What Types of Biology Classes are Offered in Psychology Undergraduate Programs?

You’ve decided on a psychology major, and now you’re wondering about the presence of biology in psychology. Do you have to take biology classes in order to complete a psychology major? And if so, what sorts of biology classes might you need to take?

Types of Psychology Degrees

To answer how many and what kinds of biology courses you might end up taking as a psychology major, it may be important to first answer which type of psychology degree you’re pursuing. There are generally two kinds of psychology majors at the bachelor’s level: a bachelor of arts and a bachelor of science. Many colleges offer both. While there is some overlap, the two degrees provide different levels of preparation for different career goals. While you’ll want to talk to your prospective university to learn how they perceive the differences, in general, a BA in psychology will focus more on liberal arts courses and will prepare you for graduate work in non-psychology fields, while a BS in psychology will emphasize more specific science and math courses and prepare you for graduate studies in psychology itself.

With that said, even if you decide to pursue a BA in psychology, you will probably end up taking a general biology course that focuses on biological principles or a biological psychology course. You will likely need to take the same core course when you pursue the BS, but you will also need additional science coursework in either biology, chemistry or physics, with their related lab requirements.

Biology Minor

Some colleges may encourage or possibly require a minor field of study when you work toward a psychology major. Again, how you choose your minor, or the fields from which you must choose your minor, will depend on whether you’re pursing the BA or the BS. With the BS degree, it is likely that you will need to choose a minor from the science or math departments. Biology is an option that could complement your psychology major well.

The Intersection of Psychology and Biology

If you’re just now beginning to look into psychology, you may be wondering why you need to take biology courses at all. Or you may be wondering what’s the connection between biology and psychology, and how can taking biology help prepare you for work as a psychologist? It’s important to remember that many scientists see real links between psychology and physiology, especially in the human nervous system. Knowing how the brain functions is important knowledge for any psychologist. This intersection is so important that some universities have even developed the interdisciplinary major of biopsychology, which could be an excellent major to pursue if you think you want to get into neurosciences at the graduate level. Sometimes these interdisciplinary majors, which can also be found at the graduate level, go by other names like behavioral neuroscience or psychobiology.

No matter what area of psychology you pursue, you will run into biology at some point. Whether or not you want to spend a lot of time on biology and other science courses may determine whether or not you pursue a BA or BS in psychology. Whatever you decide, it’s important to understand the importance of biology in psychology, and plan your schedule accordingly.