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Academics: Psychology Major

Majoring in Psychology

The psychology major at Calvin consists of a minimum of 10 courses, or 32 semester hours of coursework. With four required courses and six electives, the program has structure while also providing flexibility to students who want to do work in different areas of psychology.

Requirements to major in psychology

In order to major in psychology at Calvin, you must complete Psychology 151 with a minimum grade of C (2.0). Once you've met this requirement, talk with an advisor in the psychology department to chart your course of study.

You can declare a major in psychology as late as the spring of your junior year as long as you have taken Psychology 151.

Course requirements

Psychology 151
Psychology 255: Statistics and Research Design
Psychology 256: Fundamentals of Research and Practice
Psychology 399: Psychology and Religion
Three 300-level courses, one of which must be a lab course from the Psychology 330-334 series.
Three additional electives from the psychology department.

All majors must complete the psychology department senior assessment during their last semester on campus. Information on the senior assessment is available from the psychology department office.


  1. You may take courses in developmental psychology from only one of the following groups: Developmental group A: PSYCH 208 and 209; Developmental group B: PSYCH 201 and 202.
  2. Psychology 390: Independent Study and interim courses may not count as 300-level electives.
  3. Psychology 256 should be taken in the semester after you take Psychology 255, ideally in the spring of your sophomore year. See a model program for psychology majors.
Sequenced courses

The psychology department has three sequenced sets of courses that may require you to plan ahead.

The research methods sequence: Psychology 255, Psychology 256, a 330-level course and if you intend to do doctoral work in the field, Psychology 356. We recommend that you take your 330-level course after completing 255 and 256.

The developmental sequence: Psychology 208 (child development) and Psychology 209 (adolesence and adulthood). You must take 208 before enrolling in 209.

The counseling sequence: Psychology 212, Psychology 311 and Psychology 314. These courses must be taken in the above order. If you plan to take 314 in the fall of your senior year, you must take 212 by the fall of your junior year and 311 by the spring of your junior year.

Model program plans for psychology majors

The following model plans are simply guides for how you might plan out your course work. Because you might declare your major at a different time in your college career, you might study off-campus and not every course is offered each semester, you will have to work out an individualized plan with your program advisor.

Model four year plan

Year One:

• Psychology 151
• One 200-level elective

Year Two: • Psychology 255, followed by 256
• One or two electives (200- or 300-level)
Year Three:

330-level course
• One to three electives
• Psychology 356, if intending on doing doctoral work in psychology.

Year Four:

330-level course (if not taken in junior year, or as elective for those intending on doing doctoral work)
• Psychology 399
• Additional 200- and 300-level electives, as needed.

Model two-year plan

Third Year: • Psychology 255, followed the next semester by 256.
• Three electives (200- or 300-level)
Fourth Year:

330-level course
• Psychology 356 (if planning on doing doctoral work)
• Psychology 399
• Additional 200- and 300-level electives, as needed

Planning for graduate study

If you plan to do graduate work in the field of psychology, talk to your advisor to map out a plan for your undergraduate coursework.

The psychology major is small compared to other majors because many students are double majors. However, if you plan to do doctoral work in psychology, you are advised to take more than the minimum 10 courses in the major. You are encouraged to take Psychology 356: Experimental Psychology and more than one 330-level lab course.

If you plan on completing a masters and/or a counseling program, taking Psychology 356 is less important. However, you may want to consider completing the counseling course sequence if counseling is your career goal.

NOTE: Canadian graduate schools typically require more undergraduate coursework in psychology than do American graduate schools. If you plan on attending a Canadian graduate school, check their catalogs carefully for entrance requirements.

Learn more about doing graduate work in psychology.

Honors program requirements

To graduate with honors in psychology, you must meet the following requirements:

  • maintain a GPA of 3.5 overall and in the psychology major.
  • complete at least six honors courses—three in psychology and three from outside the department.
  • complete an honors research paper in PSYCH 356 or PSYCH 390.
Research and internship opportunities

As a psychology major at Calvin, you will have the opportunity to work with professors on research projects and work at organizations in the Grand Rapids community to gain more experience in the field.

Psychology 380 provides a four semester hour internship experience in a variety of professional psychological practices and/or research for third and fourth-year students. Only four semester hours may be applied toward your major.

Learn more about research opportunities.

Learn more about internships and part-time work in psychology.

Quick Links

Course requirements for the psychology major.

Model course plan for starting the psychology major as a first-year student.

Model course plan for starting the psychology major as a third-year student.

Course recommendations for those who plan to do graduate work in psychology.

Honors program requirements.

Research and internship opportunities.