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Understanding Prerequisites and Why They are Important

A prerequisite is a course that must be successfully completed prior to starting another course. Psychology, like all sciences and other fields of scholarly inquiry, requires you to lay down a foundation of basic knowledge and skills upon which more specialized expertise may be built. For this reason, courses at each level of the program are designed with the assumption that students possess the skills and knowledge needed in order to achieve the next, higher level of understanding.  By starting a course with the necessary pre-requisites, you and your classmates are ready to take your education in that subject matter ‘to the next level.

How are Prerequisites Enforced?

In some courses, you will find it impossible to register if you do not have the prerequisites for the course. However, there may be some instances where a student who does not meet the prerequisite is still able to register in a course because their lack of prerequisites cannot be detected at the time of enrolment. Note that this does not mean you will be able to remain in a course for which you do not have the prerequisites. Students found to be lacking a prerequisite may be removed from a course at any time, and if this happens after the deadline for course change/or course drop, your tuition fee for the course will not be refunded. Therefore, it is very important to pay attention to prerequisites and to plan your courses a year or two in advance.

If you are a transfer student (i.e., a student coming from another post-secondary educational institution), you may find that you need to have your prerequisites confirmed by the Department of Psychology in order to register in a desired course. To do so, please contact the Undergraduate Office at:

Are Exceptions ever Made?

For the reasons mentioned above, and in fairness to all students who fulfill each prerequisite, it is extremely rare for any student to be granted access to a course for which they do not have the prerequisites. A course instructor cannot do this, although they may inform the Undergraduate Program Director if they think a particular student is an exceptional case, providing the reasons for this position in writing. Note as well that the fact that you have been attending a particular class, in the hopes of having a prerequisite waived, is never sufficient to justify an exception.

Note that NO EXCEPTIONS will be made in the case of the Statistics and Research Methods prerequisites for all thesis courses (i.e., PSYC 4001, PSYC 4175). You may not enroll in these courses until you have achieved a satisfactory grade on all the required methodology courses for your particular program. This includes courses for which you have a petition in progress or any other situation that has caused you to delay fulfilling the requirements.


In a few cases, one course may be allowed as a co-requisite (meaning that it may be taken at the same time as another course) instead of as a prerequisite. This applies in only a very small number of situations. If you are uncertain about whether a particular course counts as a prerequisite or co-requisite for another course, it is your responsibility as a student to clarify this before the start of classes.