The Psychology Majors

The Psychology Department offers three majors: the Psychology Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) major, the Psychology Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major, and the Neuroscience Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major. Starting with the class of 2023 the requirements for the Psychology B.S. major will change, resulting in two distinct sets of requirements for the Psychology B.S. major: one for the classes of 2023 and after and one for the classes of 2022 and before. The Neuroscience B.S. major is new and is open to the classes of 2020 and after, but it cannot be declared until September 1, 2019. All three degree options introduce students to the broad range of topics that psychologists study, while also allowing students to choose an individualized course of study and focus on some aspects of psychology in greater depth. Each option allows students to gain research experience working in one or more of our psychology labs.

The Psychology B.A. and the Psychology B.S. (classes 2023 and after) majors are particularly suited to students who wish to understand human behavior and mental function. Students will take Psychology courses relevant to social, developmental, biological, and cognitive psychology and will learn how animal models can be used to inform human behavior. Together these courses will provide students with an appreciation for the theories that have been put forth to explain human behavior and for the importance of considering clinical, cultural, social, biological, and developmental factors when trying to understand why humans think, feel, and act as they do. Both degree options introduce students to the broad range of topics that psychologists study, while also allowing students to choose an individualized course of study and focus on some aspects of psychology in greater depth.

The Psychology B.S. (classes of 2023 and after) will be a research-focused track. Students interested in psychology as it relates to other scientific disciplines and/or who are planning to pursue research-focused graduate work (e.g., Ph.D., M.D.) are encouraged to select the B.S. major. B.S. students will take courses in Psychology and choose from elective co-requisites in departments including Economics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Together these courses will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the scientific study of the human mind and with opportunities for exposure to hands-on, laboratory science. This major is well-suited for students interested in a research-based approach to psychology. For students who are more likely to pursue graduate work without a focus on research (e.g., social work, law, Psy.D., Ed.D.) and/or would like greater flexibility in their course schedule, the B.A. may be more appropriate.

The Psychology B.S. (classes of 2022 and before) is particularly suited to students who wish to explore the brain mechanisms of human and animal behavior and mental functioning. Students will take courses from the Psychology, Biology, and Chemistry Departments that are related to evolution, genetics, physiology, neurobiology, and the neural basis of higher cognitive and emotional processes in humans. Together these courses will provide students with a strong foundation in the neurobiological processes that underlie behavior, motivation, and cognition. The Psychology B.S. (classes of 2022 and before) major covers most of the requirements for premed.

The Neuroscience B.S. major is a new major that may be declared on or after September 1, 2019. It is a research-focused degree for students who are interested in understanding the biological basis of brain function in relation to thought and behavior. The major has co-requisites in Biology and Chemistry as well as elective natural science co-requisites, and emphasizes exposure to hands-on, laboratory science. Students will take courses that are related to evolution, genetics, physiology, neurobiology, and the neural basis of higher cognitive and emotional processes in humans. Together these courses will provide students with a strong foundation in the neurobiological processes that underlie behavior, motivation, and cognition. The Neuroscience major covers many of the requirements for premed.

Major Requirements

More Information

The Psychology Department grants credit toward the major for A.P. examinations in Psychology, Calculus, and the natural sciences. Please see the Advanced Placement description in the university catalog for a complete description of this course credit.

Most students majoring in Psychology or Neuroscience are assigned a faculty member in the Psychology Department as an advisor. Some exceptions include freshmen and students for whom Psychology or Neuroscience is a second major. If you have not been assigned an advisor from Psychology, you should seek some form of departmental advising prior to registering for courses. You can obtain advising from any faculty member. You need only pick up your degree audit from your assigned advisor. Faculty advisors can be valuable as sources of opinion and guidance. However, it is unlikely that any one person will be able to answer all of your questions. Here are some suggestions:

  • The Department holds informational sessions for students considering graduate work in clinical psychology.
  • The main office has syllabi for almost all psychology courses. You can request that a syllabus be emailed to you.

Meeting Your Advisor

Keep in mind that the registration period is particularly busy. Each faculty member has many advisees who all need to pick up forms and receive advising during a brief period of time. To keep this process running smoothly, consider the following suggestions.

  • Prepare your questions carefully ahead of time so that you get the answers you need.
  • Read and know the specific requirements for the major before you meet with your advisor. These detailed requirements are listed in the course catalog. You must assume responsibility for knowing what you must take in order to graduate. Your advisor is there to offer advice and some perspective on larger issues rather than to repeat what is readily available in print or to tell you what to do.
  • Make an appointment to talk to your advisor at some other time during the semester when things are not so hectic. Doing so will give you an opportunity to discuss the longer-term issues which are certainly relevant to your Boston College experience.
  • If you are interested in some special programs, make an appointment to see the relevant advisor: pre-medical advisor Prof. Robert Wolff of the Biology Department in Higgins Hall, pre-law advisor Dean Joseph Burns in the Morrissey Associate Deans Office, Gasson 109B, junior year abroad advisor Prof. Jeff Flagg at the Foreign Study Office, etc. Again, it is best to make these appointments before the registration period starts.

