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Social Science Division

Psychology Major

What is Psychology?

Psychology is the study of human behavior and mental life. Psychologists use the scientific method to study such questions as: How do organisms learn? What are the effects of hormones on behavior? What is personality, and how is it measured? What is the best way to analyze data? What motivates behavior? What is mental illness, and how should it be treated? When will people conform? What kind of a work environment stimulates workers' production? What information is gained through scientific endeavor? Psychologists then try to apply the findings to appropriate settings such as in school, business, and the treatment of behavioral disorders. Psychologists ordinarily obtain advanced degrees, a pursuit, which stresses the problems of conducting research and communicating the results of these studies to the scientific community.

Objectives of the Major

The faculty provides a strong undergraduate level series of courses focusing on the foundations of psychological principles and methodology which will prepare students for admission into graduate school or for career entry as a professional psychologist and therapist. In addition, students may choose to enroll in courses, which are designed to enhance personal growth and to improve interpersonal relationships. The psychology faculty sets demanding standards of excellence in written expression, especially in writing for scientific publication.

Unique Aspects of the Major

In addition to broad academic offerings, a number of worthwhile fieldwork experiences are available. Students routinely work at a nearby detention facility for juvenile delinquents or in the local state hospital. A variety of other field placements are available with such agencies as those dealing with child abuse, adult mental retardation, drug abuse, educationally or physically handicapped children, and mental illness. The faculty has developed expertise in assisting those students who desire to apply for admission to graduate school. When teaching specific areas, faculty emphasize the information needed to pass graduate school examinations. The faculty also counsels and assists psychology majors to select satisfying career goals in psychologically oriented fields or in other related settings. Lastly, the faculty offers a few select courses which enhance understanding of the relationships between psychology, religion, and human values.

Career Opportunities

Recent graduates have found work in industry, working in personnel, in research, as management trainees, as counselors in a number of settings, and in agencies educating children having special needs. Psychology majors are often qualified to apply for state and county jobs in the area of corrections and welfare such as the Department of Children's Services. One example, is the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Minor, which goes into effect as of Fall 2003. It allows the psychology undergraduate to take courses in the area of business management as partial fulfillment of their psychology requirements. In this way, the student can incorporate both fields in pursuit of employment in an industrial career, which emphasizes psychological principles, i.e. Personnel Psychology.

Graduate School Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission to a master's level program or doctoral program vary greatly. Master's level programs usually require a GPA of 3.0 (B) or better and fulfillment of a core of undergraduate courses. Letters of recommendation are required. Some Master's level degrees are Marriage & Family Counseling, Industrial Psychology, and Clinical Psychology. Doctoral programs require a higher GPA (3.3 or higher), and completion of a number of psychology courses and perhaps some other courses in physiology, chemistry and mathematics. In addition, the student must perform above the median or higher in the three areas of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE): Verbal, Quantitative, and Analytic. Some schools look for a high performance on the advanced GRE and on the Miller's Analogies Test (MAT). Letters of recommendation from professors and other professionals are required, and it is very helpful if the student has gained some experience in related fieldwork. Read the APA Graduate Study in Psychology book which is on reserve in Payson Library. Be prepared to take the GRE and the MAT in October the year before you hope to enter graduate school. Start applying for admission in November. Notification of acceptance arrives in April. Honors Club Pepperdine has a vital Psi Chi Club, a division of the national honor society for psychology students. Guest speakers, movies, and parties are arranged for members.

Major Requirements (43 units of PSYC credit, including the following):

Course IDCourse NameUnits
Lower Division:
PSYC 210 Foundations of Psychology* 4
PSYC 250 Introductory Statistics* 4
Upper Division:
PSYC 310 Research Methods in Psychology 4
PSYC 315 Psychological Testing and Assessment 4

Students must earn at least a "C-" in the above four courses.

