Degree Requirements

There are New Requirements for students that began in Fall 2021, if you started prior to this date please refer to handbook below.

Requirements for a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology

To ensure you receive an appropriately broad and well-balanced education at MSU, psychology majors must satisfy the requirements of three separate units that represent three administrative levels:

  • the University
  • the College of Social Science
  • the Department of Psychology 

You must meet the graduation requirements of each unit.  In addition, you will need to choose elective coursework to achieve the minimum number of 120 credits for a degree.  You must complete 30 credits at the 300 or 400 level. 

An illustration of the degree framework is shown below:

 

 Specific Degree Requirement Information

  • University Requirements

    University Requirements

    WRITING REQUIREMENT—The Tier I writing requirement is fulfilled by successful completion of WRA 101 or 195H.  The Tier II portion of your writing requirement is fulfilled by the completion of a designated 300-400 level course in your major.  These course titles are followed by a “W”.

    MATHEMATICS REQUIREMENT—Complete one of the following*:

    1.  Complete both of the following:

         a.  Mathematics 103; and

         b.  One of the following courses: Mathematics 101, 102, 114, 124, 132, 152H, or 201; or Statistics and Probability 200 or 201.  Students who place into any course in 2.b via the Mathematics Placement Exam need only complete the course in 2.b in order to fulfill the University Mathematics requirement.

    2. Complete the following:

         a. Mathematics 116

    *PSY Math Information

    • PSY 295 requires College Algebra (MTH 103 or MTH 103 A&B) or Algebra placement waiver as one of the prerequisites.  
    • Calc is required for the BS in PSY (MTH 124 or 132).

     

    INTEGRATIVE STUDIES REQUIREMENT—The Integrative Studies requirement includes the completion of coursework in the Arts & Humanities, the Social Sciences, and the Biological and Physical Sciences. Students must complete 24 credits in the Integrative Studies courses (IAH, ISS, ISB,  ISP, and lab). 

    • IAH 201-210
    • IAH 211+

    Integrative Studies in Social Science—8 credits

    • ISS 2XX
    • ISS 3XX

    Integrative Studies in Biological and Physical Sciences*—8 credits

    • ISB 2XX
    • ISP 2XX
    • 2 Credits of ISB/ISP Lab

     

    *Alternative Science Track

    Psychology majors pursuing the B.S. degree in Psychology may choose to complete the University Alternative Science Track (this includes BS, CEM, PHY, and other approved courses to meet university science requirements).

    DIVERSITY REQUIREMENT - Must include at least two courses in National, International, and Diversity from the following combinations: N&I; N&D; or I&D.  The letter will be found after the IAH/ISS course title. 

  • College of Social Science Requirements: BA

    College of Social Science Requirements: BA

    EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING REQUIREMENT

    All students within the College of Social Science must complete an experiential learning requirement.  The experiential learning requirement may be satisfied either within or outside the requirements of the major.  The requirement may be met by completing a 3 or 4-credit experiential learning course, approved by the College of Social Science Committee on Curriculum and Academic Policy or its designee.  A list of approved courses is  maintained by the College of Social Science on their website.  Many students complete this requirement by successfully completing a study abroad, a study away, an internship or by conducting research with a faculty member.

    INTERDISCIPLINARY MINOR REQUIREMENT

    Complete a minimum of 15 credits in one Interdisciplinary Minor from a list of minors approved by the College of Social Science Committee on Curriculum and Academic Policy.  Examples of Minors approved for this requirement include: African Studies; Asian Studies; The City: Environment, Design and Society; Law, Justice, and Public Policy; Leadership of Organizations; Human Behavior and Social Services; Youth and Society; Environment and Health; International Development.  A list of approved minors is maintained by the College of Social Science on their website.  Minor requirements can have some duplication between major and minor, but not more than two courses.  If you wish to add one of the College of Social Science minors, please meet with a psychology advisor.

  • College of Social Science Requirements: BS

    College of Social Science Requirements: BS

    EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING REQUIREMENT

    All students within the College of Social Science must complete an experiential learning requirement.  The experiential learning requirement may be satisfied either within or outside the requirements of the major.  The requirement may be met by completing a 3 or 4-credit experiential learning course, approved by the College of Social Science Committee on Curriculum and Academic Policy or its designee.  A list of approved courses is  maintained by the College of Social Science on their website.  Many students complete this requirement by successfully completing a study abroad, a study away, an internship or by conducting research with a faculty member.

    INTERDISCIPLINARY MINOR REQUIREMENT

    Complete a minimum of 15 credits in one Interdisciplinary Minor from a list of minors approved by the College of Social Science Committee on Curriculum and Academic Policy.  Examples of Minors approved for this requirement include: African Studies; Asian Studies; The City: Environment, Design and Society; Law, Justice, and Public Policy; Leadership of Organizations; Human Behavior and Social Services; Youth and Society; Environment and Health; International Development.  A list of approved minors is maintained by the College of Social Science on their website.  Minor requirements can have some duplication between major and minor, but not more than two courses.  If you wish to add one of the College of Social Science minors, please meet with a psychology advisor.

