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Submitted by darmstro on Fri, 09/16/2016 - 10:33am

What are the requirements for a Psychology Degree?

There are two sets of requirements, and they should be kept distinct. The Department of Psychology is a part of the Faculty of Arts. As such, all Psychology majors and honours students must meet both the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of Arts requirements.

Please visit our Programs page or consult the University Calendar for complete degree requirements. From the Calendar table of contents, navigate to the following pages:
Faculty of Arts > Faculty Regulations > Graduation
Faculty of Arts > Program Details > Psychology

What courses should I take in the first year of my Psychology degree?

In your first year of study you need to complete PSYC 200 & 201, in the Fall and Winter terms. 

  • If you are working toward a BA degree, the remainder of your first year courses can be selected as follows:
Fall Term Winter Term
1. PSYC 200 or Open Option1 6. PSYC 201 or Open Option1
2. Arts Option 7. Science Option1
3 - 5. Arts and  Open Options1 8 - 10. Arts and Open Options1

1Options. Courses chosen from the following areas are recommended: Anthropology, Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Mathematics, Philosophy, Physics, and Sociology. First-Year Degree Guide.

Please refer to our BA programs page for additional details.

  • If you are working toward a BSc degree, seven of the Options you complete in your first year should be chosen from the required Science Foundation Courses:
    • BIOL 241 and 243
    • CHEM 201 or 211 and 203 or 213
    • MATH 249 or MATH 365
    • One of MATH 211, 213, 253, 2673
    • PHYS 211 or 221 or 227

Remaining options can be chosen from the Option areas listed under BA program above. Please refer to our BSc programs page for additional details.

What courses should I take in my second year?

In your second year of study it is critical, whether you are pursuing a BA or BSc, that you register in PSYC 312, as all 400 level courses (with the exception of PSYC 405) require PSYC 312 as a prerequisite. You should be taking other 300 level PSYC courses required by the major along w/ additional optional electives of your choosing.

During the final two years of your Psychology program, you will finish your required 400-level courses in Psychology and any other senior electives. Therefore, in order to insure degree completion within four years, it is essential that PSYC 312 be taken in your second year.
Refer to the Programs page on our website for a listing of required courses.

Although Math 30-1 is no longer required for admission to Psychology, Math 30-1 is a required prerequisite for PSYC 312 as well as as for a number of Science Foundation courses.

See: Do I still need Math 30-1 (or equivalent) for Psychology now that it’s no longer required for admission?
See also: Where can I find out what Prerequisites are needed for a course?

I’m a transfer student, how can I find out what my remaining requirements are or how my college/university courses will be counted towards my degree?

You should make an in-person appointment with an advisor in the Student Sucess Centre.

Do I still need Math 30-1 (or equivalent) for Psychology now that it’s no longer required for admission?

Yes. Although as of Fall 2009, students can be admitted to Psychology without having completed Math 30-1, Math 30-1 is a prerequisite for enrolling into Psyc 312 (Experimental Design and Quantitative Methods for Psychology) in Year 2. Math 30-1 is also a prerequisite for a number of Science Foundation courses which are required of students in the BSc program.

In order to ensure degree completion within 4 years, it is essential that Psychology students who enter UofC without Math 30-1 either:

1) complete the UPG 101 Math II course offered by UofC’s Continuing Education during Year 1 of their studies with a passing grade. Please see the Continuing Education website for course details and availability.


2) write a Math Diagnostic Test and obtain a passing grade. For more information about the Diagnostic test or to sign up, please visit the Math department.

Note: Applied Mathematics 30 (or equivalent) is not equivalent to Math 30-1

See also:
Can I take Math 30-1 (or equivalent) and PSYC 312 concurrently?

Is it better to get a BA or a BSc?

One degree is not "better" than the other, they are merely different. Students in the BSc stream, for instance, complete a series of Science Foundation Courses in their first year and tend to focus more on areas of psychology relating to biological processes. Students in the BA stream may be more focused on areas such as social or organizational psychology. This is by no means a definitive list of areas which may be of interest to students in either stream and courses taken by students in one stream will also be of interest to students in the other. Indeed, because of Psychology’s interdisciplinary nature, you will find that topics in psychology are studied from a variety of different viewpoints.

