The Psychology major is one of the largest majors in the College of Letters & Science, focusing on several areas in the field of Psychological Science: biological, clinical, cognition & cognitive neuroscience, perception, developmental, and social & personality.
The mission of the undergraduate program in psychology is to provide students with opportunities to:
- learn about the multiple content areas of scientific psychology
- develop the ability to think critically and quantitatively
- enhance communication skills in the classroom and in writing
- prepare for the most rigorous graduate and professional programs
- apply the science of psychology to the well-being of citizens of Wisconsin and the global community
Some students will go to graduate school and become the next generation of psychological scientists and educators who will create and disseminate new knowledge. Others will choose careers in other areas, including but not limited to business, medicine, law, education, and counseling. Through its strong interdisciplinary connections with the natural sciences, social sciences, humanities, and medical sciences, scientific psychology is positioned well to influence critical issues for society. Because all courses in psychology emphasize critical thinking and the analysis of research, the Undergraduate Program prepares students to take on the challenges of and fully participate in an increasingly complex, multicultural world.
Students who successfully complete PSYCH 202 (or equivalent) with a grade of C or better are eligible to declare the major.1
Please refer to the Department website for instructions on how to declare the major.
Equivalents include a score of 4 or higher on the IB Psychology exam or or a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Psychology exam.
University General Education Requirements
All undergraduate students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison are required to fulfill a minimum set of common university general education requirements to ensure that every graduate acquires the essential core of an undergraduate education. This core establishes a foundation for living a productive life, being a citizen of the world, appreciating aesthetic values, and engaging in lifelong learning in a continually changing world. Various schools and colleges will have requirements in addition to the requirements listed below. Consult your advisor for assistance, as needed. For additional information, see the university Undergraduate General Education Requirements section of the Guide.
|General Education|| |
* The mortarboard symbol appears before the title of any course that fulfills one of the Communication Part A or Part B, Ethnic Studies, or Quantitative Reasoning Part A or Part B requirements.
College of Letters & Science Degree Requirements: Bachelor of Science (B.S.)
Students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in the College of Letters & Science must complete all of the requirements below. The College of Letters & Science allows this major to be paired with either the Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree requirements.
Bachelor of Science DEGREE REQUIREMENTS
|Mathematics||Complete two courses of 3+ credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level in MATH, COMP SCI, or STAT subjects. A maximum of one course in each of COMP SCI and STAT subjects counts toward this requirement.|
|Foreign Language||Complete the third unit of a foreign language.|
|L&S Breadth||Complete: |
• 12 credits of Humanities, which must include at least 6 credits of Literature; and
• 12 credits of Social Science; and
• 12 credits of Natural Science, which must include 6 credits of Biological Science and 6 credits of Physical Science.
|Liberal Arts and Science Coursework||Complete at least 108 credits.|
|Depth of Intermediate/Advanced Coursework||Complete at least 60 credits at the Intermediate or Advanced level.|
|Major||Declare and complete at least one major.|
|Total Credits||Complete at least 120 credits.|
|UW-Madison Experience||Complete both: |
• 30 credits in residence, overall, and
• 30 credits in residence after the 86th credit.
|Quality of Work||• 2.000 in all coursework at UW–Madison |
• 2.000 in Intermediate/Advanced level coursework at UW–Madison
Non–L&S Students PURSUING AN L&S MAJOR
Non–L&S students who have permission from their school/college to pursue an additional major within L&S only need to fulfill the major requirements. They do not need to complete the L&S Degree Requirements above.
Requirements for the Major
The major requires the completion of the six categories below (Foundation, Biology, Breadth, Depth, Capstone and Electives) and a minimum of 30 credits in PSYCH.
Foundation courses provide a grounding in basic psychological facts and an understanding of the methodologies used to produce those facts. Foundation courses are required with grades of C or better in each course;
|Introductory Psychology—one course: 1||3-4|
|Introduction to Psychology|
|Basic Statistics for Psychology|
|Accelerated Introduction to Statistical Methods|
|Introductory Applied Statistics for Engineers|
|Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences|
|Research Methods—one course:||4|
Foundational knowledge in biology is critical to the study of psychological science and the understanding of human and animal behavior, as well as the brain sciences.
