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Learning Outcomes

What should you expect to learn from earning a psychology degree?

The Department of Psychology at UC San Diego endorses the American Psychological Association's Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major (available below). These guidelines detail the types of knowledge and skills you should expect to acquire during your study for a B.A. or B.S. in Psychology. Your mastery of the learning objectives described in the guidelines will come as a consequence of courses taken both in and outside of psychology and in the extensive research opportunities offered by psychology laboratories here in the department. Because undergraduate education is a top priority, the Department of Psychology is engaged in an ongoing process of ensuring that our students have the opportunity to master the most valuable outcomes in the APA Guidelines.

If you're considering a major in Psychology, take some time to read the guidelines so that you may become better aquainted with this department's goals for undergraduate education. If you are already a Psychology major, you may find the guidelines useful for reflecting upon the education we hope to provide for you. The central learning goals are summarized below. A link to the full APA document follows.

Learning Goals

  • Goal 1: Knowledge Base of Psychology
    Students will demonstrate familiarity with the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology.
  • Goal 2: Research Methods in Psychology
    Students will understand and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation.
  • Goal 3: Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology
    Students will respect and use critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and, when possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes.
  • Goal 4: Application of Psychology
    Students will understand and apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues.
  • Goal 5: Values in Psychology
    Students will be able to weigh evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinnings of psychology as a discipline.
  • Goal 6: Information and Technological Literacy
    Students will demonstrate information competence and the ability to use computers and other technology for many purposes.
  • Goal 7: Communication Skills
    Students will be able to communicate effectively in a variety of formats.
  • Goal 8: Sociocultural and International Awareness
    Students will recognize, understand, and respect the complexity of sociocultural and international diversity.


American Psychological Association's Guidelines for the Undergraduate Psychology Major