BA in Psychology (39 credits)

The psychology major places a strong emphasis on research with primary sources, on writing, and on developing analytical skills. Since so many careers in psychology require graduate training, coursework in the psychology major prepares all students for further study at the graduate level. About 2/3 of our students go on to graduate study after finishing at Houghton.


Introduction to Psychology (PSY 111) is required of all majors, but it is not a prerequisite before taking additional coursework in the discipline.

The major for a bachelor of arts (BA degree) requires 36 hours beyond the Introduction to Psychology course. All psychology majors complete 15 hours of core requirements, and then choose either General Psychology or a specialty track from:

  • Clinical/Counseling
  • Social/Development
  • Neuroscience

An honors research focus may be combined with any track to offer extra challenge for highly motivated students. It requires an honors-enhanced class in each of the three tracks, two semesters of collaborative research, and a senior honors project. In our flexible curriculum, the only required course sequence is Statistics (PSY 309) and Experimental Methods (PSY 310), which should be taken in fairly close succession during the sophomore and junior years. There is sufficient flexibility for students to change tracks prior to the senior year, should they choose to do so.

Students desiring to participate in an internship should plan to work closely with their advisors to complete appropriate courses prior to placement: Experimental Methods, Abnormal Psychology, and Counseling and Psychotherapy. Up to six internship hours may count toward the major. Some students with a double major may find that coursework counts for both majors, reducing the total number of courses required.


All students majoring in psychology take Introduction to Psychology and the Core Requirements, for a total of 18 credit hours:


  • Introduction to Psychology (1 course, 3 hours)
    This course also meets the Community requirement in psychology for integrative studies.
  • Core Requirements (4 courses, 14 hours)
    •  PSY 309 Statistics (4)
    •  PSY 310 Experimental Methods (4)
    •  PSY 354 Brain and Behavior (4)
    •  PSY 480 Senior Capstone Seminar (3)

Beyond the core requirements, students choose a track according to their interests, outlined below. Note that most specialty tracks include further study in a cognate area of interest to the student.

Finally, students in all tracks take elective courses as needed to complete 39 hours in psychology.

General Track

Most students will start with the general track, changing to a specialty track if their interests develop in a particular direction.

Distribution Areas (Take at least one course from each area)

I. Developmental Area (1 course, 3 hours)

  • PSY 213, Developmental Psychology, or PSY 217, Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood, or PSY 230, Lifespan Development of the Family

II. Social Area (1 course, 3 hours)

  • PSY 218, Social Psychology or PSY 337 Social Cognition

III. Neuroscience Area (1 course, 3 hours)

  • Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, PSY 335, Drugs and Behavior or PSY 451, PSY 325 Human Sexuality, Learning and the Brain

IV. Clinical Area (1 course, 3 hours)

  • PSY 310 Psychology of Personality, PSY305 Abnormal Psychology, or PSY 314 Childhood Psychopathology

V. Integrative Issues Area (1 course, 3 hours)

  • PSY 306 Psychology of Religion, or PSY 401 History and Systems of Psychology

Clinical/Counseling Track

  • Developmental Psychology (PSY 213, 217, 230, or 321) (3)
  • PSY 305 Abnormal Psychology OR PSY 314 Child Psychopathology (3)
  • PSY 301 Psychology of Personality OR PSY 306 Psychology of Religion (3)
  • PSY 325 Human Sexuality OR PSY 335 Drugs and Behavior (3)
  • PSY 401 Counseling and Psychotherapy (3)
  • vi. PSY 415 Internship (2 – 6)
  • Electives to total 36 credits above Introduction to Psychology (0 – 4)

Social/Developmental Track 

  • PSY 213 Developmental Psychology (3) 
  • PSY 218 Social Psychology (3)
  • PSY 337 Social Cognition (3)
  • PSY 217 Adolescence & Emerging Adulthood OR PSY 230 Lifespan Development of the Family (3)
    PSY 451 Learning and the Brain (2)
  • Research project (0 - 4)
  • Cognate areas: 12 hours in Communication, Education, Philosophy, OR Sociology  

Developmental Track

  • PSY 213 Developmental Psychology (4)
  • PSY 217 Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood (4)
  • PSY 230 Lifespan Development of the Family (4)
  • PSY 314 Childhood Psychopathology (2)
  • Advanced Developmental Psychology (0 - 4) (This may be coursework, research, practicum, internship, or service learning.)
  • Electives must include a course in neuroscience. (2 - 4)
  • Cognate areas:  12 hours in Education, Family Studies, Recreation, Health, or other related field     

Psychobiology Track

  • PSY 325 Human Sexuality (4)
  • PSY 335 Drugs and Behavior (4)
  • PSY 336 Cognitive Psychology (4)
  • PSY 451 Learning and the Brain (2)
  • Research Project (0 - 4)
  • Cognate areas:  12 hours in Biology or Biochemistry

Honors Research Track

  • PSY 451 Learning and the Brain (2)
  • PSY 336 Cognitive Psychology (4) or PSY 337 Social Cognition (4)
    Collaborative Research, two semesters (2)
  • PSY 496 Honors in Psychology
  • One honors-enhanced course in each of three of the following areas (12):
    Developmental, Social, Clinical, Integration
  • No specific cognate area is required for the honors research track.

Minor:  A minor in psychology consists of any 12 semester hours above PSY 111, excluding Statistics (PSY 309).

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