Major Overview

Psychology is the study of human behavior and mental processes, so if you’ve ever wondered about people’s motivations, tried to understand your own feelings, or discussed the actions of others around you, you’ve already explored this area, albeit in an informal fashion. As you learn how to formalize your inquiries into a scientific study, you’ll be exploring psychology’s historical underpinnings, as well as the influence of culture and social context. Our diverse programs of study, which concentrate on areas like neuroscience and clinical, developmental, and cultural psychology, will prepare you to work or pursue further study in a variety of fields where knowledge of human motivation, critical thinking skills, and sensitivity are valued. To become a practicing psychologist, students must prepare to pursue a degree at the Masters or Doctorate level.


The educational goals for this major are as follows:

  • You will conceptualize the complex factors (biological, neuropsychological, cognitive, developmental, social, relational, cultural, and historical) that influence human psychology and comprehend the interplay between these forces.
  • You will understand how culture and society influence basic psychological phenomena such as behavior, development, interpersonal relationships, thought, identity, memory, and emotion.
  • You will develop an informed, and critical, stance toward psychological theory and practice.
  • You will demonstrate knowledge of different psychological research traditions and methodologies and their advantages and limitations.
  • You will employ psychological theory and research to construct sound arguments.

Learning Environment

Your classes’ small professor-student ratio will allow you to collaborate with professors in their areas of research, while benefiting from their mentorship, and our commitment to the liberal arts tradition, as well as our location in Paris, will give you access to interdisciplinary perspectives, intercultural field experience, and resources from French and European scientific institutions, laboratories, and archives. As you consider human psychology from different analytical frameworks, while challenging the validity of any single one, our hope is that dialogue and debate will thrive in the classroom and across the AUP community, through hosted conferences and invited speakers from around the world. 

Major Components
Build Your Degree

With every single one of our majors, you’ll find a carefully curated medley of core courses and electives, which will provide you with the tools you need to establish an unshakeable foundation in the principles and concepts fundamental to your growth within your disciplines of choice. Many majors also enable you to specialize further within the broader area of study.

Core Courses

Core Courses

We aim to help you develop a range of skills, capacities, and modes of inquiry that will be crucial for your future since employers and graduate schools are looking for the critical thinking and innovative problem-solving skills that are associated with a liberal arts education, including sophisticated writing abilities, willingness to pose difficult questions, and an understanding of the historical and cultural contexts surrounding a topic or decision. 

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Each elective provides you with entry to a variety of subject areas which you can choose among to further focus your studies. With the help of your academic advisor, you’ll be able to tailor your major so that it most effectively prepares you for the next step in your academic and professional journey.

See all Major Electives

Core Courses

The Psychology core courses, which you must take as part of the major requirements, will provide you with the tools you’ll need to ground your present and future studies. Your introduction to the fundamentals of Psychology will help pave the way for your successful completion of other Psychology courses.

PY1000 Intro To Psychology

This course discusses the intellectual foundations of contemporary psychology. Students learn about the concepts, theories and experiments basic to an understanding of the discipline, including classic thought and recent advances in psychology such as psychoanalysis, learning theory,biological mechanisms, developmental, social, cognitive, personality and abnormal psychology.

PY2020 Research Methods In Psychology

Students will learn the basics of doing experimental research in psychology, including the ethics of working with human subjects, researching ideas in the scholarly literature, and designing and interpreting research findings. The principles learned here apply in many domains where research is employed to describe and understand persons and social reality. MA1020 is recommended as a prerequisite.

PY2120 Writing The Social World

This class is uniquely tailored to the interdisciplinary focus of students majoring in Psychology and/or Gender, Sexuality, and Society. Juxtaposing different forms of writing, evidence, and rhetorical practices in psychology, the social sciences, and the humanities, students will reflect on methods and writing practices in order to develop an authentic disciplinary voice. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing, EN 1010, and PY 1000 or GS 2006

PY4090 Senior Seminar

The purpose of this class is to challenge advanced psychology students to: practice and improve their skills in reading, critiquing and conducting research; strengthen their ability to effectively communicate their scholarship; clearly define their scholarly interests; and consider their future goals. Students will be given the opportunity to craft a well researched and argued literature review. Involves class discussions, presentations, and a major research proposal or literature review.

