Jul 21, 2024  
2024-2025 Catalog 
2024-2025 Catalog

Psychological Science, B.A.

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Program of Study

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior. In order to discover more about behavior, psychologists study both humans and animals. Psychology covers a wide range of topics, from the inner workings of our brains and bodies to the ways our social environment and culture influence us. This breadth is reflected in the psychology curriculum. Given that psychology is an empirical science, our program gives considerable emphasis to research design, data analysis, and interpretation.

The undergraduate major in Psychological Science is designed to provide each student with a comprehensive overview of the major fields of psychology and methods used in psychological research. The major also provides elective courses that allow the student to focus upon an area of special interest. These specialty areas might include social, developmental, cognitive, clinical, or biological psychology.

Students majoring in other disciplines such as computer, health or clinical sciences, communication, business administration, or education will find that a minor or electives in psychology will provide them with knowledge of direct relevance to their chosen professions. Additionally, psychology has rich ties with other fields such as philosophy, history, literature, the arts, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, communication, and biology.

Program Student Learning Outcomes

Students who graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychological Science will be able to:

  1. Describe the major concepts theories, empirical findings, and historical trends in psychology, and their application to behavioral and mental processes.
  2. Describe the scientific approach to psychology and apply basic research methods in psychology, including research design, quantitative analysis, interpretation and reporting in APA format.
  3. Apply creative and critical thinking and employ skeptical inquiry to addressing issues and solving problems related to psychological phenomena.
  4. Demonstrate the ability to independently locate, identify and critically evaluate scholarly literature in the discipline of psychology.
  5. Thoughtfully consider and appraise alternative viewpoints, diverse socio-cultural perspectives and ethical issues related to psychological topics.

Career Opportunities

The undergraduate major in Psychological Science provides an excellent preparation for careers in a variety of psychology-related business and public organizations, social service agencies, and teaching institutions. Our undergraduate program provides the appropriate background for graduate training in experimental or clinical psychology. Coursework in psychology is also relevant to graduate training in counseling, teaching, medicine, law, business and management, and public administration.

The Master of Arts program prepares students for careers in research, teaching in community colleges, and for further graduate study at the doctoral level. Training specifically geared toward those seeking licensure as Marriage and Family Therapists (MFT) or as Licensed Professional Clinical Counselors (LPCC) is not currently available within the Master of Arts program.


High school students are encouraged to take four years of English and three years of mathematics (including algebra). Courses in biology and psychology and the other social and behavioral sciences are recommended. Knowledge of computers is helpful for many courses.

Community College Transfer Students

A maximum of nine (9) lower-division semester (13.5 quarter) units of psychology courses may be applied toward the forty (40) semester units required for the psychological science major. The nine (9) lower-division units must be articulated with PSYC 100 , PSYC 220 , and PSYC 230 , or be approved as their equivalent by the student’s advisor. If students complete a Research Methods course without a lab, they will be required to complete the lab at CSUSM. 

Special Conditions for the Bachelor of Arts and Minor in Psychological Science

All courses counted toward the major, including Preparation for the Major courses, and the minor must be completed with a grade of C (2.0) or better. No more than a total of three (3) units of either PSYC 498 or PSYC 499 may be applied toward the major or minor. No more than three (3) units of PSYC 495  may be applied toward the major or minor. PSYC 356  may satisfy the Developmental Core, but it does not serve as a prerequisite for the PSYC 395  laboratory course. A minimum of eighteen (18) units counted toward the major must have been completed at Cal State San Marcos. For the Minor, nine (9) units must have been completed at Cal State San Marcos. Students majoring in Child and Adolescent Development (CHAD) or Human Development may not satisfy the lab requirement for the Psychological Science Minor with PSYC 395 . Courses taken at other universities for which we do not have articulation agreements will not be counted toward the major or minor at Cal State San Marcos without the written permission of any member of the Psychology faculty listed above.

General Education (48 Units)

General Education Requirements  

Language Proficiency (0-9 Units)

All Psychological Science majors must meet a second-language proficiency requirement. This is satisfied with a 200-level class or demonstrating proficiency in a language other than English. For details on how to satisfy this requirement, please refer to Language Proficiency Requirement  .

Breadth Requirement (3 Units)

Additional course in Upper Division Social Sciences (DD designated) outside the major. This requirement can also count as the DD requirement in Upper Division General Education, but it must be taken in a Social Science or Interdisciplinary program other than Psychological Science. Any course carrying the DD designation outside of Psychological Science can be used to fulfill this requirement. If students choose to satisfy their UDGE DD with a course outside the major, the breadth requirement will become 3 free elective units.

Preparation for the Major (9 Units)


*Three (3) units in lower-division General Education  Area D (Discipline-Specific or Second Interdisciplinary Social Science Course) are automatically satisfied in Preparation for the Major.

Major Requirements (40 Units)


Each laboratory course has prerequisite courses. See catalog description for specific prerequisites for each lab course.

Psychology Electives (9 Units)

  • Select three additional 300-, 400-, or 500-level psychology courses

Minimum Total (120 Units)

Students must take a sufficient number of elective units to bring the total number of units to a minimum of 120

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