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Psychologists study thought and behavior in humans and animals. To understand how and why an individual engages in any given behavior, one must have an understanding of several factors. For example, the biological basis of behavior is studied to understand how the central nervous system, the endocrine system, and genetic influences all interact to yield observable behavior. Psychologists analyze the cognitive and perceptual systems at a somewhat more abstract level in order to characterize the internal representations and processes that underlie perception, thought, and action. The personality of the individual – how that individual differs from others - is also an important determinant of behavior. Social psychology is the study of how individuals behave in a social context, where virtually all behavior takes place. Because living organisms change over time, the development of physiological, perceptual, cognitive, personality, and social factors can also help explain behavior in humans and animals. Psychopathology is the study of psychological disorders, which can interfere with an individual’s ability to cope with everyday life.

The courses in psychological and brain sciences have four purposes:

  1. to acquaint all interested students with a sampling of topics through a variety of introductory and advanced courses;
  2. to prepare majors for graduate work in psychology and related disciplines through a program that meets the admission requirements of the outstanding graduate departments in the United States;
  3. to offer a distribution of courses for a minor concentration in psychology as well as several fields of concentration for area majors in the social and behavioral sciences; and
  4. to provide an honors track designed for exceptional students who want training beyond that provided by the standard undergraduate curriculum.

To fulfill the program mission and objectives, undergraduates at Johns Hopkins University who complete the Psychology major should attain the following learning goals.

  1. Understand the basic concepts underlying the major sub-disciplines of psychology as a field of scientific inquiry.
  2. Develop a thorough grounding in quantitative skills and experimental methodology in the field of psychological science.
  3. Be able to appreciate and critically evaluate the primary research literature in psychological and brain sciences.
  4. Develop effective skills in written and oral communication, including the ability to structure a logical argument using supporting scientific evidence, geared to both specialists and non-specialists.
  5. Be prepared for career paths and advanced graduate study in psychology and related fields.

Because of its broad scope, the study of psychology and related disciplines extends beyond the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences to other departments and organizations within the University. Some of these include the Departments of Biology, Biophysics, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Philosophy, Sociology, and the Mind-Brain Institute at the Homewood Campus, as well as departments in the School of Medicine, the School of Hygiene and Public Health, the Peabody Conservatory, and the Applied Physics Laboratory. Psychology majors are strongly urged to take advantage of these diverse opportunities for research and collaboration.

View the Psychology Undergraduate Handbook for more information about the Major & Minor. To declare a Psychology Major or Minor, contact Dr. Stephen Drigotas to make an appointment.

Psychology Major Requirements

Specific Requirements

  • Intro Level Course Requirement: Three 100-level psychology courses. These are typically taken during Year 1 and Year 2.
  • Math/Science Requirement: AS.110.106 Calculus I or AS.110.108 Calculus I, EN.550.111 Statistical Analysis I, EN.550.112 Statistical Analysis II, and AS.200.207 Research Methods in Experimental Psychology. Calculus is usually taken in Year 1, Stats 1 & 2 in Year 2, and Research Methods in fall of either Year 3 or Year 4.
  • Upper Level Course Requirement: Five upper level psychology courses (200- or 300-level), three of which have to be at the 300-level. These are typically dispersed through Years 2-4.
  • Small Group Experience: 3 credits of either research, internship, independent study or an additional 300-level psychology course with an enrollment cap of 19 students or less. Students who are interested in graduate work in psychology are encouraged to get involved in research/internship activity starting in Year 2 and to continue throughout their time at Hopkins.
  • 9 NQE Credits: Students must complete 9 additional NQE credits using courses not taught within the psychology department (AS.200.XXX) and not counting otherwise toward the psychology major (e.g., AS.110.106 Calculus I, AS.110.108 Calculus I, EN.550.111 Statistical Analysis I, EN.550.112 Statistical Analysis II, etc.).

Please note that not all courses offered by the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences (AS.200.XXX) will fulfill the requirements of the Psychology Major/Minor (ex. AS.200.220 Discover Hopkins Health Studies: Application of Abnormal Psychology to Forensic Cases).

Consult with Academic Advising and your Psychology Major Advisor to ensure appropriate progress toward degree completion.

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Departmental Honors

In additional to General Honors, Psychology majors may also earn Departmental Honors.

To graduate with honors in the Psychology major, you must complete the criteria on the Honors Checklist by April 1st of your senior year, as outlined below. Failure to complete all the criteria on the checklist and submit it for approval by the deadline date means you will not receive honors in your major. You cannot complete the checklist before February 1st of your senior year.

To receive your Honors in Psychology, you must have met the following criteria:

  1. Earn a GPA of 3.5 or higher in the courses required for the Psychology major
  2. Complete the following in your Junior year:
    2a.    Submit a 2-page statement of intent to pursue honors research before spring break of your junior year. The statement should include a copy of your transcripts, a brief description of the research topic, and an indication that you have discussed these plans with a member of the full-time Psychological & Brain Sciences faculty.  The faculty member must also write a letter in support of your proposed thesis.
    2b.    By the first monday after Spring Break, submit a full detailed thesis proposal of the research project, to include background research, methods, and a timetable for completion. The faculty of the department will review your honors thesis proposal for approval, and your faculty project supervisor will communicate the final decision to you.
    Honors Thesis Proposal Requirements (detailed description)
    Example of thesis propsal
  3. Complete two 300- or 600- level Psychology courses in addition to those required for the regular B.A. degree
  4. Register for 200.519 (Seniors Honors Research) during your fall and spring semesters of your senior year.

To notify Academic Advising that you are eligible for Department honors:

No later than March of your senior year:

  1. Complete the Honors Clearance Form with Dr. Drigotas and return to the Office of Academic Advising
  2. Have your Psychology advisor and one other full-time faculty member read and approve your paper
  3. Make an appointment with Dr. Halberda to certify your Honors Clearance Form
  4. Return all documentation to Academic Advising by April 1st.

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Psychology Minor Requirements

A minor in psychology is available to undergraduates majoring in any department. Students electing to minor in psychology should declare their intention directly to the director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences by the end of junior year. All classes taken for the minor must be taken for a grade and be completed with a C- or better. The minor requires successful completion of the following:

1.  Three Introductory-level Psychology Courses from the following:

  • 200.101 Introduction to Psychology
  • 200.110 Introduction to Cognitive Psychology or 050.101 Cognition
  • 200.132 Introduction to Developmental Psychology
  • 200.133 Introduction to Social Psychology
  • 200.141 Foundations of Brain, Behavior & Cognition

2.  Three additional psychology courses, including at least two at the 300- or 600-level, and one at any level

With the exception of courses taken during the first semester of the freshman year, courses taken in fulfillment of the Psychology minor cannot be taken Pass/Fail, and must be graded C- or higher. Courses taken during Intersession or through the School of Business & Professional Studies may not be used to satisfy the requirements for the Psychology Minor, although JHU Summer credits will be accepted to satisfy these requirements.

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Double Major

Students wishing to double major in Psychology and another field (e.g. Biology or Philosophy) are encouraged to meet with a faculty advisor in each department as early as possible to devise an appropriate plan of study. Check with the Office of Academic Advising about procedures for declaring a double major. If you do not have an advisor in the Psychological & Brain Sciences Department, make an appointment to see Dr. Steve Drigotas.

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Research & Internship Opportunities

Visit links below for full listings.

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