FAQ's for Freshmen

What Psychology majors are available to me, and what are the requirements?

Please check the requirements for your preferred major before enrolling in classes. The following classes must be completed:

  • Lower Division Requirements (see major requirements for acceptable courses)*:
    • 2 (BA majors) or 3 (all other majors) Natural Science courses (Biology, Chemistry, Physics, or Neuroanatomy)
    • 1 Research Methods course + 1 (BA majors), 2 (BS majors), or 3 (Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience majors) additional Formal Skills courses (Calculus courses for all BS majors, Calculus or Logic for BA majors)
    • 1 Programming course
    • 1 Statistics course
  • Research Requirements:
    • 2 Lower or Upper Division research courses (for BS majors only; see individual major for details)
  • Upper Division Requirements (an Upper Division Major GPA of at least 2.0 is required for graduation):
    • 4 Psychology** Core courses (101-108; please see individual major requirements)
    • 8*** Psychology Elective courses (distributed according to individual major requirements and numbered 110-193; PSYC 195 and AIP 197 may each be used once toward Elective requirements)

*Business Psychology majors have additional Lower Division Business Fundamentals courses as well as specific sets of courses from which to choose for their Upper Division coursework.

**Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience majors require a mix of Psychology and Cognitive Science classes in both Core and Elective areas.  Please see the major sheet for a list of accepted courses.

***Business Psychology majors must complete 3 courses from a Business Psychology course list, 3-4 courses from a Business Management course list, and 1 additional Psychology class.

How do I choose the best major for me?

We encourage you to research the major options listed on our website and compare them to your graduate school and career goals. You should also look at classes that are of interest to you. Students may change major tracks within Psychology at any time. For more help choosing a major and classes, please see our Career Guide.

You may need to declare your major on TritonLink. You can switch between the degree tracks in the future.

What classes should I take during my first quarter?

Freshmen will begin their studies in Psychology by taking foundation-building Lower Division courses outside of the Psychology department. In your first year, you should work to complete the majority of your Lower Division requirements in Formal Skills (Mathematics/Logic), Natural Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) and Computer Programming. Later, you'll take Statistics, Research Methods, and Lower Division Management courses (for Business Psychology majors only).  See our major pages for specific courses we accept. When you are enrolling in Fall courses, you should consider your major and college requirements together and look for classes that may fulfill both.

Which Lower Division Psychology classes count toward Psychology major requirements?

Lower Division General Psychology classes will not count toward a Psychology degree, but may fulfill your college requirements. The only Lower Division Psychology courses that will count toward Psychology major requirements are PSYC 60 (Statistics), PSYC 70 (Research Methods), PSYC 71 (Laboratory in Psychological Research Methods), PSYC 81 (Laboratory in Brain, Behavior, and Evolution) and PSYC 99: Independent Study.

I want to take an Upper Division class (100+). Why can’t I?

Once you have completed at least 45 units and two quarters here at UC San Diego, you may be eligible for enrollment in Core-level Psychology courses, but you will not be taking Upper Division Psychology classes during your first quarter, as even students with Sophomore standing are required to complete at least two quarters here before starting Upper Division coursework. We recommend that you complete as much of your Lower Division coursework as possible before starting Upper Division courses. Please see any of our four-year plans, found on each individual major page.

All the courses I want/need to take are full!

Please put yourself onto the waitlist for the full class(es) and look for alternatives. Chances are good that space will open up for you in Lower Division classes that will fulfill college, university, and/or major requirements.

I'm trying to choose my Natural Science courses, but I'm lost. Do I need to choose three from the same department? One of each? Three of each? Which is best for me?

