Psychology B.A.

If you are interested in social relationships, mental disorders, child development, the relationship between humans and animals, criminality, or any of the many other ways in which humans behave and interact, one of the Psychology degrees may be a good fit for you.

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers three degrees: the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Psychology and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Neuroscience. The two Psychology degree options begin the same way, making it easy to adjust your path as your interests develop. The department also offers a minor in Psychology, a Clinical Psychological Science Certificate, Certificate in the Psychology of Business, and a Certificate in Neuroscience.

Coursework

Getting started

As you progress through the major, you are able to self-select advanced and lab courses that coincide with your interests.

There are no official tracks or concentrations in the Psychology major. Instead, students have the ability to select from a wide range of courses, electives, and capstone experiences. This enables you to construct an undergraduate experience that is tailored to your unique interests, while gaining a well-rounded understanding of the science of mind, brain, and behavior.

The wide breadth of the field of allows you to explore many different topics. For example, undergraduates have explored applications to law and criminal justice through social psychology; to education through developmental psychology; to therapy and counseling through clinical psychology; to business through industrial and organizational psychology; and many more.

Nearly any issue that impacts human lives has a psychological slant. You are encouraged to personalize your undergraduate major to emphasize topics that resonate with your own interests.

Tracks and concentrations

As you progress through the major, you are able to self-select advanced and lab courses that coincide with your interests.

There are no official tracks or concentrations in the Psychology major. Instead, students have the ability to select from a wide range of courses, electives, and capstone experiences. This enables you to construct an undergraduate experience that is tailored to your unique interests, while gaining a well-rounded understanding of the science of mind, brain, and behavior.

The wide breadth of the field of allows you to explore many different topics. For example, undergraduates have explored applications to law and criminal justice through social psychology; to education through developmental psychology; to therapy and counseling through clinical psychology; to business through industrial and organizational psychology; and many more.

Nearly any issue that impacts human lives has a psychological slant. You are encouraged to personalize your undergraduate major to emphasize topics that resonate with your own interests.

Upper level coursework

The Psychology B.A. degree allows you to customize the curriculum by choosing which upper level courses to take. The B.A. requires one Advanced Psychology course, two Psychology elective courses, and one Capstone Experience. Students often pick classes and opportunities that relate to their interests or career goals.

Advanced courses (300/400 level) offer a more in-depth look at an issue or topic.

Elective courses (300 level) cover material outside of the topics covered in the Foundational Courses, giving you more exposure to different areas in the field. Most Psychology electives have only PSY-P 101/102 or 155 as prerequisites.

The Capstone Experience gives students an opportunity to put what they have learned into practice. Students can fulfill the requirement by gaining hands-on experience in a lab course, working as a research assistant for a professor, or participating in an approved service learning experience.

A Psychology and Neuroscience academic advisor will help you select the best courses to suit your interests.

Commonly pursued majors, minors and certificates

Your major represents about one quarter of your degree requirements. With the help of your academic advisor, you may be able to combine several areas of interest with additional majors, minors, or certificates.

Students frequently pair their Psychology B.A. coursework with a major in Criminal Justice or Sociology. Many other areas of study are also available.

The most common minors are: Criminal Justice, Sociology, Spanish, Human Development and Family Studies, Counseling, and Business. Check your Bulletin for more information about these minors.

Some students pursuing the Psychology B.A. may wish to complete either the Neuroscience Certificate, Clinical Psychological Science Certificate, Certificate in the Business of Psychology, or the Liberal Arts and Management Program (LAMP) certificate.

Enhance your major

Working with faculty

When pursuing a Psychology B.A. degree, you have the opportunity to work with faculty who have expertise and broad experience in the field. Take advantage of office hours to talk with your instructors about your performance in class, the content of readings and assignments, and how the course helps you work toward your goals.

There are multiple opportunities for research in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. All students are required to complete one Capstone Experience, either a formal lab course or through work as a research assistant in a faculty-sponsored laboratory. Your lab experience is an opportunity to explore your area of interest within the major.

Honors

To earn the departmental Honors degree, students must complete Honors Thesis Research (P499), an independent lab research project and thesis. Outstanding students are eligible to apply for the Honors Capstone by the spring of their junior year.

High achieving students may be recognized for Academic Excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, or be eligible for admission to the Hutton Honors College.

Undergraduate scholarships and awards

Options for pursuing scholarships and awards include:

Internships

Internships offer you a chance to develop both technical and transferable skills while making vital professional contacts with others in the field. Many students begin exploring internship opportunities, including overseas study programs with internships, as early as their freshman year.

Students pursuing the Psychology B.A. degree have found internship opportunities with organizations such as:

Another resource you can use is the Psychology/Neuroscience Blog, where academic advisors post relevant opportunities for students.

