FAQ - Undergraduate


SPIRE does not have a mechanism to list advisors in large majors like psychology. But, yes, you do have an advisor! You have SEVERAL advisors! Prof. Rahhal, Prof. Metevier, Prof Astheimer, Prof. Cheries, Prof. Davidson, Prof. Davies and Ms. Pahl are all available to consult with psych majors on a walk-in basis at Tobin 501. Hours to see an advisor vary from semester to semester as teaching schedules vary, so check the schedule on the advising page for when specific advisors are on duty.  Be sure to identify specialty advisors as well:  honors, neuroscience track, etc.  


No, when advisors are on duty (see schedule on the advising page or posted at Tobin 501), you can see them on a walk-in basis. Be aware that during busy times (add/drop or pre-registration) there may be a wait. If your question can be answered during a less busy time, we can spend more time with you and you will be less likely to have a wait.


The advising center is generally open 9–5 Mon–Thur and 9–4 Fridays. The advising center is staffed by knowledgeable and friendly student peer advisors during those times. They are all trained psychology majors who can answer many of your questions. You can also email individual faculty/staff advisors with your questions. Bear in mind that it is often easier and more productive to have a face-to-face conversation about complex questions than to try to get them answered by email.


Whenever a faculty staff advisor is on duty, you are always welcome to see us for whatever question you may have.  We are happy to help!


Our terrific student advisors can answer lots of questions:

  • psych major requirements
  • questions about psych classes
  • How to use SPIRE and understand your ARR
  • general questions about general education requirements and classes
  • general questions about college (CNS) requirements (e.g., foreign language requirement or course requirements for the BS in psych)
  • opportunities in the major -- being a TA or a research assistant (RA), general questions about internships or study abroad
  • Student advisors may refer you to a faculty/staff advisor or another resource office for detailed questions.

Except for registering for your first semester at UMass, as a psychology major, you are not required to see an advisor to choose courses, but we strongly encourage you to check in with an advisor periodically to check your progress and to determine that you are taking the appropriate courses. Otherwise, you should see a faculty/staff advisor for the following:

  • if you have questions about how courses are appearing in your ARR on SPIRE or you think you need a course moved in the psych major portion of your ARR
  • if you have received approval for an exception to a psych major course that is a pre-requisite for other courses and you need to register in those other courses
  • if you need a psych course pre-approved for transfer from another school (bring the course description for the course you hope to transfer)
  • if you need psych courses pre-approved for study abroad or domestic exchange (bring the course descriptions)
  • if you are nearing graduation and you want to check your degree progress
  • if you have an academic advisor hold on your SPIRE registration
  • if the academic dean asks you to get information from your major advisor about your degree progress (e.g., if you have been on probation, or you have been at UMass for more than 10 semesters)
  • If you need advice about an internship, concerns about life after college, or other advice
  • ANYTIME you have a question or need advice that you would like to receive from a faculty/staff advisor

Most students will not need to visit often with the college academic dean, with a few exceptions:

  • Every freshman will be required to attend a group meeting with the dean during the fall semester of the freshman year. This meeting covers very important information about registering, requirements, etc. and is REQUIRED. Please go to one of these meetings, or you will not be allowed to register for your spring semester classes.
  • If you are pursuing the BA in psychology and have questions about the foreign language requirement, you can find these answers at CNS advising. In particular, if you have high school language credits that you would like to have evaluated for fulfillment of the college language requirement, this is done in the dean's office.
  • Otherwise you will need to go to the dean's office for issues with complex questions about general education requirements or college requirements, probation, academic discipline, late adds or late drops from classes, requests to repeat a class more than once, requests to take more than 19 credits per semester (this request is done online), dean's holds. 
  • Requests for credit overloads are handled through the dean's office as are requests for late withdrawals. Both of these are initiated online at: http://www.cns.umass.edu/students/academic-advising/forms.

Because of federal privacy laws, advisors can only speak to students about academic records. If you would like for your parents or other individuals you designate to have access to your academic record, then you must complete the academic information release form available at the advising office (Tobin 501).  That form must be on file at the advising office before we can speak to anyone other than the student about academic information.


No but there is a mandatory Moodle training and quiz. You log in to your Moodle account and select the advising course to review the requirements. You will view three short videos about using SPIRE, visit the department website to review the major requirements, and then take a quiz. All freshman psych majors are required to complete the online training and pass the online quiz. There will be a hold on your spring registration until you pass the quiz.  