Your Degree Audit

Your DeGRE (Degree and Graduation Requirements Evaluation) audit, which contains your access code number, is mailed to your advisor. (Seniors’ degree audits are sent to them directly.) You contact this person to pick up your audit form and access code and to review your course selections for the coming semester.

This document lists all courses that Student Services is counting towards your requirements for graduation. A completed requirement has *** in front of it. Once you have declared your major, there is a separate listing of the major requirements you have satisfied and those you have not. If you have a question about a requirement that is not completed, you should check with Student Services. If the question concerns the Psychology or Neuroscience major, you may be referred to the Director of Undergraduate Studies. It is a good idea to straighten out these problems as early as possible.

Designed for majors with a particular interest in careers in clinical or counseling psychology or clinical social work, this concentration lays a solid foundation in coursework, research, and field experiences to help students decide whether they wish to apply to a graduate program and obtain licensure to practice in a clinical field. Learn more about the Undergraduate Clinical Concentration.

Students planning to spend a semester or two studying abroad need to receive approval from their major department. This approval is obtained from your academic advisor. To prepare for this appointment, you need to complete your tentative schedule for your semester(s) abroad and for your remaining time on campus at Boston College. (In general, Psychology and Neuroscience majors do not fulfill many of their major requirements while studying abroad.) You should also obtain an up-to-date copy of your DeGRE audit to verify what Psychology  and Neuroscience major requirements you have left outstanding. Review these materials on your own to see what you will need to take and when in order to accommodate your time abroad. Bring all these materials to your appointment with your academic advisor.

If you would like for one or several of the courses taken abroad to satisfy the requirements of the major, you should provide the Director of Undergraduate Studies with a course syllabus for each course, a current copy of your Boston College DeGRE audit or your social security number. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will decide if a meeting is necessary after reviewing the relevant material. You can set up an appointment by calling the Director of Undergraduate Studies directly.

Credit from study abroad must comply with the general rules about transfer credit.

The department allows students to take up to three Psychology courses outside of the department (with approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies to meet the requirements of the major). This limit will not apply to the natural science courses associated with the Psychology B.S. and Neuroscience majors. Please remember that, in addition to courses taken at other universities, courses taken at other schools within Boston College (e.g., Lynch School of Education, College of Advancing Studies) are considered as outside of the department.

Students may fulfill the Social Science Core requirement with any two Psychology courses with a number between 1010 and 1111 (e.g., PSYC1011, PSYC1021, PSYC1029, PSYC1032, PSYC1072, PSYC1110, and PSYC1111).

Students receiving a four or five on the Psychology AP exam are considered to have fulfilled half of the Social Science Core requirement.

If you are already a BC student and plan to take courses anywhere outside of the regular day school of BC's College of Arts and Sciences (perhaps in the Lynch School of Education, in the Woods College of Advancing Studies, during the summer session, or at an entirely different institution), you must have your course credits approved by the Psychology Department as counting towards your major.

For approval of courses taken elsewhere, you should provide the Director of Undergraduate Studies with information about each course, including the course syllabus. You should also provide a current copy of your BC degree audit.

If you anticipate taking courses somewhere other than the regular day school of the College of Arts and Sciences, then you should make every effort to obtain prior approval from the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Doing so will help insure you receive credit for the courses and, thus, will help avoid having your schedule disrupted at some later time.

If you are a transfer student new to BC, you probably have taken courses at your previous institution that were accepted by Boston College, and that appear similar to our major requirements. If you would like these courses to be considered as fulfilling the requirements of the major, you should set up an appointment with the Director of Undergraduate Studies as soon as possible after your arrival at BC.

The Director of Undergraduate Studies will indicate which of your previous courses can count towards your major here at BC and which specific requirements they fulfill. You should bring to your meeting: a BC degree audit; a transcript from your former institution; and course information (syllabus, title and author of text, course description).

Please remember that:

  • Most schools have only one Introduction to Psychology course, while here at BC we have two. The Director of Undergraduate Studies will determine how a course taken at another institution compares to BC's two introductory courses and may make other adjustments to the requirements in light of a student's previous coursework.
  • Most psychology courses that list Introduction to Psychology as a prerequisite can be counted as psychology electives, as long as Boston College has granted you transfer credit for them. It is sometimes difficult to ascertain, however, whether courses taken at other institutions satisfy other, more specific requirements of our major.

Number of courses allowed

The department allows students to take up to three Psychology courses outside of the department (with approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies to meet the requirements of the major). This limit will not apply to the natural science courses associated with the Psychology B.S. and Neuroscience majors. Please remember that, in addition to courses taken at other universities, courses taken at other schools within Boston College (e.g., Lynch School of Education, College of Advancing Studies) are considered as outside of the department.

Course Requirements

The University Catalog contains the major requirements.