Choose one course from each content area listed below (13-16 units):

Course IDCourse NameUnits
Individual Differences
PSYC 321 Personality 4
PSYC 322 Lifespan Developmental Psychology 3
PSYC 323 Abnormal Psychology 4
Social/Group Processes
PSYC 332 Cross-Cultural Psychology 4
PSYC 333 Social Psychology 3
PSYC 334 The Psychology of Women 3
Learning/Cognitive Principles
PSYC 341 Principles of Learning 4
PSYC 342 Cognitive Processes 3
PSYC 343 Comparative Animal Behavior 4
Biological Principles
PSYC 371 Sensation and Perception 4
PSYC 372 Physiological Psychology 4
PSYC 373 Psychopharmacology 4

Capstone Courses - Choose one course from either content area below:

Course IDCourse NameUnits
Applied Practice
PSYC 430 Counseling Theory and Techniques 4
PSYC 432 Family Therapy 4
PSYC 433 Industrial/Organizational Psychology 3
PSYC 434 Child Clinical Psychology 4
Integrative Experiences
PSYC 442 Intermediate Statistics/Computer Applications 4
PSYC 452 Psychology and Religion 3
PSYC 590 Research in Psychology 1-6
PSYC 595 Supervised Field Work (CR/NC only) 1-4

Specialized Interest Courses - A special interest course may be taken to help fulfill total unit requirements.

Course IDCourse NameUnits
PSYC 230 Interpersonal Behavior (CR/NC Only) 3
PSYC 453 Positive Psychology 3
PSYC 456 Body Image and Eating Disorders 4

*Satisfies general education requirement.
**Highly recommended for students considering graduate work in psychology.

A maximum of four units in Supervised Fieldwork may be taken for credit/no credit toward the required units in the major. Students are urged to take PSYC 250 and PSYC 310 as early as possible in their undergraduate careers. Occasionally other upper-division social science courses on special related topics are included in these lists. See the Division Office for more information. Students planning graduate work should consult the graduate schools in which they are interested to determine their specific prerequisites. A file of graduate school catalogs is available in the Career Center. Students preparing for the GRE are urged to take PSYC 321, PSYC 322, PSYC 333, PSYC 341, PSYC 342, PSYC 343, PSYC 372, PSYC 442, and PSYC 590.

Honors Research Program in Psychology

Psychology majors are encouraged to participate in the two-semester Honors Research Program, which is aimed at providing students with insight into how psychological scientists design research projects, collect and analyze data, and communicate their results to the scientific community. Students apply to the program in the fall semester of their junior year and are admitted to the program based on their GPA, career goals, and successful completion of prerequisite psychology courses (PSYC 200 or 210, 250, 310, and enrollment in 442 during the spring semester of their junior year). Students are selected by a committee in the fall semester of their junior year and are notified in time for preregistration for the spring semester of that same academic year. Upon acceptance into the program, students enroll in Research in Psychology: Advanced Research Seminar for two consecutive terms (three units each term). During the first semester of the program, the student will design an original experiment including the formulation of a hypothesis, completion of a literature review, and creation of a research design under the supervision of one of the psychology professors. Students will be required to present their research proposals formally to the psychology faculty and the other students in the class. During the second semester of the program, students will collect and statistically analyze their data. In order to complete the program, students must present their research findings in written, APA format as a manuscript for publication as well as successfully complete an oral research presentation before the psychology faculty and students. Upon successful completion of these research requirements, the psychology faculty will recommend that students' transcripts and diplomas be marked "Honors in Psychology." It is expected that the research will be presented at a local, regional or national professional psychological conference.

Program Learning Objectives

A student who completes the Psychology major should be able to:

  • Critique the quality of published psychological literature and empirical research.
  • Design and conduct an empirical study to answer a research question.
  • Describe and explain the major contributions of the core subdisciplines of psychology.
  • Integrate personal faith, sense of vocation, scientific knowledge, and APA Ethical Principles.
  • Recognize and articulate the importance of diversity (including cultural, ethnic, racial, gender, sexual, age, and religious) as it applies to each subdiscipline.

Freshman-Year Progam

Psychology majors must take PSYC 210 in addition to other general education requirements. It is recommended that psychology majors take as many natural science courses as possible.

Possible Double Majors and Complementary Courses

Psychology & Biology
Psychology & Religion
Psychology & Sociology
Psychology & Communication
Psychology & Criminology Law Courses: POSC 446, POSC 526, POSC 533, SOC 421, and SOC 436.

Resources for Students