Psychology Advising also offers individual meetings for freshmen to help you with information you will need prior to registration for your spring classes. These are not required but highly encouraged.


Campus tours are conducted daily and can be scheduled through the Robsham Memorial Center for Visitors.


Go to:  https://www.umass.edu/pbs/undergraduate/undergraduate-requirements

Advancing Diversity in Research and Practice Program (ADRAP)

The Advancing Diversity in Research and Practice program’s mission is to promote diversity in the field of psychology by increasing the diversity of the next generation of researchers and practitioners in psychology, and by fostering interest in research and practice with diverse populations.

Developmental Disabilities and Human Services Program (DDHS)

The department has partnered with the Massachusetts Department of Developmental Services (DDS) to offer a letter of specialization in Developmental Disabilities and Human Services (DDHS). The DDHS specialization offers undergraduates across disciplines the opportunity to obtain the skills needed for careers in the disability and broader human services field.

Psychological Modeling Specialization

This program offers undergraduate students the chance to earn a letter of specialization in mathematical approaches to psychological research. The purpose of the program is to help students prepare for sophisticated research practices that they will encounter in graduate school and beyond.


There are significant differences between Double Major and Dual Degree. 

Please review the following for requirements relevant to psychology majors.  Always check in with your department advisors for every major you intent to complete for guidance. 

Double Major Requirements
This option requires you to declare one major as your primary and the other as your secondary. 

Psychology as Primary Major

  • Earn 120 credits
  • Complete CNS requirements: BA with foreign language requirement or BS with 60 CNS credit requirement
  • Complete the Integrative Experience Requirement for Psychology: Psych 494RI
  • Complete all departmental requirements including Jr. Writing: Psych 392A
  • Earn one diploma that lists psychology only
    • Primary and secondary majors will appear on your transcript

Psychology as Secondary Major

  • Earn 120 credits
  • Complete College Level Requirements for Primary Major
  • Complete the Integrative Experience Requirement for Primary Major
  • Complete all departmental requirements except Jr. Writing
    •  Junior Writing taken in primary major
  • Earn 1 diploma that lists your primary major only, not psychology
    • Primary and secondary majors will appear on your transcript

Dual Degree Requirements for Psychology
The dual degree requirements will not appear in SPIRE until after your grades are finalized in your last semester.  You will need to track these requirements yourself.  Make sure to check in with BOTH departments in advance to ensure you are on track. 

  • Earn 150 credits
  • Complete College Requirements for Both Majors; for Psychology you must complete the CNS requirements: either the BA or BS requirements
  • Complete major requirements for both majors
    • Complete Psychology Jr. Writing: Psych 392A, if primary major only
    • Complete Integrative Experience: Psych 494RI, if primary major only
  • Complete Dual Degree Request form in your final semester
  • Earn 2 diplomas, one for each of your majors

Declaring the Minor

Prior to graduation submit an online Declaration of Minor form.  The Psychology minor can be declared as soon as you are officially enrolled in your last psychology course(s).  The minor will not appear on your SPIRE transcript until all courses have been successfully completed and graded.  Once you’re graded for your final course, you can find your minor posted on your unofficial transcript or under student services center on SPIRE. The minor must be declared prior to graduation.  Questions regarding the online form can be directed to Laurie Dove in Tobin 509.

Psychology minor requirements

  • Students who wish to pursue a minor in psychology need to complete 5 courses (a minimum of 3-credits per course) totaling at least 15 graded credits in psychology. 
  • The psychology minor does not have specific course requirements, but prerequisites will not be waived for minors
  • Psych 100 is a prerequisite for all psychology courses
  • AP Psych credit cannot replace one of the 5 courses required for the minor
    • AP credit for Psych 100 satisfies the prerequisite but it will not count toward the minor, students with Psych 100 AP credit can enroll in 5 classes above Psych 100 to complete the minor
  • Check SPIRE for course restrictions; restrictions will not be lifted for minors
  • All courses counted toward the minor must have a grade of C or better (no exceptions). 
  • Practicum courses (Psych 398) will not count towards the minor  
  • At least 9 of the 15 credits for the minor must be taken at UMass Amherst or UMass Amherst Continuing and Professional Education.
  • No requirements for the minor may be taken pass/fail.
  • Courses used towards the psychology minor may be used for other graduation requirements, such as gen eds.
  • Seniors completing courses for the minor during their last semester will see the minor posted on their final UMass transcript. 
  • Minors do not appear on your UMass diploma



