Psychology / Undergraduate Study

Psychobiology BS

The Psychobiology major is designed for students who plan to go on to postgraduate work in physiological psychology, neuroscience, behavioral aspects of biology, or the health sciences. Psychobiology is the study of behavior from a biological perspective. It includes neural, experimental psychological, natural history, genetic, comparative/evolutionary, and developmental approaches to understanding human and animal behavior.

The requirements described below include sufficient preparation if students plan to pursue graduate work in any of the above fields; however, they may want to include additional advanced courses in psychology and related sciences as well as other types of research and fieldwork experiences.

Learning Outcomes

The Psychobiology major has the following learning outcomes:

  • Demonstrated ability to use working knowledge of the nervous system to deduce the consequence of nervous system dysfunctions
  • Demonstrated understanding of molecular events at a cellular level by describing the physiological consequences of such events in qualitative and quantitative terms
  • Demonstrated ability to utilize knowledge of sensory systems by describing their processes in both quantitative and phenomenological terms
  • Demonstrated ability to choose and apply the appropriate quantitative analysis tools to a data set and meaningfully interpret the results of the analysis
  • Demonstrated ability to read primary literature in the field and evaluate the validity of conclusions in light of the methodology and statistical analyses used as well as the logic of assertions presented
  • Demonstrated ability to communicate the results of laboratory work orally or in writing with appropriate graphic depictions of the data
  • Ability to relate work in literature in meaningful ways, explaining the motivation for the study and the interpretation of the results
  • Demonstrated thorough knowledge of neuroanatomy, including lobes of the brain, major anatomical landmarks, cranial nerves, and major subcortical structures
  • Demonstrated thorough knowledge of the sequence of events that results in an action
  • Demonstrated thorough knowledge of sensory systems, including signal transmission, neuroanatomical connections, and response properties of neurons in primary cortical areas
  • Ability to analyze the behavior of neurons in circuits and predict how other neurons in the circuit will react when other neurons are depolarized or hyperpolarized

Psychobiology Premajor

Students need to file a petition in the Undergraduate Advising Office to declare the Psychobiology premajor. They are then identified as Psychobiology premajors until they (1) satisfy the preparation for the major requirements and (2) file a petition to declare the Psychobiology major.

Preparation for the Major

Life Sciences Core Curriculum

Required: Chemistry and Biochemistry 14A, 14B, 14BL, 14C, and 14D, or 20A, 20B, 20L, 30A, 30AL, and 30B; Life Sciences 30A, 30B, and 40 or Statistics 13, or Mathematics 3A, 3B, and 3C, or 31A, 31B, and 32A; Physics 1A, 1B, 1C, 4AL, and 4BL, or 5A, 5B, and 5C.

Students must also complete one of two life sciences sequences — either Life Sciences 1, 2, 3, 4, and 23L, or 7A, 7B, 7C, and 23L. They may not substitute courses in either sequence.

Also required are Psychology 10, 100A, 100B. Students cannot take Psychology 100B until they have passed course 100A with a grade of C or better. Psychology 100A and 100B should be taken early in the career; these courses are open only to students who have declared the Psychobiology premajor before the term in which they plan to enroll. Students with no background in introductory statistics should take Statistics 10 before enrolling in course 100A.

Each of the preparation for the major courses must be taken for a letter grade (C or better in Psychology 10, 100A, and 100B, C− or better in the remaining courses) with a 2.0 overall grade-point average. Student must complete all preparation for the major courses by the end of the summer quarter of their third year to be eligible to petition to declare the Psychobiology major.

Students who repeat more than two preparation courses or any preparation course more than once are denied admission to the major.

Transfer Students

Transfer applicants to the Psychobiology major with 90 or more units must complete the following introductory courses prior to admission to UCLA: one year of general biology with laboratory for majors, preferably equivalent to Life Sciences 1 and 2, or 7A, 7B, and 7C, one year of calculus, one year of general chemistry with laboratory for majors, one semester of organic chemistry with laboratory, one introduction to psychology course, one psychological statistics course, and one psychology research methods course. A second semester of organic chemistry or one year of calculus-based physics is strongly recommended but not required for admission.

Refer to the UCLA transfer admission guide for up-to-date information regarding transfer selection for admission.

The Major

After satisfying the preparation for the major requirements, students need to petition to enter the major at the Undergraduate Advising Office.

Required: (1) Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 100 or 129 or Psychology 118, and Psychology 110, 115 (or M117A, M117B, and M117C), 116 or Neuroscience 101L, 120A or 120B; (2) one course from Psychology 127A, 127B, 127C, 130, 133A through 133I, 135, 150, 161; (3) 16 units of graded elective courses from the following list: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 112, 113A, 114A (no more than one from this group), Psychology 111, 112A through 112D, M117A, M117B, M117C, M117J, 119A through M119X, 124K, 137G, 152, 160, 161, 162, 164, M166, 186D, 191CH (only if content is approved by the undergraduate vice chair), Chemistry and Biochemistry 153A, 153L, Computational and Systems Biology M187, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology 100, 102, 105, 106, 110, 111, 115, 117, C119A, 120, 121, 122, 124A (only 4 units may be applied toward the major), 129, C135, 164, 170, Life Sciences 107, Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics C185A, Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology 100, 104AL, 138, M140, CM156, Neuroscience 102, Physiological Science C144, 146, 147, 166, 173.

Students who complete Psychology M117A, M117B, M117C receive equivalent credit for course 115 and 10 units of upper-division psychobiology electives. All three courses must be completed to receive psychobiology elective credit.

Students must have a 2.0 grade-point average in all upper-division courses selected to satisfy major requirements, and each must be taken for a letter grade.