  • Choose the correct number of courses for your major:
    • BA majors may choose any two of the Natural Science courses listed on your major sheet (Natural Science course offerings are the same for each of our Psychology majors).  
    • BS majors other than Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience may choose any three of the Natural Science courses listed on your major sheet (Natural Science course offerings are the same for each of our Psychology majors). 
    • Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience majors must complete COGS 17 and any two of the additional Natural Science courses listed on their major sheet.
  • Choose the right courses for you:
    • We recommend students take Biology, Chemistry, or Physics classes numbered 10 or above, as they are intended for non-science majors.  Courses numbered under 10 are intended for Biology, Chemistry, or Physics majors or students planning to attend Medical School.
    • You may not receive academic credit for both CHEM 4 and 11, and you may not receive major credit for more than one of: BILD 12, COGS 17, PSYC 2.
    • You may not use any courses from UC San Diego not listed on our major sheets toward your Psychology major Natural Science requirements. This includes Environmental Science courses, Marine Biology courses, and additional Biology, Chemistry, and Physics courses not listed on our major sheets.  You may also not use courses in Anthropology, Astronomy, or Geology.
    • There is no "best" Natural Science course for each student. Keep in mind your future career and graduate school goals when choosing classes. 
  • Your natural science courses do not need to be all from the same department, or each from a different department. However, if your college requires Natural Science courses, it is recommended that you follow their requirements if acceptable courses overlap with your Psychology department requirements.

Which Math class should I take?

This depends on two things: your math placement exam and your graduate school and career plans.

Students planning to earn a Psychology BA do not need to complete any calculus courses unless required by their college or indicated by their career or graduate school plans. Students planning to earn one of our Psychology BS degrees must complete at least two quarters of calculus (MATH 10 or 20 series), and may be required to complete more by their college.  Students planning to earn our Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience degree will need to complete one full year of Calculus (MATH 10 or 20 series) AND a Research Methods course.

Students are encouraged to enroll in the appropriate level of calculus for their future graduate school and career plans. See your major and college advisors, and the Career Services Center, for additional assistance with choosing a math series. Please contact the Math Placement office for placement information.

Do I need to take a year of calculus?

Only if calculus is required by your college or a future graduate program. If you are a Psychology BS student, you will need to complete at least two quarters of calculus in order to earn your degree.  If you are a Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience student, you will need to complete at least three quarters of calculus in order to earn your degree.

Do I need to take any calculus at all? What else can I take?

Students in the Psychology BA degree track will not need to take Calculus. If you are planning to earn a Psychology BA, you may take PSYC 70 (Research Methods) or COGS 14A AND your choice of any one of the following classes: PHIL 10 (Introduction to Logic), PHIL 12 (Scientific Reasoning), MATH 10A or 20A (Calculus).

Which Programming class should I take? Which is best?

Take the course that best fits your schedule and meets your needs. Students who plan to go into Psychological research in the future may benefit from MatLab or Python courses (preferred courses listed on our major sheets).

Which Statistics class should I take?

We recommend all Psychology majors take PSYC 60. If you are unable to take PSYC 60, you may choose from MATH 11 or COGS 14B. SOCI 60 and POLI 30 are not a acceptable courses to use toward the Psychology major.

Students with backgrounds in Engineering, Mathematics, or Economics may be able to use Upper Division courses toward this requirement; if you are planning to double major or minor in one of these departments, or switch from one of these departments to Psychology, see the Psychology Advising Office for individual assistance.

Remember, we do not actually suggest that Freshmen take Statistics until later in their academic careers.

Can I take Statistics or Research Methods during my first quarter?

You should wait until at least your second quarter to take PSYC 60: Statistics; it is recommended that you wait until your second year to enroll. PSYC 70: Research Methods has a prerequisite of Statistics.

Does my AP Statistics class count toward my Psychology major requirements?

No. AP Statistics is not equivalent to PSYC 60: Statistics, and it will not count toward the Psychology major.

Does my AP Psychology class count toward my Psychology major requirements?

No. AP Psychology is equivalent to PSYC 1: Psychology, which is not a course acceptable toward major credit.

