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Psychologist
Bachelor of Science in
Psychology

Courses

Penn State's online bachelor of science degree in psychology is designed for students interested in learning about behavior — normal and abnormal — how it's studied, and how it relates to different areas. Graduates are prepared for various positions in human services, industrial settings, or laboratories. Some may go on to professional school, e.g., medical school or law school, or continue their training in psychology, working toward a master's or a doctoral degree.

The bachelor of science degree requires students to complete a minimum of 123 credits. To earn this degree, you must successfully complete:

  • 50 credits required for the major
    • 13 prescribed course credits
    • 34 additional major course credits
  • 24 additional option and supporting course credits
    • 15 business option credits
    • 9 supporting course and related areas credits
  • 36 General Education credits
  • 13 elective credits

The 24 credits of business courses focus on economics, finance, management, law, and accounting, making this degree ideal for professionals who wish to combine their interests in business and psychology.

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. 

Internships

Students may take an internship for credit. Enrollment in PSYCH 495 is by permission and requires approval of an internship placement and plan of study. A maximum of 3 credits of PSYCH 495 may be applied to 400-level course requirements for the psychology major. Three credits requires a minimum of 120 hours of work, plus an academic component. Enrollment is limited to 10 students and will be on a first-come, first-served basis. Please read the program guidelines before submitting the internship form.

Prescribed Courses (13 credits)

  • 3
    credits

    Introduces students to the types of writing that social scientists typically do in the workplace, including research proposals, proper citation practices, literature reviews, and research reports.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to general psychology; principles of human behavior and their applications.

  • 3
    credits

    Overview of history and methods of psychology as a science and profession; applications and ethical issues in psychology.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 4
    credits

    Introduction to methods of psychological research, with special attention to hypothesis formation and testing, threats to validity, and data presentation.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100 and PSYCH 200 or STAT 200

  • 3
    credits

    Capstone experience for senior psychology majors; review of current research literature; topics vary.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 301W and 6 credits in 400-level PSYCH courses

Additional Courses

Select 6 credits of General Quantitative Courses (GQ) and: 

    • 3
      credits

      This course provides an introduction to the descriptive and inferential statistics commonly used in psychology, and to hypothesis testing as a method of scientific investigation. It also explores the ways in which the assumptions of statistical tests place constraints on experimental design and, conversely, how the design of experiments can dictate the statistical test appropriate for data analysis.

      • Prerequisite

        PSYCH 100 and MATH 21

    • or:
      4
      credits

      Descriptive Statistics, frequency distributions, probability and normal distributions, statistical inference, linear regression, and correlation.

      • Prerequisite

        Placement into MATH 21 or higher.

Select 12 credits of 200-level PSY courses (not to include PSYCH 294, PSYCH 296, or PSYCH 297). At least 3 credits must be from each group A, B, and C:

Group A

  • 3
    credits

    Gives students a detailed introduction to the basic questions in the study of how the energies and information in the external world become part of our immediate experience. This includes questions about how patterned energies (such as light, sound, etc.) are coded by our sensory systems and how those codes are used to support psychological experience.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    This course is an introduction to cognition, an area of psychology that investigates the ways in which we acquire, store, create and use knowledge.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    An introduction to biopsychology, emphasizing the structure and function of the human brain.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    This course provides a general survey of the study of learning and behavior. It will focus on investigating historical and current learning perspectives, their respective research methods, and how each contributes to our understanding of both human and animal behavior.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

Group B

  • 3
    credits

    Developmental principles; physical growth; linguistic, intellectual, emotional, and social development from infancy to maturity.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    Introduction to Social Psychology discusses how people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by other people (real or imagined). The course will provide an overview of the field, potentially covering such topics as: attitudes, persuasion, person perception, automatic vs. conscious thought, the self, prosocial behavior, aggression, interpersonal attribution, conformity, obedience, culture, groups, prejudice and discrimination from a psychological perspective.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    The focus of this course in general is on the psychological study of gender in historical and contemporary perspective. The historical roots of gender studies in women's studies, as a correction to a traditional focus on male and masculine perspectives, will be covered.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    Personality psychology involves examining theories of human nature and evaluating them in an empirical fashion.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

Group C

  • 3
    credits

    Applying psychological knowledge to develop and maintain effective personal adjustment and well-being and positive social relations.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    This course demonstrates how knowledge and principles from evolutionary biology are used to conduct research on the design of the human mind.

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    This course focuses on some of the topics and questions people most commonly ask about psychology: What are the different psychological disorders, and what are they like? How do clinicians diagnose someone with a disorder? What do therapists actuallydoin therapy?

    • Prerequisite

      PSYCH 100

  • 3
    credits

    Personnel selection, training, accident prevention, morale, and organizational behavior.

Additional PSYCH Courses

Select 12 credits of PSYCH courses at the 400 level (not including PSYCH 490, and including no more than 3 credits of PSYCH 493, PSYCH 494, PSYCH 495, or PSYCH 496).

Program Options

The B.S. in Psychology offers two options, each option consists of 24 credits. Additional and supporting course requirements vary based on the selected option.

