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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:
Graduate e-mail:
Department Chair: Michael Miller 



The curriculum in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences (PBS) at UCSB is designed to provide students with an appreciation of the scientific study of behavior. Psychology is an extremely broad discipline, ranging from the study of neuronal processes underlying behavior of the simplest organisms to the complex behavior of humans and groups of humans interacting in multi-faceted situations. The curriculum in PBS at UCSB offers a range of content and methodology classes that provides a broad background in psychology as well as appropriate preparation for graduate training. The department does not offer classes in clinical or applied psychology. Students interested in becoming a major in PBS are urged to examine the upper-division course offerings to see if their interests are reflected in the curriculum.

The department offers the B.S. degree in Psychological & Brain Sciences (PBS) and the B.S. in Biopsychology.

The Bachelor of Science degree in PBS is recommended for students interested in understanding the wide range of human behavior as revealed by scientific research. In preparation for the major, students are required to complete courses in research methods and statistics as well as a basic introduction to chemistry and biology. The breadth of the upper division curriculum allows students to complete the major either by specializing in a particular substantive area or areas (e.g., cognition, social psychology, perception, developmental psychology, evolutionary psychology, cognitive neuroscience, neuroscience and behavior) or by selecting a more general and varied set of courses. The major is recommended for students wanting to enter the work force upon graduation in a wide variety of industries that require an understanding of human behavior and strong analytic, problem solving, research, and communication skills. It also provides excellent preparation for students intending to go to graduate school in all areas of research psychology, clinical psychology, applied psychology, neuroscience, counseling, education, law, business, and many more.

The Bachelor of Science degree in Biopsychology is intended for students who are interested in neuroscience and behavior. In preparation for the major, students complete courses providing an overview of the physical sciences (biology, physics, and chemistry), and research methodology and statistics courses. In the upper division, students 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 in neuroscience. It also provides strong preparation for many of the same professions and careers as the B.S. degree in PBS, especially the health-related sciences (requiring graduate work leading to the M.D., Ph.D., DMV, and DMD degrees, for example).

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.

All students considering majoring in the department are encouraged to join the UCSB Society of Undergraduate Psychologists, SUP@UCSB, and eligible 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 advisors.

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 PBS courses to fulfill major requirements. Please see the undergraduate advisors for more information.

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. The PBS honors program provides qualified students an opportunity for an in-depth and intellectually challenging study of psychology. The psychology honors classes, for example, are restricted in size and provide a level of discussion and participation not possible in traditional lecture classes. To help prepare for graduate training, honors students are encouraged to conduct independent research under the supervision of a faculty advisor. In order to graduate with distinction in the major, students complete a research project which forms the basis of an honors thesis, which each student is required to submit before the end of the senior year. Enrollment in the PBS honors program is by application to the department and is based primarily on academic achievement. Students interested in participating in the PBS honors program should see the undergraduate advisors for further information.