To learn more about Departmental HONORS please visit our website


The Departmental Honors program is intended for the serious psychology student who seeks challenging course work and research training, along with the opportunity for individual mentoring by a faculty member. For more information about the program, please check out these Thesis Guidelines, or these Poster Guidelines if you are presenting your research at a conference or workshop. If you have additional questions, please look through these FAQs before meeting with one of the advisors listed below. Learn about our Departmental Honors Alumni.

Departmental Honors Faculty Advisors, with Fall 2017 advising hours:

  • Dr. Erik Cheries, Tobin 538, please see advising pageemail 
  • Dr. Mariana Pereira, Tobin 535, office hours Wednesday 10:00-11:00, email
  • Dr. Joonkoo Park, Tobin 414, office hours Monday 9:00-10:00, email
  • Dr. Rebecca Spencer, Tobin 419, office hours Monday 1:00-2:00, email
  • Dr. Jeff Starns, Tobin 434, office hours Wednesday 9:30-10:30, email
  • Dr. Lori Astheimer, Tobin 539, hours please see advising pageemail

Admission requirements:

  • To participate in Departmental Honors, students must apply to Commonwealth Honors College specifically for Psychology Departmental Honors.
  • Students must meet with the Departmental Honors Coordinator to discuss requirements and departmental opportunities.
  • Students will be informed about Departmental Honors admissions decisions directly from Commonwealth Honors College.

Course requirements:

Whether completing Commonwealth Honors College’s scholar requirements or not, receiving Psychology Departmental Honors requires:

  • 1 PSYCH honors course 300-level or higher with a minimum grade of B  
  • 1 PSYCH honors course 300-level or higher with a minimum grade of B+
  • PSYCH 499Y “Honors Research” with a grade of B or better (research supervisor must be a PBS faculty member)
  • PSYCH 499T “Honors Thesis” with a grade of B or better (chair of committee must be a PBS faculty member)

Visit our Requirements link on the PBS website for more information

Students can major in psychology in two different ways, earning either BA or BS, with additional concentrations and specializations available to suit your interests.

Bachelor of Arts (BA)  The most common method is the Bachelor of Arts (BA), suitable for students interested in general psychology and taking a foreign language.
Bachelor of Science (BS)  Students with a strong science background, taking many science and math courses, can select the Bachelor of Science (BS) in one of two ways.

You can download a checklist of the major requirements for the General Psychology BA/BS.

Specialized Programs  The department also offers additional specializations including Honors, Diversity, Disabilities, and Modeling. Click to view our specialized programs.

Psychology minor requirements:

  • Students who wish to pursue a minor in psychology need to complete 5 classes totaling at least 15 graded credits in psychology.
  • All courses counted toward the minor must have a grade of C or better (no exceptions). 
  • Practicum courses (Psych 398) are not counted toward the minor. 
  • At least 9 of the 15 credits for the minor must be taken at UMass Amherst or UMass Amherst Continuing and Professional Education.
  • AP Psych credit may not be used toward the minor.
  • No requirements for the minor may be taken pass/fail.
  • More information on declaring the minor.

Visit this link for information on delcaring either general psychology or the neuroscience track

Declaring the Major

You must come to the Psychology Advising Center in Tobin 501 during specific hours designated to sign in to the major; please see the hours posted on the link above. Please bring the following items with you:

  • Transcript. Please bring a copy of your transcript and your academic requirements report (ARR) and highlight all psychology courses on your transcript.
  • When you meet with an advisor, you will complete the declaration of major form.

Please do not wait until your registration period for an upcoming semester to declare your major; classes fill quickly and you will not be allowed to register until your major is officially changed.

We offer specific hours to declare the psychology major every semester, please check our site for up to date hours.  

Declaring the Neuroscience Track

If you would like to join the Neuroscience track, in addition to declaring the BS in Psych as your major, you must sign in with one of the Neuroscience advisors (and you must have a 3.0 GPA). You can find their hours here.

Students can't declare until they have an established GPA of 3.0 or above at UMass.  Freshman and transfer students must have one semester at UMass before they can declare. 


