Frequently Asked Questions

Psychology majors are strongly encouraged to seek academic advising each semester. Faculty can assist in guiding students through their major courses, as well as provide guidance in choosing elective courses for the major.

Maintaining a relationship with faculty can especially be beneficial for students interested in research opportunities. This relationship also comes in handy when needing letters of recommendations for graduate school or employment.

A student may see any faculty member of their choice for advising. The Department does not assign advisors to students. Advising is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory, unless a student is placed on Academic Probation or Subject to Disqualification for unsatisfactory student performance.

If you are on academic probation, you will need to see a faculty advisor first. Bring transcripts, Degree Progress Report (DPR), Academic Standing Petition, and any other pertinent documentation. You will also need signatures from the Department Chair (EP 301) and the Dean (TH 323).

The Department does not assign advisors. You may choose a faculty advisor according to their interests (and yours), as well as office hour availability. Faculty interests and office hours are posted online and available for review. Office hours are also posted on the Psychology Department Board outside EP 301.

Only Faculty, not Lecturers, are able to provide official advising.

Please note that many of our professors/faculty advisors are not around during the summer and winter months. It is best to try to schedule appointments with them during the Fall or Spring semesters.

Only General Psychology or Introduction to Psychology can be transferred to SF State from the community college or junior college system (these courses are equivalent to PSY 200 here). Other classes taken at the community or junior colleges typically do not transfer into the major because they are not considered to be upper division.

Upper division classes from other 4-year institutions may be counted in the major with advisor approval.

A list of courses is available at the Psychology Department Office, or on the major requirements page.

There is no minor in psychology.

You may take PSY 171 to get a brief introduction to what will be expected of you in PSY 371. Otherwise, any Area B4: Quantitative Reasoning course (DS 110, GEOG 203, ISED 160, MATH 110, MATH 124, MATH 199, MATH 226, PSY 171) will fulfill the prerequisite for PSY 371.

Our faculty advisors can offer suggestions. See the Faculty Interest Sheet for a summary of each professor's field of expertise and research.

The APA (American Psychology Association) is an excellent resource.

Check the SF State Career Center for information and ideas.

The GRE (Graduate Record Exam) is usually a required test that applicants must take in order to be considered entrance into a program. Check for more information about the GRE. There are several review courses for this exam available to the public as well. You can check or for information about these courses. The American Psychology Association website, also has general information about psychology graduate school requirements. Each school has a different GRE score minimum; contact each graduate institution for information regarding GRE minimum scores.

Good grades are also important when considering graduate school candidates. Each school has different requirements. Check with each graduate institution for GPA requirements.

Typically, graduate schools ask for Letters of Recommendation. Check with each institution you're interested in to see how many they require (usually 3). It is appropriate to ask for Letters of Recommendation from professors who are very familiar with your work and your abilities. In other words, these are professors who have seen you demonstrate outstanding academic achievement (especially in their courses). This can take the form of work in their laboratories, special projects or research done for the professors, working as a teaching assistant, etc. It is not appropriate to ask for Letters of Recommendation from professors who are not very familiar with you, your work, your abilities, or from whom you have received grades that do not illustrate outstanding academic achievement.

When asking for Letters of Recommendation, be sure to allow ample time for professors to piece together their summaries of your accomplishments (it's a good idea to ask for them at least several weeks in advance). Be sure to ask them what they need to write an accurate and comprehensive letter: sometimes they will ask for a list, a resume or curriculum vitae, so be prepared to give one if they ask.

Graduate institutions frequently look favorably upon students who become involved in research and internships outside of classes. Many professors in our department have research labs (see the Faculty Interest Sheet for their research fields). You may also do work off campus, for example, at an internship in a field related to psychology. The Psychology Department Office has a listing of internships and other positions available to qualifying psychology students. The CIC (Community Involvement Center) on campus is also a good resource for such internships.

Information about the different psychology graduate programs could be found online or in the library.

PSY 330 is only open to non-psychology majors. If you are a psychology major and taking PSY 330 to fulfill category a requirement of the Child & Adolescent Development cluster for Segment III, then you may not double-count the units earned in PSY 330 towards your psychology major.

