Psychology Courses in General Education

Psychology Courses in the Gen Ed Transition for 2019-20 (Updated Fall 2018)

Gen Ed is offering greater flexibility to students during the transition to the new requirements that begin in Fall 2019. Please see here for details of the flexibility in requirements.

Under the current requirements, some of the Gen Ed categories have been paired...

Students must take one Gen Ed course from each pair. Then, their second course can be from one of the Gen Ed areas in this pair or may substitute a departmental course from that area. Here is information on what counts as a Departmental Substitution toward Gen Ed requirements. 

Although Gen Ed makes the official determination, below is a breakdown of how certain psychology courses will count for Gen Ed if taken in 2018-19.

Psychology Courses that Count for the Current 8 Gen Ed Area Requirements

  • Science of Living Systems 20, Psychological Science (Gilbert, Pinker or Mitchell) will count as Science of Living Systems.
  • Psychology 15, Social Psychology (Cushman) will count as Science of Living Systems.
  • Psychology 1900, Introduction to Statistics for the Behavioral Sciences (Mair or Rusch) will count as Empirical and Mathematical Reasoning.
  • Psychology 1002, Evolving Morality: From Primordial Soup to Superintelligent Machines (Greene) will count as Ethical Reasoning.

How Psychology Courses Count toward Departmental Substitutions in Current Gen Ed Requirements

  • All courses with Psychology (PSY) as their department (e.g., PSY 14, PSY 15, PSY 18, PSY 1002, PSY 1503, etc.), if taken in in Fall 2018 or Spring 2019, fall into one of two divisional distribution categories that can be used for Departmental Substitutions.
  • Courses in the Social Sciences divisional distribution can be used to fulfill SW/USW, provided students take a course already approved for SW/USW.
  • Courses in the Science & Engineering & Applied Science divisional distribution can be used to fulfill SLS/SPU, provided students take a course already approved for SLS/SPU.
  • To see whether a specific course helps fulfill SW/USW or SLS/SPU, search for the course on my.harvard and check the “divisional distribution” section of the course information, as shown here:

MyHarvard Divisional Tag

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Courses can only count once for Gen Ed. That means that a course that normally counts as a Gen Ed cannot also be used to count as a divisional course. For example, Psychology 15 can either count for SLS or be used as a departmental substitution for the social sciences, not both.
  • Courses taken in 2018-19 do not need to be petitioned to count as described above. Gen Ed will automatically count them in their next round of Advising Report updates.
  • If there is a course on the above lists that you completed before Fall 2018 that has not already been counted in this way on your Advising Report, you can petition Gen Ed to try to have it count. To submit a request, please use the Gen Ed Questions form at
  • If you have any other questions about how particular courses count for Gen Ed, please contact the Gen Ed office at, or visit them during their walk-in office hours (times listed at


Any discrepancies between information on this page and information provided by Gen Ed will be resolved in favor of the Gen Ed policies.