The critical factors that determine your attractiveness to employers, graduate schools, professional programs, etc…, are the courses you have taken and the grades you have obtained. Ultimately, your choice of a B.A. or B.Sc. degree depends upon your academic interests and your career goals.

See also:
What are the requirements for a Psychology Degree?
What courses should I take in the first year of my Psychology degree?
The Psychology Careers Handbook pdf on our Careers pages.

If I major in Psychology, what courses in other departments (e.g., Options or Electives) should I take?

One of psychology's most noticeable features is its incredible breadth and diversity. It runs the gamut from neurophysiology to personality theory. This being the case, anything you learn in other courses, from physics to philosophy, is likely to have some connection and help you in some way. Our advice is to choose courses that interest you while aiming for some diversity - don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Experience has shown that many students in senior level courses wish they knew more about computers, math, and biology. But follow your interests too. If you prefer natural sciences, choose a lot of these courses; if you like the humanities or social sciences, concentrate there. Don't be afraid to consider courses from faculties outside these faculties either, such as Social Work, Education, Kinesiology, Management, or Engineering. (Remember that only six full-course equivalents may be taken from outside the Faculties of Arts, and Science.)

What is a minor, and should I declare one?

A minor is a formal way of recognizing that you have completed a set number of courses in a particular subject. To receive a minor in Psychology, you must complete no more than and no less than 5 Full Course Equivalents (equivalent to 30 units) in Psychology.

Be sure to consult the University Calendar for complete minor requirements. From the Calendar table of contents, navigate to the following pages:
Faculty of Arts > Program Details > Psychology

Since the minor amounts to one quarter of the courses you need to graduate, there is a substantial commitment involved.

Many students declare a minor for the wrong reasons. For example, many students declare a minor to obtain 'official' recognition of expertise in a particular area, but this is not necessary. Anyone reviewing your transcript or resume will see the Psychology courses you have completed, and that you therefore have knowledge in this field, even if the number of courses you have completed is less than what is required for a minor. If you think that an extensive background in psychology will be important for your career, then you should be thinking about pursuing a double major, not a minor.

A minor can be declared in any term prior to applying for graduation. You will need to submit a “Change of Programme” form which should be returned to the Student Stop office, Room 117, MacKimmie Library Block. See the Enrollment Services website for forms.

Note: Psychology minors are not guaranteed seats in our courses nor are they given preferential access to any of our courses.
See: I’m a Psyc minor, do course enrollment restrictions apply to me?

What are the advantages of the Honours Program, and will it help me get into graduate school?

If your goal is to attend graduate school, an Honours degree is not necessarily required, but it is certainly an advantage. (Be sure to always check the graduate studies website of all institutions you are considering attending to find out what their admission criteria are. Most institutions will gladly send you an information package if you request it.)

The Honours program will help you in a number of ways:

  1. The Honours program allows you to take more Psychology courses (up to a maximum of 12 FCE instead of 10), so your background will be more comprehensive.
  2. Completing the Honours thesis provides you the opportunity to conduct independent research and gain valuable research experience—skills that will prepare you for the research you will undertake in any graduate program. You will also be in a better position to decide whether pursuing a graduate degree is right for you. The thesis is an original piece of research completed under the close supervision of a faculty member in an area of psychology of interest to you. Don’t let this aspect of the Honours program intimidate you, as you will receive plenty of support from your supervisor and others along the way.
  3. You will develop a working relationship with your thesis supervisor (and perhaps others), who in turn will be in a much better position to evaluate your abilities when writing the reference letters you will need to apply for graduate studies.
  4. Lastly, in the Honours Thesis Seminar, you will give presentations about your research to other students, which will allow you to sharpen your public speaking skills in an informal and supportive environment.

Thus, an Honours degree can make you a more attractive applicant to a graduate program, enhancing your competitiveness relative to other applicants.

Admission to the Honours Program is competitive, and students meeting the minimum qualifications are not guaranteed admission to the program. Please refer to our Honours page or to the University Calendar (see Faculty of Arts) for application and program requirements.

This is not to say that you cannot get into graduate school without an honours degree. You can get research experience by taking a research course (e.g., PSYC 504 or 505), or by volunteering in a faculty member's laboratory. So the Honours Program is not the only way of acquiring the skills and reference letters that will increase your competitiveness.

