Psychological and Brain Sciences majors typically take the following courses in the fall semester of their first year:

First-Year Experience Learning Community Courses

We will register you in these courses.

  1. Philosophy (PHIL 201)
  2. English Composition (ENG 101) OR Theology (TRS 201)

Why am I taking these classes?   Honors students take equivalent honors courses.

Major and Elective Courses

You will need to choose and register for these courses.

  1. General Psychology (PSY 201)
  2. A foreign language
  3. A course of your choice

Psychology is the scientific study of mental processes and behavior, with a special role in understanding how to improve human welfare. Psychologists study how and why people perceive, think, and act, including the study of human development, abnormal behavior, psychological methods and statistics, the biological bases of behavior, cognition, social interaction, and more. The Department of Psychology at The Catholic University of America reflects this diversity of content areas, and our faculty members have varying backgrounds and interests that effectively cover the spectrum of modern psychology.

Psychology students can pursue either a BA in Psychology or a BS in Psychological and Brain Sciences. An interdisciplinary minor in Neuroscience is also available all students. Students are encouraged to consult with Dr. Goeke-Morey to determine which program is most appropriate for them.

Most students select psychology as a major with one (or more) of five broad goals in mind: (1) a liberal arts education; (2) preparation for employment, not only in psychology, but in related fields; (3) enhancement of one’s ability to understand and evaluate human behavior; (4) preparation for graduate study in psychology; or (5) preparation for graduate study in other fields (such as medicine, law, or business). The Undergraduate Program in Psychology has been specially designed to meet the requirements posed by these different goals, which are additionally supported by the broad liberal arts curriculum of the university as a whole.

1 st Semester Courses

PSY 201 General Psychology: Why do you do what you do? Feel what you feel? Think what you think? Psychology explores what causes human behavior -- everything from brain activity to childhood experiences, from interpersonal relations to individual motivation. General Psychology introduces students to the core aspects of human functioning: biological bases of behavior, learning, development, sensation and perception, social behavior, and cognitive processes. Additionally, this course seeks to explain why many individuals struggle with their thoughts and emotions to the point where they experience obsessive anxiety, suicidal depression, or antisocial behavior, as well as how such problems can be treated with psychotherapy.

PSY 201 is an overview course designed to provide a broad introduction to the field of Psychology, and is a required first course in the major. Rather than teach one large class, multiple sections of this very popular course are offered each semester, and enrollment is kept low (no more than 35 per class) so that students can benefit from class participation, in-class demonstrations, films, experiential exercises, and personal attention from the instructor. This course is a prerequisite for most 300-level elective courses in Psychology, which often focus in depth on specific topics covered by individual chapters in the General Psychology textbook. Incoming Psychology majors should register for either section 04 of PSY 201 this fall, and you should consult with Dr. Goeke-Morey first if you’ve taken the AP Psychology exam.

In addition to your Learning Community courses and PSY 201, you should register for a foreign language class: If you haven't taken the SATII or AP exam in a language, you should take the CUA placement exam as soon as possible to determine which level class is right for you. Unless you really prefer to take a new language, it's a good idea to continue with the one you took in high school. If you place into 203, your language requirement has been fulfilled -- but you can register for 203 if you want to (required for a minor in that language) or choose another class in the Humanities instead (see suggestions above).

You have many options for your final class. Many Psychology majors minor in other departments, so you might want to choose a fifth class in a subject you think you might like to minor in.

Many of the Humanities are relevant for Psychology and the study of human cognition and behavior, and several types of therapy include the use of the fine arts. So unless you’re already taking a course in the Humanities instead of a language, it would be fine for you to choose your final class this fall in a subject area such as Art, Drama, Music, History, or Media Studies.

Know which courses you want? Get registered.