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    At UC Davis, the Psychology program has several main objectives:

    • it presents an introduction to the study of individual and group behavior;
    • it provides a liberal arts curriculum for students looking for employment in business, government, personnel work, and other fields directly after obtaining their bachelor’s degree;
    • it prepares students for graduate study in various areas of psychology, leading to teaching, research and applied work.  
    • See below for more details on our undergraduate learning goals:
    Department of Psychology  :  Undergraduate Student Learning Goals  

    I.  Knowledge about the Science and Application of Psychology

    A.  Characterize the nature of psychology as a discipline

    1.      Understand why psychology is a science

    2.      Understand the primary objectives, assumptions, and methods of psychology

    3.      Understand the history of psychology (e.g., the recognition of historical figures, important theoretical foundations and conflicts)

                B.   Demonstrate Knowledge in Selected Content Areas

    1.      Biological bases of behavior and mental processes (e.g., physiology, comparative psychology, motivation, emotion, and evolution)

    2.      Developmental changes in behavior and mental processes

    3.      Learning and cognition

    4.      Personality and social psychology, including sociocultural issues

    5.      Abnormal behavior (e.g., mental illness, substance abuse, neurodevelopmental disorders, brain disease and trauma)


    II.  Research Methods in Psychology

    A.  Understand the variety of research methods used in psychology:

    1.   How different research designs address different kinds of research questions

    2.    The strengths and limitations of different research methods

    3.    Issues in cross-cultural research (e.g., translation of measures, experimenter bias)

    4.    Distinguish the features of designs that permit causal inferences from features of those that do not permit these inferences

    5.    Understand internal and external validity

                B.   Evaluate the conclusions drawn from psychological research

    1.      Interpret statistical results

    2.      Distinguish between statistical significance and practical significance

    3.      Understand the APA ethics code regarding the treatment of human and nonhuman animals


    III.       Critical Thinking Skills in Psychology

                A.   Evaluate the quality of information

    1.      Distinguish between empirical evidence and speculation

    2.      Evaluate the credibility of claims about behavioral claims

    3.      Identify claims that arise from myths, stereotypes, or untested assumptions

    4.      Evaluate popular media reports of psychological research

    Students who have majored in psychology at UCD have selected many different careers after graduation. Psychology majors have gone into industry, teaching, sales, social work, counseling, medicine, the ministry, and nursing, to name a few.


    The psychology program at UCD is broad and includes students and faculty with a variety of interests. The department has developed five major areas of emphasis:

    Perception Cognitive Neuroscience Psychology, which involves the study of awareness and thought, and includes such topics as perception, learning, memory, and consciousness; Biological Psychology, covers a broad spectrum of topics including evolutionary, neurobiological, and molecular mechanisms of behaviorr; Social-Personality Psychology, which involves the study of the individual in his or her social environment and includes such topics as personality theory, abnormal psychology, individual differences, developmental psychology, and social psychology; Developmental, which includes imaging the developing brain, children's psychological understanding or theory of mind (e.g., knowledge about people's thoughts, beliefs, desires, and emotions), children’s language development, children's social development; and Quantitative, which includes experimental design and the analysis of variance, regression analysis, and multivariate analysis.

    The department offers the Bachelor of Arts program for students interested in the liberal arts and the Bachelor of Science program geared for students with an interest in either biology or mathematics. The main objective of both programs is a broad introduction to the scope of contemporary psychology. In addition to completing a number of common core courses for their degree, students may take specialty courses on such far ranging topics as sex differences, genius and creativity, and environmental awareness.

    The department strongly encourages students to become involved in individual research projects under the direction of faculty members and to participate in our internship program to broaden your experiences and understanding of the field of psychology.