course work in psychology are required.

The electives chosen to complete the major requirements should be selected in consultation with your academic advisor with a view to achieving balance among the major areas of psychological knowledge. Students can take a maximum of 4 upper division pass/fail units towards the Psychology major, and a maximum of 6 are applicable to the 124 units required for graduation. For students interested in graduate work in psychology, taking additional courses, including laboratories, beyond those required for the major is an important consideration, as is obtaining field and research experience. Those who anticipate taking PSYC 499 should begin that work in the first semester of their senior year.

Note: Transfer students who wish to graduate as psychology or behavioral neuroscience majors must complete a minimum of 12 upper-division units in the Department of Psychological Sciences.