Business Option (select 24 credits)

Select 15 total credits from at least 3 different groups:

Economics/Finance/Marketing/Accounting

  • 4
    credits

    Introduction to the role of accounting numbers in the process of managing a business and in investor decision-making.

    • Prerequisite

      MATH 21 or a higher math course or a satisfactory score on the mathematics placement examination

  • 3
    credits

    Provides insight into the thinking of both the financial manager and the functional manager that is needed to effectively lead and manage not only their business organization but also their personal financial lives.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102 or ECON 104

  • 3
    credits

    The course is a stand-alone marketing course for those interested in the role of marketing within the business context. It covers a range of topics from the basic (what is marketing), to the processes (market segmentation, marketing strategy, development of product, price, place and promotion), to the broader societal questions (why marketing exists, ethics, the future of marketing).

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102 or ECON 104

  • 3
    credits

    Economics is the study of how people satisfy their wants in the face of limited resources.

  • 3
    credits

    Methods of economic analysis and their use; price determination; theory of the firm; distribution.

  • 3
    credits

    National income measurement; aggregate economic models; money and income; policy problems.

  • 3
    credits

    Allocation of resources and distribution of income within various market structures, with emphasis on analytical tools.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102

  • 3
    credits

    Nature of finance function; risk and return concepts; working capital; dividend policies; mergers; security markets; acquisition and management of corporate capital; analysis of operations; forecasting capital requirements; raising capital; and planning profits. Available to baccalaureate students only.

    • Prerequisite

      (ENGL 015 or ENGL 030) and ACCTG 211 and (ECON 102 or ECON 104) and (SCM 200 or STAT 200)

  • 3
    credits

    The transnational politics of trade, investment, aid, raw materials, and the environment; nation-states, multinational corporations, and the U.N.

    • Prerequisite

      ECON 102, ECON 104, or IB 303

  • 3
    credits

    Interactions of governmental and economic activity in American life. Survey of governmental (national, state, local) promotional, regulatory, and ownership policies.

  • 3
    credits

    This course examines states, markets, power, production, and the relations between the various transnational agents who act in these areas.

  • 3
    credits

    Advanced analysis of public policy, emphasizing policy evaluation and the factors that determine policy success and failure.

  • 3
    credits

    Focuses on customer behavior, product, channels of distribution, promotion, and pricing with emphasis on a culturally diverse environment. Not available to students who have taken BA 303.

    • Prerequisite

      (ENGL 015 or ENGL 030) and (ECON 102 or ECON 104) and (MATH 021 or higher or satisfactory score on the mathematics placement examination.)

Management/Law and Ethics/Labor Relations/Communications

  • 3
    credits

    Social control through law: courts, basic policies underlying individual and contractual rights in everyday society. May not be used to satisfy Smeal College baccalaureate degree requirements.

  • 3
    credits

    Examines the function and structure of communication in both formal and informal situations.

  • 3
    credits

    Examination of the social, political, historic, and scientific factors in the development and organization of health services.

  • 3
    credits

    Introductory analysis of the employment relationship and the interrelated interests of management, workers, unions, and the public.

  • 3
    credits

    Development of Anglo-American law regulating collective bargaining, with emphasis on American labor-management relations under Wagner, Taft-Hartley, and other acts.

  • 3
    credits

    Explores ethics from both a normative and behavioral perspective; four interrelated and mutually reinforcing subject areas will be explored in the course at the individual, organizational and transnational levels business ethics, ethics in unionized firms, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability.

    • Prerequisite

      LHR 100 or fifth-semester standing or 3 other credits of LHR

  • 3
    credits

    Exposes undergraduate students to the fundamental principles and basic concepts of management, with emphasis on organizational design, management processes, leadership, motivation, and managing teams and individuals in a global business environment.

  • 3
    credits

    Applies organizational behavior theories, concepts, and skills to leading and motivating individuals and groups.

  • 3
    credits

    Designing organizations to effectively manage new technologies, structures, and people in changing global contexts.

  • 3
    credits

    Leaders, in whatever context, make difficult decisions, distribute scarce resources, direct and influence the conduct of others, and represent the goals of the enterprise they lead. Thus they ought to exemplify prudence, fairness, integrity, honesty, trustworthiness, sincerity, and morally upright behavior. This course investigates these concepts and the moral dilemmas that arise in developing or applying them.

  • 3
    credits

    Supply chain management concepts, principles, and methodologies.

    • Prerequisite

      ACCTG 211 and ECON 102 and (SCM 200 or STAT 200)

Global View/Gender and Race/History

  • 3
    credits

    A study of selected problems in the history of work in the United States, especially since 1877.

  • 3
    credits

    Work and occupational life in modern society; work in the past, present, and future.

  • 3
    credits

    The role of gender in shaping contemporary North American patterns of employment, occupational roles, and statuses.

