Undergraduate Program

The Department of Psychology offers undergraduate degree programs leading to a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree and graduate programs leading to a Ph.D. Teaching and research are integrated throughout, and undergraduate students as well as graduate students have the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience in a laboratory.

The undergraduate program in Psychology at the University of Arizona is one of the largest majors on campus.  It covers a broad range of topics consistent with its CIP code 42.0101, identifying it as General Psychology. Our program seeks to provide students with an understanding of a) the mental structures and processes that underlie individual human experience and behavior, b) the scientific methodologies by which such a knowledge base is acquired, c) the critical thinking skills and skeptical inquiry necessary to evaluate scientific and popular claims concerning behavior, and d) the application of scientific psychological principles to personal and social issues. Across all levels of our undergraduate curriculum, we seek to help students learn that human thought and behavior is lawful, and that its governing principles can be understood in the same way that we come to know the physical world outside our minds. Because human behavior and experience are multiply determined, the study of psychology necessarily draws on many disciplines and on many levels of explanation to achieve an understanding of its content. Our undergraduate curriculum reflects this multidisciplinary focus at all levels.

All undergraduate majors begin their study of psychology by taking an introductory overview course (PSY 101, INDV101 or PSY 150A1), which introduces the major content areas of psychology and relates them to numerous other disciplines including other social and behavioral sciences, natural sciences and health- related professions. Students then take three courses in scientific methodology (PSY 230, 290A and 297A), in which they learn the basic principles of statistics and experimental design that are appropriate for research in the social and behavioral sciences. One of the courses (PSY 297A) provides laboratory experience as well. These four courses comprise the lower division requirements for students majoring in psychology.

The upper division consists of courses in a variety of specific content areas in Psychology. Approximately half of the courses at the 300-level are broad courses that are of interest to both majors and non-majors. They reflect traditional core areas of psychology, such as the Social, Abnormal, and Cognitive Psychology, as well as state of the art issues in psychology and topics related to areas of rare expertise at the University of Arizona, such as our courses concerned with consciousness, evolution, and health. To ensure reasonable breadth of foundational knowledge in psychology, students majoring in Psychology are required to complete one course at the 300-level from each of three content areas:

  1. Clinical
  2. Cognition and Neural Systems
  3. Social

The remainder of the courses at the 300 and 400-level are designed to provide in-depth coverage of specialized topics so that students majoring in psychology can begin to master a particular problem area and gain exposure to current research and theory in that area. Courses offered at the 400-level are broadly integrative, linking the intra-disciplinary areas outlined above as well as forging links to other disciplines. These include courses in brain and cognition, gerontology, attitudes, mental health law and policy, cross-cultural psychology, and ethical issues in psychology. Almost all 400-level offerings are writing-emphasis courses, and some offer additional laboratory experience.

At all levels of the curriculum, there are opportunities for students to become actively involved in research through independent study under the guidance of individual faculty members. Students may also participate in supervised internships and practica, in which they can obtain more practical, applied experiences.

The Psychology Department participates in the Honors Program. Our honors curriculum is designed for those Psychology majors who want or need an especially rigorous and intensive program of study. This includes students who intend to pursue psychology as a career; the honors program helps ensure their competitiveness for entrance into graduate school or professional fields. Currently, we offer special honors sections of statistics, a pro-seminar at the 300 level, rotating-topics seminars at the 300 level and the 400 level, which can be repeated for credit, and a two-semester Honors thesis class, where seniors conduct their own projects. Our Honors program has expanded to offer an additional Honors seminar each semester at the 300 and 400 levels in a focused content area. In addition, students may enter into an "honors contract" in any course and receive honors credit by pursuing a pre-arranged more demanding course of study. Preceptorships, internships, practica and independent research studies are also available for Honors credit.

Our Graduate Program includes concentrations in Clinical Psychology; Cognition and Neural Systems (CNS); Ethology and Evolutionary Psychology (EEP); and Social Psychology.

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