Members of UCSC's Cognitive Modeling Laboratory.


Psychology is the study of human behavior and the psychological, social, and biological processes related to that behavior.

According to the American Psychological Association, psychology is:

  • A discipline, a major topic of study in colleges and universities.
  • A science, a method of conducting research and understanding behavioral data.
  • A profession, a calling that requires one to apply special knowledge, abilities, and skills to solve human problems.

At UCSC, psychology majors are exposed to basic achievements in the various subfields of psychology and are introduced to the nature and spirit of scientific inquiry in the field. Students are encouraged to carry out research in specialized laboratories or in the field. Psychology majors take courses in each of the following subfields in their upper-division work: DevelopmentalCognitiveSocial, and Personality psychology.

Degrees Offered

  • B.A.

Study and Research Opportunities

  • B.A. with breadth requirements in cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, clinical-personality psychology, and social psychology.
    • Intensive major available for students intending to pursue graduate studies in psychology.
  • Psychology Field Study is an academic internship program designed for majors. Students gain hands-on reflective experience imperative for graduate study, future careers, and a deeper understanding of the complexities of psychology.
  • Opportunities for research experience in the laboratories of active developmental, cognitive, and social science researchers.

Information for First-Year Students (Freshmen)

In addition to the courses required for UC admission, high school students considering psychology as their university major find that the best preparation is a solid general education in English, mathematics through precalculus, natural sciences, social sciences, and writing.

Information for Transfers

Students planning to transfer to UC Santa Cruz should check with their present advising office or refer to

UC Santa Cruz lower-division requirements in psychology are:

  • Psychology 1, Introduction to Psychology
  • Psychology 2, Introduction to Psychological Statistics
  • Psychology 10, Introduction to Developmental Psychology
  • Math 3, Precalculus (or equivalent, including Applied Math and Statistics 3 or 6, or Mathematics 4 or 11A)
  • In order to declare the major students must meet requirements described in the Requirements to Declare section below.

While it is not a condition of admission, students from California community colleges may complete the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in preparation for transfer to UC Santa Cruz. 


  • Academic research and teaching
  • Clinical psychology 
  • Community relations 
  • Counseling 
  • Education 
  • Environmental psychology 
  • Forensic psychology 
  • Government research 
  • Human resources 
  • Law 
  • Market research 
  • Psychiatry 
  • Social services 
  • Vocational psychology

These are only samples of the field’s many possibilities.


Students can complete Psychology major requirements while abroad. The department encourages students to participate in EAP, as learning psychology in a different context helps provide a wider understanding of psychological concepts.

Awards, Honors, and Recognitions

Phillip Hammack has been named a 2011-12 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow.

Catherine Cooper received the 2008 Distinguished Scientific Award from the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development.

Craig Haney received the Herbert Jacob Book Prize from the Law and Society Association for the “outstanding book in law and society scholarship” of 2005.

Nameera Akhtar, Heather Bullock, Maureen Callanan, Faye Crosby, Jean Fox Tree, Craig Haney, Campbell Leaper, Barbara Rogoff, and Eileen Zurbriggen have received a “Golden Apple” award, recognizing outstanding teaching.

Department Website

For general questions please visit the website or email

General Catalog Information

More Information

Psychology Department
273 Social Sciences 2 Building
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, California 95064
(831) 459-2002