Psychological and Social Sciences, B.A.

Program Code: PSSBA_BA

Program Description

Building on the interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary strengths of Penn State Abington, the Psychological and Social Sciences B.A. is designed to respond to the demand for a program emphasizing the social and behavioral sciences leading to an understanding of human behavior and its influence upon society as well as the influence of social forces on individuals. The program is distinguished by its interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary coursework and required field experience. The B.A. provides a broad theoretical foundation in social and psychological theory as well as the opportunity to engage in supervised field experience. The major offers students a choice of course clusters focused on specialized areas such as social psychology, developmental studies, organizational behavior and leadership, bio-behavior and diversity, and counseling. The major is designed to prepare students for a variety of career fields including human resources, business administration, mental health, and social work as well as for continued study in graduate or professional school.

What is Psychological and Social Sciences?

Psychological and Social Sciences fosters an understanding of human behavior and its influence on society as well as the impact of social forces on individuals. It includes the disciplines of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and human development and family studies.

You Might Like This Program If...

  • You are curious about people’s behavior.
  • You are interested in knowing why people behave the way they do.
  • You possess a keen interest in how culture and society impact individuals.
  • You are a critical thinker and want to develop strong research and communication skills.
  • You are interested in a career in mental health or counseling, market research, consulting, occupational therapy, or research oriented careers.
  • You want to go to graduate school (Masters or Ph.D. level).


Entrance to Major

In order to be eligible for entrance to this major, a student must:

  1. attain at least a C (2.00) cumulative grade-point average for all courses taken at the University; and
  2. have at least third-semester classification.


Degree Requirements

For the Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychological and Social Sciences, a minimum of 121 credits is required:

Requirement Credits
General Education 45
Electives 5-6
Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements 24
Requirements for the Major 46-47

3 of the 24 credits for Bachelor of Arts Degree Requirements are included in the Requirements for the Major, General Education, or Electives and 0-12 credits are included in Electives if foreign language proficiency is demonstrated by examination.

Requirements for the Major

A grade of C or better is required for all courses in the major. To graduate, a student enrolled in the major must earn at least a C grade in each course designated by the major as a C-required course, as specified by Senate Policy 82-44.

Prescribed Courses
Prescribed Courses: Require a grade of C or better
ANTH 45NCultural Diversity: A Global Perspective Keystone/General Education Course3
PSYCH 100Introductory Psychology Keystone/General Education Course3
PSYCH 200Elementary Statistics in Psychology Keystone/General Education Course4
Additional Courses
Additional Courses: Require a grade of C or better
BBH 301WValues and Ethics in Biobehavioral Health Research and Practice3
or HDFS 301 Values and Ethics in Health and Human Development Professions
HDFS 129Introduction to Human Development and Family Studies Keystone/General Education Course3
or PSYCH 212 Introduction to Developmental Psychology Keystone/General Education Course
HDFS 312WEmpirical Inquiry in Human Development3-4
or PSYCH 301W Basic Research Methods in Psychology
SOC 1Introductory Sociology Keystone/General Education Course3
or SOC 5 Social Problems Keystone/General Education Course
Select 3 credits from the following:3
Internship: Advanced Experience
Supporting Courses and Related Areas 1
Supporting Courses and Related Areas: Require a grade of C or better
Select 6 credits from any HDFS and PSYCH courses on the department approved list6
Select 6 credits from any of the SOC and ANTH courses on the department approved list6
Select 9 credits from any ANTH, HDFS, PSYCH, SOC courses on the department approved list that are not used in the Supporting Courses above9

At least 15 credits must be at the 400-level.

General Education

Connecting career and curiosity, the General Education curriculum provides the opportunity for students to acquire transferable skills necessary to be successful in the future and to thrive while living in interconnected contexts. General Education aids students in developing intellectual curiosity, a strengthened ability to think, and a deeper sense of aesthetic appreciation. These are requirements for all baccalaureate students and are often partially incorporated into the requirements of a program. For additional information, see the General Education Requirements section of the Bulletin and consult your academic adviser.

The keystone symbol Keystone/General Education Course appears next to the title of any course that is designated as a General Education course. Program requirements may also satisfy General Education requirements and vary for each program.

Foundations (grade of C or better is required.)

