BA in Psychology

Psychology is the science of human behavior and mental processes, which uses scientific methods to describe, predict, understand, and explain human behavior. Combined with appropriate related courses, the major provides students with strong preparation for entrance into graduate programs in psychology, medicine, law, and other professions. In addition, it provides a broad, basic liberal arts background for a wide range of other pursuits.

Learning Outcomes

Students will:

  • Demonstrate fundamental knowledge and comprehension of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, historical trends, and empirical findings in psychology.
  • Understand basic research methods in psychology—including design, data analysis, and interpretation—and utilize this knowledge to conduct their own psychological research, with an appreciation of the ethical issues involved in human and animal research.
  • Engage in scientific reasoning and problem solving so that they can evaluate the quality and implications of scientific research.
  • Write empirical research reports and literature reviews in APA (American Psychological Association) style and present findings from scientific research.


All BU undergraduate students, including both entering first-year and transfer students, will pursue coursework in the BU Hub, the University’s general education program that is integrated into the entire undergraduate experience. BU Hub requirements can be satisfied in a number of ways, including coursework in and beyond the major (or minor) as well as through cocurricular activities. Students majoring in Psychology will ordinarily, through coursework in the major, satisfy some BU Hub requirements in Philosophical, Aesthetic, and Historical Interpretation; Scientific and Social Inquiry; Quantitative Reasoning; Diversity, Civic Engagement, and Global Citizenship; Communication; and some elements of the Intellectual Toolkit. Remaining BU requirements will be satisfied by selecting from a wide range of courses outside the major or in some cases, cocurricular experiences.

Psychology majors will also satisfy College of Arts & Sciences requirements described here.

The major in psychology requires a total of eleven (4-credit) courses: a prerequisite course, nine principal courses, and a course in statistics, as outlined below.


  • CAS PS 101 General Psychology, or equivalent

Principal Courses (9)

Principal courses in psychology are those listed in the Bulletin and numbered at the 200 level or above, excluding PS 211 and PS/NE 212. A grade of C or higher is required in all principal courses. A total of nine principal courses is required, including:

  • CAS PS 231 Physiological Psychology

Please note:

  1. NE 101 Introduction to Neuroscience will count in place of PS 231 Physiological Psychology if a student took NE 101 prior to declaring their psychology major, or was a previous neuroscience major who switched to psychology, or is a current neuroscience/psychology double major.
  2. All students who are psychology majors, and do not fall into one of the categories above, need to take PS 231.
  3. Students will not be awarded credit for both courses. Students may receive credit for PS 231 or NE 101, but not both.
  • Two courses chosen from broad Content Group A (see below)
  • Two courses chosen from broad Content Group B (see below)

All courses listed below are 4 credit hours.

Group A:

  • CAS PS 222 Perception and Behavior
  • CAS PS 234 Psychology of Learning
  • CAS PS 333 Drugs and Behavior
  • CAS PS 336 Introduction to Cognitive Psychology
  • CAS PS 337 Memory Systems of the Brain
  • CAS PS 338 Neuropsychology
  • CAS PS 339 Introduction to Cognitive Neuroscience

Group B:

  • CAS PS 241 Developmental Psychology
  • CAS PS 251 Psychology of Personality: Theories and Application
  • CAS PS 261 Social Psychology
  • CAS PS 370 Psychology of the Family
  • CAS PS 371 Psychopathology (formerly titled “Abnormal Psychology”)

Four of the nine principal courses must be selected from offerings at the 300 level or higher, including one experimental course selected from CAS PS 323, 324, 325, 326, 327, 328, or 329. Please note that students will not receive credit for more than one of the following experimental psychology courses: CAS PS 324, PS 325, PS 326.

It is possible to transfer, from outside of CAS, a maximum of three courses toward the nine principal courses required for completion of the psychology major. Courses taken outside of Boston University are considered transfer courses. Please note that psychology courses taken through Boston University’s Summer Term designated with the same numbers and titles as those offered in CAS are not considered transfer courses. Prior departmental approval of all transfer courses in psychology is required (contact Dr. Joanne Hebden Palfai, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences, at

Statistics Requirement

Students must complete CAS MA 116 (prerequisite: MA 115), MA 214 (prerequisite: MA 213), CAS PS 211, or PS 212 with a grade of C or higher. Note: Only one of CAS MA 116 and MA 214 may be taken for credit. CAS MA 113 does not fulfill the psychology statistics requirement for the psychology major.

Research Participation

Students in CAS PS 101 (General Psychology) are asked to participate in research studies as part of the course requirements. Participation is intended to help students learn about the procedures and concerns of psychological research.

Independent Work for Honors in Psychology

The department encourages interested and qualified students to pursue a special course of independent work in psychology in the senior year. Interested juniors are encouraged to discuss independent work for honors in Psychology with their advisors and Dr. Joanne Hebden Palfai, Director of Undergraduate Studies, at the beginning of the second semester. Successful completion of a two-semester independent research project may lead to graduation with honors in the major. See Honors in the Major for more information.