High School Classes to Take for Psychology

high school students working at their desks at school

Don Mason / Getty Images

What classes should people take in high school if they plan to major in psychology during college? Psychology classes would be ideal, of course, but many U.S. high schools only offer one or maybe two such courses — if they offer them at all. The reality is that the first exposure most students have to psychology is when they take Psych 101 during their first year of college.

If you are thinking about majoring in psychology when you get to college, it is a good idea to start preparing as soon as possible. Taking specific high school courses can help you succeed in your college-level psychology classes. Just because your high school has a limited selection of psychology classes does not mean that you'll be shortchanged on your academic preparation for college.

Which Classes Should You Take Now?

Generally, you should focus on building a solid background in science and math while you are in high school. Excellent writing and communication skills are also essential, so English and speech courses can also be beneficial.

In order to get a better idea of what high school classes you should take, schedule an appointment with your guidance counselor to discuss your academic plans. Your counselor can offer further advice on which courses might help you reach your goals.

Browse through program catalogs or look at the course requirements of psychology programs online in order to learn more about the classes you will have to take in college.

Consider taking some of the following courses while you're in high school:

  • Algebra and statistics: Statistics play a vital role in research, and nearly all psychology programs require at least one statistics course. High school math classes help you prepare for the demands of college. These courses will help you learn more about concepts including independent and dependent variables, exponents, probability, and graphs.
  • AP Psychology: If your high school offers an AP Psychology course, then you should take advantage of this great opportunity. Not only does this course provide a great introduction to psychology, but it may also allow you the chance to earn college credits that will give you a head start on your degree.
  • Biology: Psychology and biology have a great deal in common, so taking high school biology courses can be very helpful. During your university studies, you will cover topics such as cell biology, human anatomy, brain anatomy, genetics, and evolution — topics all covered in high school biology courses.
  • English/writing/speech: Psychology students are expected to communicate effectively, both in verbal speech and in writing. Taking writing and speech courses in high school is a good way to develop solid communication skills that will be very useful later on.
  • Social sciences: Many university psychology programs recommend that high school students take plenty of social science courses including economics, history, government, geography, and sociology. These courses help increase your general knowledge base and help you develop critical thinking skills for your academic and professional career.

Final Thoughts

Even if your high school does not offer psychology classes, there are still plenty of courses you can take that will help you later on in college. Psychology majors need a solid background in topics such as life science, social science, math, and communication. Concentrating your studies on such topics during high school will help give you the knowledge you need to succeed as a psychology major.

Was this page helpful?
1 Source
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Psychological Association. Enrollment data.