  • Quantification (GQ): 6 credits
  • Writing and Speaking (GWS): 9 credits

Knowledge Domains

  • Arts (GA): 6 credits
  • Health and Wellness (GHW): 3 credits
  • Humanities (GH): 6 credits
  • Social and Behavioral Sciences (GS): 6 credits
  • Natural Sciences (GN): 9 credits

Integrative Studies (may also complete a Knowledge Domain requirement)

  • Inter-Domain or Approved Linked Courses: 6 credits

University Degree Requirements

First Year Engagement

All students enrolled in a college or the Division of Undergraduate Studies at University Park, and the World Campus are required to take 1 to 3 credits of the First-Year Seminar, as specified by their college First-Year Engagement Plan.

Other Penn State colleges and campuses may require the First-Year Seminar; colleges and campuses that do not require a First-Year Seminar provide students with a first-year engagement experience.

First-year baccalaureate students entering Penn State should consult their academic adviser for these requirements.

Cultures Requirement    

6 credits are required and may satisfy other requirements

  • United States Cultures: 3 credits
  • International Cultures: 3 credits

Writing Across the Curriculum

3 credits required from the college of graduation and likely prescribed as part of major requirements.

Total Minimum Credits

A minimum of 120 degree credits must be earned for a baccalaureate degree. The requirements for some programs may exceed 120 credits. Students should consult with their college or department adviser for information on specific credit requirements.

Quality of Work

Candidates must complete the degree requirements for their major and earn at least a 2.00 grade-point average for all courses completed within their degree program.

Limitations on Source and Time for Credit Acquisition

The college dean or campus chancellor and program faculty may require up to 24 credits of course work in the major to be taken at the location or in the college or program where the degree is earned. Credit used toward degree programs may need to be earned from a particular source or within time constraints (see Senate Policy 83-80). For more information, check the Suggested Academic Plan for your intended program.

B.A. Degree Requirements

Foreign Language (0-12 credits): Student must attain 12th credit level of proficiency in one foreign language. See the Placement Policy for Penn State Foreign Language Courses.

B.A. Fields (9 credits): Humanities, Social and Behavioral Sciences, Arts, Foreign Languages, Natural Sciences, Quantification (may not be taken in the area of the student's primary major; foreign language credits in this category must be in a second foreign language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the first language)

Other Cultures (0-3 credits): Select 3 credits from approved list. Students may count courses in this category in order to meet other major, minor, elective, or General Education requirements, except for the General Education US/IL requirement.​

Program Learning Objectives

  • Critical Thinking and Scientific Reasoning:
    • Understand and utilize the scientific method and basic research methods.
    • Demonstrate critical thinking in the analysis and evaluation of information to distinguish the scientific from the nonscientific.
  • Effective Communication (Writing and Speaking):
    • Communicate social scientific knowledge orally in a clear and accurate manner.
    • Communicate social scientific knowledge in writing in a clear and accurate manner.
  • Ethics and Diversity:
    • Evidence knowledge of and appreciation for cultural diversity and relativity in human experience, and for the complexity of human behavior and interactions.
    • Acquire an ethical lens that applies to concrete professional situations and broader issues in society and culture.
  • Knowledge and Application:
    • Describe key psychological and sociological concepts and theories.
    • Apply concepts and theories to empirical and real life situations.

Academic Advising

The objectives of the university’s academic advising program are to help advisees identify and achieve their academic goals, to promote their intellectual discovery, and to encourage students to take advantage of both in-and out-of class educational opportunities in order that they become self-directed learners and decision makers.

Both advisers and advisees share responsibility for making the advising relationship succeed. By encouraging their advisees to become engaged in their education, to meet their educational goals, and to develop the habit of learning, advisers assume a significant educational role. The advisee's unit of enrollment will provide each advisee with a primary academic adviser, the information needed to plan the chosen program of study, and referrals to other specialized resources.



Michael Bernstein
Associate Professor of Psychology
1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001

Suggested Academic Plan

The suggested academic plan(s) listed on this page are the plan(s) that are in effect during the 2022-23 academic year. To access previous years' suggested academic plans, please visit the archive to view the appropriate Undergraduate Bulletin edition (Note: the archive only contains suggested academic plans beginning with the 2018-19 edition of the Undergraduate Bulletin).

