Psychology Major, B.S.

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

Davie Hall, CB# 3270

(919) 843-5467

Steven Buzinski, Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies

Donald T. Lysle, Chair

Regina M. Carelli, Associate Chair

Karen Gil, Associate Chair

Jeannie Loeb, Director of Undergraduate Studies

Desiree Griffin, Director of Academic Advising

Kaitlin Blakemore, Student Services Manager

Christopher Coffey, Undergraduate Instructional Program Coordinator

In the undergraduate study of psychology the emphasis is on a broad acquaintance with the behavioral sciences, not specialization. The subject matter is preparatory to a career in psychology either in basic research and teaching, or in any number of professional applications to various human problems. A psychology major may prove valuable to those planning other professional careers such as medicine, law, education, or business, as well as to those who seek a broad cultural background in the behavioral sciences.

Department Programs



Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the psychology program (B.A., B.S.), students should be able to:  

  • Knowledge Base: Demonstrate knowledge of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology, including its links to other social science disciplines
  • Research Methods: Apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, data analysis, and interpretation
  • Critical Thinking Skills: Demonstrate critical and creative thinking, skeptical inquiry, and when possible, the scientific approach to solve problems related to behavior and mental processes
  • Application: Apply psychological principles to personal, social, and organizational issues
  • Values: Demonstrate use of empirical evidence, tolerate ambiguity, act ethically, and reflect other values that are the underpinning of psychology as a science


In addition to the program requirements listed below, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Gateway Course
PSYC 101General Psychology (with a grade of C or better)3
Core Requirements
PSYC 210Statistical Principles of Psychological Research H3
PSYC 270Laboratory Research in Psychology4
One course below 400 from each of the following psychology program areas:6
Behavioral Neuroscience:
Biopsychology H
Learning H
Sensation and Perception 1, H
Sensation and Perception 1, H
Cognitive Psychology H
One course below 400 from two of the three following psychology program areas:6
Introduction to Clinical Psychology H
Abnormal Psychology H
Child Development H
Social Psychology H
Two additional psychology courses numbered between 400 and 650, at least one of which must be a PL, PX, or QR/QI course chosen from the list below. May not include PSYC 493.6
One additional psychology course above 101; may include three hours of PSYC 395 or PSYC 693H or PSYC 694H; may not include PSYC 1903
Additional Requirements
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
One of:4
General Descriptive Chemistry I
and Quantitative Chemistry Laboratory I
General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences
Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity
MATH 231Calculus of Functions of One Variable I3-4
or MATH 241 BioCalculus I
One of:3-4
Fluency in Information Technology
Introduction to Programming H
Introduction to Scientific Programming
Calculus of Functions of One Variable II
BioCalculus II
At least four additional nonpsychology physical and life sciences courses (i.e., PL or PX), including one with a laboratory (i.e., PX) and one physical science course; OR three additional nonpsychology physical and life sciences courses (i.e., PL or PX) including one with a laboratory (i.e., PX) and one additional course chosen from COMP 401; LING 455; PHIL 155, PHIL 455; STOR 112, STOR 113, STOR 21513
One additional nonhistorical social and behavioral sciences Approaches course, which must be from a department other than psychology (the remaining three social and behavioral sciences Approaches courses must be from departments other than psychology)3
Remaining General Education requirements and enough free electives to accumulate 122 academic hours61
Total Hours122-124

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.


PSYC 225 can meet either the behavioral neuroscience or cognitive requirement, but not both.

