Psychology Major, B.S.

Department of Psychology and Neuroscience

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Davie Hall, CB# 3270

(919) 843-0174

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 Undergraduate 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, 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 H4
PSYC 270Laboratory Research in Psychology4
One course below 400 from each of the following psychology program areas:6
Behavioral Integrative 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
One psychology course chosen from the "Upper Level Courses for Special Requirement" (see list below)3
One additional psychology course numbered between 400 and 650. May not include PSYC 493.3
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 I H3-4
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 H
BioCalculus II
At least four additional three-hour nonpsychology physical and life sciences courses including one with a laboratory and one physical science course that come from the Allied Science course list (see below)13
One additional nonhistorical social and behavioral sciences Approaches course, which must be from a department other than psychology3
Remaining General Education requirements and enough free electives to accumulate 122 academic hours60
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.

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.

Upper Level Courses for Special Requirement

PSYC 400Conditioning and Learning3
PSYC 401Animal Behavior3
PSYC 402Advanced Biopsychology3
PSYC 403Advanced Biopsychology Laboratory H3
PSYC 404Clinical Psychopharmacology3
PSYC 415History of Neuroscience3
PSYC 420Functional Neuroanatomy3
PSYC 424Neural Connections: Hands on Neuroscience3
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
PSYC 532Quantitative Psychology H3
PSYC 533The General Linear Model in Psychology H3
PSYC 534Introduction to Computational Statistics3
PSYC 568Emotion3
PSYC 571Social Neuroscience3

