Major

A rigorous understanding of human/animal behavior and mental processes can be applied to almost any career. Students majoring in psychology have successfully pursued careers in science, clinical/counseling, business, medicine, law, public service, and a variety of other areas. UW-Madison’s Psychology major requires a variety of Foundation courses (Introductory Psychology, Statistics, Research Methods, and Biology), Breadth courses, Depth courses, Capstone courses, and a total of 33-credits completed in the Psychology department. 

Visit The GUIDE for the Psychology major requirements:

Psychology, B.A.

Psychology, B.S.

NOTE: Current students should review their DARS, the official document of record, for degree and major progress. 

Psychology major checklist [PDF]

Did you declare the psychology major PRIOR to Fall 2011? Contact advisor@psych.wisc.edu for the appropriate major checklist.

TO DECLARE THE PSYCHOLOGY MAJOR, a student must successfully complete Introductory Psychology (or the equivalent) with a grade of C or better and submit an ONLINE MAJOR DECLARATION FORM through the Psychology Advising (non-credit) Canvas course. Students must email advisor@psych.wisc.edu with their NetID (the first part of your @wisc.edu email address) to be added to the online Canvas course. The major declaration request form can be accessed from the course modules.  

Note: Students may also declare by scheduling an appointment with a Psychology Advisor.

To receive updates about the psychology major, Join our Psychology Major Listserv!  Send a blank email to Psych_majors+subscribe@g-groups.wisc.edu  

Honors in the Major within the Department of Psychology is designed to give students an opportunity to work closer with departmental faculty and have an in-depth experience in research. This is a great opportunity for students wanting to continue on to graduate school or have a strong interest in research. Please note that the Honors in the Major program is separate from the Honors in the Liberal Arts program. A student may complete either Honors in the Major or Honors in Liberal Arts, or both. 

Honors in the Major Application – Applications are accepted year-round on a rolling basis.  Applicants will be notified of their application status within 2-3 weeks of submission.

Requirements for Honors in the Major in Psychology:

  • A total of THREE Psychology Breadth or Depth courses for Honors with grades of B or better
  • Junior Honors Seminar, Psychology 380 (1 credit) – FALL only.  Students must be in a research lab and submit the Request for Authorization Form prior to enrolling
  • Senior Honors Thesis, Psychology 681 & 682 (6 credits total). The thesis is a year-long research project that requires time and preparation prior to the senior year.  Students are encouraged to read the Thesis Guidelines for Psychology + Request for Authorization in Junior Seminar OR Thesis enrollment as soon as they are interested in Honors in the Major and/or completing a thesis.

GPA Requirements 

  • A student must receive at least a “B” or better in an Honors course in order to receive Honors credit and have that count towards the Honors in the Major Requirements
  • A cumulative GPA of 3.3 is required to be eligible for any Honors degree from UW-Madison
  • A minimum of 3.3 within the Psychology major is required to graduate with Honors in the Major

Honors in Psychology Q & A

When can I apply for Honors?

Applications for Honors in the Major can be submitted as early as the end of a student’s freshman year. Applications should be submitted no later than the summer before Junior year to ensure enrollment in the Junior Honors Seminar, Psych 380.  Note students should be in a research lab prior to junior year in order to stay on track for Psych 380 and the Senior Honors Thesis.  Students applying for Honors in the Major should have cumulative and psych major GPAs above 3.3.

When can I enroll in Honors courses?

Once enrolled in an Honors program (either Honors in Liberal Arts or Honors in the Major), students can enroll in any Honors course on campus.  Prior to formal admission to an Honors program, students may enroll in Honors Psychology courses if they receive consent of the instructor.

Questions? Contact: honors@psych.wisc.edu 

Professor Tony Auger, Honors Faculty Advisor for the 2020-2021 Academic Year

Stephanie Osborn, Honors in the Major Program Administration

Distinction in the Major is designed to recognize students who have done outstanding work within the Department of Psychology.

The Intent to Complete Distinction Form can be submitted year-round.  Note: this is NOT an application and any student can fill out the Intent to Complete Distinction Form.  Distinction is processed after a student’s degree is conferred.

Requirements for Distinction in the Psychology Major:

A Psychology GPA of 3.7 or Higher –AND–

One of the following:
 A total of THREE Psychology Breadth or Depth courses for Honors with grades of B or better. Students not currently in an Honors program will need to seek out permission from the instructor in order to enroll in an Honors course. 

-OR-

A Senior Thesis (691 & 692).  Students completing a Senior Thesis are encouraged to take Psych 380 in the fall semester of their junior year to help prepare for their thesis.  Please read through the Senior Thesis Guidelines for Psychology Students document for information and timeline of a thesis as well as the Psych 380 and 691 authorization forms.

Distinction in Psychology Q & A

What is the difference between Honors in the Major and Distinction in the Major?
Honors in the Major is a comprehensive program within the Department in which a student completes high academic rigor as well as in-depth research.  Per College of L&S policy, a student cannot complete an Honors degree (i.e., Honors in the Liberal Arts, Honors in the Major, Comprehensive Honors) and earn Distinction in the Major.  Distinction is designed to recognize students who have excelled within the Department of Psychology academically.

