What is a Major in Biopsychology?

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Biopsychologists are concerned with those biological, cognitive, and social factors that influence how humans and other animals function within their environments. Biopsychology at UCSB is a laboratory science that is grounded in experimental research methods and statistics.

At UCSB, the Biopsychology major is for students interested in an intensive study of the relationship between brain function and behavior. The major requires completion of upper-division courses in neurophysiology and neuroanatomy, biochemical, endocrine, and pharmacological regulations in the central nervous system, and the behavioral and psychological data related to these topics.

Major, General, and Career Information


On the undergraduate level, 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 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, and biopsychology) or selecting a more general and varied set of courses. Students are required to complete several courses in statistics as well as a basic introduction to chemistry and biology. The major is recommended for students that are interested in a career in research psychology. This major also provides strong preparation for many other professions or graduate school careers.

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, and 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.


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Resources and Professional Associations

Inside Psychology: UCSB Psychological and Brain Sciences Newsletter

UCSB Biopsych Page

American Psychological Association
The Behavioral Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology division of the APA is devoted to studying the biology of behavior.

International Behavioral Neuroscience Society
The International Behavioral Neuroscience Society (IBNS) was formed to encourage research and education in the field of behavioral neuroscience

Society for Neuroscience
The Society’s primary mission is to advance the understanding of the brain and the nervous system.