Psychology is the study of the mental states and processes that give rise to behavior. It seeks to understand the basic mechanisms and functions of perception, cognition, emotion, and attitudes, their development, and their role in guiding behavior. Although it focuses on the level of the individual, individual behavior depends on the social relationships and structures in which people are embedded and the biological systems of which we are comprised. Thus, psychological study encompasses a broad set of topics that overlap with a number of disciplines across the social and biological sciences.
The requirements of the major are designed to acquaint students with the research methods psychologists use and to provide a foundation of core knowledge covering the major areas of psychology. This broad foundation allows students to pursue a more advanced understanding of subfields related to their own particular interests and goals for the major. The program may serve as preparation for graduate work in psychology or related fields (e.g., neuroscience, economics, education), as well as for students interested in careers in social work, public policy, business, or medicine. Students are encouraged to become actively engaged in research in the department and should consult with the director of undergraduate research about their interests as early as possible.
Declaring Psychology as a Major
We do not require a separate application to declare Psychology as a major. The Psychology major requires completion of a methods course and a statistics course by the end of a student's third year, and we recommend that students begin to take required breadth courses early in their program. We offer an open house each Autumn for College students interested in Psychology, as well as a series of professional and academic development events throughout the year.
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If you are a College student who is a Psychology major or interested in being a major, please sign up for the Psychology listhost. We use it to announce events, research opportunities, job postings, fellowship announcements, curriculum updates, and any changes in the course schedule. Sign up here.
Graduating with Honors
Students who wish to graduate with honors in Psychology will complete a research project guided by a faculty advisor in psychology and submit an honors thesis. Honors students must also meet GPA requirements, take an Honors Seminar course, and present their research as a poster at an annual Honors Day in the Spring.
All high school students interested in attending the University of Chicago must apply to the College; please visit College Admissions for information.