|Introductory Biology—complete one of three tracks: 2|
|BIOLOGY/ZOOLOGY 101||Animal Biology||3|
|BIOLOGY/BOTANY/ZOOLOGY 151||Introductory Biology||5|
& BIOCORE 383
| Evolution, Ecology, and Genetics|
and Cellular Biology
Breadth courses familiarize students with the breadth of psychology in the following area groups: Biological, Clinical, Cognitive & Perceptual Science, Development, and Social & Personality. Complete one course from three different area groups for a total of three courses:
|PSYCH 449||Animal Behavior||3-4|
|PSYCH 450||Primates and Us: Insights into Human Biology and Behavior||3|
|PSYCH 454||Behavioral Neuroscience||3-4|
|PSYCH 401||Psychology, Law, and Social Policy||3|
|PSYCH 405||Abnormal Psychology||3-4|
Cognitive and Perceptual Sciences
|PSYCH 406||Psychology of Perception||3-4|
|PSYCH 413||Language, Mind, and Brain||3-4|
|PSYCH 414||Cognitive Psychology||3-4|
|PSYCH/SOC 453||Human Sexuality||4|
|PSYCH 460||Child Development||3-4|
|PSYCH 464||Adult Development and Aging||3|
Social and Personality
|PSYCH 403||Psychology of Personality||3|
|PSYCH 428||Introduction to Cultural Psychology||3-4|
|PSYCH 456||Social Psychology||3-4|
|PSYCH/GEN&WS 522||Psychology of Women and Gender||3|
Depth courses allow students to engage in depth with material in specific content areas in psychology. Depth courses include both a lecture component and a required discussion/lab section for all students, and they help students develop a deeper understanding of particular areas of psychology. Two courses are required:
|PSYCH 501||Depth Topic in Social Science (multiple separate topics offered each semester)||4|
|PSYCH 502||Cognitive Development||4|
|PSYCH 503||Social Development||4|
|PSYCH 505||Depth Topic in Biological Science||4|
|PSYCH 508||Psychology of Human Emotions: From Biology to Culture||4|
|PSYCH 510||Critical Issues in Child Psychopathology||4|
|PSYCH 513||Hormones, Brain, and Behavior||4|
|PSYCH 520||How We Read: The Science of Reading and Its Educational Implications||4|
|PSYCH 521||The Structure of Human Thought: Concepts, Language and Culture||4|
|PSYCH 525||Cognition in Health and Society||4|
|PSYCH 526||The Criminal Mind: Forensic and Psychobiological Perspectives||4|
|PSYCH 532||Psychological Effects of the Internet||4|
Capstone courses allow students to explore current research in psychology in a seminar setting. One course is required:
|PSYCH 601||Current Topics in Psychology (many separate topics each semester)||3|
|PSYCH 602||Intermediate Statistics for Psychology||3|
|PSYCH 603||Epigenetics and the Brain||3|
|PSYCH 606||Hormones and Behavior||3|
|PSYCH 607||Introduction to Psychotherapy||3|
In addition to completion of the courses required above, students must complete at least 3 additional credits in PSYCH at the 300-level and above. Students may complete any additional PSYCH course(s), including courses from: the Breadth, Depth, or Capstone areas, or directed/independent study and mentored research.
Residence and Quality of Work
- 2.000 GPA in all PSYCH and major courses
- 2.000 GPA on 15 upper-level major credits, taken in residence 3
- 15 credits in PSYCH, taken on the UW–Madison campus
Honors in the Major
Students may apply for Honors in the Psychology Major in consultation with the psychology undergraduate advisor(s). Decisions on admission to the Honors in the Major in Psychology program are made on a rolling basis throughout the year by a committee of psychology faculty. Overall, criteria emphasize demonstrated ability and commitment to becoming a first-rate scholar. Performance in coursework at the university, particularly Honors courses in psychology and related fields, is among the criteria for admission. Consistent with the philosophy that there is more to honors scholarship than distinguished grades, commitment to excellence in the science of psychology, evidence of broad scholarship (including mathematics and sciences), and evidence of involvement within the university and the broader community enhance students' credentials.
Honors in the Psychology Major Requirements
To earn Honors in the Major in Psychology, students must satisfy both the requirements for the major (above) and the following additional requirements:
- Earn a 3.300 University GPA
- Earn a 3.300 GPA in all PSYCH and major courses
- Complete the following courses with Honors and a grade of B or higher:
- PSYCH 380 (Junior year) or two semesters of PSYCH 686 Senior Thesis Seminar in Psychology (requires Fall and Spring enrollment)
- Three Psychology Breadth and/or Depth courses OR Two Psychology Breadth and/or Depth courses and one of the following: PSYCH 210 Basic Statistics for Psychology or PSYCH 225 Research Methods
- A two-semester Senior Honors Thesis in PSYCH 681 and PSYCH 682 for a total of 6 credits.
A score of 4 or higher on the IB Psychology exam or a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Psychology exam.
A score of 4 or better on the IB Biology exam, or a score of 4 or 5 on the AP Biology exam will satisfy the Introductory Biology requirement.
PSYCH 300–699 are upper-level in the major.
University Degree Requirements
|Total Degree||To receive a bachelor's degree from UW–Madison, students must earn a minimum of 120 degree credits. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 degree credits. Students should consult with their college or department advisor for information on specific credit requirements.|
|Residency||Degree candidates are required to earn a minimum of 30 credits in residence at UW–Madison. "In residence" means on the UW–Madison campus with an undergraduate degree classification. “In residence” credit also includes UW–Madison courses offered in distance or online formats and credits earned in UW–Madison Study Abroad/Study Away programs.|
|Quality of Work||Undergraduate students must maintain the minimum grade point average specified by the school, college, or academic program to remain in good academic standing. Students whose academic performance drops below these minimum thresholds will be placed on academic probation.|
- Gain an appreciation for the contributions that psychology is making to our understanding of human and animal behavior.
