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Frequently Asked Questions about the Undergraduate Degree

Quick Question Links:

1. How many units do I need to graduate?

In order to graduate with a major in Psychology, you must complete

  • 120 semester units**
  • At least 40 of these units must be in upper division courses
  • 30 (of the 40 minimum) upper division units in residence at CSULB
  • 12 Psychology units in residence at CSULB
  • 9 Upper Division GE units – capstones, GE category F

2. I’ve completed my GE requirements and my requirements for the major. Am I now ready to graduate?

GE and major requirements only typically comprise about 3/4 of your total university program. You may have anywhere from 20 to 35 additional units (depending upon relevant catalog) which you may use for electives, a minor, a second major, or a certificate program. (See the University Catalog for discussion of minors and certificate programs.)

3. What determines which University Catalog I am required to follow for graduation?

For the University catalog requirements consult the catalog from the academic year in which you were accepted into CSULB or confer with ATLAS, in Ph1 room 104. For major requirements, you follow the catalog that was in effect at the time you were accepted into your major at CSULB. To contact ATLAS call (562) 985-7804, or visit their office.

4. When will I know officially how many units I have transferred from other schools and what requirements these classes have fulfilled?

You will get a degree audit at SOAR and you can check your transfer credits on your MyCSULB student center. This will show you how many units CSULB has accepted from your other schools, how many of these classes fulfill General Education requirements and which classes in Psychology have transferred. If you have any questions on your transfer courses please visit ATLAS to see an adviser.

5. How many units can I bring in from an accredited community college?

You can apply 70 units to CSULB degree. See University catalog. Remember: If you have difficulty enrolling in Psy 100, Psy 110/210, Psy 241, or Psy 220, you may also take these courses at a local community college. See our department Handbook for specific equivalent courses.

6. I was on the quarter system. How will my units transfer into the CSULB semester system?

Ordinarily a 4 unit course in a quarter system transfers as 2-2/3 semester units. For the purposes of course equivalence in Psychology, a 2-2/3 unit class will be accepted to satisfy the requirements of a comparable 3 unit course at CSULB. HOWEVER, in totaling units to meet the upper division unit requirement for the major, the student may be short in total units and will need to take an additional elective course.

7. Can I take a class at a community college or another 4 year school for transfer while I am attending CSULB? Summer session at a community college?

Yes. See University Catalog, “Concurrent Enrollment.” Students can be enrolled concurrently at CSULB and a community college or other CSU, but they first should fill out a “Request for Concurrent Enrollment” form available from Enrollment Services. While filing the form is not mandatory if you are attending a community college/other CSU, failure to do so may cause problems with the final degree audit, financial aid, and/or pre-requisite clearance (causing registration problems). See the University Catalog for other regulations.

8. Can extension courses be transferred?

Yes. However, there is a limit on the number of extension classes applicable to the degree. See University Catalog, “Extension Credit.”

9. I received a “D” in a core course. Can I take the class over or in some way better the “D”? What about an “F” or “U”?

Yes. You may retake a course for a better grade if you received a D, F, or U. The original low grade will remain on your transcript (not erased), but will not be included in the calculation of your GPA. See University Catalog for a full description of the regulations and the procedures involved. Please note: You may only repeat-delete a course once. The grades from subsequent repeats will be calculated in the student’s GPA and Grade Points, and the units earned will only be applied once to the student’s degree. If the course you wish to repeat was completed at another institution: you must file a petition with Enrollment Services after enrolling in the equivalent course at CSULB. You must include department approval for the course equivalency, as well as transcripts from the other institution with your petition. Students at CSULB are limited to 28 units of repeating. Please see ATLAS, the College of Liberal Arts’ Advising Center in Ph1 room 104 for details.

