Undergraduate

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 department believes that through thoughtful relationships with advisers, engaged interactions with researchers, and involvement with the brain sciences community at JHU and beyond, undergraduate students will gain a breadth of understanding and knowledge in the field which will serve them well in their endeavors after graduating from Hopkins.

Learning Goals

The undergraduate courses in psychological and brain sciences aim to:

  • Acquaint all interested students with a sampling of topics through a variety of introductory and advanced courses
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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:

  • Understand the basic concepts underlying the major sub-disciplines of psychology as a field of scientific inquiry
  • Develop a thorough grounding in quantitative skills and experimental methodology in the field of psychological science
  • Be able to appreciate and critically evaluate the primary research literature in psychological and brain sciences
  • 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
  • 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 Johns Hopkins University. Some of these include the departments of Biology, Biophysics, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Philosophy, Sociology; the Mind-Brain Institute; as well as departments in the School of Medicine, the School of 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.