When will my Distinction in the Major be processed?
Distinction in the Major cannot be processed until after your degree is conferred by the Office of the Registrar.  Once degrees are conferred the Department of Psychology will review prospective Distinction student records and confirm they meet the requirements for Distinction in the Major.  A notation of Distinction in the Major will then be added to the student’s transcript.  This typically happens the semester following a student’s graduation.

Questions? Contact: honors@psych.wisc.edu 

Stephanie Osborn, Distinction in the Major Program Administration

The following document provides information on what an Undergraduate Thesis entails, what a timeline might look like for students interested in pursuing a Thesis, a form required for enrolling in Thesis credits, and additional information.

Undergraduate Thesis Guidelines for Psychology Majors

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

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What college (L&S) breadth requirements are fulfilled by the psychology major requirements?

The major requirements for Psychology satisfy many of the breadth requirements for the BA and BS degree requirements in the College of Letters & Science. Required courses that will assist you in completing breadth and general education requirements include: Psych 202 (Social Science), Statistics (QR-B), Psych 225 (Comm B and Biological Science), Zoology 101 and 102 (Biological Science). Psychology breadth courses also carry breadth designations; some social science and some biological science. You will not receive Literature or Humanities breadth through the Psychology department, and only one elective course (Psych 349) fulfills a Physical Science breadth requirement. 

Is it true that biology is required for the psychology major?

Yes. A student needs to complete animal biology for the psychology major. Most students take the zoology 101 and 102 sequence. This is a total of 5 credits – 101 is the lecture and 102 is a lab. It is recommended that they be taken together, but students can take them separately. If you received a 4 or 5 on the AP Biology test this is will fulfill the biology requirement for the psychology major. We also accept Zoology 151 or Biocore.

What are the prerequisites to enroll in Psych 225?

In order to enroll in Psychology 225- Research Methods, students must earn a C or better in Introductory Psychology AND Statistics AND have completed a Communications-A course.

I transferred in Intro Psych and/or an acceptable statistics class (Psych 210, Stat 302, Stat 324 OR Stat 371), will I be able to enroll in Psych 225?

Yes. However, if you were approved for a curricular exception to accept an elective course (Ex. PSYCH x15) for either Intro or Statistics, you must contact advisor@psych.wisc.edu to receive authorization to enroll.

I received AP credit for statistics. Does this count for the major?

No. AP credit for statistics counts as Statistics 301, which does NOT satisfy the statistics requirement for the Psychology major. Stats 301 will not adequately prepare students for the statistical analyses needed for Psychology 225, Research Methods.

I transferred in some psychology courses, but they transferred in as electives. Can they count towards the psychology major?

Maybe. If you took a psychology course at another university and it transferred in as an elective (example: Psych X12) but you think it should count towards the major requirements, you must submit a Request for Curricular Exception form as well as a copy of the syllabus to the Undergrad Program Manager. Electronic submissions are acceptable. Your syllabi will be reviewed by the Undergraduate Program Manager and a determination will be made if the course qualifies as an acceptable substitution for a major requirement. 

I took a course that I feel should count toward a Psychology major requirement (foundation, breadth, depth, capstone), what do I do?

You may submit a Request for Curricular Exception form which requires an explanation or rationale as to why you feel the course should count, a course syllabus or description, your unofficial transcript and information about where the course was taken. Please note: No exceptions are made to the 33 credits required in the Psychology department and no curricular requirements are waived.

I didn’t earn a C in Intro Psych and Statistics, now what?

If you didn’t earn a C, meet with a psychology advisor as soon as possible. We will discuss options that you have and work together to come up with an optimal solution.

I received a D in a breadth or depth course, do I have to retake it?

No. If you receive a D in either a breadth or depth course, it will still count towards the psychology major requirements. However, you need to earn an average of 2.0 or above in all psychology courses, and all upper-level courses within the psychology department. Only Psychology courses numbered 300 or above are included in calculating the upper-level GPA requirement.

Is it okay to take a psychology course pass/fail?

I want to study abroad… how will this affect my psychology major and graduation timeline?

Many psychology students study abroad and graduate in a timely fashion. If you plan to study abroad meet with a psychology advisor to discuss your intended graduation date and semester/year you wish to go abroad. The earlier you plan for study abroad, the better. Also, go to the study abroad resource room in the Red Gym for more information on study abroad programs and opportunities. Often students are able to study abroad without taking any psychology courses and still graduate on time. Study abroad is a time to immerse yourself in another culture, so we frequently encourage students to take courses that you may not be able to take at UW-Madison.

Can I still major in psychology if I am in a different school such as Education or Business?

With permission from your school or college, yes! If you are interested in completing psychology as well, come in and see us to discuss this process. Please note, students with PRE designations – Pre-nursing, Pre-engineering, etc. may not declare a second major in L&S until they have been officially accepted into their limited enrollment program. 

I’m not currently a psychology major. Can I meet with someone in the psychology department for advising?

Absolutely! We want to meet with students as early as possible to discuss not only requirements and coursework, but outside classroom experiences as well. Schedule an appointment now!