An education in psychology: The development of psychology as a field of study at the University of Copenhagen 1850-1950

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Psychology has been taught at the University of Copenhagen from the first half of the nineteenth century. Originally it was part of a general course required of all incoming students, the so-called examen philosphicum. Later it was also taught for the degree of magister artium in philosophy. From the last quarter of the nineteenth century it became possible to study psychology as one of four majors for the MA-degree in philosophy. Nearly half of those who graduated with an MA in philosophy until 1918 did in fact have psychology as their major. In 1918 a special master’s program in “theoretical and applied psychology” was started at the University of Copenhagen. Relatively few students graduated from this program, however, and thus as a purely “academic” degree psychology was not particularly successful in attracting students. This changed with the advent of a practical degree in psychology in 1944. The article lays out the history of psychology education in Copenhagen during those crucial decades when it was gaining its independence from philosophy.

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