Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of how and why people think, feel, and behave as they do. Psychology focuses on understanding basic functions such as memory, emotion, visual perception, social interaction, development and learning, and problem solving and creativity, as well as on alterations to these functions in psychopathology, developmental disorders, or neurological disorders. Faculty in our department approach these topics from multiple, converging levels, using assessments of individual behavior, dynamic group interactions, and investigations of the neural processes and computations that give rise to behavior. Our courses embody the philosophy of Boston College’s liberal arts education, providing students the opportunity for intellectual growth and a deeper understanding of the scientific method as applied to the human condition. Our courses also provide the knowledge and tools necessary for students to prepare for graduate training.

The Psychology Department offers three majors: the Psychology Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) major, the Psychology Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major, and the Neuroscience Bachelor of Science (B.S.) major. Starting with the class of 2023 the requirements for the Psychology B.S. major will change, resulting in two distinct sets of requirements for the Psychology B.S. major: one for the classes of 2023 and after and one for the classes of 2022 and before. The Neuroscience B.S. major is new and is open to the classes of 2020 and after, but it cannot be declared until September 1, 2019. All three degree options introduce students to the broad range of topics that psychologists study, while also allowing students to choose an individualized course of study and focus on some aspects of psychology in greater depth. Each option allows students to gain research experience working in one or more of our psychology labs.

The Psychology B.A. and the Psychology B.S. (classes 2023 and after) majors are particularly suited to students who wish to understand human behavior and mental function. Students will take Psychology courses relevant to social, developmental, biological, and cognitive psychology and will learn how animal models can be used to inform human behavior. Together these courses will provide students with an appreciation for the theories that have been put forth to explain human behavior and for the importance of considering clinical, cultural, social, biological, and developmental factors when trying to understand why humans think, feel, and act as they do. Both degree options introduce students to the broad range of topics that psychologists study, while also allowing students to choose an individualized course of study and focus on some aspects of psychology in greater depth.

The Psychology B.S. (classes of 2023 and after) will be a research-focused track. Students interested in psychology as it relates to other scientific disciplines and/or who are planning to pursue research-focused graduate work (e.g., Ph.D., M.D.) are encouraged to select the B.S. major. B.S. students will take courses in Psychology and choose from elective corequisites in departments including Economics, Computer Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. Together these courses will provide students with an in-depth understanding of the scientific study of the human mind and with opportunities for exposure to hands-on, laboratory science. This major is well-suited for students interested in a research-based approach to psychology. For students who are more likely to pursue graduate work without a focus on research (e.g., social work, law, Psy.D., Ed.D.) and/or would like greater flexibility in their course schedule, the B.A. may be more appropriate.

The Psychology B.S. (classes of 2022 and before) is particularly suited to students who wish to explore the brain mechanisms of human and animal behavior and mental functioning. Students will take courses from the Psychology, Biology, and Chemistry Departments that are related to evolution, genetics, physiology, neurobiology, and the neural basis of higher cognitive and emotional processes in humans. Together these courses will provide students with a strong foundation in the neurobiological processes that underlie behavior, motivation, and cognition. The Psychology B.S. (classes of 2022 and before) major covers most of the pre-medical requirements.

The Neuroscience B.S.  is a new major that may be declared on or after September 1, 2019. It is a research-focused degree for students who are interested in understanding the biological basis of brain function in relation to thought and behavior. The major has co-requisites in Biology and Chemistry as well as elective natural science corequisites, and emphasizes exposure to hands-on, laboratory science. Students will take courses that are related to evolution, genetics, physiology, neurobiology, and the neural basis of higher cognitive and emotional processes in humans. Together these courses will provide students with a strong foundation in the neurobiological processes that underlie behavior, motivation, and cognition. The Neuroscience major covers many of the pre-medical requirements.