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

Allied Science Electives

ANTH 143Human Evolution and Adaptation3
ANTH 148Human Origins3
ANTH 217Human Biology in Comparative Perspective3
ANTH 298Biological Anthropology Theory and Practice3
ANTH 315Human Genetics and Evolution3
ANTH 317Evolutionary Perspectives on Human Adaptation and Behavior3
ANTH 318Human Growth and Development3
ANTH 412Paleoanthropology3
ANTH 413Laboratory Methods: Archaeobotany3
ANTH 414Laboratory Methods: Human Osteology3
ANTH 415Laboratory Methods: Zooarchaeology3
ANTH 416Bioarchaeology3
ANTH 423Written in Bone: CSI and the Science of Death Investigation from Skeletal Remains3
ANTH 437Evolutionary Medicine3
ANTH 471Biocultural Perspectives on Maternal and Child Health3
BIOC 107Introduction to Biochemistry4
BIOC 108Introduction to Biochemistry4
BIOL ---Any course above BIOL 101, except BIOL 195, BIOL 290, BIOL 291, BIOL 292, BIOL 293, BIOL 294, BIOL 295, BIOL 296, BIOL 395, BIOL 410, BIOL 490, and BIOL 495
BMME 101Frontiers of Biomedical Engineering1
BMME 150Introduction to Materials Science3
BMME 315Biotransport3
BMME 350Electronics for Biomedical Engineers4
BMME 351Human Physiology and Biological Measurements for Engineers4
BMME 405Biomechanics of Movement3
BMME 420Introduction to Synthetic Biology3
BMME 435Biological Physics3
BMME 445Systems Neuroscience3
BMME 455Biofluid Mechanics3
BMME 465Biomedical Instrumentation I4
BMME 470Tissue Engineering3
BMME 485Biotechnology3
BMME 505Skeletal Biomechanics3
BMME 510Biomaterials3
BIOS ---Any course above BIOS 500H, except BIOS 540, BIOS 543, BIOS 690, BIOS 691, BIOS 693H, BIOS 694H
CHEM ---Any course above CHEM 101 except CHEM 190, CHEM 291, CHEM 395, CHEM 396, CHEM 397, CHEM 410, and CHEM 692H
COMP ---Any course above COMP 116, except COMP 185, COMP 190, COMP 380, COMP 390, and COMP 393
ENEC 108Our Energy and Climate Crises: Challenges and Opportunities4
ENEC 202Introduction to the Environmental Sciences4
ENEC 220North Carolina Estuaries: Environmental Processes and Problems3
ENEC 222Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science4
ENEC 256Mountain Biodiversity4
ENEC 304Restoration Ecology4
ENEC 324Water in Our World: Introduction to Hydrologic Science and Environmental Problems3
ENEC 352Marine Fisheries Ecology3
ENEC 403Environmental Chemistry Processes3
ENEC 406Atmospheric Processes II4
ENEC 410Earth Processes in Environmental Systems4
ENEC 411Oceanic Processes in Environmental Systems4
ENEC 415Environmental Systems Modeling3
ENEC 416Environmental Meteorology3
ENEC 431Sustainable Cities: Exploring Ways of Making Cities More Sustainable3
ENEC 450Biogeochemical Processes4
ENEC 462Ecosystem Management3
ENEC 471Human Impacts on Estuarine Ecosystems4
ENEC 479Landscape Analysis3
ENEC 489Ecological Processes in Environmental Systems4
ENEC 530Principles of Climate Modeling3
ENEC 562Statistics for Environmental Scientists4
ENEC 567Ecological Analyses and Application3
ENVR 205Engineering Tools for Environmental Problem Solving3
ENVR 403Environmental Chemistry Processes3
ENVR 411Laboratory Techniques and Field Measurements3
ENVR 412Ecological Microbiology3
ENVR 413Limnology3
ENVR 416Aerosol Physics and Chemistry4
ENVR 419Chemical Equilibria in Natural Waters3
ENVR 421Environmental Health Microbiology3
ENVR 425Introduction to Health Physics: Radiation and Radiation Protection3
ENVR 430Health Effects of Environmental Agents3
ENVR 442Biochemical Toxicology3
ENVR 451Elements of Chemical Reactor Engineering3
ENVR 453Groundwater Hydrology3
ENVR 468Temporal GIS and Space/Time Geostatistics for the Environment and Public Health3
ENVR 470Environmental Risk Assessment3
ENVR 472Quantitative Risk Assessment in Environmental Health Microbiology3
ENVR 514Measurement of NOx, O3, and Volatile Organic Compounds3
ENVR 552Organic Geochemistry3
ENVR 575Global Climate Change: Science, Impacts, Solutions3
ENVR 630Systems Biology in Environmental Health3
ENVR 661Scientific Computation I3
ENVR 662Scientific Computation II3
ENVR 666Numerical Methods3
ENVR 668Methods of Applied Mathematics I3
ENVR 669Methods of Applied Mathematics II3
ENVR 671Environmental Physics I3
ENVR 672Environmental Physics II3
ENVR 675Air Pollution, Chemistry, and Physics3
EXSS 175Human Anatomy3
EXSS 175
Human Anatomy
and Human Anatomy Laboratory
EXSS 276Human Physiology3
EXSS 376Physiological Basis of Human Performance3
EXSS 380Neuromuscular Control and Learning3
EXSS 385Biomechanics of Sport3
EXSS 475Functional Anatomy3
EXSS 576Exercise Endocrinology3
EXSS 580Neuromechanics of Human Movement3
GEOG 110The Blue Planet: An Introduction to Earth's Environmental Systems H3
GEOG 111Weather and Climate3
GEOG 212Environmental Conservation and Global Change3
GEOG 253Introduction to Atmospheric Processes4
GEOG 391Quantitative Methods in Geography3
GEOG 412Synoptic Meteorology3
GEOG 414Climate Change3
GEOG 416Applied Climatology: The Impacts of Climate and Weather on Environmental and Social Systems3
GEOG 440Earth Surface Processes3
GEOG 441Introduction to Watershed Systems3
GEOG 442River Processes3
GEOL ---Any course above GEOL 101, except GEOL 190, GEOL 390, GEOL 395, GEOL 396, GEOL 412, GEOL 480, GEOL 590, GEOL 601, GEOL 602, GEOL 691H, GEOL 692H, and GEOL 695
MASC ---Any course above MASC 100, except MASC 190, MASC 220, MASC 390, MASC 395, MASC 396, and MASC 490
MCRO ---Any course above MCRO 100 except MCRO 690
NUTR 240Introduction to Human Nutrition3
NUTR 400Introduction to Nutritional Biochemistry3
NUTR 600Human Metabolism: Macronutrients3
PHIL 155Introduction to Mathematical Logic H3
PHIL 455Symbolic Logic3
PHYS ---Any course above PHYS 99 except PHYS 132, PHYS 295, PHYS 391, PHYS 395, PHYS 410, PHYS 671L, PHYS 672L, PHYS 691H, and PHYS 692H
ASTR ---Any course above ASTR 99 except ASTR 390
PHYI 292Introduction to Physiology5
STOR ---Any course above STOR 100 except STOR 151 or STOR 155

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

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
BIOL 101
Principles of Biology
and Introductory Biology Laboratory H
CHEM 101
General Descriptive Chemistry I
or General Physics I: For Students of the Life Sciences
or Introductory Calculus-based Mechanics and Relativity
MATH 231
Calculus of Functions of One Variable I H
or BioCalculus I
PSYC 101 General Psychology 3
Hours 14-15
Sophomore Year
Allied science course #1 (physical science) 3
Allied science course #2 3
Allied science required lab (associated with either course #1 or course #2) 1
COMP 101
Fluency in Information Technology
or Introduction to Programming
or Introduction to Scientific Programming
or Calculus of Functions of One Variable II
or BioCalculus II
PSYC 210 Statistical Principles of Psychological Research H 4
PSYC 220
Biopsychology H
or Learning
or Sensation and Perception
One additional nonhistorical social and behavioral sciences Approaches course, which must be from a department other than psychology 3
Hours 20-21
Junior Year
PSYC 270 Laboratory Research in Psychology 4
Two courses chosen from the clinical, developmental, or social list 6
Allied science course #3 3
PSYC 225
Sensation and Perception H
or Cognitive Psychology
Hours 16
Senior Year
One psychology course chosen from the "Upper Level Courses for Special Requirement" (see course list) 3
One additional psychology course numbered between 400 and 650. May not include PSYC 493. 3
Allied science course #4 3
One additional PSYC course above 101 3
Hours 12
Total Hours 62-64

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

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.