SAMPLE PRE-CLINICAL PATHS IN PSYCHOLOGY

The psychology concentration is an ideal one if you are planning a career in clinical psychology. There are many pathways in which you can do clinical work including doctoral degrees in clinical psychology (PhD or PsyD), medical school (psychiatry or clinical neuropsychology), and masters level degrees (social work, counseling psychology). The psychology concentration has two main types of typical pre-clinical paths, General (regular and thesis option) and Life Sciences (regular and thesis option) which are displayed here (although students could complete the MBB track as well). The paths below are designed for students who are pursuing admission to highly competitive doctoral clinical psychology graduate programs. The thesis honors path is not necessary for admission to a doctoral clinical graduate program, but it does strengthen an application. A thesis in psychopathology is also an advantage, but not necessary; it is very difficult for an undergraduate to gain access to patient populations, and a thesis in a related area of psychology can be just as impressive. For example, you could do a psychopharmacological study with rats that has implications for treatment or study a phenomenon in an experimental psychology lab that might be applicable in a clinical population, such as decision-making, social functioning, or memory. If you plan to attend medical school, you may also be interested in the pre-medical paths if you want to pursue psychiatry or clinical neuropsychology. And some general clinical careers may not require so detailed a preparation as outlined below. The strongest course preparation for a strong clinical psychology graduate program is gaining a broad foundation in psychology and gaining research methods experience through courses such as statistics and methods as well as experience working in a research laboratory. Most clinical psychology programs will expect students to have taken introductory psychology, statistics, research methods, and courses from several different areas of psychology, such as abnormal psychology, biological psychology/neuroscience, cognition, social/personality, and development. In our department, taking several foundational level courses is a good way to prepare, and is much better than taking several advanced courses focusing on psychopathology.  Additional coursework in biology, such as neurobiology or genetics and math or statistics can make for an especially strong application.  There are a number of acceptable variations to the following paths.

The paths below do not include pre-med requirements, but because the order in which these courses should be taken is important, you should consult a pre-med adviser as you develop variations on the sample paths. These alternatives may involve a different selection of advanced courses (AC). The categories are given in parentheses below, and other courses that will fulfill these requirements are listed at the end of this section. These lists vary from year to year; each year some courses are bracketed, and some require the instructor's permission to enroll.

YEAR GENERAL PRE-CLINICAL PATH
twelve half-courses
(6 advanced courses)
THESIS OPTION GENERAL PRE-CLINICAL PATH
fourteen half-courses
(5 advanced courses)
THESIS OPTION LIFE SCIENCES PRE-CLINICAL PATH
fourteen half-courses
(2 advanced courses)
First-year Science of Living Systems 20, Psychological Science
Psy 18, Abnormal Psychology (F)
Science of Living Systems 20, Psychological Science
Psy 18, Abnormal Psychology (F)
Science of Living Systems 20, Psychological Science
*Life Sciences 1a, An Integrated Intro to the Life Sciences:  Chemistry, Molecular Biology, and Cell Biology (LS) or LPS A, Life and Physical Sciences A. Foundational Chemistry and Biology
*Life Sciences 1b, An Integrated Introduction to the Life Sciences: Genetics, Genomics, and Evolution
(
LS)
Sophomore Psy 971, Sophomore Tutorial
Psy 1900, Intro to Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (BM) 
MCB 80, Behavioral Neuroscience (AC)
Psy 2446r, Clinical Research Laboratory (AC)
Psy 971, Sophomore Tutorial
Psy 1900, Intro to Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (BM) 
MCB 80, Behavioral Neuroscience (AC)
**Psy 1652r, Lab in Early Cognitive Development (RM)
Psy 1861, Developmental Psychopathology (AC)
Psy 975, Sophomore Tutorial
Psy 1900, Intro to Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (BM) 
***MCB 80, Behavioral Neuroscience (F)
**Psy 2461r, Lab for Clinical and Developmental Research (RM)
***Psy 18, Abnormal Psychology (F)
Junior

Psy 13, Cognitive Psychology (F)
Psy 1801, Anxiety Disorders (AC)
Psy 1803, Vulnerability, Stress, and Mental Health
(AC)
Psy 1901, Methods of Behavioral Research (RM)

Psy 1901, Methods of Behavioral Research (RM)
Psy 15, Social Psychology (F)
Psy 985 Pre-thesis Tutorial (AC)
Psy 1854, Schizophrenia: Seminar (AC)

Psy 1901, Methods of Behavioral Research (RM)
Psy 1861, Developmental Psychopathology (AC)
Math 19a, Modeling and Differential Equations (LS)
Senior Psy 15, Social Psychology (AC)
Psy 1861, Developmental Psychopathology (AC)
 
Psy 990, Senior Tutorial: Honors Thesis, full course
Psy 1853, Self-Destructive Behaviors (AC)
Psy 993, Senior Tutorial: Honors Thesis, full course
Psy 1853, Self-Destructive Behaviors (AC)
Key

Bold = Intro, Tutorials, Methods
F = Foundational Course
BM = Basic Methods

RM = Research Methods
AC = Advanced Course
LS = Life Sciences Tracks

** Thesis candidates must take a lab course from the approved list * The Life Sciences Tracks require 3 LS courses, includes LS 1a and/or 1b
** Thesis candidates must take a lab course from the approved list
***two Foundational courses required, one must be MCB 80 OR Psy 14
Pre-clinical courses to be taken outside concentration

additional biology: 1 semester (optional)
     (for some medical schools)
calculus: 1 semester
inorganic chemistry: 1 or 2 semesters
organic chemistry: 2 semesters, (optional)
     (for some medical schools)
physics: 2 semesters

additional biology: 1 semester (optional)
        (for some medical schools))
calculus: 1 semester
inorganic chemistry: 1 or 2 semesters
organic chemistry: 2 semesters, (optional)
       (for some medical schools)
physics: 2 semesters
additional biology: 1 semester (optional)
        (for some medical schools))
calculus: 1 semester
inorganic chemistry: 1or 2 semesters
organic chemistry: 2 semesters, (optional)
       (for some medical schools)
physics: 2 semesters

© by the President and Fellows of Harvard College
Last updated 28 July, 2014