Instead of taking PSY 330, you should take the psychology department equivalent PSY 431 Developmental Psychology. This course is almost the same as PSY 330 but tends to delve into the subject matter more deeply.

Financial hold: this must be cleared with the Bursar's Office.

Academic hold: if you are on academic probation, an Academic Standing Petition form must be obtained from the Registrar's Office at the Student Services/One Stop building or in the Psychology Department Office. Make an appointment with an advisor and have her/him sign off on you schedule for the following semester. After he or she signs your form, leave it in the Psychology Department Office for the Chair's signature. Once the Chair has signed it, Psychology Department Staff will notify you so that you may deliver your form to TH 323 and get final approval from the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering..

PSY 330: this course is only open to non-psychology majors.

None of the above: the class (and waitlist) is probably full. Either find another class that can fulfill the same requirements, or sit in on the class during the first day to see if the instructor will allow you to add the course.

"Double counting" is misleading. It means that one course can be used to fulfill two requirements. It does not mean that you get double the number of units for this course. Thus, a course taken for both your major and for Seg III will not earn you 6 units.

Many students do this. You may use the courses for both G.E. and your major. But the purpose of GE is to get breadth in your course work, not to double up in a particular field of study. In any event, only 6 units of Segment III can be double counted with your major. In addition, one course has to be outside the "Psy" prefix and outside anything used for your major in the application for graduation.

Yes, classes in related fields can be counted towards the requirements for both majors.

Check the SF State Bulletin for other information regarding the double-major.

Participation in the Honors Program is strongly recommended for students who plan on going to graduate school in psychology. Students must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  1. A written commitment by a Psychology Department (or related field) faculty member to agree on supervising the honors thesis. Faculty should state how they will support the student.
  2. A GPA of 3.5 or higher in all upper division coursework.
  3. Senior standing in the university (at least 90 completed units).
  4. Completed at least 12 units of upper division psychology coursework at SF State.
  5. Completion of an upper level methods/stats course with a grade of "B" or better as a pre-requisite.

To apply to the Psychology Department Honors Program, please fill out the Honors Program Application form (available either at the psychology department Office or online at Along with the form, you must submit a writing sample and a tentative research question. Please attach your writing sample and tentative research question, transcripts, and letter of support from sponsoring faculty to the form and return to the Psychology Department Office, usually sometime in June

Students who are not yet seniors but plan to apply for the Honors Program in their senior year can begin preparing themselves by joining a research lab.

Psychology Department honors students enroll in the following classes:

  1. PSY 693 Proseminar I: To be taken during the first semester of the student's senior year. First of a two-semester seminar with the principal goal of developing a detailed senior project proposal.
  2. PSY 697 Senior Project Preparation: Must be taken concurrently with PSY 693 during the first semester of the student's senior year. Students develop an original thesis proposal that includes a thorough literature review and methods section. Students must also submit a protocol to the university's Institutional Review Board for research with human subjects.
  3. PSY 694 Proseminar II: To be taken in the final semester of the student's senior year. Continuation of PSY 693. Intended to facilitate and provide evaluation of progress toward completion of senior project. Completed senior project culminates the semester.
  4. PSY 698 Senior Project in Psychology: Must be taken concurrently with PSY 694 during the final semester of the student's senior year. Student carries out the senior project and prepares a written report for presentation.
  5. PSY 693 and 694 serve as upper division electives for the psychology major.

Psychology Honors Program graduates who successfully complete their senior project with a presentation at the Psi Chi Student Conference at the end of the spring semester will receive special acknowledgement from the Honors Program Coordinator and the Department Chair.

If you have any questions about the Honors Program please contact Honors Coordinator, Dr. Ken Paap at or (415)338-6840

Applications are available at the Psychology Department Office during the application period. You may also contact for more information.

Psi Chi is the National Honor Society in Psychology, founded in 1929 for the purpose of encouraging, stimulating, and maintaining excellence in scholarship and advancing the the science of psychology. Membership is open to graduate and undergraduate men and women who are making the study of psychology one of the major interests and who meet the minimum qualifications. Psi Chi is a member of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) and is an affiliate of the American Psychology Association (APA) and the American Psychological Society (APS). Psi Chi functions as a federation of chapters located at more than 800 senior colleges and universities in the USA. A National Council composed of psychologists who are Psi Chi members and who are elected by the chapters, guides the affairs of the organization and sets policy with approval of the chapters.