Business Option Supporting Courses (select 9 credits)

  • 3 credits of Arts (GA)/Humanities (GH)
  • 3 credits of Natural Sciences (GN)
  • 3 credits of Social & Behavior Sciences (GS)

Life Sciences Option (select 24 credits)

Select 15 total credits from at least 3 different groups:

Genetics

  • 3
    credits

    This course explores how genes influence our traits and how our traits evolve, with special emphasis on behavior

  • 3
    credits

    Covers the nature and contents of the human genome and the basic principles of evolution.

    • 3
      credits

      Human heredity and evolution, individual and social implications.

    • or:
      3
      credits

      Variation and heredity in bacteria, plants, and animals; relationships of genetic knowledge to evolution and breeding practices.

Biological Anthropology

  • 3
    credits

    The role of human biology and evolution in culture, society, and behavior.

  • 3
    credits

    The biological basis of human behavior within the context of primate biology, behavior, and evolution.

  • 3
    credits

    Introduces the student to the biological bases of human anatomy and behavior by drawing comparisons to the behavior and biology of our closest living relatives, the non-human primates.

  • 3
    credits

    Human origins as seen in the fossil record and comparative biology of humans and their primate relatives.

  • 3
    credits

    Discussion of genetic influences on development and the interrelationships between genetics and health.

  • 3
    credits

    Health care from an individual, family, and community standpoint illustrated with specific diseases and health problems.

  • 3
    credits

    This course is designed for nutrition majors and non-majors to provide a broad understanding of general principles of nutrition. Concepts covered include the essential nutrients, digestion, absorption, transport, and food sources.

Biobehavioral Implications

Any BBH course (except BBH 310) 

  • 3
    credits

    This course is designed to increase student awareness of personal, interpersonal, and societal aspects of disability, including how disability can be defined and understood differently in varied individual, institutional, and cultural contexts.

  • 3
    credits

    The course reviews the human services profession, including introductory information about social problems within a socio-political context to show how culture and ideology influence experiences and perspectives.

  • 3
    credits

    The purpose of this course is to give students an overview of many chronic illnesses and disabilities, and their impact in the lives of the individuals who live with them. This course is designed for non-medical professionals and students interested in working with individuals with disabilities and chronic illnesses.

Biology/Chemistry

  • 4
    credits

    A study of the fundamental concepts of biology, including the evolution of the major groups of organisms. This is the first biology course taken by students who intend to major in biology. It provides a foundation in the basic concepts that govern life, including the evolutionary processes that have led to the biodiversity seen today.

  • 3
    credits

    Normal structure and function of the animal body, with special emphasis on human body systems.

  • 3
    credits

    Examination of human aging from a biological perspective. Population demographics, physiological and pathological changes, and healthy lifestyles are discussed. Students who have passed BIOL 409 may not schedule this course.

  • 3
    credits

    Human Anatomy and Physiology I - Lecture

  • 3
    credits

    Basic structure and function of the human reproductive system. Physiology of gametogenesis, fertilization, contraception, gestation, parturition, lactation, and sexual behavior.

  • 3
    credits

    Basic concepts and quantitative relations.

  • 1
    credit

    Introduction to quantitative experimentation in chemistry.

    • Prerequisite or Concurrent

      CHEM 110 or CHEM 106

  • 3
    credits

    Covers the following topics: reaction rates and chemical kinetics, nuclear applications, catalysis, gas phase and aqueous equilibrium, chemical thermodynamics, entropy, free energy, acid-base equilibria, the pH scale, the common-ion effect, buffers, acid-base titrations, factors that affect aqueous solubility, electrochemistry, oxidation-reduction reactions, oxidation states, voltaic cells, batteries, corrosion, electrolysis, transition metals, crystal field theory, molecular orbital theory, bonding in solids, and properties of modern materials.

  • 3
    credits

    The course builds on the material learned in CHEM 111, emphasizing quantitative and analytical procedures.

  • 3
    credits

    Bonding theories for organic molecules; stereochemistry and conformational analysis; reactions (and mechanisms) of alkyl halides, alkenes, alkynes, aromatics, and alcohols.

  • 3
    credits

    Emphasis is placed on the role of organic reactions in biological chemistry.

  • 3
    credits

    Basic laboratory operations; synthesis and chemical or instrumental analysis.

Life Sciences Option Supporting Courses (select 9 credits)

  • 3 credits of Natural Sciences (GN)
  • 6 credits of Social & Behavior Sciences (GS)

Electives (select 10–13 credits)

Elective courses will be chosen in consultation with your adviser.

General Education Requirements

Some General Education requirements may be satisfied by courses required for the major. Students should work with an adviser to select courses.

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GWS courses.
  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
    A student must receive a grade of C or better in GQ courses.
  • Integrative Studies: 6 credits
    This requirement only applies to students starting in summer 2018 or later. Learn more about the Integrative Studies options and consult your academic adviser when choosing courses to fulfill these requirements. Integrative Studies credits may be completed within the thirty Knowledge Domain credits and must be completed with either Inter-domain or Linked courses, not a combination of both.

Course Availability

If you're ready to see when your courses will be offered, visit our public LionPATH course search (opens in new window) to start planning ahead.

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