If you’re fascinated by human behavior and mental processes, you may be considering pursuing psychology in college and as a career. Getting exposure to this social science early on in high school through relevant classes can help prepare you for college psychology coursework.

If you’re short on time, here are some key classes to take: biology, statistics, social sciences like sociology or anthropology, math up through pre-calculus, english and writing electives, and psychology itself if offered.

In this comprehensive 3000 word guide, we’ll explore all the best high school classes to take for building a strong foundation in psychology and developing crucial skills for the field.

Math Courses to Take

When it comes to preparing for a psychology major in high school, taking various math courses can greatly benefit students. Math is an essential part of psychology, as it helps students develop analytical skills and think critically.

Here are some key math courses that can provide a strong foundation for studying psychology:

Algebra 1 and 2 to grasp analytical concepts

Algebra 1 and 2 are fundamental math courses that introduce students to the world of equations, variables, and functions. These courses help students develop analytical thinking skills, which are crucial in psychology.

By understanding algebraic concepts, students can analyze and interpret complex psychological data, making connections between variables and outcomes. This knowledge is essential for conducting research and understanding statistical analyses in psychology.

Geometry for spatial reasoning abilities

Geometry is another math course that can greatly benefit students interested in psychology. This subject focuses on spatial reasoning and visualization, which is important in various areas of psychology.

Understanding geometric principles can help students analyze spatial relationships in psychological experiments or comprehend the layout of brain structures. This knowledge can be particularly useful in fields like cognitive psychology or neuroscience.

Statistics for making data-driven insights

Statistics is a crucial math course for students planning to pursue psychology. It provides the necessary skills to analyze and interpret data, which is a fundamental part of psychological research. Understanding statistical concepts like probability, hypothesis testing, and data analysis enables students to make data-driven insights and draw accurate conclusions from research studies.

Taking a statistics course in high school will give students a head start in understanding the statistical methods widely used in psychology.

Pre-Calculus for advanced math competence

Pre-Calculus is an advanced math course that builds upon the concepts learned in Algebra and Geometry. It covers topics such as trigonometry, logarithms, and exponential functions. While not directly applicable to all areas of psychology, Pre-Calculus provides students with advanced math skills that can be beneficial in specialized branches of psychology, such as mathematical psychology or psychophysics.

Moreover, a strong foundation in Pre-Calculus will prepare students for college-level math courses that may be required for their psychology degree.

Science Classes to Take

When it comes to preparing for a future in psychology, taking science classes in high school can be incredibly beneficial. These classes provide students with a strong foundation in scientific concepts and critical thinking skills. Here are some of the top science classes to consider taking:

Biology for understanding human systems

Biology is a fundamental science class that explores the study of life and living organisms. Taking biology in high school can provide students with a deeper understanding of human systems and how they function.

From the complex workings of the brain to the intricacies of the nervous system, biology can provide valuable insights into the biological basis of psychology.

Chemistry for science basics

Chemistry is another science class that can be highly beneficial for students interested in psychology. It helps students develop a strong understanding of the basic principles of matter and energy. This knowledge can be applied to understanding the chemical processes that occur in the brain and how they influence behavior and mental processes.

Physics for foundational scientific knowledge

While physics may not seem directly related to psychology, it provides students with a solid foundation in scientific principles and critical thinking skills. Physics teaches students how to analyze and solve problems using logical reasoning and mathematical calculations.

These skills are invaluable in psychology, where research and data analysis play a crucial role.

Anatomy for learning about the body

Anatomy is the study of the structure and organization of the body. By taking an anatomy class, students can gain a deeper understanding of the human body and its various systems. This knowledge can be applied to understanding the physiological processes that underlie psychological phenomena.

By taking these science classes in high school, students can build a strong foundation of scientific knowledge that can greatly benefit them in their future psychology studies. These classes provide valuable insights into the biological, chemical, and physical processes that shape human behavior and cognition.

Social Science and Humanities Electives

When preparing for psychology in high school, it is important to take a variety of classes that will provide a strong foundation in the social sciences and humanities. These classes will not only help students understand the complexities of human behavior and thought processes, but they will also develop critical thinking, research, and analytical skills that are essential in the field of psychology.

Here are some of the top classes to consider:

Psychology itself, if offered

If your high school offers a psychology course, it is highly recommended to take it. This class will introduce you to the basic principles and theories of psychology, giving you a solid understanding of the subject before pursuing it further in college.

It will also provide valuable insights into various psychological disorders, cognitive processes, and research methods.

Sociology and anthropology

Sociology and anthropology courses delve into the study of human society and culture. These classes will help you understand how individuals interact within social groups, the impact of cultural norms on behavior, and the influence of social structures on individuals.

By studying these subjects, you will develop a broader perspective on human behavior and gain insights into the social factors that shape our thoughts and actions.