10. How do I get into closed classes?

Since some courses in our department are very crowded and the CSULB budget is limited, you may encounter closed classes. Your chances of getting your preferred classes improve every semester you are a continuing student here. The last consideration is given to students without the course prerequisites and most instructors refuse to consider them. A few will consider students who are taking the prerequisites concurrently. You may talk to individual professors teaching classes you need and see if they will admit you. Instructors are encouraged to give preference to majors and minors, then to students who have completed the prerequisites. However, when selecting classes, it is not wise to assume any instructor will agree to such an arrangement. Prior to the first day of classes, you may opt to be wait-listed through IVR/MyCSULB until registration is closed. See the Class Schedule for more details. Petitioning should be done on the first day of class at the beginning of the semester, or you may also email (preferred) or leave a note for the professor teaching the class to indicate that you will try to enroll on the first day of class. Students who petition classes at less popular hours are most likely to be successful. Also students who jump from class to class seeking admission are generally less successful than those who keep attending the same class (assuming the instructor is willing to consider petitioners). Although the process of impaction has alleviated the pressure on many upper division classes, the current budget crisis makes it difficult to accommodate all petitioners.

11. May I take the same courses to satisfy both the upper division GE requirements and the 6 upper division units outside Psychology in Social and Behavioral Science departments of the College of Liberal Arts required by the Psychology Department?

Yes. It is possible to use GE courses to satisfy the 6 unit upper division Psychology Supporting Fields requirement for the Psychology major. This requirement consists of two 3-unit courses to be taken in departments other than Psychology. Because these are upper division courses, they may or may not count as upper division GE courses. These courses have become a part of the major requirements because we value diversity in education. Psychology majors at CSULB graduate with some knowledge of the perspectives gained by studying other disciplines. Depending on your GE Catalog Year, you may or may not be able to use these 6 units to satisfy upper division GE and the Psychology Supporting Fields requirement. For this and all other GE questions, please consult ATLAS, the College of Liberal Arts’ Advising Center (Ph1 room 104). By using these courses to satisfy both major and GE requirements, you will free up another 6 units that may be applied toward a minor, second major, or certificate. Completing any of those programs, in addition to a Psychology major, will not only make your education more well-rounded, but it will also provide more opportunities in your educational and career future. Please be aware, however, that the university has specific requirements for graduation. For the Psychology B.A. you must complete 120 semester units. For a list of Ethnic Studies courses and SBS departments, see our department Handbook or see a PRO Guide for a handout.

12. Can seniors receive undergraduate credit for a graduate course? Can seniors receive graduate credit while at the undergraduate status?

Yes. For information on the first question, see University Catalog, “Senior Enrollment in Graduate Courses for Undergraduate Credit”. For the second question, see the University Catalog, “Graduate Credit Earned as a Senior.” A handout is also available from the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) Office outlining the requirements, listing the courses which may be taken and the steps required to petition the application of the course credit.

13. Can I get credit by examination for courses?

Yes. Certain courses may be taken by exam. However, the student needs to enroll in the course before making the arrangements. Consult the University Catalog for procedures and ask at ATLAS to determine courses which may not be taken by exam. Laboratory and field experience courses may not be taken by exam, nor can 400 level classes.

14. What can I do if I don’t like my grade in a course?

First, talk with the instructor. Often the problem can be worked out by a clear, open discussion. If you are not satisfied with the results, download and fill out the Psychology Department “Grade Appeal Request and Routing” form. Make an appointment to meet with the Psychology Department chair.  Following this meeting, if you choose to move forward with the appeal, you may submit a grade appeal packet to the Psychology Department Grade Appeal Committee.  If you are not satisfied with the Department Grade Appeal Committee’s decision, you can request that your Grade Appeal be forwarded to the College of Liberal Arts Grade Appeal Committee. For more information see the grade appeal procedure in the University Catalog:

15. What should I do if I have complaints about an instructor’s behavior?

As with concerns about grades, you should first consider talking to the instructor. If that is not suitable, then you can contact one of the Psychology Department Mediators (the names of the Mediators are posted in the main office and in the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) office) or the Office of Ombuds in USU 301, (562) 985-5983. Some classroom issues are specifically addressed in University publications. For instance the University has policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, physical handicap, race, color, national origin, age, marital status, religion, ethnic group identification, or sexual preference. See the University Catalog, or the Schedule of Classes. The University also considers sexual harassment as a violation of privacy and dignity as well as being illegal. The University Catalog and the Schedule of Classes detail steps to take if you feel you have been harassed.