    Specific College of Social Science Requirements for Psychology Bachelor of Science (BS)

    SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING, MATHEMATICS,REQUIREMENT (STEM)

     Complete a minimum of 15 credits in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) courses from a list of courses approved.  Note: The College requires only 12 credits of STEM for a BS degree, but the Department of Psychology requires 15 credits.  Please consult the Academic Programs page for the full list of approved PSY STEM courses for the BS degree (Requirement 5 & 6)

    BS MATHEMATICS REQUIREMENT

    A calculus course at the level of MTH 124 or higher is required.  If this course is used to satisfy the University Mathematics requirement, then the credits may not be counted toward the College STEM credit requirement.

  • Psychology Department Requirements

    Department of Psychology Requirements 

    Complete a minimum of 31 credits in Psychology with a minimum 2.0 PSY GPA.

    Required:

    • PSY 101  Introductory Psychology
    • PSY 295  Data Analysis in Psychological Research
    • PSY 395  Design and Measurement in Psychological Research

    Choose one:       

    • PSY 200  Cognitive Psychology
    • PSY 209  Brain and Behavior

    Choose two:       

    • PSY 235  Social Psychology
    • PSY 236  Personality Psychology
    • PSY 238 Developmental Psychology: Lifespan
    • PSY 244  Developmental Psychology: Infancy Through Childhood
    • PSY 255  Industrial and Organizational Psychology
    • PSY 270  Community Psychology
    • PSY 280  Abnormal Psychology

    Choose one: 

    • PSY 401  Expertise and Skill (W)
    • PSY 409  Psychobiology of Behavioral Development (W)
    • PSY 410  Neurobiology of Learning and Memory (W)
    • PSY 411  Hormones and Behavior (W)
    • PSY 413  Lab in Behavioral Neuroscience (W)
    • PSY 424  Child and Family Psychopathology (W)
    • PSY 444  Developmental Psychology: Adolescence Through Youth (W)
    • PSY 455  Advanced Topics in Organizational Psychology (W)
    • PSY 493* Issues in Psychology( W)

    (W) indicates a Tier II Writing course.

    Required:  Elective courses in Psychology to reach 31 credits. The elective courses in Psychology include Independent Study-PSY 490 & 491, Practicum-PSY 371/372, Internship-PSY 382 (instructor approval is required for these courses - See Get Involved section of the website) or other PSY classes (examples listed below or additional courses taken from above categories):

    • PSY 301 Cognitive Neuroscience 
    • PSY 302 Sensation and Perception
    • PSY/NEU 310  Psychology and Biology Of Human Sexuality
    • PSY 316  Children’s Exposure to Domestic Violence: Promoting Resiliency
    • PSY 317  Sexual Assault: Context, Interventions and Prevention
    • PSY 320 Health Psychology
    • PSY 333  The Neurobiology of Food Intake and Overeating
    • PSY 339 Psychology of Women
    • PSY 342 Stereotypes, Prejudice, and Discrimination
    • PSY/LIN 463 Introduction to Cognitive Science
  • General Electives
    General Electives

    General Electives are any courses that do not meet a specific course requirement.  This is your chance to explore and expand your knowledge in other areas of interest.  Psychology majors usually have 19-34 credits of General Electives depending on the degree selected.  These courses count toward the 120 minimum credits required for graduation.  Elective courses taken at the 300+ level,  also satisfy the upper level requirement.  Excess credits from University, College, or PSY requirements are also considered General Electives.  When completing electives, you can take a diversity of courses from all different disciplines.  If you would rather have them more focused, you may choose to complete a minor, additional major, or second degree.

     Some of the more popular departments Psychology majors select electives from are:

    • ACC Accounting
    • ADV Advertising
    • CEP Counseling, Educational Psychology and Special Education
    • COM Communication
    • EAD Educational Administration
    • FW Fisheries and Wildlife
    • HB Hospitality Business
    • HDFS Human Development & Family Studies
    • HRLR Human Resources and Labor Relations
    • IDES Interior Design
    • JRN Journalism
    • KIN Kinesiology
    • MI Media Informaiton
    • SOC Sociology
    • TE Teacher Education
  • Add your College of Social Science Interdisciplinary Minor

    All College of Social Science students are required to complete an Interdisciplinary Minor. All available minors are listed on the college degree requirement website. Please review the list of minors. Once you have determined the minor that you wish to complete, you may submit the form below. Some minors may require an approval process.

