School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences
William James characterized psychology as “the study of mental life.” Psychology is both a domain of scientific inquiry and a field of applied practice. The science of psychology is concerned with the study of how people perceive, learn, feel, think, develop, and interact with others. The practice of psychology helps people improve mental health, learning, and performance.
Undergraduate degrees in psychology provide students a number of career options. Further study in graduate school leads to professional careers as clinical, counseling, industrial, academic and other kinds of psychologists. Psychology is also a useful major for students planning careers in law, management, medicine, or social work. A psychology major provides students with the knowledge about human behavior and methods of research and data analysis that is valuable in business, helping fields, and many other occupations.
The Psychology program at UT Dallas approaches the field from a scientific perspective, applying behavioral science research methods to the study of the human mind and behavior. Thus, students will have laboratory experiences in addition to lectures, reading, and demonstrations. Psychology students learn to evaluate evidence relating to theories of social behavior, personality development, perception, memory, brain processes, and other facets of human experience. Students also gain hands-on experience through internship placements, directed research experiences in professors' labs, and individualized study with faculty in specialized topics.
Selected courses are offered in a “conference” format (i.e., discussion seminar format), and students are encouraged to include some of these courses in their course of study. Conference courses are generally limited to an enrollment of 20, emphasize discussion of reading from primary sources, include written assignments with feedback from instructors, and are aimed at providing students with interactive experiences in critical thinking and writing.
The undergraduate degree awarded through the Psychology program is a bachelor of arts. Students may choose electives to obtain a broader grounding in psychology or a general education in the liberal arts. Students should note that it is possible to select clusters of electives that lead to particular concentrations in careers and graduate study. Students can complete Core Curriculum and Psychology major requirements in a minimum of 72 semester credit hours, leaving 48 elective hours
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Degree Requirements (120 hours)
I. Core Curriculum Requirements1: 42 hours
- Communication (6 hours)
- Social and Behavioral Sciences (15 hours)
- Humanities and Fine Arts (6 hours)
- Mathematics and Quantitative Reasoning (6 hours)
- Science (9 hours with at least one lab course)
3 hours Science (NSC 3361)2
6 hours Science Elective (see PSY Advisor for options)
1 Curriculum Requirements can be fulfilled by other approved courses from accredited institutions of higher education. The courses listed in parentheses are recommended as the most efficient way to satisfy both Core Curriculum and Major Requirements at UT Dallas.
II. Major Requirements: 42 hours including at least 30 upper-division hours of required and guided elective courses in the major (30 hours beyond the Core Curriculum)
Major Preparatory Courses (6 hours)
- PSY 2301 Introduction to Psychology2 (also satisfies 3 hours part B of Core Curriculum)
- PSY 2317 Statistics for Psychology2 or STAT 1342 Statistical Decision Making (also satisfies 3 hours part D of Core Curriculum)
Major Core Courses (24 upper-division hours)
- NSC 3361 Behavioral Neuroscience2
- PSY 3360 Historical Perspectives on Psychology: Mind and Machines Since 1600
- PSY 3361 Cognitive Psychology
- PSY 3392 Research Design & Analysis
- PSY 3393 Experimental Projects in Psychology2 (also satisfies 3 hours part A of Core Curriculum)
- PSY 4331 Personality or PSY 3331 Social Psychology
- PSY 4334 Lifespan Development or PSY 3310 Child Development
- PSY 4343 Abnormal Psychology
Major Related Courses (12 upper-division hours)
- Advanced Guided Electives; 3 hours of one of the following:
- Plus any 9 hours of courses with PSY or CGS or CLDP or NSC prefixes or the following SPAU courses: 3301, 3303, 3304, 3340, 3343, 3344, 3345 or 4308.
III. Elective Requirements: 48 hours
- Advanced Electives (6 hours)
- Breadth Electives: 6 hours of upper-division courses, or lower-division courses that have prerequisites, that are outside of Psychology (and not cross-listed with Psychology).
