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Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

Major Requirements—Students declaring a major in Psychology must complete a minimum of 70 units of course work in Psychology, 60 of which must be taken in the Psychology department. The remaining 10 units can be taken outside of the Psychology department but must be pre-approved by the student services office or faculty adviser. These courses should represent a coherent thematic focus. One way to achieve this focus is through a field of study. Courses taken to satisfy the 70-unit requirement must be taken for a grade of 'C-' or better (except for courses offered only on a satisfactory/no credit basis). Majors must take PSYCH 1, Introduction to Psychology, and PSYCH 10, Introduction to Statistical Methods. Advanced placement (AP) credit may no longer be used toward the Psychology major requirements. Beyond these two required courses, students must complete at least five of the following eleven core Psychology courses, with a minimum of two from each area A and B:

Area A Courses—

Area B Courses—

Students who declared a major in Psychology prior to the 2005-06 academic year may choose to adhere to the 55-unit major requirement, taking PSYCH 1 and 10, five core courses, and elective courses, totaling 55 units.

Students must take one Writing in the Major (WIM) course in Psychology, and should check the Stanford Bulletin yearly as these courses may change. The department also strongly recommends that all majors take at least one advanced seminar.

Students may count up to 10 units of research, independent study, and practica (including but not limited to PSYCH 194, 195, 281) toward the Psychology major. Students who are teaching assistants for a Psychology course or are enrolled in the senior honors program are allowed up to 15 units in independent study and research. Any units beyond the limit of 10 or 15 may be counted toward the 180 units required for graduation.

Students who are double majoring or completing a minor degree in another department may not overlap (double-count) courses, unless the overlapping courses constitute introductory skill requirements, such as PSYCH 10, Introduction to Statistical Methods. In this instance, while the course requirement would be satisfied, the units for the course can only be applied to one program of study, not both. Consult the student services office for further clarification.

Summer Quarter Psychology courses are not equivalent to courses given during the regular academic year and, while applicable toward the 70 units needed for the major, may not be used to fulfill the statistics requirement or a core course requirement. Additionally, a course taken during the Summer Quarter cannot be used to replace the grade of a non-Summer Quarter course, even if the title and units of the two courses are the same.

Beyond the Minimal Requirements—The following recommendations may be helpful to students who wish to plan a program which goes beyond the minimal requirements listed above:

  1. Within the general major, the student may take advanced undergraduate or graduate courses, including seminars. The student may also take advantage of widespread opportunities for directed research, working closely with individual faculty and graduate students.
  2. The student may apply to the senior honors program, described below.
  3. The student may elect to pursue one of four fields of study: Cognitive Sciences; Health and Development; Mind, Culture, and Society; or Neuroscience, described below.

The training obtained from the pursuit of any of these options is valuable not only for students considering graduate work in Psychology, but also for those thinking of professional careers outside of Psychology in fields such as computer science, business, counseling, education, law, or medicine.


Psychology majors must complete at least 60 units of course work toward their major at Stanford within the Psychology department. Psychology minors may count no more than a total of 10 units credit from outside the department toward the minor. Both majors and minors, under extenuating circumstances, may use one course from outside the department to fulfill core course requirements. Additional courses may be used to fulfill the 70-unit major requirement, but may not be counted as core courses. Please see the student services office for further clarification.

Petition for transfer of credit is rarely granted. In cases where petitioning is necessary, there are two types of credit from outside the department: external transfer credit for courses taken at institutions other than Stanford and credit for courses in other Stanford departments. A student must have already declared Psychology as a major or minor in order to submit a petition for transfer credit. Stanford credit for courses completed at other institutions must have been granted by the External Credit Evaluation section of the Registrar's Office; those units may be applied toward the 180 units required for graduation. To have credit from outside the department evaluated to fulfill requirements toward the Psychology major or minor, students must complete an Undergraduate Petition form, available from the student services office, and submit it with a course syllabus. Students requesting external transfer credit must also submit a copy of the signed transcript from the External Credit Evaluation section of the Registrar's Office showing the number of Stanford units granted for the course. The Psychology department then evaluates external credit courses and courses from other Stanford departments to determine if they can be applied toward Psychology major or minor requirements.


Students in the major program, including those in the senior honors program, may elect to specialize in one of four fields of study: Cognitive Sciences; Health and Development; Mind, Culture, and Society; or Neuroscience. Fields of study consist of a coherent set of courses leading to advanced undergraduate or even graduate-level courses in an area. In the ideal case, the student who specializes would acquire an understanding of a range of psychological processes, as well as an appreciation of the significance of these processes in the chosen area of application. In this way, specialization could facilitate the student's preparation for a professional career in, for example, medicine, business, or counseling, as well as for graduate work in Psychology.

Specialization in a field of study is optional, although students who do not wish to complete all the requirements for a track may still want to use the track as a guideline for an integrated program in Psychology. Students who choose to complete a field of study must meet the requirements for the major plus the additional requirements designated for the field of study. Typically the courses required for a field of study include one or two required courses, four to six recommended courses in Psychology, one or two advanced seminars, and three or four courses in related disciplines. Psychology courses completed for the field of study count toward satisfying the major requirements. Courses from other departments listed for the field of study may count toward the 10 outside units for the major requirement, but must be pre-approved by the student services office or faculty adviser.


The senior honors program is designed for exceptionally able Psychology majors who wish to pursue a year of intensive supervised independent research. Admission to the program is made at the end of the student's junior year on the basis of:

Applications are available late Spring Quarter and are to be submitted to the student services office with a current transcript and recommendations prior to the student's senior year.

Students interested in the program should involve themselves in research as early as possible and should acquire a broad general background in Psychology, including statistics, and a deep background in their chosen area. The honors program is particularly appropriate for students planning to go to graduate school in Psychology or in other social sciences, as well as in computer science, business, counseling education, law, and medicine.

During Autumn Quarter of their senior year, honors program students participate in a weekly seminar and meet with their advisers to develop their experimental program and begin data collection. Winter and Spring Quarters are devoted to completing the research, analyzing the data, and writing the thesis, which is submitted mid-May. Students give oral presentations of their projects at the annual Honors Convention. This convention is attended by undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty.

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