Preclinical Psychology Certificate Program

The Preclinical Psychology post-baccalaureate certificate program consists of nine psychology courses required for application to most graduate programs awarding either the doctor of psychology in clinical psychology (PsyD) or the doctor of philosophy in clinical psychology (PhD). While this program meets minimal requirements for application to clinical psychology graduate programs in the Chicago area, students are strongly advised to confirm the admission requirements of the graduate schools in which they are interested before enrolling to ensure that the SPS program will fulfill their needs. Students who need only some of these courses may meet with an advisor to discuss the Advanced Studies in Psychology certificate program or design a customized certificate, or consider courses as a Student-at-large. Please note that these options are not eligible for financial aid. 



About the Preclinical Psychology Certificate Program

Preclinical Psychology Required Courses

All of the following courses are required:
  • PSYCH 110 Introduction to Psychology
  • PSYCH 201 Statistical Methods in Psychology
  • PSYCH 205 Research Methods in Psychology
  • PSYCH 215 Psychology of Personality
  • PSYCH 228 Cognitive Psychology
  • PSYCH 244 Developmental Psychology (was PSYCH 218)
  • PSYCH 303 Psychopathology
  • PSYCH 306 Introduction to Clinical Psychology
  • PSYCH 369 Psychological Tests & Measures (was PSYCH 375)

In addition to the program requirements, students have the option to take any of the courses offered at SPS to fulfill prerequisites. Elective courses are NOT eligible for financial aid, based upon federal financial aid requirements.

View Preclinical Psychology Courses

Transfer Credit Policy for Preclinical Psychology

Students in the Preclinical Psychology post-baccalaureate certificate program may transfer up to six semester hours, or nine quarter hours of academic credit. A transcript and grade of B or better are required for transferred courses in the program. Courses audited or taken with the pass/no credit option cannot be applied toward a certificate program. Courses earned for a bachelor's degree at SPS may not be applied retroactively toward certificate requirements. Required courses that have been completed in the past two years by students-at-large may be applied toward the completion of a certificate, subject to the approval of the admissions committee, and provided admission requirements for the program are met. All transfer credit must be approved before a student begins his or her course work at SPS.

Preclinical Psychology Tuition

Post-baccalaureate students at Northwestern's School of Professional Studies pay per course. For more information about financial obligations and tuition, please visit the Tuition page.

Admission for Preclinical Psychology

In addition to completing an online application, you'll also need to submit a few supplemental materials. A list of requirements for admission including application deadlines and tips on how to apply can be found on the Admission page.

Preclinical Psychology Registration Information

Whether you're a first-time registrant or current and returning student, all students register using our online student registration and records systems. Important information about registering for courses at SPS, including registration timelines and adding or dropping courses in which you are already enrolled, can be found on the Registration Information page.

Preclinical Psychology Pre-Health Professional Student Group

Learn how students support one another through forums, resources and social networks on the Preclinical Psychology Pre-Health Professional Student Group page.

Find out more about the Preclinical Psychology Program

Program Courses:Course Detail
Intro to Psychology <> PSYCH 110-CN

Psychology is a science that seeks to answer a wide range of questions about how we think, feel, act and interact with others. This course will give a broad overview of the entire field of psychology, which students will learn about through in-class demonstrations, outside observations, discussions, and presentations. We will explore human behavior from a biological, psychological and socio-cultural perspective. We will discuss the history of psychology beginning with an overview of psychology's roots, observing how prevailing paradigms have shifted throughout the centuries. We'll then discuss how to think like a social scientist, with an attitude of open mindedness and skepticism, as we observe people in different social settings. Discussion will include the tools and methods that are used by social scientists to formulate their questions and propose answers. With the tools of neuroscience we will explore the biological underpinnings of mind and emotions and how they influence behavior. We will seek to understand and have empathy with individuals suffering from psychological disorders ranging from mild depression to severe psychosis. Discussion will cover ways to diagnose psychopathology and therapies that have been proposed to heal such internal suffering. Practical skills for coping with stress and emotions will also be explored. Finally, we try to uncover group dynamics that can give rise to pathological and sometimes destructive behavior as that observed in cults. The course will conclude with a theme of malleability that challenges assumptions about how we perceive, remember and think. Carries social science credit.