Psychological and Social Sciences, B.A. at Abington Campus

The course series listed below provides only one of the many possible ways to move through this curriculum. The University may make changes in policies, procedures, educational offerings, and requirements at any time. This plan should be used in conjunction with your degree audit (accessible in LionPATH as either an Academic Requirements or What If report). Please consult with a Penn State academic adviser on a regular basis to develop and refine an academic plan that is appropriate for you.

First Year
ENGL 15 or 30H3PSYCH 212 or HDFS 129* 3
PSYCH 100* 3World Language level 24
World Language level 14MATH 21 (Based on Math Placement Test)3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
General Education Course3General Education Course3
 16 16
Second Year
PSYCH 200* 4ANTH 45N* † 3
World Language level 34PSYCH 301W*4
General Education Course3ENGL 202A3
CAS 100A or 100B3SOC 1 or 5*3
 General Education Course3
 14 16
Third Year
HDFS 301*3Elective (US;IL)3
Major Selection 400 level* 13Major Selection any level* 13
General Education Course3Major selection any level* 13
General Education Course3Bachelor of Arts Requirement3
General Education Course (GHW)3Humanities (US;IL)3
 15 15
Fourth Year
Major Selection 400 level* 13XXX 495 Internship* 13
Major Selection 400 level* 13Major Selection 400 level* 13
Bachelor of Arts Requirement3Major Selection 400 level* 13
Elective (OC)3Bachelor of Arts Requirement3
General Education3Elective3
 15 15
Total Credits 122

Course requires a grade of C or better for the major

Course requires a grade of C or better for General Education


Course is an Entrance to Major requirement

Course satisfies General Education and degree requirement

Bachelor of Arts Requirements:

Bachelor of Arts students must take 9 credits in Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) Fields (Humanities; Social and Behavioral Sciences; Arts; World Languages [2nd language or beyond the 12th credit level of proficiency in the 1st]; Natural Sciences; Quantification). The B.A. Fields courses may not be taken in the area of the student’s primary major. See your adviser and the Degree Requirements section of this Bulletin.

Bachelor of Arts students must take 3 credits in Other Cultures.
See your adviser and the full list of courses approved as Other Cultures courses.


 At least 15 of 21 required major selection credits must be at the 400 level.

6-15 credits of major courses are required in courses designated PSYCH and/or HDFS.

6-15 credits of major courses are required in courses designated SOC and/or AHTH.

0-9 credits of major courses are required in courses designated as other Social Sciences from the approved PSS program list.

Advising Notes

PSYCH and/or HDFS courses for Major Requirements:

PSYCH 221, 281, 407, 412, 415, 416, 420, 422, 423, 424, 426, 438, 441, 470, 478, 479, 481, 484, 485, 496B, 497, HD FS 229, 239, 249, 250, 315, 432, 433, 445, 468 

SOC and/or ANTH courses for Major Requirements: 

SOC 003, 030, 035, 103, 109, 110, 309, 403, 405, 406, 409, 416, 429, 430, 455, 456, 462, 471, 497, ANTH 002, 011, 022, 040, 146, 197, 199, 216, 321W, 380, 395, 448, 464 

Other Social Sciences courses for Major Requirements: 

BBH 302, 315, CAS 352, 415, 455, CN ED 404, 407, EDPSY 014, COMM 100N, 120, 411, WMNST 471 

Courses cross-listed with the above may be petitioned to meet the 400-level requirement. 

Career Paths

A bachelor of arts degree in Psychological and Social Sciences is designed to prepare students for a variety of career fields including human resources, business administration, mental health, and social work or continued study in graduate and professional schools.. The Penn State Abington Center for Career & Professional Development supports and serves students in all areas related to career development and preparation including career counseling and coaching, internships, resume creation, interview training, and job search strategies.


With a bachelor of arts degree in Psychological & Social Sciences, you will be prepared for careers in child and geriatric care; counseling, clinical, and social work; education; human resources; marketing/marketing research; occupational therapy; and research.


Opportunities for Graduate Studies

A baccalaureate degree in Psychological and Social Sciences prepares students to earn graduate degrees in a variety of fields or obtain admission to MBA programs and law schools, among other post-graduate opportunities.



1600 Woodland Road
Abington, PA 19001