16. What student employment is available in the department?

Students are occasionally hired to work in a variety of positions in the department. These include research assistants, clerical assistants in the graduate and undergraduate offices, and faculty assistants in oversized classes. Most of these students are on the Federal Work/Study (FWS) program, administered through the Office of Financial Aid, BH 101. It is designed for the full-time student who has established significant financial need according to Federal guidelines. There are very limited funds available for students not qualifying for FWS, so if you are interested in employment in the department, it would be wise to check into the FWS program. Further details about FWS and other financial aid options are given in the University Catalog.

17. What opportunities are available for helping (clinical) experience in Psychology?

Experience may be gained in Psy 405 or 406 AB. Through the Psychology 405 course, many community organizations afford the student opportunities for helping in a counseling or clinical role. Information about Psychology 405 is available on a videotape which may be viewed in PSY 206. In Psychology 406 AB, department faculty arrange projects in which students learn helping skills. Check the catalog boards in the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) Offices or contact course instructors for information about 406 AB. Generally, the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) Program and the mentoring program are offered as Psy 406 AB. For information about the CSULB Mentoring Program (the other section of Psy 406AB), consult a PRO Guide. Fieldwork experience is also offered through the Experiential Learning Center located at the Career Development Center (BH 250). These classes are advantageous for students who seek experiences which are not available through Psy 405 or 406 AB, or who have not fulfilled the prerequisites required to enroll in 406 AB or 405. Classes offered through EPIC are similar to the 405 and 406 AB in that they provide students with work experience in psychologically related fields and upper division units (not Psychology) may be earned. Some of these placements provide pay to students (COOP). There are also numerous volunteer opportunities in LA/Orange County and abroad listed in the Career Resources Room of the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) Office. Volunteering is an enriching experience that provides hands-on training. Additionally, it shows prospective employers and graduate admissions boards your dedication to bettering your community.

18. Where do I get information on visiting speakers, colloquia and other events in the Psychology Department?

One of the most difficult tasks in the department involves communication with all majors. The severe budget limitations prevent mailings, so announcements of speakers, parties, jobs, procedures for applying to special programs, etc. are regularly posted around the Psychology building, in the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) Office and online.

19. Can Psychology courses be taken Credit/No Credit?

Unless the catalog course description specifically forbids it, any department course may be taken CR/NC up to the University limit (24 total units of which no more than 12 units can be upper division and no more than 8 units in a given semester). See University Catalog, “Grades and Grading Procedures: Definitions” and “Course Grading Option Policy.” However, some graduate schools may question the reason for taking too many courses CR/NC, or may wonder about specific courses.

20. How did I end up on academic probation? Is it possible to graduate with a “D” in a core course?

In any given semester, if your cumulative GPA falls below 2.0, you may be placed on academic probation. Check the University catalog for details about probation and disqualification. You may graduate with a “D” in a core course providing you have enough grade points to achieve a 2.0 average in your overall major and your upper division major. Students placed on academic probation lose their status as Psychology majors and must reapply to the major when they are no longer on probation. Please note: students may only apply two times to impacted majors, including Psychology. If you have any questions about application procedures, click on the following link: /colleges/cla/departments/psychology/how_to_major/ on the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) website or visit a PRO Guide.

21. May I participate in the May graduation ceremony even if I don’t finish my degree program until the Summer Session?

Officially, students who complete their degrees in Summer Session or December are expected to participate in the graduation ceremony the following May. Unofficially, many students participate in the ceremony the preceding May. Whether or not your name appears in the commencement program would depend upon the information on your “Grad Check.” Pick up a handout from the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) Office about filing for the grad check.


22. How do I find out about the graduation ceremony?

If you do not receive information in the mail, stop by the Department Office and pick up an information sheet. These sheets are available in March or April or click on commencement to download the information sheet. (Acrobat Reader is required to view the information sheet. Download Acrobat Reader for free at

23. Where do I go to get counseling on drugs, sex, parent and personal problems, how to make my way in college?

Visit the Counseling and Psychological Services (CaPS), BH 226. You can call for an appointment (562) 985-4001. You may also click on the following link: Other groups on campus also schedule many small group discussions on timely topics. Check bulletin boards around the Psychology department and at CaPS for more information.

24. How do I withdraw from a course?

You are responsible for withdrawing either through MyCSULB or in person depending upon the time of the semester. Do not assume the instructor will drop you if you do not show up for the class or stop attending. It is extremely important to be aware of the deadlines listed in the Schedule of Classes, particularly for course withdrawal. See the calendar in the Schedule of Classes for relevant deadlines. Remember that the later in the semester you wait to withdraw, the more signatures and documentation you will need. See also: University Catalog, “Grades and Grading Procedures: Definitions”.