- Learn to analyze and construct arguments, define and solve problems, and understand and apply scientific reasoning.
- Learn to communicate their ideas in a clear, organized, and compelling way.
- Gain a specific understanding of how to use data and research methodology in their critical thinking.
- Acquire an appreciation of and respect for individual differences and diversity of experiences and background.
- Acquire the statistical and research skills used in the behavioral sciences.
- Have the opportunity to evaluate the diverse professional opportunities in psychology.
Sample Four-Year Plan
This Sample Four-Year Plan is a tool to assist students and their advisor(s). Students should use it—along with their DARS report, the Degree Planner, and Course Search & Enroll tools—to make their own four-year plan based on their placement scores, credit for transferred courses and approved examinations, and individual interests. As students become involved in athletics, honors, research, student organizations, study abroad, volunteer experiences, and/or work, they might adjust the order of their courses to accommodate these experiences. Students will likely revise their own four-year plan several times during college.
|Communication A||3||Psych Breadth Course||3|
|Quantitative Reasoning A||3||ZOOLOGY/BIOLOGY 1011||3|
|Foreign Language (if required)||3||Ethnic Studies||3|
|PSYCH 202||3-4||Literature Breadth||3|
|Physical Science Breadth||3||Electives||3|
|Psych Breadth Course||3||PSYCH 210 (satisfies QR-B)2||3|
|Literature Breadth course||3||INTER-LS 210 (optional)||1|
|Physical Science Breadth (if needed)||3||Psych Breadth Course||3|
|PSYCH 225 (satisfies Com-B)||4||Psych Depth Course (may be taken in Fourth Year)||4|
|Humanities Breadth||3||Psych Elective (3 PSYCH elective credits needed)||3|
|I/A Comp Sci, Math, or Stats (if needed for the BS)||3||Physical Science Breadth (if needed for BS)||3|
|Psych Depth Course (Fall and/or Spring)||4||Electives||15|
|Psych Capstone (Fall or Spring)||3|
|I/A Comp Sci, Math, or Stats (if required for the BS)||3|
|Total Credits 120|
All current UW–Madison undergraduate students interested in the psychology major are welcome to schedule an advising appointment with a psychology advisor. Advising appointments can be made through the Starfish scheduling tool. Please visit psych.wisc.edu —> undergraduate program —> schedule an advising appointment.
For more information about psychology advising visit psych.wisc.edu —> undergraduate program — > advising.
Are you a prospective student? The Department of Psychology welcomes prospective students to attend our Information Sessions held throughout the year. Please visit the Office of Admissions’ Visit Bucky website for information on dates and times of our Psychology Major Information Sessions.
Students who major in Psychology enter a wide variety of careers, both with and without education beyond a Bachelor’s degree. The American Psychological Association (APA) with the Center for Workforce Studies (CWS) has recent statistics on What do you do with a Psychology degree? CWS Data Tool: Careers in Psychology.
There are several campus resources to guide students in their career search. Undecided students who are unsure about their desired major/career are encouraged to visit the Career Exploration Center. The SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science offers a variety of opportunities ranging from career assessment, resume writing, interviewing techniques, internships, graduate school, and more.
L&S career resources
Every L&S major opens a world of possibilities. SuccessWorks at the College of Letters & Science helps students turn the academic skills learned in their major, certificates, and other coursework into fulfilling lives after graduation, whether that means jobs, public service, graduate school or other career pursuits.
In addition to providing basic support like resume reviews and interview practice, SuccessWorks offers ways to explore interests and build career skills from their very first semester/term at UW all the way through graduation and beyond.
Students can explore careers in one-on-one advising, try out different career paths, complete internships, prepare for the job search and/or graduate school applications, and connect with supportive alumni and even employers in the fields that inspire them.
- Set up a career advising appointment
- Enroll in a Career Course - a great idea for first- and second-year students:
- Learn about internships and internship funding
- Activate your Handshake account to apply for jobs and internships from 200,000+ employers recruiting UW-Madison students
- Learn about the impact SuccessWorks has on students' lives
Faculty and Instructional Staff
Professors: Berridge (chair), Abramson, Alibali, Auger, Bennett, Berridge, Brauer, Coe, Curtin, Davidson, Devine, Gernsbacher, Goldsmith, Gooding, Harackiewicz, Hyde, MacDonald, Marler, Niedenthal, Pollak, Postle, Rogers, Ryff, Saffran, Seidenberg, Shutts
Associate Professors: Green, Lupyan, Saalmann, Walsh
Assistant Professors: Austerweil, Li, Schloss, Ward
Instructional Staff: Addington, Caldwell, Coffey, Gallimore, Henriques, Jones, Konz, Reinholtz, Van Rybroek, Winston