Brief Description of Concentration

psychologyPsychology is the scientific study of the mind, and as such, we investigate the minds of humans and other species. We try to understand the mind at many different levels of analysis, from taking measurements from the brain, through learning about the individual, all the way to understanding groups and organizations. Most of the research conducted in Harvard’s Department of Psychology concerns basic psychological processes such as attention, perception, memory, categorization, reasoning, decision-making, language, cognitive and social development, social cognition, intergroup relations, and morality. In addition, some members of the department conduct research on the etiology, development, and treatment of psychopathology. All members of the department share the common goal of understanding mind, brain, and behavior through empirical investigation, and their teaching and research reflect this goal. 

Learning Objectives

The primary goal of the Psychology concentration is to provide students with a fundamental understanding of the human mind. In the process of doing so, other goals will also be achieved: the skill to critically assess quantitative evidence from experimental and correlational data, to learn to take difficult and previously unstudied problems of mind and society and bring them under experimental scrutiny, to learn to speak and write about questions of great theoretical and social importance that involve the mind. 

Gateway Courses

Psychology requires course completion in the following order: 

First, take: 

  • PSY 1: Introduction to Psychological Science (formerly SLS 20, offered fall and spring) is a prerequisite for all psychology courses and required for concentration or secondary field. You may be able to count a Psychology AP score of 5 or IB score of 7 towards the Introductory course requirement.  Please contact the Psychology Undergraduate Office at to learn more.

Then, take two of the following Foundational Courses (see track-specific requirements).

  • Psychology 14: Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychology 15: Social Psychology
  • Psychology 16: Developmental Psychology
  • Psychology 18: Abnormal Psychopathology
  • Neuroscience 80 (formerly MCB 80): Neurobiology of Behavior

If considering the CNEP/Life Sciences track, take at least one of the following courses: LPS A, LS 1A, LS 1B, or LS 50A

Alumni Stories

Want to see how a concentration in psychology influenced our alumni to pursue the path they're on today? Check out the Alumni Stories page!