What Curriculum is Typically Offered in an Undergraduate Psychology Program?

The type of curriculum covered in most undergraduate psychology program varies depending upon several issues. The first division is between a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Psychology Degree Program. Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs typically require students to complete a predetermined amount of Foreign Language credit hours. In contrast, Bachelor of Science (BS) programs traditionally eliminate the need for any Foreign Language requirements but require students to complete additional mathematics, science and laboratory credit hours.

The American Psychological Association’s Guidelines

In 2013, the American Psychological Association published a set of guidelines to be used when creating a curriculum for an undergraduate psychology program. A previously published version of these guideline included 10 goals, but many departments found ten guidelines to be too restrictive. The new set of guidelines include:

  • Goal 1: Knowledge Base in Psychology
  • Goal 2: Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking
  • Goal 3: Ethical and Social Responsibility in a Diverse World
  • Goal 4: Communication
  • Goal 5: Professional Development

Goal 1: Knowledge Base in Psychology

According to the first goal, psychology students should show central comprehension of the major concepts, theoretical perspectives, historical developments, and scientific findings to discuss how psychological ideologies apply to behavioral difficulties. Students undertaking foundation psychology curriculum must validate extent of their knowledge and apply these ideas to everyday problems. In order to fulfill a baccalaureate degree students must show depth in their knowledge base and apply psychological concepts and foundations to problems of greater complexity.

Goal 2: Scientific Inquiry and Critical Thinking

This goal involves the development of empirical reasoning and problem solving skills, including modern research methods. Students enrolled in foundation-level courses should learn rudimentary skills and theories in understanding behavior, evaluating research, and applying research design principles to making decisions about psychological issues.

Goal 3: Ethical and Social Responsibility in a Diverse World

Goal 3 involves the development of ethical and socially responsible practices for both professional and personal settings. While completing foundation-level courses all students should become comfortable with the regulations that govern professional ethics in psychology and embrace these values that contribute to positive outcomes in work settings. Psychology students should have more chances to demonstrate understanding and application of professional values that will help them make contributions and work efficiently in the field.

Goal 4: Communication

All Psychology undergraduates must demonstrate abilities in writing, oral and interpersonal communication skills. While enrolled in foundation-level courses students must be capable of writing a cohesive scientific argument, present information using an empirical scientific approach, participate in discussion of psychological concepts, explain the ideas of others, and express their own ideas with clarity.

Goal 5: Professional Development

Goal 5 focuses on the application of psychology-specific knowledge and skills, productive self-evaluation, project-management skills, teamwork skills, and career preparation. These outcomes focus on the development of work habits and ethics to succeed in academic settings.

By adhering to these guidelines not only can psychology programs best prepare students, they can also create a standard of education that each school should work to meet and exceed. There are a number of other parts of a psychology curriculum depending upon the program but all programs should meet these five curriculum criteria.