I took a class at a Community College before entering UCSD, or have an AP class that I believe should fulfill my Lower Division major requirements, but it is not showing up correctly.

Check your Academic History. If your course is showing up in the list of transferred courses, but only has the designation “LD” in the right-hand column, your course has only transferred in as Lower Division credit.

  • If you believe that your course should count toward your Psychology Department requirements, check Assist.org or the AP credit chart for equivalency first. If your class is listed on Assist.org, please send the appropriate department’s advising office a message via the Virtual Advising Center or New Student Site noting the class and that it’s listed on Assist.
  • If your course is not listed on Assist, you will need to fill out an Undergraduate Student Petition form (found on TritonLink or our website) and drop it off at the department corresponding to your original course.

Can I take any courses Pass/No Pass?

You may take any* Lower Division courses for Psychology major requirements for Pass/No Pass except for Statistics. Statistics must be taken for a letter grade. Upper Division courses taken for Psychology major credit must be taken for a letter grade.

*Business Psychology majors must also take MGT 16 and MGT 18 for a Letter Grade.

Degree Audit? Academic History? TritonLink? What are all of these things? How do I read them? Help!

TritonLink is UCSD’s online enrollment and registration system. You can check your course history, enroll in classes, and find important forms here as well as take care of many critical tasks. We will be teaching students how to interpret Degree Audits and Academic Histories, among other topics, at our department Orientation sessions in September.

  • Your Academic History, found on TritonLink, will list all of the courses that you take at UC San Diego. Your transfer record (near the top of the page) will list any AP test scores or community college courses that approximate exactly to UC San Diego's classes on the right-hand column. Classes that don't approximate are listed as "LD". Classes that do will have a letter-and-number course listed below the "LD", such as "PSYC 60" or "MATH 10A".
  • Your Degree Audit can also be found on TritonLink. Click on Degree Audit on the left side of TritonLink, and then click on the "View Audit" button. This will be your guide to finishing your requirements at UCSD.

How can I set up an appointment to talk about my major or plan my courses?

***We recommend that all incoming Freshmen plan to attend a Psycholgy Department Orientation session during Week 0.  Please register online.***

The Psychology Department offers advising services in-person, online, or via phone. You may contact us via phone or the Virtual Advising Center/New Student Site at any time. Please allow up to 72 hours (longer on weekends and holidays) for a response.

In-person advising can be done on a walk-in basis only during our advising hours (Monday through Thursday, 9-11 am and 1-3 pm). We are able to assist you with little to no waiting after Week 2 of Fall quarter. We do ask that you review your major requirements and come prepared with questions.

Course plans may be reviewed with a major advisor at any time during walk-in hours. Please come prepared with your proposed plan (see the back of your major sheet, available for pickup at the Advising office or download on your major's page, for general plans).

Do I need to come during advising hours?

Yes. We only answer advising questions during those hours.

But how about if I just have a form to drop off?

Please bring it during normal advising hours. We will review it with you to ensure its completeness.

Is there an Honors Program? How do I get involved?

Yes, our Honors Program is a two year research commitment, starting in Winter of your Junior year. You may apply for the program in November of your Junior year, and we recommend that you have at least a 3.3 overall GPA and a B in Statistics to apply.

What career options do I have as a Psychology major?

The possibilities are endless! Consider Research Psychology, Clinical Psychology, Counseling Psychology, Social Work, Human Resources, Academic Advising, Event Management, Market Research, Medicine, and many other careers. Many of these careers require advanced degrees, but some do not. Visit our Career Advising page for some ideas about various career options and how to get started.

What happens if I decide to switch majors, but still have some Psychology coursework done? Can I earn a minor?

Yes, you may earn a Psychology minor if you switch majors. Our minor requires seven Psychology courses, of which two may be Lower Division. Natural Science, Formal Skills, and Programming courses do not count toward the minor.  

There is only a General Psychology minor available; we do not have a minor in Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience or a minor in Business Psychology.