You can find more information at each of these links.  

Research Assistantships

  • See a current listing of available psychology research assistantships.
  • Most students begin their exploration of research by participating in the ongoing research of a faculty member or graduate student. 
  • Course credit is pass/fail.
  • To register for research credit, arrange an RA with a researcher and then submit the RA 398B contract.
  • Students may also participate in research in a more advanced and independent role through Independent Study Opportunities, see below. 

Independent Studies

  • Advanced students who wish to pursue study of a subject outside the context of a class can do that by arranging independent readings or independent research with a faculty sponsor. 
  • Independent Readings in Psychology (Psych 396A) allows students to engage in scholarly research on a specific topic. The student must work with a faculty sponsor and develop a detailed plan of study together with the sponsor. The particular readings along with the nature of the paper that will be the culmination of the project should be detailed in the plan of study.
    To register for independent readings, secure a faculty sponsor and fill out the Psych 396A contract together.
  • Independent Study – Research (Psych 496A) allows students to engage in research in a psychology laboratory. This letter-graded research experience is generally appropriate for students who have prior research experience and who are ready to embark upon research that is relatively independent (a full study or a portion of a more extensive project). Students must find a lab to work in and a faculty sponsor. Together with the faculty sponsor, a plan of study is developed that describes the nature of the research, which includes information about the research report that will be submitted at the conclusion of semester.
  • To register for independent study research, secure a faculty sponsor and fill out the Psych 496A contract together.

Teaching Assistantships


  • The Department of Psychology strongly encourages students interested in pursuing either jobs or graduate study in the applied areas of psychology (such as Clinical or Counseling Psychology, Psychiatry or Psychiatric Nursing, School or Educational Psychology, Human Resources, Social Work, Applied Behavior Analysis, Marriage and Family Therapy, and Mental Health or Substance Abuse Counseling) to gain practical experience through internships for course credit.
  • Students negotiate directly with community sites to arrange to do internships with them. Students may arrange to do internships in any setting that will allow them to engage in activities that advance their intended careers. As a starting point for identifying potential internship sites, students should click on this link: View a list of sites where psychology students have interned in the past. Students should also explore options available through Career Services by going to http://www.umass.edu/careers/internships-co-ops/finding-internship-and-co-op-opportunities.
  • After securing an internship position, to receive course credit for it, students should process the internship contracts available in Handshake, found on the Career Services website.  The process is also described below. The requirements for earning internship course credit are as follows:
    • Receiving a satisfactory end–of–term evaluation from the intern’s on-site direct supervisor;
    • Completing 40 hours of work on-site for each credit received;
    • Submitting weekly reports to faculty sponsor;
    • Submitting an 8–10-page final paper on “What I Learned from My Internship” by the second day of final exams; 
    • Submitting a completed Internship Site and Supervisor Final Assessment form by the second day of final exams.
  • Internships may be taken as either PSY 398 or UMass 298. 
    PSY 398 is a three-credit course and students with a GPA of 2.5 or better may register for it. 
    UMass 298 is a variable credit course and and a GPA of 2.0 or better may register for it. 
    Students may take both PSY 398 and UMass 298 concurrently in a single term, provided they complete the required hours of on-site work for each of the sites.
  • Internships require faculty sponsors, who review interns’ weekly reports, receive interns’ final papers and final Site Assessments, and handle any issues that arise during the course of the internship. Any member of the UMass faculty may sponsor a PBS student for an internship taken as UMass 298, and any member of the UMass PBS faculty may sponsor a PBS student for an internship taken as PSY 398.  Dr. Erik Cheries (echeries@umass.edu) serves as the internship liason for PBS students taking both UMass 298 and PSY 398.  You may speak to him about questions or concerns regarding the internship process.   

Are there special programs I can receive credit for?

SPACE Peer mentoring Program

ADRAP Advancing Diversity in Research in Practice Program; DDHS Developmental Disabilities and Human Services Program; Psychological Modeling Specialization

Psychological Modeling Specialization Program

I am going to study abroad and need courses approved and my ICAF signed.

  • Students wishing to study abroad should bring course descriptions and the electronic ICAF form to the advising office for approval.

To request a syllabus of syllabi from prior semesters, email Sandy Kalmus.  Include any information that would be helpful such as year, instructor, class title and course number.