Bachelor of Arts in Psychology

This is an archived copy of the 2016-2017 bulletin. To access the most recent version of the bulletin, please visit Any changes will appear on our errata page.

Prerequisite Core

PSY 200 (or equivalent) is a prerequisite for all upper division psychology courses. PSY 171 (or any quantitative reasoning course) is a prerequisite for PSY 371. ENG 214 (or a course that satisfies the lower division writing requirement) is a prerequisite for both PSY 305GW and PSY 400. PSY 371 is a prerequisite for all non-GE upper division psychology courses.

Degree Requirements

The major includes 14 units of core curriculum, 18 units of basic courses, and 9 units of electives. Because of high demand, enrollment priority is given to psychology major students in all upper division psychology courses; courses numbered 300 and above are not open to freshman.

Writing Competence

Good writing skills are necessary for success in the major. Students whose writing needs improvement should work on their skills by taking additional composition courses or by completing writing tutorials. Psychology majors who successfully complete PSY 305GW will have satisfied the University Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).

Psychology (B.A.) — 41 units

Core Curriculum (14 units)

PSY 200General Psychology3
PSY 303Psychology: The Major and the Profession (online)1
PSY 305GWContemporary Issues in Psychology - GWAR3
PSY 371Psychological Statistics3
PSY 400Introduction to Research in Psychology3
PSY 690Future Directions for Psychology Majors (online)1

Basic Courses (18 units)

Choose two courses from each of the following Areas 1 through 3:

  • Area 1: Basic Psychological Processes (6)
  • Area 2: Psychological Development and Individual Differences (6)
  • Area 3: Social, Cultural. Organizational and Community Contexts (6)

Electives (9 units)

Choose 3 elective courses from courses in Areas 1 - 3 and/or from additional upper-division psychology courses

Areas of Study

Area 1: Basic Psychological Processes
PSY 432Cognitive Development: Language, Thinking, and Perception3
PSY 492Perception3
PSY 493Motivation3
PSY 494Cognitive Psychology3
PSY 498Cognitive Neuroscience: Psychological Models3
PSY 491Learning3
PSY 531Psycholinguistics3
PSY 581Physiological Psychology I3
PSY 582Physiological Psychology II3
Area 2: Psychological Development and Individual Differences
PSY 430Adolescent Psychology3
PSY 431Developmental Psychology 13
PSY 433Social, Emotional, and Personality Development3
PSY 434The Psychology of Aging3
PSY 435Behavior Problems of Children3
PSY/SXS 436The Development of Femaleness and Maleness4
PSY 442Health Psychology3
PSY 451Theories of Personality3
PSY 452Abnormal Psychology: Minor Variants of Personality3
PSY 521Introduction to Clinical Psychology3
Area 3: Social, Cultural, Organizational and Community Contexts
PSY 440Social Psychology3
PSY 441The Psychology of the Family3
PSY 455Cross-Cultural Perspectives in Psychology3
PSY 456Psychology of Human Sexual Behavior3
PSY 461Introduction to Industrial/Organizational Psychology3
PSY 462Personnel Psychology3
PSY 463Human Factors3
PSY 465The Psychology of Work Life Stress3
PSY 466Training and Development in Organizations3
PSY 472Introduction to Legal Psychology3
PSY 474Psychology of Social Justice3
PSY 475Psychology of Policing3
PSY 525Community Psychology3
PSY 547Social Conflict and Conflict Resolution3
PSY 558
PSY 559
Field Services Seminar
and Psychological Field Service
PSY 645Group Processes3
Additional Courses That May be Used for Electives
PSY 300Current Issues in Psychology3
PSY 320Sex and Relationships3
PSY 330Child Development 13
PSY 450Variations in Human Sexuality3
PSY 571Intermediate Psychological Statistics3
PSY 601Theoretical Backgrounds in Psychology3
PSY 668The Psychology of Leadership3
PSY 680Peer Advising in Psychology3
PSY 685Projects in the Teaching of Psychology3
PSY 693Proseminar I3
PSY 694Proseminar II3
PSY 697Senior Project Preparation3
PSY 698Senior Project in Psychology3
PSY 699Independent Study in Psychology1-4

Students may not use PSY 330 as an elective if they have taken PSY 431.