- Free Electives (42 hours)
- Courses of the student’s choice. Students are encouraged to explore areas of concentration in Psychology as well as explore interests outside the field. Both lower- and upper-division courses may count as electives but students must be sure to complete at least 51 hours of upper-division courses to qualify for graduation.
Minor in Psychology
Students who are not majoring in Psychology may minor in Psychology by taking 18 semester credit hours of Psychology courses (i.e., those with a PSY prefix, excluding those listed under Independent Study in the Catalog). At least 12 hours must be upper-division courses, of which at least 9 hours must be Psychology major core courses taken at UT Dallas (see list below). No credit hours may be used to satisfy both major and minor requirements; however, free elective hours or major preparatory classes may be used to satisfy the minor.
Because Psychology is concerned with a wide range of social behaviors, it provides a strong foundation for all careers that deal with people. Students considering careers in business, education, law, medicine, clinical psychology, counseling or social work can benefit from minoring (or majoring) in psychology. The following courses are suggested preparation for each of these career paths.
Business Careers. Graduate schools of business look for students with a strong liberal arts background that focuses on both writing and quantitative skills. Suggested courses are Cognitive Psychology, Personality Psychology, Social Psychology, Psychology in the Workplace, Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Human Relations, and Research Design and Analysis.
Education Careers. Psychology courses are especially relevant for students pursuing careers in child development, educational psychology, education counseling, and school psychology. Suggested courses are Child or Lifespan Development, Cognitive Psychology, Educational Psychology, Cognitive Development, Exceptional Children, Social and Personality Development, Adolescent Psychology, Psychological Testing, Statistics for Psychology, and Research Design and Analysis.
Law and Crime and Justice Careers. A background in psychology can be enormously useful for the study and practice of law and law enforcement. Suggested courses are Forensic Psychology, Psychology and the Legal System, Lifespan Development, Cognitive Psychology, Judgment and Decision-Making, Personality Psychology, Social Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Psychological Testing, Statistics for Psychology, and Research Design and Analysis.
Medical Careers. Psychology is highly recommended as a major or minor for premedical students interested in psychiatry or neurology, or any student who wishes to practice medicine. The intended area of medical specialization should influence choice of courses; for example, a future pediatrician would benefit from courses in developmental psychology. In general, suggested courses are Lifespan or Child Development, Behavioral Neuroscience, Health Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Adolescent Psychology, Approaches to Clinical Psychology, Statistics for Psychology, and Research Design and Analysis.
Careers in Clinical Psychology, Counseling, or Social Work. All courses in psychology are good preparation for these careers. It is especially important that students take Lifespan Development, Behavioral Neuroscience, Cognitive Psychology, Personality Psychology, Abnormal Psychology, Statistics for Psychology, and Research Design and Analysis. Other courses of interest include Approaches to Clinical Psychology, Social Communication, Human Relations, Health Psychology, Psychological Testing, Child Psychopathology, and Violence in the Family.
Fast Track Baccalaureate/Master’s Degrees
UT Dallas undergraduate students with strong academic records who intend to pursue a master’s degree in Human Development and Early Childhood Disorders or in Applied Cognition and Neuroscience at UT Dallas may consider an accelerated undergraduate-graduate plan of study. When accepted into the program, students may take up to 12 hours of graduate courses that may be used to complete the baccalaureate degree and also to satisfy requirements for the master’s degree. Students must maintain a 3.00 grade point average and earn grades of B or better in graduate courses taken. Students must have completed at least 90 semester credit hours toward a baccalaureate degree before beginning Fast Track course work. Students should apply to admissions one semester before they reach 90 hours. To qualify for application, undergraduate students must have completed at least 18-semester credit hours in major core courses at UT Dallas. Apply to the Fast Track program through the Program Offices of the master’s programs. Students should consult with a graduate advisor regarding admissions criteria and plans of study.