25. How do I go about withdrawing from the University?

If your situation allows for it, first consider an Educational Leave (See University Catalog). That way, you may not have to reapply to the University when you are ready to return. If you must withdraw completely from the University, follow the proper procedures so you will not receive any failing “U” grades for the semester. Go to the Office of Enrollment Services or see the University Catalog, “Cancellation of Registration or Withdrawal from Institution.”

26. Is it necessary for everyone to see the PRO Guides?

It is highly recommended. Many students read and understand the University catalog, the Psychology Undergraduate Handbook, and the information handouts and pamphlets prepared by PRO. With (or without) the help of ATLAS, they satisfactorily plan their own course of studies. Because all Psychology majors must complete Psy 301 (Psychology as a Discipline and Profession), it is imperative that all Psychology majors visit the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) office to complete projects for that course. If you have a question, see the PRO Guides first. They will refer you to the best resource to see if they cannot answer your question. If you have a brief question, you may call the PRO Guides at (562) 985-5680 or send e-mail to

27. Should I seek advice from other Psychology faculty besides ATLAS?

Students concerned about graduate work and careers should definitely seek the opinions of numerous faculty members. There are many views and opinions about graduate school, so try to get a range of perspectives. Each individual faculty member is reflecting his or her own experiences and views and may not know what is best for you. So by all means ask around. See the list of faculty in the Handbook to contact them regarding relevant topics or questions. We also have a posting of contact information for Full and Part Time faculty in the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) office and in the main Psychology Office (PSY 100). Faculty office hours and contact information may also be found on the department web site.

28. The school is so large and there are so many Psychology majors, how can I get to know people?

CSULB can be as impersonal or as friendly a campus as you wish to make it. Within the Psychology Department, most classes average 45 students and there is considerable opportunity for interaction with your classmates and the instructors. To get to know your instructors better, you can speak up in class, see them during their office hours with relevant topics or questions, attend colloquia and the receptions which often follow, or volunteer to assist them in their research. To get to know your classmates better, arrive early to class where there is usually informal discussion. If you take lab courses such as 210, 220 and 310, you will find yourself spending several hours a week with a small group of students. Also, most 400 level courses are small in size (15 to 30 students) and provide close interaction with faculty and other Psychology majors. It is especially helpful to join the student organizations which have many social functions, schedule speakers, conduct book sales and bake sales, sponsor Psych Day and much more. These organizations provide a wonderful opportunity for networking with other students and faculty. For a list of Psychology student organizations, see the Handbook. You may also find information on the psychology student organizations on the department web site.

29. Is any recognition given to outstanding students?

Students interested in national honor societies like Phi Beta Kappa, Phi Kappa Phi, and Mortar Board should check the University Catalog for a listing of honor societies represented at CSULB. (Please note that honor societies often have very high requirements. See the University Catalog for more information. For example, note the language and math requirements for Phi Beta Kappa.) Depending on cumulative GPA, students may be eligible to graduate with honors (cum laude, magna cum laude, or summa cum laude). They may also be eligible for the Dean’s and President’s Lists. Please see University Catalog for more details. In addition to membership in other national honor societies, Psychology majors and minors with an overall GPA of at least 3.0 and a Psychology GPA of 3.4 or better are eligible for membership in Psi Chi, the National Honor Society in Psychology. All Psi Chi members are eligible to wear a special medallion at graduation. At the local level, the Psychology Department recognizes outstanding graduating seniors based on: GPA faculty recommendations research community experience stated future goals in Psychology. These awards are presented in the Spring. One (sometimes two) of these students is selected for special recognition at graduation. The Psychology department also presents the Lucio Morales Memorial Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and the Joann Beers Memorial Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Service.  Information and applications can be found here:


30. Where do I go for information about graduate school and the application process?

Obtaining information about graduate study is a complex process. You will need to ask questions of many people, read general literature, check the internet, and contact the schools which interest you for applications and specific information. To gain a better understanding of the process involved: Enroll in Psychology 301, Psychology as a Discipline and Profession, a course which covers careers in Psychology and related fields, as well as the steps necessary to enter those careers; Visit the Graduate Resources Room in the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) office ( PSY 206) and look at copies of Graduate Study in Psychology* (published by APA) and other very informative books on the application process as well as information about the GRE. In addition there are catalogs and circulars from many schools; View the videotapes about graduate school which are available in the Psychology Resource Office (PRO) office; Attend forums held during the year where students may ask questions about graduate work; Attend Psi Chi/PSA meetings (click the Psychology Student Organizations link for meeting times); Finally, if you have access to the Internet, you should begin at Psy 301’s “How to apply to Grad School” page for information on all aspects of graduate school. The Graduate Study in Psychology book is also available at the library and for sale at bookstores.

31. What does impacted mean?

When a department is declared impacted, it means that the number of students interested in the major exceeds the capacity of the department to provide classes and resources. At that point, the department will attempt to limit the number of majors by establishing criteria which students must meet before being admitted to the department. For a list of the criteria, please refer to the Psychology Undergraduate Handbook.

32. Why is the Psychology Department impacted?

During the 1990’s, the number of faculty and the resources of the department shrunk drastically, while the number of majors continued to grow… It has become increasingly difficult for students to get the courses they need to complete their degrees. By declaring impaction, the Psychology Department has been able to bring the ratio of resources to students more in line, and continues to do so through more recent budget challenges. A side effect of impaction is the restriction all 400 level courses to majors and minors only who have completed Psy 301 with a D or better. 400 level courses should become more readily available, with a higher caliber of students in the classes, because all majors will have satisfied the basic prerequisites before being admitted to these courses.

33. What is a pre-major?

A pre-major is a student who has expressed interest in being a Psychology major (either by indicating it on the application to the university or by visiting the PRO Guides for information about the major). By filing for the pre-major designation students will be able to participate in all activities of the department and receive periodic mailings. Please note that the university requires students who have achieved Junior standing (60 or more total units) must declare a major.

34. I have not completed all the requirements needed to apply to be a major. What should I take?

In addition to completing Psychology 100, 110/210, and 220 with a C or better, which will qualify you to be a major, you can register through MyCSULB for all of the 300 level courses as long as you have completed 60 units and the prerequisites have been satisfied. Please note: You will not be able to enroll in Category 2 Courses (Psy 331, 332, 333, 336, 337, 340, 341, and 342) until you have completed both Psy 220 (Research Methods) and Psy 241 (Psychobiology). It is strongly recommended that you complete the lower division prerequisites as soon as possible. If you have trouble enrolling in either Psy 100, 110/210, 241, or 220, please see our Handbook for lower division course equivalencies at local community colleges.** Because Psychology 301 (Psychology as a Discipline and a Profession) is a prerequisite to all 400 level courses and a requirement for graduation with a B.A. in Psychology at CSULB, the department strongly encourages students to enroll in it at the earliest opportunity after completing 60 units. See the University Catalog, “Concurrent Enrollment” for the necessary procedures involving enrollment at CSULB and another institution at the same time.

35. Is it possible to use courses from another major to satisfy the requirements of the Psychology minor?

The university does not permit students to use their major courses to satisfy the requirements of a minor. Often students wish to use the research class for their major and this is rarely permitted as the research methods of the various disciplines have unique features and emphases. For students whose major requires statistics, it may be possible to petition the university for an exception to academic policy. But before you petition the university for this exception you should visit the ATLAS advising center to determine if the course would be acceptable to the Psychology Department.

36. What is Psych Day?

Each spring one day is devoted to the celebration of Psychology. The activities are arranged by the student organizations and vary from year to year. However, Psych Day(s) typically involves guest speakers, forums, games, and poster sessions. Psych Day is presented each year by Psi Chi and PSA. Information on past Psych Days, including photos, may be found on the News and Activities page of the department web site.

37. What happens if I want to take a semester or a year off?

A student wishing to take time off from school should request an Educational Leave. The minimum leave is a full semester and that can be extended to a calendar year. By filing for a one semester Educational Leave, a student will not have to reapply for admission, will receive MyCSULB registration materials, and will retain catalog rights. For details about the procedure and for the requirements of an extended leave, see the University catalog. Information about procedural details and department requirements is best obtained from ATLAS.