About admission decisions

How to become a Psychology Major

What are the class sizes of psychology courses?

  • PSYCH 101 (Introductory Psychology) - 250 to 450
  • 200 level content courses (e.g., PSYCH 253 Social Psychology), PSYCH 291 (Introductory Research Methods), and PSYCH 292 (Basic Data Analysis) - 200 to 350
  • 300 level advanced content courses (e.g., PSYCH 354 Interpersonal Relations) - most are in the 40 to 100 range
  • PSYCH 391 (Advanced Data Analysis) - 150 to 180
  • PSYCH 389, 390, 392 to 399 (Advanced Research Methods) - 20 to 25
  • 400 level senior research seminars - 25

Why do psychology Majors take research methods and statistics (data analysis) courses?

Training in the analytic skills of experimental design is a major component of the Honours Psychology Research Intensive Specialization and the Honours BSc Psych plans (PSYCH 291, 292, 389, 390, 391-399, 499A/B/C) and to a lesser degree of the Arts Honours and General Psychology (PSYCH 291 and 292).

Students are trained to address problems of human motivation, memory, social relations, communication, and many other human capacities and dispositions by translating them into solvable empirical problems. This also entails critical evaluation of the bases of claims about human abilities and inclinations.

Can I specialize in any one area of psychology?

You cannot specialize in any of the Psychology areas at the undergraduate level. However, there is flexibility within the degree requirements to choose courses from the subareas of Psychology that interest you. The goal of our undergraduate program is to enable students to develop a comprehensive understanding of the discipline by exploring multiple research areas in Psychology. 

How do I choose between Honours Psychology in the Faculty of Arts (BA) and the Faculty of Science (BSc)?

The decision depends on whether or not you are admissible to both programs and which courses other than psychology you are interested in taking. If most courses other than psychology courses will be in the Faculty of Science, choose Honours BSc Psychology. If you want more flexibility, choose Honours BA Psychology.

See the program descriptions for Honours BA Psychology and Honours BSc Psychology for further details.

When my application for admission to the psychology Major is reviewed, will my grades from previous post-secondary institutions (transfer student) be factored into the admission decision?

The Psychology Department reserves the right to require higher averages for admission for transfer students than current University of Waterloo students. See Psychology Department policies.

If you completed 5.0 units (i.e., 10 term courses) or more at the University of Waterloo, the admission decision will be based on your UWaterloo grades only. If you completed fewer than 5.0 units (i.e., 10 term courses) at UWaterloo, both your UWaterloo grades as well as grades from other secondary institutions will be considered.

I want to pursue graduate studies in psychology. Will it matter whether I have a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree in Honours Psychology?

Psych 499A/B/C (Honours Thesis) is an optional course.

An honours degree in Psychology (BA or BSc) that includes an honours thesis and/or a fourth year senior seminar is typically required for admission to graduate studies in psychology. In order to complete an Honours Thesis and other advanced research courses as an Honours Psychology BA student, you must enroll in the Research Intensive Specialization.

Be sure to choose some psychology courses in the area of Psychology that relates to the area you hope to study at graduate level. 

Courses in the Faculty of Science (e.g., Biology) as well as computer programming will be helpful to those interested in cognitive psychology or cognitive neuroscience at the graduate level.

Graduate schools typically evaluate applicants' preparedness for graduate studies based on the application form, personal statements regarding relevant background for the intended area of study, scores on the Graduate Record Exam, academic standing, letters of recommendation, and the match of interests between the student and the potential faculty supervisor. Some schools may require an interview. See applying to graduate studies in Psychology for further details.

Will those with an Honours degree in Psychology from UWaterloo be given special consideration with respect to admission to graduate studies in psychology at UWaterloo?


However, UWaterloo students have the advantage of networking with faculty throughout their undergraduate studies (see experiences and opportunities). Thus reviewers of applications will be more familiar with the research interests and aptitude for conducting research of UWaterloo students than other applicants.

Normally, you should do the Bachelor's degree and graduate degree at different institutions in order to be exposed to a variety of perspectives. However, it is not uncommon for a small number of alumni to stay at UWaterloo for graduate studies because of a good match between a faculty member's and a student's interests.

How do clinical psychologists, counselling psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and social workers differ in their approaches to helping people with their problems?

See sample careers for the answer.