Graduating On Time! GE, Major, 120, and other Criteria; Message from a Past Chair of Psychology

This page is designed to provide students with clear information on what is needed to graduate on time. Often when enrollments become tight (which does happen!), students who can’t get into all the Psychology classes they want get (rightfully) concerned.

This concern is understandable, and we work closely with the administration to make sure we’ve got as many classes available as possible. And I always welcome students to discuss their particular situations with me during office hours (found at

However, students often hold a misperception – which is that if they only need Psychology classes to graduate once they have completed the GE requirements. This is actually not true – and this page is designed to shed light on this issue – and I hope it’s helpful!

To graduate, students need to fulfill several criteria (not just the GE and the major). This comes to less than 3 semesters of full-time coursework (compared with an average full-time courseload of 15 credits per semester).

To graduate, students need to successfully satisfy the following:

1. The General Education (GE) criteria

2. The Major requirements

3. The Minor requirements (if one’s doing a minor)

4. The 120-credit requirement. This is the requirement that I think a lot of students seem to not be aware of. No matter what, you won’t get a degree from New Paltz if you don’t complete 120 total credits. Of anything. So if you have, for instance, 80 credits done and you have completed 20 credits of the Psychology Major, then you need to complete 21 more credits of psychology, but you also need to complete 40 total credits to graduate. In this case, that would mean that there are 19 credits of “additional coursework – unspecified” that you’d need to take. Students in this situation might consider adding a minor in another field (most minors are 18 credits). Or a student might check out classes from our school’s extraordinary array of offerings, and take classes that (a) work toward the 120-credit requirement and that (b) are of intrinsic interest to the student. In either case, the 120-credit requirement is something that students need to always consider.

5 and 6. The “upper division” requirement and the “LA (Liberal Arts)” requirements are formally requirements for graduation, but psychology majors rarely need to worry about these criteria as nearly all classes in the major are both LA and upper division. But do check your progress report to make sure you’re on-task for these.

While enrollments are often tight given the popularity of the psychology major, we take strong steps to ensure that students are able to get the classes they need to graduate on time. While sometimes a student might have to wait to take major courses until later than he or she may desire, note that at the end of the day, all students have to do the 120-credit requirement and our department works incredibly hard to make sure that no student falls through the cracks.

If you have concerns about not getting the classes you need to graduate on time, don’t hesitate to meet with me during my office hours so I can work with you and make sure that you’re on track to graduate in a timely manner and to succeed in your future.


Glenn Geher, Past Chair, Department of Psychology; SUNY New Paltz