Complementary Studies

Bachelor of Arts students must complete at least twelve units of complementary studies from courses with a prefix other than PSY, and not cross-listed with PSY. (Note: Students may not use an alternate prefix that is cross-listed with the primary prefix for the major.)

Students who complete two majors or a major and a minor automatically complete the complementary studies requirement. Additional ways to complete complementary studies for students in the Psychology major include 12 units of languages other than English, 12 units from an approved Study Abroad program, 12 units from partial completion of a certificate, or 12 units from any combination of courses in ANTH, BIO, CAD, CJ, CSC, COUN, EDUC, ETHS, PHIL, and SOC, or a coherent group of courses approved by a major advisor as complementary to the major. All of the units must be separate from units counted in the major. Courses which fulfill the complementary studies requirement may be lower or upper division units, resident or transfer units, or units taken in approved study abroad programs. Consult with your major advisor for assistance.

Students who have earned AA-T or AS-T degrees and are pursuing a similar B.A. degree at SF State are required to fulfill the Complementary Studies requirement as defined by the major department. Students should consult with a major advisor about how transfer units and/or SF State units can best be applied to this requirement in order to ensure degree completion within 60 units.

General Education Requirements

Requirement Course Level Units Area Designation
Oral Communication LD 3 A1
Written English Communication I LD 3 A2
Critical Thinking LD 3 A3
Written English Communication II LD 3 A4
Physical Science LD 3 B1
Life Science LD 3 B2
Lab Science LD 1 B3
Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning LD 3 B4
Arts LD 3 C1
Arts or Humanities LD 3 C1 or C2
Humanities: Literature LD 3 C3
Social Sciences LD 3 D1
Social Sciences: US History LD 3 D2
Social Sciences: US & CA Governement LD 3 D3
Lifelong Learning and Self-Development (LLD) LD or UD 3 E
Physical and/or Life Science UD 3 UD-B
Arts and/or Humanities UD 3 UD-C
Social Sciences UD 3 UD-D
SF State Studies
Courses certified as meeting the SF State Studies requirements may be upper or lower division in General Education (GE), in a major or minor, or may be an elective.
American Ethnic and Racial Minorities (AERM) LD or UD 3
Environmental Sustainability (ES) LD or UD 3
Global Perspectives (GP) LD or UD 3
Social Justice (SJ) LD or UD 3

Note: LD = lower division; UD = upper division.

This degree program is an approved pathway (“similar” major) for students earning the ADT in Psychology

California legislation SB 1440 (2009), mandated the creation of the Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT) to be awarded by the California Community Colleges. Two types of ADTs are awarded: Associate in Arts for Transfer (AA-T) and Associate in Science for Transfer (AS-T). Note: no specific degree is required for admission as an upper division student. However, the ADT includes specific guarantees related to admission and graduation, and is designed to clarify the transfer process and strengthen lower division preparation for the major.

An ADT totals sixty units and includes completion of all lower division GE and at least eighteen units in a specific major. Students pursuing an ADT are guaranteed admission to the CSU if minimum eligibility requirements are met, though not necessarily to the CSU campus of primary choice.

Upon verification that the ADT has been awarded prior to matriculation at SF State, students are guaranteed B.A. or B.S. completion in 60 units if pursuing a “similar” major after transfer. Determinations about “similar” majors at SF State are made by faculty in the discipline.

Degree completion in 60 units cannot be guaranteed when a student simultaneously pursues an additional major, a minor, certificate, or credential.

