Students have the option to apply for the minor in Critical Psychology. Critical Psychology is the intersection of psychology, social justice, and critical theory. Students explore values and assumptions of psychology that have served to reinforce and maintain oppressive systems, while also envisioning ways to transform the field.

Course of Study for Minor in Critical Psychology - Total (46 Units)

Semester (Fall Start Only)

Core Curriculum (28 Units)

1st Semester (Fall) BIS 1211 Modern Perspectives (4)
BIS 1212 Integral Learning (4)
BIS 1213 Self and Society (4)
2nd Semester (Spring) BIS 1221 Culture and Community (4)
BIS 1222 Knowledge and Inquiry (4)
3rd Semester (Summer) BIS 1231 Global Studies (4)
BIS 1232 Social Change (4)

Curriculum for Minor (14 Units)

1st Semester (Fall) BIS 1409 Introduction to Critical Psychology (3)
2nd Semester (Spring) BIS 1028 Research Methods and Data Analysis (3)
BIS 1415 Critical Psychology Research and Writing (4)
3rd Semester (Summer) BIS 1995 Critical Psychology Senior Project (4)

Electives for Minor (Minimum 4 Units)

1st Semester (Fall)

2nd Semester (Spring)

3rd Semester (Summer)
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)

Learning Outcomes 

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.

Skillset and Themes

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.

Prerequisites for Minor in Criticial 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:

  • General or introductory psychology (3 units)
  • Second psychology course (3 units)
  • Third psychology course or sociology or anthropology course (3 units)

Requirements must be met before the student's entry into the program.

Testimonies from Critical Pyschology Alums

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."

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