    CSS Interdisciplinary Minor Form

  • Psychology Student Handbook

    The Psychology Department Undergraduate Handbook is used as a tool to guide students through their academic requirements, as well as help link them to experiential-learning opportunities and campus resources. This handbook is updated every fall for the new incoming class. Students who began their Psychology degree before the current academic year should select the handbook appropriate to their start year to ensure they are reviewing appropriate requirements. 

     The current handbook is:  Psychology Handbook 2022-2023

     

    Archived Handbooks

    Psychology Handbook 2020-2021

    Psychology Handbook 2019-2020

    Psychology Handbook 2018-2019

    Psychology Handbook 2017-2018

    Psychology Handbook 2016-2017

    Psychology Handbook 2015-2016

    Psychology Handbook 2014-2015

    Psychology Handbook 2013-2014

    Psychology Handbook 2012-2013

    Psychology Handbook 2011-2012

    Psychology Handbook 2010-2011

    Psychology Handbook 2009-2010

    Psychology Handbook 2008-2009

    Psychology Handbook 2007-2008

  • Bachelor of Arts (BA) vs. Bachelor of Science (BS)

    Bachelor of Arts (BA) vs. Bachelor of Science (BS) 

    Students can choose to pursue a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BS) degree in Psychology. When choosing a degree, students should always start with what
    they are most interested in. If you have always been good at science and math, and you
    like it, you will most likely complete the Bachelor of Science in Psychology. If you have
    always been a successful writer, like the humanities, and enjoy learning about people and
    cultures, you will probably want to pursue the Bachelor of Arts. It seems easy, but many
    students fall somewhere in the middle.

    Many students ask which is better for jobs and graduate school. There is not one good
    answer for everyone. The answer depends on how well you would do in each of the
    areas. Some students think that the B.S. is the only way to graduate school, but if you
    can only get low grades in those courses, you may significantly hurt your chances for
    admission. If your future graduate program does not require or recommend those courses, you could have just lowered your GPA for no reason.

    Most graduate programs want a diversity of courses. They also want students to show
    that they can do well in challenging courses. This can be done through either the B.A. or
    the B.S. degree in Psychology. It is most important to do well in the most challenging
    courses that you can handle. It is also important to look ahead to see what courses are
    recommended by the graduate programs you are pursuing. If the programs you are looking into are more scientific in nature, you will probably want the courses in the B.S. degree.

    The best way to determine which degree is best for you is by meeting with a Psychology
    advisor.

  • Academic Degree Enhancements

    In many cases, it is possible to add more than just academic courses or a single degree on an MSU transcript. There are opportunities for minors, additional majors, and second degrees. Some of these can be completed within the required 120 credits, and others will add additional credits.

     

    Additional Major

    An option available to psychology majors is completing an additional major in another discipline. An additional major is listed on a final transcript. This does not award an additional diploma. Most disciplines offer an additional major, though the requirements for each can be very different. Most additional majors range between 24 - 60 credits. For more information and to sign up, please contact the academic advisor in the area of interest. 

     

    Second Degree

    Second degrees are available for students wanting two diplomas. The University requires students pursuing a second degree to complete a minimum of 30 credits beyond their first degree. Department and college-level requirements are usually required. A second degree can be added by meeting with an advisor in the area of interest.

     

    Minor

    A minor is listed on a final transcript. A list of minors is available on the MSU website in the Academic Programs Catalog.   Some minors are interdisciplinary and some have courses all in one department.  To sign up for a minor, please contact the academic advisor in the area of interest.

  • Changing Major

    If you are interested in changing to the major of psychology or changing from one degree to the other (PSY BA vs. BS), you will need to meet with a Psychology Advisor.  Your Advisor will discuss the requirements with you for the PSY degree that you desire and let you know your graduation requirements. You can schedule an appointment with an advisor via the SIS system or look up drop-in advising hours through the advising link on the psychology undergraduate website.

    If you are interested in changing out of psychology, no need to meet with a member of our team. Schedule an appointment with the major of your interest and they can help make the switch for you. You should go to the specific departments website with all questions or concerns. 

The following is a brief summary of University requirements; however, the Academic Programs catalog http://reg.msu.edu/AcademicPrograms/ is the official source for University policy:

· Complete a minimum of 120 credits with a 2.0 or better cumulative MSU GPA.

· Achieve a 2.0 or better Psychology cumulative GPA at MSU.

· Complete a minimum of 30 credits at MSU with a minimum of 27 credits on the East Lansing campus after junior status.

·  Earn a minimum of 20 credits while in the major.

·  Courses used to satisfy specific degree requirements may not be taken for CR/NC .

·  No more than 10 of a student’s last 30 credits may be transferred from a 4-year accredited college/university.  PRIOR APPROVAL IS REQUIRED.

· No more than 60 credits from a community college will be alllowed.

Note:  Before taking a course at another institution, you should clearly understand the MSU Policy on transferability of courses.  For more detailed information, please go to http://transfer.msu.edu/ and consult with your academic advisor.