What is "graduate school", how do I prepare for it, and why should I attend it?

  1. What is graduate school?
    While you are pursuing your first university degree (a bachelor's degree), you are classified as an "undergraduate". If you wish to pursue more advanced studies after completing your bachelor's degree you can obtain a master's degree (M.A. or M.Sc.), and if you wish to continue further you can obtain a doctorate, or Ph.D., the most advanced degree available. While studying for master's and doctoral degrees you are classified as a 'graduate student'. You have to apply for admission to graduate school, and your chances will depend upon your success in important undergraduate courses (especially your research methods and statistics courses, such as PSYC 312, and courses related to your proposed area of study), your GPA, your letters of reference, your research experience (if any), and your scores on such tests as the Graduate Record Exam (GRE). Most graduate programs look only at your last 20 half courses when calculating your GPA. Every year the Psychology Undergraduate Students' Association (PSYCHS) holds an information session on applying to graduate programs, and we strongly recommend that you attend this event if you have any interest in graduate school. Admission to graduate programs is very competitive, and the numbers admitted are limited to a department's resources. Each year a department determines how many graduate students it can admit, and then the most promising applicants are accepted. As a result, it is impossible to say exactly what grades you will need to get into graduate school. It is a competitive situation, dependent on the qualifications of the other applicants. If your GPA is in the 3.8 range and you have one or more good letters of reference, you have a good chance of being accepted into a graduate program (although not necessarily the program of your choice). If your GPA is below 3.3, your chances of admission are not good. Between these extremes there are no guarantees. The best tactic is to apply, because, after all, the worst that they can say is "no."
  2. How does one prepare for graduate school?
    First, realize that by following the requirements for an undergraduate psychology degree, you will already be preparing yourself for graduate studies. We have imposed these requirements partly so that our graduates will be sufficiently prepared for, and attractive to, graduate schools, and so if you complete your degree with a high GPA you will be one step closer to graduate school. The Honours program is especially tailored for prospective graduate students, and so we recommend it to all students planning on graduate studies. Note that admission to the Honours program is competitive (for details click here), and only the most qualified students are admitted every year. If you are planning for graduate school but are not in the Honours program you should try to meet as many of the Honours requirements as you can - in other words, be an honours student "in your own mind," as it were. For example, choose a large number of 400-level courses and take as many psychology courses as you're allowed, and acquire research experience by volunteering or by taking a research course. See our Research Courses section for more information.
  3. Why go to graduate school?
    For the chance at in-depth study, largely of an independent, self-directed kind in one specialized area of psychology that interests you. Graduate school involves depth in one area rather than breadth across several areas. Students are required to produce a research thesis (an original contribution to knowledge) for a master's degree to demonstrate their ability to think and work relatively independently. Graduate programs are quite different from undergraduate programs, as there are fewer formal courses and exams but much more independent study and research. Graduate school will equip you to work as a psychologist in the field in which you are trained, such as clinical, cognitive, applied, etc., so you will have a much better chance of working in an area that interests you. Graduate school is not for everyone. It is demanding, rigorous, and time and energy consuming. It is for the academically capable and highly committed. It is a full-time job. How long does it take to complete a graduate degree? This can vary greatly depending on a program's requirements, your own progress through the program, and the time it takes to complete your thesis. A typical period would be two years for a master's degree (M.A. or M.Sc.), and an additional four to five years for a Ph.D.
  4. How long does it take to complete a graduate degree?
    This can vary greatly depending on a program's requirements, your own progress through the program, and the time it takes to complete your thesis. A typical period would be two years for a master's degree (M.A. or M.Sc.), and an additional four to five years for a Ph.D.

I already have a degree, can I complete a second Bachelor's degree in Psychology?

Yes, if you have a bachelor’s degree in a discipline other than Psychology, you may consider completing a second degree (called an “After Degree” at UofC). Students with a bachelor’s degree in another discipline, but with a minor in Psychology may apply. However, if your previous bachelor’s degree was in Psychology, you are not eligible to apply. For more information, please see our After-Degree Program page.

I have a degree in Psychology, can I upgrade my previous degree to an Honours degree?

Unfortunately not. Our honours program is an integral part of the Honours BA or BSc program and cannot be added-on after a student has graduated either from UCalgary or another institution.