USC College of Letters, Arts and Sciences
spacer Psychobiology

Contact: Psychobiology Program
Hedco Neurosciences Building 126
(213) 740-6090
FAX: (213) 740-5687

Director:William O. McClure, Ph.D.

Psychobiology is an interdisciplinary science major specifically designed for exceptional undergraduates whose specialization will come in graduate or professional school. The psychobiology major is the undergraduate component of the Program in Neuroscience. This major offers outstanding interdisciplinary educational opportunities to qualified students including many opportunities to participate in research. The curriculum leading to a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychobiology comprises six courses in psychology, seven courses in biology, and basic courses in chemistry, physics, mathematics and general education. Specific course selections are made with the advice of the program director and faculty advisors from each department.

With the help of the student organization, Psi Beta, Psychobiology sponsors speakers and lunches, outings, organizes colloquia, publishes a newsletter, and provides summer research fellowships.


Admission to the program is by application to the Psychobiology Executive Committee. The program has two tracks: a degree track and an honors track. Candidates for either track must be students of sophomore standing and above who have completed the first year of biology (BISC 120L or 121L and BISC 220 or 221L) and chemistry (CHEM 105aLbL or CHEM 115abL) with a minimum grade of “B” in each course. For admission to the program, all candidates must have a minimum 3.5 cumulative GPA. Honors track candidates must maintain a 3.5 GPA to graduate with a departmental honors designation on the transcript. Students whose cumulative GPA falls below 3.5 may remain in the major but must matriculate in the degree track. Transfer students must complete one semester in residence, taking substantive courses applicable to the major before acceptance into either track.

General Science Requirements

Required courses Units
CHEM 105aLbL General Chemistry, or
CHEM 115aLbL Advanced General Chemistry 4-4
CHEM 322abL Organic Chemistry 4-4
MATH 125 Calculus I 4
PHYS 135abL Physics for the Life Sciences 4-4

These are also basic pre-health science requirements.

Major Core Requirements in Psychology and Biology

Required courses Units
BISC 120LGeneral Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution, or 
BISC 121L Advanced General Biology: Organismal Biology and Evolution 4
BISC 220L General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology, or
BISC 221L Advanced General Biology: Cell Biology and Physiology 4
BISC 320L Molecular Biology 4
BISC 330L Biochemistry 4
BISC 421 Neurobiology 4
PSYC 100 Introduction to Psychology 4
PSYC 274 Statistics I 4
PSYC 320 Principles of Psychobiology 4

Upper Division Requirements

Psychobiology majors must take three upper division courses in psychology and three upper division courses in biology from the following lists. Honors track students must complete all of the requirements for the degree track with the following additions: completion of four units of Directed Research (490), an honors seminar (BISC 493x, PSYC 480x or equivalent) and the submission and approval of an honors thesis based on 490 research. The seminar and 490 research units are additional requirements for honors track students and do not fulfill upper division major requirements.

Category I
Take two courses from the following list.
PSYC 326 Behavioral Neuroscience 4
PSYC 404L Psychophysiology of Emotion 4
PSYC 420 Animal Behavior 4
PSYC 424 Neuropsychology 4
PSYC 426 Motivated Behaviors 4
PSYC 428 Psychobiology of Development and Aging 4
PSYC 438 Behavioral Genetics 4
PSYC 499 Special Topics 2-4
PSYC 547Functional Neuroanatomy4
Category II
Take one course from the following list.
PSYC 301L Cognitive Processes 4
PSYC 304L Sensation and Perception 4
PSYC 305 Learning and Memory 4
PSYC 314L Research Methods 4
PSYC 336L Developmental Psychology 4
PSYC 337L Adult Development and Aging 4
PSYC 355 Social Psychology 4
PSYC 360 Abnormal Psychology 4
PSYC 461 Seminar in Abnormal Psychology 4


Take any three upper division courses which are allowable for upper division elective credit in the Department of Biological Sciences.