Skip to main content


Courses Required for the Psychology Major

The psychology major requires the completion of three core courses, four distribution courses, and five elective courses. Please note that the prefix PSY refers to courses in the College of Arts and Science and PSY-PC refers to courses in the Peabody College of Education and Human Development.

Psychology Core

The core provides a fundamental understanding of the study of psychology and an introduction to research methods. The three core courses are:

  • PSY 1200: General Psychology*
  • PSY 2100: Quantitative Methods**
  • PSY 2150: Principles of Experimental Design

* PSY 1200 credit is given for a score of 5 on the Psychology AP Exam.

** As an alternative to PSY 2100: Quantitative Methods, students may instead take PSY-PC 2110: Introduction to Statistical Analysis.

Distribution Courses

To ensure that majors have sufficient understanding of the breadth of psychological science, students are required to complete four of the following six courses:

  • PSY 3750: Perception
  • PSY 3120: Cognitive Psychology
  • PSY 3110: Social Psychology
  • PSY 3100: Abnormal Psychology
  • PSY-PC-1250: Developmental Psychology
  • NSC 2201: Neuroscience

All of these courses are offered every year, with three or four offered each semester and some offered in both the fall and spring terms. Typically, distribution courses are not offered in Maymester or summer terms. Transfer credit for distribution courses may be obtained, if the transferring course is given Vanderbilt equivalent credit for one of the above courses, as determined by Vanderbilt policy.

Elective Courses

Almost any PSY or PSY-PC course will count as a psychology elective towards the major or minor. Note that there are some PSY and PSY-PC courses listed in the Undergraduate Catalog that specifically indicate that they do not count as psychology electives. PSY 3840 Directed Study courses count as psychology electives, but it is strongly recommended students enroll in 3 credit hours. Distribution courses which are not counting towards the distribution requirement may be used towards the psychology elective requirement. Some NSC courses may count as psychology electives, if the course is cross-listed as a PSY course (e.g. NSC 3630/PSY 3630) or with permission from the Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Psychology.

  • PSY 3715: Animal Behavior and Evolutionary Psychology
  • PSY 3730: Learning and Memory
  • PSY 3755: Behavioral Decision-making
  • PSY 3760: Mind and Brain
  • PSY 3775: Human Memory
  • PSY 3785: Brain Damage and Cognition
  • PSY 3810: and PSY 3810W: Spatial Cognition
  • PSY 4218: Computational Cognitive Modeling
  • PSY 4219: Scientific Computing for Psychological and Brain Science
  • PSY 4220: Bayesian Modeling with Python
  • PSY 4775: Models of Human Memory
  • PSY 5780: The Visual System
  • PSY 3600: Personality
  • PSY 3601: Introduction to Clinical Psychology
  • PSY 3620: Schizophrenia
  • PSY 3625: Depression
  • PSY 3998: Delivery of Psychological Services
  • PSY 3270: Computational Neuroscience
  • PSY 3630: Drugs and Behavior (cross listed as NSC 3630)
  • PSY 3765: Social Cognition and Neuroscience
  • PSY 1111: First-Year Writing Seminar (various topics, including attention, interindividual differences, brain computer interfaces, and others)
  • PSY 3560: Sports Psychology
  • PSY 3605: Industrial and Organizational Psychology
  • PSY 3615: Emotion
  • PSY 3635: Health Psychology
  • PSY 3640: Positive Psychology
  • PSY 3705: Human Sexuality
  • PSY 3840: Directed Study
  • PSY 3850: Independent Study
  • PSY 3880 and PSY 3881: Internship courses
  • PSY 3890s: Special Topics courses
  • PSY 3990: Teaching Psychological Science
  • PSY 3995: Directed Study for Learning Assistants
  • PSY 4720: Experimental Methods in Behavioral Neuroscience
  • PSY 4730: Laboratory in Experimental Psychology

Honors Courses

PSY 3980 and PSY 3981: Honors Seminar courses are for juniors in the Honors Program. Students may complete one or two of these courses, depending on their approved selection of the standard 4-semester program or the optional 3-semester program. These courses offer students an opportunity to connect with fellow Honors students, to learn the basic components of scientific discovery in psychology, and to practice writing and presentation skills.

PSY 4998 and PSY 4999: Honors Thesis seminar courses are for seniors in the Honors Program. Students must complete the PSY 4999 seminar in the spring semester of their senior year. These courses offer students support for completion of their research project and guidance for applications to graduate programs in psychology and related fields.