Planning for Graduate School

Course Recommendations

Admission to an advanced degree program in psychology requires a high grade point average, strong scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), and a broad and basic education in psychology. Chances for successful application to a graduate school will be enhanced through the demonstration of a strong background in psychology. The Department of Psychological Sciences offers a wide variety of courses. Undergraduate students who anticipate advanced study in psychology should consider taking more psychology courses than are required for the major. Students should consult with their faculty advisor for suggestions.

Any of the following courses not already taken to fulfill the Core Requirement are recommended for students interested in the graduate school option:

  • PSYCH-460 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYCH-470 Psychobiology
  • PSYCH-475 Principles of Learning
  • PSYCH-480 Fundamentals of Perception and Sensation
  • PSYCH-605 Foundations of Social Behavior
  • PSYCH-620 Psychology of Personality

Students who wish to go to graduate school are encouraged to obtain a firm foundation in science (regardless of their specific interests in clinical, experimental, social, industrial, etc.). Courses in computer science (CMPSC-200: Fundamentals of Computer Programming), biology, chemistry, mathematics, etc., provide such a background. In addition, courses in philosophy (Introduction to Logic, Philosophy of Science), sociology, and other social sciences would provide useful electives. Finally, students who do well in Elementary Statistics (STAT-330) are encouraged to take Statistical Methods for Social Sciences (STAT-702) as an additional elective. Those students who have a strong mathematics background may want to skip Elementary Statistics and go directly to Statistical Methods (thus using the latter course to satisfy the statistics requirement in the core).

Students who wish to go to graduate school are also strongly encouraged to gain research experience by working closely with someone on the faculty. It is the student's responsibility to seek out faculty in making such an arrangement. The faculty are usually willing to assist students with this valuable part of their training. Credit for such work usually takes the form of enrollment in such courses as Topics (PSYCH-790) or Problems (PSYCH 599 or 799). While such experience is valuable, it should be noted that an overabundance of such "topics" and "problems" courses can actually be detrimental to the evaluation of a student's transcript by graduate departments. It is probably wise to enroll in no more than a combined total of 12 hours of topics or problems, and no more than 3-4 hours in any one semester. These numbers should be considered the maximum, not the norm. For more information on this, students may want to consult their academic advisors.