The pre-major is a collection of core courses that incoming students must complete prior to being admitted to either the PSY or NSC major. The material covered in these courses provides a broad introduction to psychological science that provides the foundation for more focused and detailed study as you progress through the major. The core courses of the pre-major are designed to present the material in sequence, which prevents you from getting overwhelmed or “in over your head".
Starting as a pre-major serves several purposes. First, it allows you to develop a strong discipline-specific knowledge base before progressing onto more sophisticated concepts. Through this exposure, you are also better equipped to determine whether this major is the best fit for you academically. Second, it provides a clear map for a student’s sequence of courses. Finally, our departmental research shows that students who struggle in these early courses are likely to struggle throughout the duration of the major. A poor GPA can have long-term consequences in terms of your post-baccalaureate plans such as finding employment or gaining admission into graduate or professional school. Therefore, we want to provide that feedback very early in a student’s college experience, in order to allow that student time to find a more suitable major.
At the conclusion of every semester, we review the program of all pre-majors. If you meet the stated requirements, you will be admitted as a full-time major, and we will submit a Change of Major form on your behalf, usually before the start of the next semester. If you believe you have met the standards but have not yet been promoted, please contact Dr. Hugh Riley, the Undergraduate Program Director in Psychology and Neuroscience.
We expect that between 80-90% of those starting as pre-majors will meet the requirements. In the event you don’t meet the requirements to become a full major, your major will be changed to “Undeclared,” and will be directed to declare another major. While this can be understandably disappointing, the department is committed to your overall success. The Undergraduate Director or the Departmental Advisor will be available to meet with you to access/utilize campus resources (Advising, Career & Professional Development, Counseling Center, etc.) that can help you find an academic major that is better suited to your interests, abilities, and talents.
No, there is no cap in the number of students who can become PSY or NSC majors. As long as you meet the requirements (see above), you will be admitted to the major. This should alleviate any anxiety about “competing” with other students for a limited number of slots.
Yes, whether you declare as an incoming freshman, change your mind after a few semesters, or transfer to the university, you will need to start as a pre-major. Demonstrating that you have the requisite psychology and neuroscience knowledge is crucial to being successful in the major. While it may seem inconvenient to “start over” as a pre-major, doing so will enable the long-term benefits of performing well and enjoying your academic experience. We have modified the minimum required hours from 45 to 30 for transferring students to allow them to apply as early as the end of their second semester as a pre-major.