Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
If you’re fascinated by human behavior and mental processes and want to understand them from a scientific point of view, a degree in psychology is for you.
As a psychology major, you’ll study both basic and applied areas of the field. Our department focuses on basic scientific research, and because of our small classes, you’ll have ample opportunities for hands-on collaboration with our faculty. You’ll also be assigned a faculty adviser who will help guide you in your curricular and career choices.
The solid foundation in science and research you’ll get with a psychology degree will make you highly desirable in a wide range of professional fields, including social and mental health services or research, of course, but also neuroscience, medicine, education, finance, management and human resources.
The same is true for graduate programs, whether you decide to pursue an advanced degree in psychology, counseling, education, business, law, medicine or another discipline. In fact, our undergraduate curriculum readies you for entry into a PhD program in clinical or counseling psychology.
By giving you a strong scientific and research foundation, a degree in psychology will also help you become an astute and thoughtful problem-solver.
At Brandeis, you’ll delve deeply into the latest basic and applied research, working side-by-side with our tight-knit faculty who are pushing the boundaries of the field in a number of key areas, including cognitive science, normal and abnormal psychology, health psychology, social interaction, life span development and aging, spatial orientation, the effects of brain damage and neurological bases of sensation, perception, memory and emotion.
Our department strongly encourages you to get hands-on experience in one of its many active laboratories; indeed, many of our students work closely with faculty and coauthor papers for publication in professional journals. Alternatively, you may pursue your own individual research project or undertake an honors thesis. You may also gain clinical experience by doing a yearlong clinical practicum in a mental health facility in the community.
Academics and Research
Research experience is desirable when applying to graduate programs, and you’ll have plenty of opportunities at Brandeis. We offer a range of opportunities to do research: volunteer to work in a laboratory or mental health facility; register for research with a specific professor as a formal course; or complete an independent research project or honors thesis. We strongly recommend you write an honors thesis if you’re interested in pursuing graduate training in clinical psychology.
Here are just two examples of recent independent research projects:
Jenny C. ’15 presented a study using electroencephalography to investigate the differences in the formation of impressions of other people at the 2014 Social and Affective Neuroscience Society conference.
Jung P. ’14 presented his results about false recognition of trait inferences in aging at a national psychology conference.
Our students are regularly recognized for the excellence of their theses:
Diana W. ’13 won the Massachusetts Gerontological Society’s best poster award for her thesis work on stress and socioeconomic status.
Arielle K. ’16 won a 2015 national Goldwater Foundation Scholarship for her thesis on memory and learning of audiovisual sequences.
Jenna R. ’15 was recognized with a Psi Chi award for an outstanding student poster about her thesis on differentiating mixed aged sexual offenders from child molesters and rapists at the 2014 Eastern Psychological Association meeting.
Many of our psychology majors co-author, with faculty, papers that are published in peer-reviewed journals, including these recent examples:
“Older and Younger Adults’ First Impressions from Faces: Similar in Agreement But Different in Positivity” in Psychology and Aging.
“Cultural Influences on Memory” in Progress in Brain Research.
“Memory of Incidental Learning for Visual Frozen Noise Sequences” in Vision Research.
“Pre-exposure to salty and sour taste enhances conditioned taste aversion to novel sucrose,” Learning and Memory.
Our faculty are dedicated teachers but also highly productive researchers who are well regarded in their field:
Robert Sekuler was recently elected a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists
Margie Lachman recently received a Distinguished Career Contribution to Gerontology Award from the Gerontological Society of America
Angela Gutchess recently received an Alzheimer's Association New Investigator Research Grant
Shantanu Jadhav recently won a prestigious Sloan Research Fellowship to explore memory and decision-making in mammalian brains
Outside the Classroom
Through the yearlong clinical practicum course, you volunteer in a community program in a hospital, mental health center or halfway home. This practical experience will help guide your career choices while enabling you to contribute to the community.
The Psychology Club is active student-run group organizes film screenings, guest speakers and discussions related to psychology. It also hosts informational evenings on topics such as career planning and application to graduate programs. It’s a great way to become involved in the life of the department.
Psi Chi is the International Honor Society in Psychology. Membership is open to psychology majors who are at the top of their class and have demonstrated superior scholarship in psychology. If you meet the requirements for membership, you’ll be invited to join the society. The Psi Chi induction ceremony is typically held during each spring semester.
Graduate Study, Careers and Alumni
The training you’ll receive, especially in the lab, as you earn your bachelor of arts in psychology will prepare you well for a clinical degree or advanced research. Many of our majors pursue advanced degrees, not only in psychology but in other research-based fields, as well as in law. Although we do not offer a degree in counseling, many psychology majors pursue this at other institutions
Our graduates pursue careers in psychology and mental health-related professions, but their valuable training in quantitative reasoning and logic makes them desirable candidates in other fields, including education, business and law.
Many of our psychology majors have gone on to have distinguished careers. Elliot Aronson ’54, a pioneer in the field of social psychology, is a prominent example. He is the only person ever to have received all three of the American Psychological Association’s major awards.
More recently, Arielle Keller ’16 was the recipient of a Goldwater Scholarship and a Computational Neuroscience Traineeship, and Sheila Brownlow PhD’89 was named one of the 10 Must Take Psychology Professors in Charlotte, NC, by CareersInPsychology.org.