What Courses Do I Have To Take?

The Department requires each student to complete a set of common courses (covering professional socialization, statistics, and teaching): a set of proseminars, two to four in your area of specialization; and a small number of additional courses or seminars. Consult the Graduate Student Handbook and your Area Head for specific area requirements.


What are proseminars?

Proseminars are courses intended to give you a broad survey of psychology in your area of specialization, with special emphasis on the "Berkeley" point of view. One or two such proseminars are offered by each area every semester, on a rotation cycle. In many instances, you can complete the proseminar requirement by the end of your first year; at worst, it may be necessary to wait until your second year for a particular proseminar to come up in the rotation. In either case, you will be able to complete your proseminar requirement in a timely manner, by the end of your second year in residence, and be prepared for the Qualifying Examination in your third year. Equally important, proseminars offer you shared intellectual experiences with your classmates. Do not defer completing the proseminar requirement: complete it by the end of your second year.


Can I take courses outside the Department?

Yes, but because the proseminars are intended to expose graduate students to the perspectives of faculty in the Department of Psychology, courses outside Psychology may not substitute for required proseminars.


I have transferred in to Berkeley from another graduate program. Can I skip the proseminars?

No, for the same reason in the last answer, and also because the proseminars are intended to promote group cohesion among the graduate students. Transfer students are not permitted to “place out” of them, even if they have already taken comparable courses at other institutions.


Do I have to take both of the statistics courses?

Yes, each area of specialization requires two statistics courses. The statistics courses are intended to give you a solid grounding in data analysis. Even if you think you have already had lots of statistics, and you think you might be able to “place out” of this requirement, you should not seek to do so. Psychology 205A and 205B now comprise an integrated year-long course including core statistical procedures, experimental design and the analysis of variance and covariance, correlation and regression analysis, the analysis of categorical data with multiple classifications, including log-linear and logistic regression, and additional techniques as appropriate. Both statistics courses should be taken in your first year.


Depending on your research interests, you may wish to substitute other statistics courses for one or both of the Department’s courses. This is possible. For any substitutions be prepared to justify your choice in terms of the sorts of research you plan to do, make sure you have the approval of your advisor and your area Graduate Advisor in writing, and present the GSSA with the written approval prior to enrollment. For each substitution, or waiver, request, complete the Department & Area Requirement Exception Request Form available on the Psychology Graduate Students bCourses site.


I took a lot of statistics before I got here. Why can’t I place out of these courses?

Any statistics course taken for another degree, such as a bachelor’s or a master’s degree, whether at Berkeley or someplace else, cannot substitute for a required statistics course -- any course, not just a statistics course, can count for only one degree.


What courses should I take beyond the proseminars and statistics?

This should be determined in consultation with your faculty advisor(s). Additional courses or seminars are intended to give you depth in one or more topic areas. When selecting courses, please consider that there is psychology to be learned outside the formal boundaries of your area of specialization, as well as outside the Department itself, such as Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, Vision Science, Public Policy, Public Health, Education, Economics, Sociology, etc.


Each area also requires attendance at its colloquium series, so enroll in the appropriate course (229, 239, 249, 259/269) each semester you are in residence. The various colloquium series present talks by Department and outside speakers, mostly faculty, sometimes students, covering the whole range of research and theory within your area of specialization.


Also, remember that there is more to psychology than your particular area of specialization. To that end, the Department sponsors occasional Department-wide colloquia, with guest speakers representing the different fields of psychology. The interdisciplinary programs in Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and Vision Science also offer regular colloquia. You can attend colloquia in other departments, as well, if they interest you.


Should I take additional statistics courses?

You should consider taking additional statistics and methods courses (e.g., in mathematical or computational modeling, multivariate analysis, or neuroimaging), depending on your research interests, but this is not a requirement of the Department.