The College of New Jersey Logo

Apply     Visit     Give     |     Alumni     Parents     Offices     TCNJ Today     Three Bar Menu

Becoming a Psychology Major

Is Psychology the Major for you?

A core component of the Psychology Department’s Strategic Plan is the teaching of Psychology as a science.  Compared to other schools, our curriculum is one of the most rigorous, as students are required to take three courses (PSY 121, PSY 203, and PSY 299) that involve statistics and research methodology.  Many students (42%) also choose a 400-level course with a research emphasis and also choose 300 level courses with lab/research components.  Strong quantitative skills, critical reasoning and writing are necessary for success in this major and discipline.

All students will be held to the entrance criteria that were in place at the time of their admittance as majors.

Students are further advised to familiarize themselves with the existing retention policies of The College and the Psychology Department.

  • The psychology major requires a minimum of 5 semesters to complete our methodological core, which contains sequenced courses (PSY 101, PSY 121, PSY 203, PSY 299, and PSY 4**), with each serving as the prerequisite for the next. Students must achieve a minimum grade to advance to the next core course (As of the fall 2021 semester, all courses taken towards the Psychology major require a minimum grade of C-).
  • If you have not met the minimum grade requirement for a course that is to be counted towards your PSY major, you may repeat a course only once (repeating more than once would require the Chair’s or Associate Chair’s approval PRIOR to taking the course). If the course is not required in the major, it may be able to count as an elective despite a grade below C-.

Students who do not meet grade minimums in courses required for the major may be dismissed from the major. To read the full policy on grade minimums, click here.

If you have questions about the application process, direct them to the Psychology Department Admissions Committee (

Important Information for Non-Majors

  • All majors must complete these five core courses in succession: PSY101, PSY121, PSY203, PSY299, and PSY4** (there may be “gap” semesters between them)
  • If you are not yet accepted into the major and would like to take PSY 121, you may register for the sections not restricted to majors. Also, if there are seats available after registration, you can request to be added to an open section by sending your PAWS ID number and the section number you want to the chair or associate chair to be considered for that class. Beginning in the fall 2021 semester, students must earn grades of a C- or better in PSY101 and PSY121.
  • Students cannot register for PSY 203 until they are accepted into the major.
  • Students can take foundation (200 level) courses or upper-level courses in the same semester as core courses if prerequisites are met.

If you’d like to meet with someone from the psychology department to discuss entering into the psychology major, email Assistant Chair, Dr. Jessica Barnack-Tavlaris ( to set up a meeting.

Applying to be a Psychology Major: Freshmen Entering as Psychology Majors

If you’ve been accepted to TCNJ as a psychology major, there is no additional application process. You’re in!

Applying to be a Psychology Major: Entering Major from Another Institution (External Transfer)

Follow the TCNJ application process. See the TCNJ admissions website for more information.

Applying to be a Psychology Major: Entering Major from Different Major at TCNJ (Internal Transfer) OR Adding a Second Major in Psychology

The Psychology Department has an application process, and students can apply twice a year-in September and February. To apply, please follow the application process as outlined below:

  1. Plan ahead! The fall 2024 internal transfer application cycle will be open from September 10th- September 22nd. (See link in #3 below) Late applications, regardless of reason, will not be considered.
  2. Make sure you have the pre-requisites completed:
    Prerequisite 1: C- or higher grade in PSY 101 at TCNJ (or equivalent course, if completed elsewhere) or a 4 or higher score on the AP exam. NOTE: A student who has not yet met the PSY 101 prerequisite may still apply to the PSY major. In this case, if accepted, this student will be designated as a PSY pre-major* until the PSY 101 prerequisite is met. *PSY pre-majors are converted into majors upon receipt of final PSY 101 grades provided that the C- grade minimum is met.
    Prerequisite 2: Essay: Complete a 400-800 word essay describing your past preparation and future plan for success in Psychology.  In your description, please make sure to include all of following elements:

    1. Describe any past coursework in social sciences, physical sciences, or math/statistics and how this coursework has helped you prepare to succeed in psychology.
    2. Describe any past non-classroom experiences in any of the sciences (e.g., volunteer work, internship, research experience) and how these experiences have helped you prepare to succeed in psychology.
    3. Describe your plan for successfully completing the psychology major, with attention to how you expect to complete all necessary coursework given your current class rank. For example, if you are currently a second-semester junior, you might include plans for taking courses over the summer or taking a fifth year in order to complete the necessary coursework.
    4. Discuss why, given your interests and plans, Psychology would be a good major for you.
  3. Apply online. The PSY internal transfer application for the spring 2024 cycle is now closed. The next application cycle will be in fall 2024 – Sept., 10-22, 2024. Make sure you read the information below about the online application in order to prepare.

Information about the Online Application

  • In the File Upload portion you must upload a completed Change of Major form and you must upload your unofficial TCNJ transcript (available as pdf file in PAWS).  Both the transcript and the change of major form must be submitted as pdf forms. Submissions of forms that are not pdf forms will not be accepted by the Admissions Committee, and your application will be considered incomplete. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.
  • The Change of Major form must be typed. The Change of Major Form linked on this website contains fields that can be completed electronically. It is recommended that you have both the transcript and change of major form ready for upload before you begin the online application. The chair of the Psychology Department does NOT need to sign the form before you submit your application.
  • If you have any trouble with the online application, immediately contact Dr. Jessica Barnack-Tavlaris (, who will work with you.
  • Complete applications between September 10thSeptember 22nd for spring registration and between February 10th-February 22nd for fall registration.
  • Apply online! The application link for the spring 2024 cycle is active from 2/10-2/22.  Make sure you read the information below about the online application in order to prepare.

You’ve Submitted Your Application: Now What?

  • Timeline: The review process begins once the application deadline has passed. Depending on the number of applications, it may take 1-2 weeks to complete this process. Students will be notified as soon as possible (via email) well in advance of the next registration cycle so that they may plan accordingly.
  • If you are Accepted: The department will forward your Change of Major form to Records and Registration so that PAWS can be updated. Students who are accepted into the Psychology major will be assigned a psychology faculty advisor which will also appear on PAWS.  For the first registration cycle, new majors will have a hold placed on PAWS restricting registration until they have met with their advisor.
  • If you are not Accepted: Students who are not accepted are welcome to re-apply in the next semester. Additional information is helpful in a re-application and could include confirmation of the major prerequisite (PSY 101 (or equivalent) grade of C- or better, or AP score of 4 or better), additional coursework, relevant experiences.

If you have questions about the application process, direct them to the Psychology Department Admissions Committee (