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(available to students graduating in 2014 or before)

The Departments of Psychology and Biology offer a special major that combines work in the two departments, focusing on the biological basis of behavior. The major is based on Core courses in both departments and three groups of optional courses. Majors are required to take all five Core Courses and at least two courses from each of the three groups of optional courses. In addition, majors will satisfy a comprehensive requirement, normally by completing a senior thesis (taken for 2 credits, one each semester of the senior year) or by completing a 1-credit Research Practicum in Cognitive Neuroscience. Approval and advising for this major are through both the departments of Psychology and Biology.

Entry Requirements

For admission to the major, students must have completed at least two courses in each department, and must have maintained a B average (3.00) in biology and psychology, respectively. In addition, they must have completed Chem 010 (General Chemistry) and Chem 022 (Organic Chemistry I).

Students who have not completed the entry requirements may apply if they will qualify by the end of the semester following application. They will be deferred from acceptance to the major pending successful completion of the courses. Students who would be deferred longer than 1 1/2 semesters should apply instead for either a biology or a psychology major and plan to change to psychobiology when they qualify for it.

Course requirements 

Students are required to take Stat 011 (Statistical Methods), preferably before entering the junior year, or as soon thereafter as possible. Statistics does not count in the credits toward the special major, but is a requirement for it.

The special major comprises a minimum of 10 and a maximum of 12 courses in the categories below. All students will complete the courses in the core category; they may choose to count Biol 001, 002 and Psychology 001 either as part of the major or as prerequisites for it, depending on the structure of the rest of their program. Students will include a list of the courses comprising their major with the application and will confirm a final list at the beginning of their final semester. Applicants should use the Psychology Special Major application form available from either department, listing the courses they have completed, those they are currently taking, and those they intend to take in the major, copies of which, with signatures from a representative of each department, should be submitted to both departments and to the Registrar.

Note: Qualified students may study psychobiology in the Honors Program. Details about the Special Honors Major in Psychobiology are described below. 

Core courses


BIOL 001 Cellular and Molecular Biology
BIOL 002 Organismal and Population Biology
PSYC 001 Introduction to Psychology
PSYC 030 Physiological Psychology
BIOL 022 Neurobiology


The requirement for either BIOL 001 or BIOL 002 (but not both) may be satisfied by credit from the Biology Advanced Placement examination (score of 5).

Elective courses (2 are required from each group)


Group 1: Biological Foundations
BIOL 010 Genetics
BIOL 014 Cell Biology
BIOL 020 Animal Physiology
BIOL 021 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
BIOL 024 Developmental Biology
BIOL 110 Human Genetics
BIOL 111 Developmental Genetics
CHEM 038 Biological Chemistry


Group 2: Bio-behavioral Foundations
BIOL 030 Animal Behavior
BIOL 034 Evolution
BIOL 036 Ecology
BIOL 123 Learning and Memory
BIOL 124 Hormones and Behavior
BIOL 130 Behavioral Ecology
PSYC 031 Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC 032 Perception
PSYC 042 Human Intelligence
PSYC 043 Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC 091 Advanced Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience
PSYC 130 Physiological Psychology seminar (1 credit)

Group 3: Psychological Processes
COGS 001 Introduction to Cognitive Science
(counts for major when taught by psychologist)
PSYC 033 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 133 Cognitive Psychology Seminar (1 credit)
PSYC/LING 034 Psychology of Language
PSYC/LING 134 Psycholinguistics Seminar (1 credit)
PSYC 036 Thinking, Judgment & Decision Making
PSYC 136 Thinking, Judgment & Decision Making seminar
PSYC 038 Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 138 Abnormal Psychology Seminar (1 credit)
PSYC 039 Developmental Psychology
PSYC 139 Developmental Psychology Seminar (1 credit)
PSYC 049 Children at Risk



Note: Students may request, by consulting with both departments, to have other suitable courses added to these groupings.

Comprehensive Requirement

Special 96, 97 (2 credits) Thesis: Psychobiology
PSYCH 110 (1 credit) Research Practicum in Cognitive Neuroscience

Honors program in Psychobiology

The honors program in Psychobiology is open to all students who have an overall average of B+ (3.33) in all courses taken in the Psychology and Biology Departments. 

Core and distribution requirements

Honors students majoring in Psychobiology are required to complete Psychology 001 and work in three core areas of Psychology, one of which must be Physiological Psychology. In the Biology Department, students must complete Biol 001, Biol 002 and Biol 022: Neurobiology. Students who have placed out of Biol 002 must complete one course in Group III - Population Biology (see this section for more). 

Preparations for external examination

The honors program in Psychobiology consists of two preparations in the Psychology Department and two in the Biology Department, from the lists below. One of the four preparations must be either Psyc 180 or Biol 180, Honors Thesis Research. In both departments, each honors preparation consists of an intermediate level course and an upper level seminar, except for Honors Thesis Research, which can be taken for either 1 or 2 credits if the thesis is done in the Biology Department, or for 2 credits if the thesis is done in the Psychology Department.

Psychology Department preparations 
PSYC 030 & 130 Physiological Psychology
PSYC 032 & 132 Perception
PSYC 033 & 133 Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 038 & 138 Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 039 & 139 Developmental Psychology
PSYC 180 Honors Thesis Research


Biology Department preparations  
BIOL 110 Human Genetics
BIOL 111 Developmental Genetics
BIOL 114 Cell Regulation
BIOL 123 Learning and Memory
Bio 124 Hormones and Behavior
BIOL 126 Biomechanics
BIOL 130 Behavioral Ecology
BIOL 180 Honors Thesis Research


Senior Research Thesis. The thesis can be undertaken in either the Psychology or the Biology Departments, and is expected to be an original piece of laboratory or field research. 

Senior Honors Study

Students will elect to participate in the Senior Honors Study for either Psychology or Biology, depending on the department in which they are conducting their senior research thesis. In addition, they will be required to attend occasional discussion groups for Psychobiology honors students. 

Additional requirements

Psychobiology Honors majors must complete Chem 010: General Chemistry and Chem 022: Organic Chemistry before admission to the major. In addition, students must complete STAT 011: Statistical Methods before entering the junior year, or as soon thereafter as possible

f. Honors examinations

Portfolios. The contents of the portfolio will include syllabi for the three seminar preparations, an abstract of the thesis, and (if relevant) a list of readings for Senior Honors Study.

Modes of Examination. There will be a three-hour written exam as well as an oral examination for each of the three preparations other than the thesis. The evaluation of the thesis will include an oral examination.