Students become members by joining the chapter at the school where they are enrolled. The requirements are:

  1. Completion of at least 3 semesters or 5 quarters of college courses.
  2. Completion of 9 semester hours or 14 quarter hours of psychology.
  3. Registration for major or minor standing in psychology or for a program psychological in nature which is equivalent to such standings, e.g., Social Work.
  4. Undergraduates who are elected must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 and rank in the upper 35% of their class (sophomore, junior, senior) in general scholarship. Furthermore, the applicant must have a minimum GPA in psychology courses of 3.0. Psi Chi accepts the standard university policy regarding grades.
  5. For Graduate students, an average of B or better in all graduate courses, including psychology courses.
  6. High standards of personal behavior.
  7. Two-thirds affirmative vote of those present at a regular meeting.
  8. Submission of an unofficial transcript.

Psi Chi chapters are operated by student officers and faculty advisors. Together they select and induct the members and carry out the goals of the Society. Because the officers and faculty advisors are volunteers and their time is limited, anyone interested in joining Psi Chi should take the initiative and contact the psychology department, the faculty advisor, and/or the local officers.

All chapters register their inductees at the Psi Chi National Office, where the membership records are preserved for reference purposes. The total number of members recorded at the National Office during the first 64 years is 252,000; many of these members have gone on to distinguished careers in psychology.

Withdrawal Form: use this form to withdraw from a course you are currently enrolled in, or to withdraw from the university. Withdrawal procedures are listed on the back of the form. Consent of the instructor, Chair, and in some cases, the Dean are required.

Retroactive Withdrawal form: use this form to withdrawal from a course that was previously taken or to withdraw from the university. Retroactive procedures are listed on the back of the form. Consent of the instructor, Chair, Dean, and Board of Appeals and Review are required.

Petition for Incomplete: use this form to request a grade of INC for a class. Approval from the course instructor and Department Chair are required. To qualify for an INC, the student should have completed a substantial part (normally greater than 75%) of the coursework and a "W" grade is not a viable alternative. The student should also be able to demonstrate or provide proof that he or she is unable to complete the course due to unforeseen circumstances beyond her or his control. At the time of the request, the student must be doing passing work and it is possible for him/her to earn credit if the course requirements are completed within the time allowed. The normal allowed time to make up an incomplete grade is one academic year (not including summer session), regardless of whether or not the student is enrolled for the semester. However, the instructor may set a deadline earlier than the two semester limit. The instructor may refuse to accept work submitted after the agreed upon deadline. Students with extenuating circumstances may request the instructor to extend the time limit. To extend the time limit beyond one year; however, the student must file a "Petition for Wavier of College Regulation" before the end of the one-year time limit.

Petition for Grade Change/Report Make Up of Incomplete: This form is used to request a grade change, or to reflect the completion of a course where an INC grade was previously earned. Instructor and Chair approval are required, and the form MUST be forwarded by the Department Office to the Dean's Office.

SF State Petition for Course By Individual Study, 699 or 899: This is a contract used for special projects for undergrads (699) and graduate students (899). Typically, the student plans a special research project with the instructor, the details of which are outlined on the form. Both undergraduate and graduate students must be in good academic standing (GPA of 3.0 for undergrads, 3.5 for graduate students) before the form is approved by the advisor, instructor, and Chair. The instructor will then give the student a permit number to add the course once the form has been approved. Copies of the form are distributed to the Registrar's Office, the Instructor, Dean, and the student.

Psychology Department SF State Petition for Course by Individual Study, 799 or 896: This is a graduate student form used for Supervised Selected Research (799) or Directed Reading (896), both of which need instructor approval. A summary of course objectives, methods, and evaluation procedures must be outlined on the form. Once approval is given, students may obtain a schedule number from the supervising instructor.

SF State Add Form: Use this form to add a course (instructor signature required, Dean's signature also required if form is submitted after the 4th week of instruction during regular session). This form can also be used to request a change of grading option (letter grade or CR/NCR - see the online schedule for CR/NCR deadline at