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General Program Information

The B.A. and B.S. programs in psychology are designed to contribute to a student's general education and to provide a foundation for post-baccalaureate training in psychology and closely related disciplines, and in areas such as business, medicine, law, and communications. Students who intend to enter the job market immediately after an undergraduate degree are well advised to complement their psychology major with substantial preparation in another program more closely tied to the world of work, (e.g., education, social work, business, journalism, nursing).

Our department is convinced that a broad background in psychology is desirable for all of its majors and, therefore, does not provide specialized programs at the undergraduate level. A student may, of course, develop some extra preparation in a particular area by appropriate choice of elective courses including individualized instruction.

A student graduating with either the B.A. or the B.S. degree may go on to graduate work in psychology or in other areas. However, a student in the B.A. program who plans to pursue graduate studies in psychology should elect courses to enrich that program. Admission to graduate and professional schools is becoming increasingly competitive, so that a record of good performance in appropriate courses is essential. In either program, at least 15 hours of work in psychology must be completed in this department if the degree is to be granted by The University of Iowa. As required by the College of Liberal Arts, a 2.0 GPA must be maintained in all psychology courses and in all psychology courses at Iowa. Furthermore, according to College regulations, a maximum of 56 hours in a student's major department may be counted toward the 120 hours required for graduation.

The B.A. and B.S. programs are open to students on the four-year plan. Students electing to enter the four-year graduation plan have specific checkpoints that must be met to stay on the plan. These checkpoints have been selected for a student to progress through the major while still allowing the student flexibility in their course selection. Students on the four-year plan should consult with their adviser early in their academic career to develop a selection of course work that meets their specific needs.

Course Substitutions and Transfer Credit

Students who completed an Advanced Placement (AP) Psychology course in high school and received a score of 4 or higher on the AP Psychology Exam are exempt from taking PSY:1001 Elementary Psychology. Course work in psychology, and other disciplines required by psychology, taken at other undergraduate institutions is reviewed by the Academic Coordinator for applicability to degree requirements in this department. At least 18 semester hours in Psychology must be completed in this Department. Additional information about transfer credit policies is available on our website under Information for Prospective Students.

Pass-Nonpass Restrictions

In accordance with requirements of the College of Liberal Arts, courses required for the major, minor, and General Education Program may not be taken on a pass-nonpass basis.

Second Grade Only Option

Students may retake any Psychology courses for a better grade within the following parameters:

  1. Students must retake the course at the same school- they cannot replace a grade from a Univerisity of Iowa course with a grade from another school.
  2. Students must file the Second Grade Only Option paperwork in Academic Programs and Student Development Office (120 Schaeffer Hall). 

Computer Literacy

The Department strongly recommends that all students gain some computer literacy. Computer skills may also be useful for students seeking employment with a bachelor's degree. The Information Technology Services office offers a variety of free short courses to introduce students to computer applications such as word processing, data-base management, spread sheets, statistical analyses, and graphics. An introductory course on a computer language such as Java or C may also be useful.

Minor in Other Departments

Psychology majors may receive a minor in another department. Students should consult an adviser in the minor department, as well as their Psychology adviser, in planning their program.

Individualized Instruction in Psychology

Students interested in pursuing graduate study in psychology should not underestimate the importance of individualized instruction. First, individualized instruction provides an undergraduate with the opportunity to explore the demands of graduate-level work and develop specific research skills that are valued by graduate programs. Second, a faculty member who works individually with an undergraduate student is able to acquire the information necessary to write an informed letter of recommendation for that student. Such letters, as well as the research experience they reflect, can be essential for a successful application to graduate school. 

The Department offers three registrations under which a student may work individually with a faculty member on a library or laboratory research project. In PSY:3994 Research Practicum in Psychology, the student becomes directly involved in the ongoing research of a faculty member, does supplementary reading, and participates in regular lab group discussions of issues arising from the research. Advanced Research Practicum (PSY:3995) is available to students who have completed two or more semesters of Research Practicum and who will be engaged in "advanced" research activities in a lab. In PSY:3998 Individual Readings and Projects, the student carries out, under general faculty supervision, a library study, laboratory investigation of a topic or problem of particular interest to the student. Arrangements for these types of study must be made with an individual faculty member or the Academic Coordinator before registration. Interested and dedicated students are invited to approach any faculty members who share their research interests for individualized instruction, although the student should recognize that suitable opportunities are not always available and certainly cannot be guaranteed. Sophomore standing is required and individual faculty members may have other prerequisites such as completion of specific course work. Priority is given to students whose academic record reveals a potential for success in advanced study (e.g., a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or higher). Credit hours are to be arranged. PSY:3994 and PSY:3998 offer Satisfactory-Fail grading only. A description of the research interests of faculty members is available on the departmental web site.

Showcasing Undergraduate Research in Psychology

Erin Church, a recent undergraduate student from Maple Grove, Minnesota, discusses her honors thesis work on sexual assault and coercion prevention, a project developed with her mentor, professor Teresa Treat from the University of Iowa Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Iowa. Erin was one of 100 UI undergraduates who presented their research projects at the Spring Undergraduate Research Fair in April of 2014.