UC Santa Barbara General CatalogUniversity of California, Santa Barbara

Psychological & Brain Sciences

Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences
Division of Mathematical, Life, and Physical Sciences
Building 251
Telephone: (805) 893-2791
Undergraduate e-mail: wwwugrad@psych.ucsb.edu
Graduate e-mail:  wwwgrad@psych.ucsb.edu
Website: www.psych.ucsb.edu
Department Chair: Diane Mackie


The psychology curriculum at UCSB is designed to provide students with an appreciation of the scientific study of behavior. Psychology represents an extremely broad discipline, ranging from the study of behavior of the simplest organisms to the behavior of humans and groups of humans in complicated situations.

Students interested in one of the psychology majors are urged to examine the upper-division course offerings to see if these are consonant with their interests in psychology. As students will note, some topics are not currently included in the curriculum (e.g., humanistic psychology, industrial psychology, ethnic psychology, etc.) and the number of courses within any particular area, such as clinical applications, is limited. Nevertheless, a well-balanced selection of the available courses should provide students with a broad background in psychology, as well as appropriate preparation for those seeking to pursue graduate training later on.

On the undergraduate level, the department offers the B.A. degree in psychology and the B.S. in biopsychology. The bachelor of arts degree in psychology is recommended for students interested in obtaining a liberal arts education and understanding contemporary issues in psychology. The broad nature of the discipline allows students to complete the major by either specializing in a given substantive area (e.g., cognition, social psychology, perception, biopsychology) or selecting a more general and varied set of courses. The bachelor of science degree in biopsychology is intended for students who are interested in issues of neuroscience and behavior. Students complete courses providing an overview of the physical sciences (biology, physics, chemistry) and, in the upper division, focus specifically on the scientific study of behavior and its relationship to brain function. This major is recommended for students who have an interest in laboratory research and are considering a career in the field. It also provides strong preparation for many other professions, including the health-related sciences (requiring graduate work leading to the M.D. or Ph.D. degrees, for example).

The departmental advisors, including academic peer advisors, staff undergraduate advisors, and faculty advisors provide students with academic information and advice as well as assistance with career and graduate school preparation. Students are encouraged to become acquainted with faculty members and to consult with them about programs or academic plans.

Psychology majors are encouraged to join Psi Chi, the Santa Barbara chapter of the National Honor Society in Psychology. Membership information is available from the undergraduate advisor.

The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences encourages majors to participate in the Education Abroad Program (EAP). In most cases, EAP courses may be substituted for equivalent offerings of the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences to fulfill major requirements. Please see the undergraduate advisor for more information.

Students with a bachelor’s degree in psychology who are interested in pursuing a California Teaching Credential should contact the credential advisor in the Graduate School of Education as soon as possible.

Undergraduate Honors Program

The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences has an honors program to augment the existing program in the College of Letters and Science. Enrollment in the psychology honors program is by application to the department and is based upon academic achievement.

Students who are selected to participate will earn a wide variety of unique academic privileges. In addition to special honors seminar courses, honors students will be given extended library privileges, and increased priority for class registration.

The departmental program provides qualified students an opportunity for an in-depth and intellectually challenging study of psychology. The psychology honors classes, for example, will be restricted in size and will provide a level of discussion and participation not possible in traditional lecture classes. To help prepare for graduate training, honors students will conduct independent research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The results of this research will form the basis of the honors thesis, which each student will be required to submit before the end of the senior year.

Students interested in participating in the psychology honors program should see the Department of Psychology’s undergraduate advisor for further information.