A sample advising roadmap for students who have earned an ADT and is continuing in this major at SF State is available on the Roadmaps tab and displays

  • How many lower division units required for the major have been completed upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • Which lower division requirements are considered complete upon entry based on award of a specific ADT;
  • How to complete the remaining 60 units for the degree in four semesters.

Students who have earned an ADT should seek advising in the major department during the first semester of attendance.

General Advising Information for Transfer Students

  1. Before transfer, complete as many lower division requirements or electives for this major as possible.
  2. The following courses are not required for admission but are required for graduation. Students are strongly encouraged to complete these units before transfer; doing so will provide more flexibility in course selection after transfer.
    • a course in U.S. History
    • a course in U.S. & California government
    • a 2nd-semester course in written English composition

For information about satisfying the requirements described in (1) and (2) above at a California Community College (CCC), go to Check any geographically accessible CCCs; sometimes options include more than one college. Use ASSIST to determine

  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy any lower division major requirements for this major
  • Which courses at a CCC satisfy CSU GE, US History, and US & CA Government

Remedial courses are not transferable and do not apply to the minimum 60 units/90 quarters required for admission.

Additional units for courses that are repeated do not apply to the minimum 60 units required for upper division transfer (for example, if course was not passed on first attempt, or was taken to earn a better grade).

Before leaving the last California community college of attendance, obtain a summary of completion of lower division General Education units (IGETC or CSU GE Breadth). This is often referred to as a GE certification worksheet. SF State does not require delivery of this certification to Admissions, but students should retain this document for verifying degree progress after transfer.

Credit for Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, or College-Level Examination Program courses: AP/IB/CLEP credit is not automatically transferred from the previous institution. Units are transferred only when an official score report is delivered to SF State. Credit is based on the academic year during which exams were taken. Refer to the University Bulletin in effect during the year of AP/IB/CLEP examination(s) for details regarding award of credit for AP/IB/CLEP.

Students pursuing majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines often defer 6-9 units of lower division general education in areas C and D until after transfer in order to focus on preparation courses for the major. (This advice does not apply to students pursuing associate degree completion before transfer.)

Transferring from institutions other than CCCs or CSUs

Review SF State's lower division General Education requirements. As described above, the four basic skills courses required for admission meet A1, A2, A3 and B4 in the SF State GE pattern. Courses that fulfill the remaining areas of SF State’s lower division GE pattern are available at most two-year and four-year colleges and universities.

Of the four required basic skills courses, a course in critical thinking (GE A3) may not be widely offered outside the CCC and CSU systems. Students should attempt to identify and take an appropriate course no later than the term of application to the CSU. Review more information about the A3 requirement here.

Identify and complete a 2nd-semester written English composition course before transfer. This is usually the next course after the typical “freshman comp” course, with a focus on writing, reading and critical analytical skills for academic purposes, and developing skills in composing, revising, and the use of rhetorical strategies.

Waiting until after transfer to take a single course at SF State that meets both US and CA/local government requirements may be an appropriate option, particularly if transferring from outside of California.

All students must meet the transfer eligibility requirements outlines below for admission. For more information, visit the Undergraduate Admissions section.

  • Complete 60 or more transferable semester units or 90 or more quarter units
  • Earn a college grade point average of 2.00 or better in all transferable courses. Non-local area residents may be held to a higher GPA standard.
  • Be in good standing at the last college or university attended
  • Complete 30 semester units (45 quarter units) of general education, including four basic skills courses:
    1. One course in oral communication (same as CSU GE area A1)
    2. One course in written composition (same as CSU GE area A2)
    3. One course in critical thinking (same as CSU GE area A3)
    4. One course in mathematics or quantitative reasoning, with intermediate algebra as a prerequisite (same as CSU GE area B4)
  • The four basic skills courses and minimum of 60 transferable semester units (90 quarter units) must be completed by the spring semester prior to fall admission, or by the fall semester prior to spring admission. Earn a "C" or better grade in each basic skills course.