Undergraduate study in psychology: Curriculum and assessment

John C. Norcross, Leona S. Aiken, Robin Hailstorks, Rory A. Pfund, Karen E. Stamm, Peggy Christidis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


The undergraduate curriculum in psychology profoundly reflects and shapes the discipline. Yet, reliable information on the undergraduate psychology curriculum has been difficult to acquire due to insufficient research carried out on unrepresentative program samples with disparate methods. In 2014, APA launched the first systematic effort in a decade to gather national data on the psychology major and program outcomes. We surveyed a stratified random sample of department chairs/coordinators of accredited colleges and universities in the United States that offer undergraduate courses and programs in psychology. A total of 439 undergraduate psychology programs (45.2%) completed the survey. This article summarizes, for both associate and baccalaureate programs, the results of the Undergraduate Study in Psychology. Current practices concerning the introductory course, the courses offered, core requirements, the psychology minor, and tracks/concentrations are presented. The frequency of formal program reviews and program-level assessment methods are also addressed. By extending prior research on the undergraduate curriculum, we chronicle longitudinal changes in the psychology major over the past 20 years.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-101
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Psychologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2016


  • Associate programs
  • Psychology curriculum
  • Student learning outcomes
  • Teaching of psychology
  • Undergraduate education

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology


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