Bachelor of Arts Completion Program

Minor in Critical Psychology

Minor in Critical Psychology

The School of Undergraduate Studies offers a minor in Critical Psychology. Students will still earn a Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies but have the option of selecting the minor to deepen their studies and skills in this area.

About Critical Psychology

Critical psychology explores critical perspectives within psychology. It examines the values and assumptions in the field, and highlights the ways in which mainstream psychology has reinforced unjust practices, impacting people in general, and historically marginalized groups in particular. Traditional psychology has historically stopped with its analysis at the level of the person. Any discussion of society is generally related to the individual's functioning in society or how they are affected by society. Critical psychology aims the spotlight away from the individual, to a broader view of the role of systems in designinating what is considered normal/abnormal. It draws heavily from a multifaceted analysis that takes into consideration: society, systems of power, environment, and the role of communities in healing.

Skillset and Themes for Minor in Critical Psychology

Students will acquire the knowledge as well as the theoretical and practical skills that prepare them for graduate school, community engagement, and/or activist work. Some critical psychology themes students will explore include: history of psychology, liberatory practices for well-being, transformative social action, impact of modernity on psyche, decolonizing research methodologies, integral approaches, and the politics of a science of people.

Course of Study for Minor in Critical Psychology (applies to students starting in Fall 2013)

(fall start only)
Core Curriculum
(28 units)
Curriculum for Minor
(14 units)
Electives for Minor
(minimum 4 units)
(46 units)
1st Semester
BIS 1211 Modern Perspectives (4)
BIS 1212 Integral Learning (4)
BIS 1213 Self and Society (4)
BIS 1409 Introduction to Critical Psychology (3) BIS 1400 Lifespan Development (3)
BIS 1412 Counseling Skills (1)
BIS 1420 Restorative Justice (3)
BIS 1450 Cross-Cultural Psychology (3)
BIS 1455 Ecopsychology (2)
BIS 1580 Dialogue & Community Development (1)
BIS 2222 Critical Perspectives on Autism & Neurodiversity (2)
2nd Semester
BIS 1221 Culture and Community (4)
BIS 1222 Knowledge and Inquiry (4)                  
BIS 1028 Research Methods and Data Analysis (3)
BIS 1415 Critical Psychology
Research and Writing (4)
3rd Semester
BIS 1231 Global Studies (4)
BIS 1232 Social Change (4)
BIS 1995 Critical Psychology Senior Project (4) 12+


Learning Outcomes for Minor in Critical Psychology

Students will:

Develop a critical orientation towards psychological knowledge and practice that influences how they think about theory, context, and the practice of psychology.

Elaborate on how mainstream psychology works as a powerful way to depoliticize the experience of knowing one's self as a powerful form of subjectivity.

Explain the ideological and political ramifications of psychological research and practices.

Develop skills and participate in research using mainstream, feminist, and decolonizing methodologies.

Explore ways to engage in psychologies of liberation, one that transforms oppressive conditions and existences.

Develop integral approaches to understanding, relating to, and practicing psychology.

Produce a culminating project equivalent to an action-based Senior Capstone that integrates or synthesizes what they have learned in the program and concentration.

Application Prerequisites for Minor in Critical Psychology

The minor in Critical Psychology has additional application prerequisites:

  • Student must have taken the following 3 courses in the last 7 years with a grade of 'B' or better:
  1. General or introductory psychology (3 units)
  2. Second psychology course (3 units)
  3. Third psychology course or sociology or anthropology course (3 units)
  • Requirements must be met before the student's entry into the program.

Testimony by Critical Psychology Students

The students in the first Critical Psychology group brought a variety of backgrounds and talents to the program.

Rachel Matillano participated in progressive movements in the Philippines in the 1980s. After emigrating to the U.S. in 1993, she became involved in Filipino American community issues. She has worked in HIV services for Asians and Pacific Islanders, mental health and substance abuse services, and public policy advocacy on these issues locally and nationally. "In the human services, activism, and social justice work I've been involved in," Matillano describes, "it feels like there's a voice that time and again says, 'There's got to be a different way of looking at social issues and realities, of understanding and changing these.' Now I have a name for that voice: it's critical psychology. It's now become nearly an insatiable thirst for me to learn and practice more critical psychology."

David Richardson has also found it a dynamic experience to be part of the first group of students: "The level of engagement in our cohort around heavy topics like oppression and colonization is stimulating due to everyone's vulnerability. I find comfort in connecting through art and creative expression, which translates into a deeper connection to the rich diversity in our cohort." Richardson is an electro-hop rapper, music producer, DJ, and musician ("I play drums and keys," he says.) Since moving to San Francisco from Baltimore five years ago, he's been active in the queer community. "I have a huge desire to create safe spaces for queer youth to be together, as well as to help them through the creative arts."

Nakisha Rice was also a student in the first cohort. She does volunteer work with prisoners. "Critical psychology is liberating," she says. "I'm now bringing this critical perspectives to my social justice work with prisoners."