PY4095 Senior Project

A Senior Project is an independent study representing a Major Capstone Project that needs to be registered using the Senior Project registration form. (Download:

Fundamental Courses (choose three)

PY2013 Understanding Human Development

The course is an introduction to developmental psychology. From various points of view it explores the key question What is, and how can we understand, human development? It engages with central issues of developmental psychology (among others, through the work of influential psychologists such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, E. Erikson, Jerome Bruner, Katherine Nelson, Peggy J. Miller, and Michael Tomasello) and puts them into cross- and interdisciplinary contexts. These contexts include evolutionary theory; cultural and sociocultural, narrative, and critical psychology; history; anthropology; and philosophy. Beyond the scientific and conceptual domain, the course also investigates phenomena of human development in literature, arts, and film. PY1000 is strongly recommended as a prerequisite.


PY2022 Personality & Individual Differences

Personality addresses central psychological questions on how persons think, feel and act. This course provides students with a solid foundation in the basics of theory and research in personality psychology. Students will be introduced to classic and contemporary perspectives in the field, continuing controversies and debates and the rationale and techniques for personality assessment. PY1000 is recommended as a prerequisite.


PY2043 Abnormal & Clinical Psychology

This course is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of the field of abnormal and clinical psychology, including the history and classification systems employed in understanding different forms of psychological disorders. It will cover the etiology, symptoms, and treatments of major psychological disorders, including anxiety, trauma, dissociative, mood, somatoform, eating, schizophrenia, personality and substance-related disorders. The course proposes to explore the intricate interplay of biological, psychological and social factors in the development, maintenance and treatment of psychopathology in the individual.


PY2044 Clinical Theories

This course will provide an introduction to theories of personality and counseling, including psychodynamic, humanistic, cognitive, behavioral, and family systems approaches. Theories will be examined in relation to their key concepts, view of human nature, therapeutic processes, techniques and procedures. Theories will be critiqued and compared, with special emphasis on the application of cultural and ethical issues


PY2045 Social Psychology

Studies the nature and causes of individual behavior and thought in social situations. Presents the basic fields of study that compose the science of social psychology, and how its theories impact on most aspects of people's lives. Topics of study include: conformity, persuasion, mass communication, propaganda, aggression, attraction, prejudice, and altruism.


PY2046 Cultural Psychology

Human beings are cultural beings. We cannot understand human nature without understanding its cultural fabric. We cannot understand ourselves and our being in the world without understanding this world as a cultural world, in fact, as consisting of multiple cultural worlds in which we live at the same time. In this course, we inquire why the cultural dimension is crucial for human psychology. To this purpose, we explore a number of cultural worlds, Western and non-Western. We also investigate various psychological functions such as thinking and consciousness, remembering and memory, and self-construction and identity. And we look at different cultural sign and symbol systems such as language, art, literature, and film. In this way, the course also offers the opportunity to think about our own cultural existence and the way we view ourselves and others.


PY2055 Brain And Behavior

This course provides students with knowledge of the central nervous system of humans and an understanding of its contributions to various psychological functions. An emphasis will be on applying this knowledge to various diseases, disorders, and injuries. A further focus will be on how individuals who are affected understand their neurological changes and how they cope with them. Additional topics may include the mechanics of basic biological functioning in behaviors such as emotions, sleep and sexual behavior.


PY2075 Cognitive Psychology

This course introduces students to the basic aspects of human cognition. How do humans think? How do we come to know the world? The course will concentrate on the classic topics in adult cognition: pattern recognition, memory, attention, categorization, problem-solving, reasoning, and decision-making. Special emphasis will be placed on cross-cultural aspects of cognition.