BA in Psychological & Brain Sciences

Professor Dwight Kravitz lecturing and pointing to a presentation.

The Bachelor of Arts in Psychological & Brain Sciences offers rigorous training in research design, statistical methods and psychological theory. Students are immersed in the study of abnormal, developmental and social psychology, as well as cognitive neuroscience. And they have the flexibility to choose electives and independent study to suit their interests.

More broadly, students learn how to approach and solve issues within communities and societies, making psychology a widely applicable degree to pursue a variety of career paths.

Cognitive Neuroscience Concentration

5 students researching the brain through 2 laptops

Psychological & Brain Sciences majors may choose an optional concentration in cognitive neuroscience. Students may pursue honors while fulfilling the requirements for a concentration. Students in the concentration study neuropsychology, memory and cognition, and have the option to join special graduate seminars. Students also complete an internship or an independent research project with a faculty member.


Concentration Requirements:

  1. Complete four of the following: PSYC 3118, 3121, 3122, 3124, 4106W, 4107W, 8250*, 8289*
  2. Complete PSYC 3591 or 4591 with a member of the faculty of the Cognitive Neuroscience area.
  3. Regularly attend meetings of the Cognitive Neuroscience Vision Seminar and Brownbag series.
  4. Graduate with a 3.3 average in Psychological & Brain Sciences (PSYC) courses.

In addition, Psychological & Brain Sciences majors concentrating in Cognitive Neuroscience with the intention of pursuing graduate training are encouraged to complete 4-8 credits of biology and a higher-level course in statistics and to acquire some skill in computer programming.

Applications for the concentration can be found and submitted in the Psychological & Brain Sciences Department office or by emailing [email protected].

*Graduate course. Open to students with consent of instructor.

Declaring a Major

When you declare a Major in Psychological and Brain Sciences, we strongly recommend that you discuss your plans with an advisor in your area of interest. To be assigned such an advisor during the Major Declaration process, please do the following:

  1. Get the major declaration form, available at the Undergraduate Advising online portal.
  2. Fill out the major declaration form with the courses that you have taken and will take toward the major. The list of courses should add up to a major in Psychological and Brain Sciences as listed in the GW Bulletin.
  3. If you would like to discuss your courses with an advisor, contact one of the PBS faculty listed below in your preferred area of interest to schedule an appointment. If you are undecided, please contact the Department and an advisor will be assigned to you.
    • Applied Social Psychology: The Applied Social Psychology Program uses social psychological theories, such as attitudes, social cognition, social influence, and decision making to understand and address areas related to social and health behaviors using rigorous scientific methods. These areas include the influence of prejudice and discrimination on health disparities and inequities, the effect of social pain on substance use, and the role of cognitive dissonance on promoting physical exercise and healthy eating. Advisor: Dr. Ellen Yeung.
    • Clinical Psychology: The specialty of Clinical Psychology involves engaging in research, assessment, intervention, or consultation to understand, prevent, or ameliorate behavioral and mental health problems. Areas of focus include adjustment issues and traumatic stress reactions; emotional and psychological problems; interpersonal or social problems; behavioral problems (e.g., substance abuse), and intellectual, cognitive, and neurological conditions. Advisor: Dr. Christina Gee.
    • Cognitive Neuroscience: The cognitive neuroscience field is concerned with building fundamental theories about human cognition and behavior and understanding how they are implemented by the brain. Cognitive neuroscience is also concerned with the development of experimental and computational methods that link neurobiology, cognition and complex behavior. Advisor: Professor Haeder Abuirqueba.
    • Undecided: If you have not identified a specific content area, please contact the PBS department and a general advisor will be assigned to you.
    • After a PBS advisor approves your declaration form, please return it to the Undergraduate Advising online portal.

If you do not want to meet with an advisor, complete your major declaration form and send it to the PBS Director of Undergraduate Studies (Dr. Jody Ganiban). After reviewing the form, the PBS Director of Undergraduate Studies will send it back to you. Please return the approved form to the Undergraduate Advising online portal.

Course Requirements

The following requirements must be fulfilled:

The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, Undergraduate Programs.

Program-specific curriculum:

PSYC 1001General Psychology
PSYC 2101Research Methods in Psychology
STAT 1053Introduction to Statistics in Social Science (or equivalent)
Two survey courses (6 credits) selected from the following:
PSYC 2011Abnormal Psychology
or PSYC 2011W Abnormal Psychology
PSYC 2012Social Psychology
PSYC 2013Developmental Psychology
One survey course (3 credits) selected from the following:
PSYC 2014Cognitive Psychology
PSYC 2015Biological Psychology
One course (3 credits) selected from the following:
PSYC 3112Psychology of Adolescence
PSYC 3115Developmental Psychopathology
PSYC 3125Cross-Cultural Psychology
PSYC 3126Multicultural Psychology
or PSYC 3126W Multicultural Psychology
PSYC 3128Health Psychology
PSYC 3132Social and Personality Development
PSYC 3170Clinical Psychology
PSYC 3173Community Psychology
One course (3 credits) selected from the following:
PSYC 3118Neuropsychology
PSYC 3119Cognitive Science in the District
PSYC 3120Neuroscience of Consciousness
PSYC 3121Memory and Cognition
PSYC 3122The Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC 3124Visual Perception
One advanced research lab course (4 credits) selected from the following:
PSYC 4106WResearch Lab in Sensation and Perception
or PSYC 4107W Research Lab in Cognitive Neuroscience
PSYC 4201WResearch Lab in Clinical/Community Psychology
or PSYC 4202W Research Lab in Applied Social Psychology
or PSYC 4203W Research Lab in Developmental Psychology
Four additional psychology (PSYC) courses (12 credits) numbered 2000 or above. Only 3 credits in PSYC 3591 or PSYC 4591 may be applied toward the major.