View PSYCH 110-CN Sections
Intro to Psychology <> PSYCH 110-CN

The purpose of this course is to present an overview of the field of psychology. Among the topics we will cover are: history of the field, methods in psychological research, biological bases of behavior, perception, learning, memory, motivation, emotion, social influences on behavior, and psychological disorders. Class lectures, readings, and discussions will convey a sense of some of the foundational questions and methods of the science of psychology. Ultimately, the goal of this course is to impart an initial understanding of some fundamentals of human nature and behavior, as well as instill a deeper appreciation for the science of psychology. The class will have weekly quizzes and a comprehensive final exam. Carries social science credit.

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Statistical Methods in Psychology <> PSYCH 201-CN

This course explores techniques for describing the real world with numbers and for making educated guesses about how the world works by manipulating these numbers. Students acquire a knowledge of how to execute statistical tests, but more importantly when and why to execute these tests. Emphasis is placed on understanding and interpreting data as well as on techniques of statistical analysis. A secondary goal of this course is to provide a framework from which to think critically about statistical evidence presented in the media and research reports from journals in psychology. Classes will consist of lecture and problem-based group work. The assessments include in-class quizzes, exams, a series of in-class "team" problem sets, take home problem sets, and a short paper analyzing the use of statistical information in the media. May not be audited. Carries social science or science credit. Prerequisites: PSYCH 110 and high school algebra.

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Research Methods in Psychology <> PSYCH 205-CN

In this course, we will explore research methods in psychology by actively engaging in the research process ourselves. From gaining expertise in a specific scientific literature, to formulating an original idea, designing rigorous studies and analyses, writing a formal scientific manuscript, and presenting your ideas in a conference-style format, you will learn how researchers engage with ideas, data, and one another. Each week we will employ a new skill in this process, by discussing the relevant content, practicing it in action, and directly applying that learning to your individual term projects. The successful student of this course will emerge with fluency in the mechanics of research methodology as well as the critical thinking necessary to be a capable producer and consumer of psychological science.

May not be audited. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 201.

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Psychology of Personality <> PSYCH 215-CN

This course will provide a summary of the research on personality, or the many factors that make individuals unique and different from one another. People can be unique in a variety of ways—in terms of their traits, values, motivations, or the stories they tell about their lives. This course will provide a brief introduction to each of these areas of personality, where they come from, and why they matter. Carries science or social science credit.

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Cognitive Psychology <> PSYCH 228-CN

Introduction to research into mental processes such as memory, reasoning, problem solving, and decision making. Carries science or social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

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Developmental Psychology <> PSYCH 244-CN

This course introduces the study of human development throughout the lifespan, from conception to death. This course explores developmental theory and research with an emphasis on the interactive nature of biological, cognitive and psychosocial changes that affect each individual during childhood, adolescence, adulthood and old age. Specific topics discussed include prenatal development, genetics, developmental milestones, intelligence, language acquisition, temperament and attachment, parent-child influences, sibling relationships, emerging personality traits, peer relations and problems of social development, emotional regulation, morality and aggression, vocation and career, life satisfaction, and mortality. Lectures will draw from real-world examples, fictional depictions of development throughout the lifespan, and clinical case studies. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

This course was formerly PSYCH 218 Developmental Psychology.

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Psychopathology <> PSYCH 303-CN

This course will provide an introduction to the major categories of maladaptive behavior/psychological distress and related research findings. Goals/topics include encouraging thoughtful and critical evaluation of the DSM and other systems of classification, exploring etiological theories and how these views have changed in recent history, developing critical thinking skills through the study of several controversial issues in abnormal psychology, and emphasizing the human face of psychological distress through case studies, readings, and videos. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

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Intro to Clinical Psychology <> PSYCH 306-CN

This course introduces major concepts and methods of clinical psychology. The course emphasizes four main areas relevant to clinical psychology: (1) fundamentals of clinical psychology with some discussion of the history of the field, (2) psychological assessment, (3) psychotherapy, and (4) research that has been used to investigate the efficacy of interventions in clinical psychology. Ethical issues as they relate to the field are also be considered. Course requirements include an annotated bibliography and research paper, two essay exams, and class attendance and participation. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent. Completion of PSYCH 303 is recommended for students enrolled in PSYCH 306, but not required.

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Psychological Tests & Measures PSYCH 369-CN

This course explores the science of psychological assessment, including its history, test construction and evaluation, and common measures of personality, psychopathology, and ability. Students create and evaluate their own psychological measures. Carries social science credit. Prerequisite: PSYCH 110 or equivalent.

This course was formerly PSYCH 375 Psychological Tests and Measures.

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