Psychology Major Requirements

Please note: Starting in Summer 2022 all PSYC courses will have a 4-digit course number.


A list of *LECTURE* Courses with their new numbers (1000- and 2000-level) can be found here:

4-digit numbers for PSYC Lecture Courses 

A list of Psychology *SEMINARS* with their new 4-digit numbers (3000-level) can be found here:

4-digit numbers for PSYC Seminars (3000-level)



The emphasis on Psychology as a science begins in the introductory course, Introduction to Experimental Psychology, and persists in all subsequent, advanced coursework. As majors progress through their curricula, advanced courses shift from textbook summaries of topics to reading of the primary empirical literature. In addition, all majors gain first-hand experience with the process of generating psychological knowledge through empirical research, either by completing a faculty-supervised Mentored Research project (new numbers PSYC 4998 and PSYC 4999; old number PSYC 399) over the course of one or two semesters, or by taking a structured Research Experience course (new number 4000-level; old number 300-level).  Students can also explore advanced topics in small, discussion-based seminars (new number 3000-level; old number 400-level).

The undergraduate handbook can be viewed here:


Psychology majors are required to take a total of 13 credits. The current Psychology courses can be found here. To graduate, a minimum GPA of 2.0 in the major is required. The specific requirements of the major are:

Introduction to Experimental Psychology (new number PSYC 0001; old number PSYC 001): (1 cu) This one-semester course provides initial contact with the facts and basic concepts that underlie the field as a whole. It is an integrated treatment of the scientific basis of the field, and its content is assumed, but not duplicated, in the other psychology courses. PSYC 0001 is a prerequisite for all other psychology courses at the 1000-level and above, unless otherwise indicated. 

Students who earned 5 on the AP exam can get a waiver for PSYC 0001. In place of PSYC 0001, these students must take any other 1000- through 4000-level PSYC course so they still have a total of 13 credits toward the major. Please contact your advisor in the College about securing a waiver. 

Distribution Requirement (1000- and 2000-level courses): (6 cu) Majors take six lecture courses which approach various areas of the discipline in greater depth. Because Psychology is such a diverse discipline, majors distribute their six core lecture courses across three content areas to ensure broad coverage. These content areas are biological science, cognitive science, and social science. Majors are required to take one 1000-level course in each area, as well as a subsequent lecture course in each area (either 1000- or 2000-level). This totals six distribution courses. The available courses will change from time to time as new courses are added and others deleted, but the current lecture courses accepted in the distribution can be found here: Distribution Requirement (1000- and 2000-level courses)

Statistics Requirement: (1 cu) Inferential statistics are important for understanding and conducting research in Psychology. Each Psychology major is required to take an approved Statistics course. The following courses fulfill the statistics requirement in the Psychology Major: 

STAT1010, STAT 1020, STAT 1110, STAT 1120, STAT 4310, BIOL446, ECON103, SOCI120, NURS2300, ANTH 3454, CRIM 1200

These approved introductory statistics courses also fulfill the Quantitative Skills foundational requirement in the General Requirement curriculum of the College.

Empirical Research Requirement (4000-level credit; old number 300-level credit): (1 cu) All students must complete one semester of either Mentored Research (PSYC 4998 or PSYC 4999) or a Research Experience Course (4000-level course). Students are expected to be engaged in empirical research activities throughout the semester(s); exactly what this means will vary from project to project, but in all cases it should involve the empirical assessment of a psychological hypothesis. You will explore background literature relevant to your project, and develop the quantitative skills necessary to complete your research. There is a statistics prerequisite for the research credit (see above).

Each semester of PSYC 4998 or 4999 counts as one credit unit. Only two PSYC 4998 or 4999 credits can count toward your major. Any third or subsequent PSYC 4998 or 4999 credit will count as electives in the College.

Electives Requirement: (4 cu) Students are required to take four electives in the Psychology major. Students can take any undergraduate Psychology course from the 1000- to 4000- level as electives.

Lecture courses (1000- and 2000- level courses): Students often select additional lecutres/distribution courses as electives.

Seminars (3000-level courses; old number PSYC 400-level courses): Students are encouraged to take seminars. These are our highly popular small, discussion-based courses. These courses afford the opportunity to work closely with faculty, engaging with the material in depth.

A list of PSYC Seminars with their new 4-digit numbers (3000-level) can be found here:

4-digit numbers for PSYC Seminars (3000-level)

Psychology cognate electives: There are numerous courses from other departments that are permitted to count toward the Psychology major as electives. You are permitted a maximum of two approved cognate electives counting toward your major. Please note these courses are not necessarily offered frequently, and it is your responsibility to take any prerequisites or related course to be prepared for these courses. The approved cognate electives are: ANTH 104, ASAM 170, BIBB 233, BIBB 240, BIBB 310, BIBB 350, BIBB 421, BIBB 430, BBB 469, BIBB 470, BIBB 480, BIBB 482, CRIM 2070, ECON 13, EDU 235, EDU 241, EDU 251, EDU 345, LING 0724, LING 2700, PHIL 4840, PHIL 4843, STAT 1020, STAT 1120. If there is a course offered in another department that you would like to petition as a cognate elective, please email a rationale of how this course complements your undergraduate education with a PDF of the syllabus to

Mentored Research aka Independent Study (PSYC 4998 and 4999): Students are permitted to count a maximum of two PSYC 4998 or 4999 credits in the Psychology major. Many students earn one PSYC 4998 or 4999 credit completing the research requirement, and then a subsequent PSYC 4998 or 4999 credit counts as a Psychology major elective. Any additional PSYC 4998 or 4999 credits will count as electives in the College.

Research experience courses: These 4000-level courses (old number 300-level research courses) give students the opportunity to conduct research in a setting that emphasizes group work. These courses are rare and enrollment is usually through individual application. 

Statistics: Students are permitted to take a maximum of two statistics courses counting toward the Psychology major - one fulfilling the Statistics requirement and one cognate elective. Students considering graduate school are encouraged to take an advanced statistics elective (as an approved cognate elective described above). If you are unsure of which advanced statistics course is appropriate, please contact Claire Ingulli.

Individual Scholarly research credits (PSYC 3999; old number PSYC 299): Students may take PSYC 3999 as an elective. In this seminar-of-one, the student completes a set of directed readings, meets regularly with their faculty supervisor to discuss these readings, and writes a critical paper addressing some topic(s) covered by these readings. It is the student's responsibility to arrange their scholarly research credit with a Penn Psychology faculty member. This course does not satisfy the research credit requirement!