10 Psychology Courses Students Should Take

Psychology Courses Typically Required by Colleges and Universities

As a psychology student, you will need to take a number of courses that focus on the science of human behavior. Your goal as a student is to not only to fulfill the course requirements of your program department, but to also develop critical thinking skills, research competence, and in-depth knowledge of psychology that will serve you well as you advance in your academic and career pursuits.

The following are some of the top courses you should consider when selecting classes to take as an undergraduate psychology major.

1. General Psychology

general psychology course

This introductory course offers an overview of the entire field of psychology. It may seem overwhelming at first, due to the sheer volume of information contained within the class. Remember, however, that the goal of this class is to provide an introduction to the history of psychology and the scientific study of the human mind and behavior. While it may seem like you are skimming over huge topics, you'll be able to delve deeper into these subjects in later courses.

2. History of Psychology

history of psychology
Famous thinkers in psychology history..

In order to understand contemporary psychology, it is important to look back at the origins and influences on this science. Courses on the history of psychology generally begin with the subject's ancient philosophical origins and explore the contributions of major thinkers up through the modern-day.

3. Statistics


Statistics courses are a must for any psychology major, whether or not you plan to pursue a graduate degree later on. Statistics offers a core background for understanding how psychologists investigate human behavior. This course generally focuses on statistical methods and techniques used by researchers. According to one survey, 85 percent of psychology graduate programs require at least one undergraduate course in statistics in order to gain admission to the program.

4. Experimental Psychology

Experimental Psychology
Rich Legg/iStockPhoto

A course in experimental psychology is an essential foundation for any psychology major. In this course, you will learn about basic research methods and experimental designs. While course requirements may vary from one school to the next, most experimental psychology courses require students to perform experiments.

5. Physiological Psychology

Psychiological Psychology

In order to form a full understanding of the mind and behavior, it is important to develop your knowledge of the brain, neural actions, sensation and perception, basic neuroanatomy and physiological processes. A course in physiological psychology serves as a good introduction to the field of neuropsychology, although it may be listed under an alternate course title such as behavioral neuroscience, biopsychology or biological psychology.

6. Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology
Kiyoshi Takahase Segundo

In this course, you will learn more about the cognitive process that forms the foundation of human behavior. 

Cognitive psychology involves the study of internal mental processes—all of the things that go on inside your brain, including perception, thinking, memory, attention, language, problem solving, and learning.

7. Abnormal Psychology

Abnormal psychology

Courses in abnormal psychology focus on the biological, environmental and cultural influences on abnormal behavior. Some of the topics studied in this course might include mood disorders, personality disorders, psychosomatic disorders and substance abuse. In addition to exploring the background, assessment and diagnosis of these disorders, students also explore some of the available treatment approaches.

8. Developmental Psychology

Lotus Head

Developmental psychology courses study the course of human development from conception throughout the lifespan. In some cases, students may opt to take an encompassing course that provides an overview of development through life or choose to take a course that focuses primarily on child development. Developmental psychology courses generally look at developmental changes in biological, emotional and cognitive domains, as well as looking at how factors such as family, school, peers and culture impact this growth.

9. Social Psychology

Social Psychology
Iwan Beijes

Social psychology courses are focused on the scientific study of social influences on behavior and the interaction between individuals and groups. Topics studied in this class include such things as social pressure, leadership, nonverbal communication, persuasion, obedience and the bystander effect.


Social psychologists are interested in the impact that the social environment and group interactions have on attitudes and behaviors.

While there are many similarities to sociology, social psychology tends to look at social behavior and influences at a very broad-based level. Sociologists are interested in the institutions and cultures that influence how people behave. Psychologists instead focus on situational variables that affect social behavior. 

10. Personality Psychology

Ruth Strong

A course in personality psychology offers a solid background in the numerous theories of personality development, including Freudian, psychosocial, behavioral, humanistic and existential theories.

This area of psychology seeks to understand personality and how it varies among individuals as well as how people are similar. Psychologists also assess, diagnose, and treat personality disorders that can interfere with day-to-day life.

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