Philosophy and ethics

Philosophy and ethics courses explore fundamental questions about human existence, morality, and decision-making. These classes will challenge you to think critically about complex ethical dilemmas and develop your own philosophical perspectives.

Studying philosophy and ethics will enhance your ability to analyze and evaluate different viewpoints, which is essential in the field of psychology where ethical considerations play a crucial role in research and practice.

History and political science

History and political science courses provide a broader understanding of how historical events and political systems shape human behavior and society. These classes will help you grasp the historical context in which psychological theories were developed and understand the impact of political ideologies on social and psychological phenomena.

Studying history and political science will provide you with a well-rounded perspective on the social forces that influence human behavior.

Remember, while these classes are not specifically focused on psychology, they will provide you with a strong foundation in the social sciences and humanities. By taking a diverse range of courses, you will gain a multifaceted understanding of human behavior and develop the skills necessary for success in the field of psychology.

English and Writing Courses

When it comes to preparing for a career in psychology, taking English and writing courses in high school can be immensely beneficial. These classes not only help students develop their communication skills, but also provide a solid foundation for critical thinking and analysis, which are essential in the field of psychology.

English/Literature for Reading and Analysis

English literature courses are a great way for students to enhance their reading and analytical skills. These classes expose students to a wide range of literary works, from classic novels to contemporary poetry, allowing them to explore different perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of human behavior and emotions.

By analyzing characters, themes, and motifs, students can develop their critical thinking skills, which are essential in psychology.

Composition/Creative Writing to Develop Communication Skills

Composition and creative writing courses are invaluable for developing effective communication skills. These classes teach students how to express their thoughts and ideas clearly and concisely, which is crucial in the field of psychology where effective communication with clients and colleagues is essential.

Through various writing assignments, such as essays and creative pieces, students can refine their writing abilities and learn how to articulate complex concepts in a straightforward manner.

Debate/Speech for Articulate Public Speaking

Debate and speech courses provide students with the opportunity to hone their public speaking skills. In psychology, being able to articulate ideas and present information in a clear and persuasive manner is crucial, whether it be in a classroom setting or during professional presentations.

These courses help students build confidence, enhance their ability to think on their feet, and effectively communicate their thoughts and arguments.

Research and Technical Writing

Research and technical writing courses equip students with the skills necessary to conduct scientific research and write scholarly papers. Psychology is a research-intensive field, and being able to effectively communicate research findings is essential.

These courses teach students how to gather information, analyze data, and present their findings in a clear and concise manner. Additionally, they introduce students to the proper formatting and citation styles used in academia, preparing them for the rigors of college-level writing.

Electives to Round Out Your Skills

When it comes to preparing for psychology in high school, it’s essential to choose the right electives that will complement your understanding of human behavior and mental processes. While core psychology classes provide a solid foundation, taking additional electives can expand your knowledge and skills in various areas.

Here are some top electives to consider:

Foreign language for cognitive benefits

Learning a foreign language not only enhances your communication skills but also offers cognitive benefits that can be valuable in the field of psychology. Research has shown that bilingual individuals have improved problem-solving abilities, cognitive flexibility, and attention span.

By taking a foreign language elective, you can develop these skills and gain a deeper understanding of how language impacts cognition.

Computer science and research methods electives

With the increasing use of technology in psychological research and data analysis, having a background in computer science and research methods can be incredibly beneficial. These electives can provide you with the necessary skills to analyze data, conduct experiments, and use statistical software.

By mastering these techniques, you’ll be better equipped to conduct research and analyze findings in the field of psychology.

Music, drama, or art for creativity

Creativity plays a crucial role in psychology, as it allows for innovative thinking and problem-solving. Taking electives in music, drama, or art can help foster your creativity and provide a different perspective on human emotions and behavior.

Engaging in creative activities can also serve as a form of self-expression and stress relief, which are essential aspects of maintaining good mental health.

Health and nutrition to understand wellness

Understanding the connection between physical health and mental well-being is vital in psychology. Taking electives in health and nutrition can provide you with a solid foundation in understanding how lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise, influence mental health.

These classes can offer insights into the effects of nutrition on brain function, the role of exercise in reducing stress, and other aspects of holistic wellness.

By selecting these electives, you can broaden your knowledge base, develop valuable skills, and gain a well-rounded education that will complement your studies in psychology. Remember, the key is to choose electives that align with your interests and goals, as this will enhance your overall learning experience.


If psychology is your passion, strategically selecting relevant, rigorous courses in high school is one of the best ways to prep for college psychology. Focus on math and science foundations, humanities and writing for analytical skills, and well-rounded electives to boost versatility.

With this academic preparation, you’ll gain knowledge, hone natural abilities, and demonstrate your commitment to understanding the human mind and behavior.

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