PL, PX, or QR/QI Course

PSYC 400Conditioning and Learning3
PSYC 401Animal Behavior3
PSYC 402Advanced Biopsychology3
PSYC 403Advanced Biopsychology Laboratory H3
PSYC 404Clinical Psychopharmacology3
PSYC 425Advanced Perceptual Processes3
PSYC 426Molecular Mechanisms of Memory3
PSYC 427Neurobiology of Aging3
PSYC 428Neuroscience, Society, and the Media3
PSYC 429Neuroeconomics and the Science of Consequence3
PSYC 430Human Memory3
PSYC 433Behavioral Decision Theory3
PSYC 434Cognitive Neuroscience3
PSYC 437Neurobiology of Learning and Memory3
PSYC 461Cognitive Development3
PSYC 469Evolution and Development of Biobehavioral Systems3
PSYC 504Health Psychology3
PSYC 507Autism3
PSYC 517Addiction3
PSYC 530Design and Interpretation of Psychological Research3
PSYC 531Tests and Measurement3

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

All majors must complete PSYC 101 and at least six psychology courses above PSYC 101 with a grade of C (not C-) or better.

Students planning to enter graduate programs in psychology are urged to include a research-intensive course such as PSYC 395, PSYC 530, or PSYC 693H and PSYC 694H in their program and as many courses numbered 400 and above as possible.

Details of the student’s program may be worked out in consultation with college and departmental advisors.

Special Opportunities in Psychology

Honors in Psychology

Any major in the program with an overall grade point average of 3.3 or higher, a psychology grade point average of at least 3.5, and prior research experience in a faculty lab (e.g., PSYC 395) is eligible for enrollment in the departmental senior honors program. Each candidate for honors participates in a two-semester course sequence (PSYC 693H and PSYC 694H) and carries out independent research in an area of the student’s choice under the guidance of a psychology faculty member. Please see the department Web site for the application form and additional information.

Departmental Involvement

Membership in the Psychology Club is open to any interested psychology major. There is no minimum grade point average requirement. The club meets frequently to discuss psychology-related topics and learn about careers in psychology.

The Carolina Neuroscience Club brings together students who have an interest in the brain and nervous system. Club members meet regularly to discuss courses, research articles, and post-college neuroscience opportunities. Membership is open to anyone interested in neuroscience.

The Undergraduate Minority Psychology Student Association provides a supportive and educational environment where minority psychology students can gain the tools necessary to advance competitively in the field of psychology. Club members use mentoring, informational sessions, networking, and advocacy to create an environment in which minority students can succeed at UNC–Chapel Hill and beyond.

Experiential Education

Several opportunities for experiential education are available. The Karen M. Gil Internship Program offers both course credit and a monthly stipend to selected psychology majors who are placed in approved internship sites in the community. Interns are selected through a competitive process (minimum grade point average is 3.4). Other experiential education opportunities include PSYC 395; PSYC 294; PSYC 424; APPLES, performed either through the APPLES program or in conjunction with a specific psychology class; and other classes for which service learning is a central focus. See course listings for details.

Undergraduate Awards

The David Bray Peele Award, the Lindquist Undergraduate Research Award (both administered in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience), and several fellowships and grants administered through the UNC Office for Undergraduate Research or the UNC Honors Carolina Office are available to students who conduct research in psychology. Each year, the Dashiell-Thurstone Prize is awarded for the best undergraduate research project. An additional honor is election to Psi Chi, the national honor society for psychology undergraduates. Psychology majors who have completed at least three courses in psychology and who have a grade point average of at least 3.2 at UNC–Chapel Hill will be invited to join Psi Chi. In the spring of each year, one graduating senior who has conducted excellent research that contributes to psychological knowledge about diversity will be chosen to receive the J. Steven Reznick Award for Outstanding Research That Enhances Diversity. In addition, a second student will receive the Susan M. McHale Award for Outstanding Research by a Student Who Enhances Diversity. For each of these awards, diversity is broadly defined, including but not limited to diversity based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, disability, religious affiliation, and socioeconomic status.

Undergraduate Research

Qualified students interested in doing independent research under the direction of a faculty member may enroll for independent research credit (PSYC 395). Students interested in this option should speak directly with psychology faculty members regarding opportunities in their laboratories. Additional information is available on the department's Web site. Many other psychology courses also include heavy research components. See the research methods, research intensive, and research exposure courses at the Office for Undergraduate Research.