Learn more about internships, including the possibility of earning credit, through The Walter Center for Career Achievement, where you'll find many resources for finding both domestic and international internships.

Foreign language study

The Psychology B.A. requires a fourth semester proficiency in a foreign language.

As one of the premier institutions in the U.S. for the study of languages, IU Bloomington offers courses and resources in over 60 languages. Learn more about the foreign language requirement for a College of Arts and Sciences degree.

Here is a partial list of foreign language resources available to students at IU Bloomington:

Overseas study

Study abroad is an important part of undergraduate education in an increasingly globalized world. Students majoring in the sciences have a number of options to choose from.

Psychology majors have studied abroad in England, Denmark, Australia, and Spain, as well as other areas of the world. Semester, academic year, and summer opportunities are available.

Learn more about study abroad opportunities and locations through conversation with Psychology faculty, your academic advisor, and the Office of Overseas Study.

Student groups

Becoming a member of a student group is a good way to make connections between your coursework and co-curricular activities. Organizations that are relevant to Psychology students include the following:

  • ADAPT Consulting provides undergraduate psychology students with an out-of-classroom experience often found in graduate schools.  Students who are accepted into ADAPT work with a project group throughout the semester. Each project group works with a local business or nonprofit to work on an issue that matters in the real world, right now. Projects can range from employee morale to better performance reviews.
  • The Psi Chi Honors Society is an academic honor society that commits its members to academic excellence, local volunteering, and participation within IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. 
  • The Psychology Club seeks to unite students with similar interests in Psychology in a way that enhances academic achievement. The club is a great resource for learning more about what is going on in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and meeting students and faculty within the department.
  • The Student Organization for Cognitive Science (SOCS) aims to provide a community for possible Cognitive Science students at Indiana University.
  • Collins Living-Learning Center is located in a historic setting close to the heart of campus, just steps away from the Psychology Building.  The Collins community is intentionally academically diverse, and includes students from different majors across the university.  Read more about the student experience at Collins.
  • Inspire Living-Learning Center is located in the new state-of-the-art Spruce Hall (formally Rose Residence Hall).  The mission of the INSPIRE Living-Learning Center (LLC) is to create a diverse community motivated, creative students who want to make a difference.  This community will explore ways to connect with others, encourage inquiry, develop partnerships, and nurture learning.  If you are passionate about learning and curious about how to make a difference in the lives of children, youth, or adults, the INSPIRE Living-Learning Center is an ideal place for you.

Explore beINvolved to connect with any of the 750+ student organizations that already exist, or to start a new one. Student associations include:

Volunteer opportunities

There are numerous opportunities for volunteer engagement, allowing you to give back to the local community while developing useful job skills. Check out the volunteer opportunities listed on the department's website involving children, youth and family, adults, and animals.

The organizations below can help you connect with other opportunities from the university and beyond:

Sign up to receive weekly emails from the Bloomington Volunteer Network to learn about local opportunities and organizations.

Professional organizations

Here are a number of professional organizations that may be of interest to Psychology majors:

Use the Indiana University Library system to search for Associations Unlimited, an online directory of associations, professional societies, non-profit organizations, and much more.

Build your skills

Through the major

Depending on the choice of advanced courses or labs, a student who earns a B.A. in Psychology could master the following skills:

  • A scientifically-grounded understanding of human behavior that addresses normal and dysfunctional individuals and relationships
  • An understanding of various brain regions and their functions
  • An overview of the potential causes of disorders such depression, autism, schizophrenia, and Alzheimer's disease
  • An understanding of the importance and role of developmental processes in human cognition
  • Basic laboratory skills allowing you to pose and then answer questions about brain and behavior using rigorous methods that adhere to ethical principles
  • Communication skills that enable you to make presentations at regional or even national conferences, and perhaps to write a senior honors thesis
  • Should you wish to apply to medical school, a set of courses can be chosen that provide a solid foundation for the MCAT

Through a College of Arts and Sciences degree

Your coursework provides many opportunities to develop the following abilities, as identified by the 11 Goals of the College of Arts and Sciences:

  • Achieve the genuine literacy required to read, listen, speak and write clearly and persuasively
  • Learn to think critically and creatively
  • Develop intellectual flexibility and breadth of mind
  • Discover ethical perspectives
  • Cultivate a critically informed appreciation of literature and the arts
  • Practice and apply scientific methods
  • Learn to reason quantitatively
  • Develop historical consciousness
  • Investigate and study the international community
  • Develop and practice communication skills in public settings and in the study of at least one foreign language
  • Pursue in-depth knowledge of at least one subject

Skills desired by employers

Each year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers asks employers what skills and qualities they are looking for in recent college graduates.

The following abilities are sought in the job market across many employment sectors:

  • Communicate effectively with persons both inside and outside the organization
  • Work in a team structure
  • Make decisions and solve problems
  • Plan, organize, and prioritize work
  • Obtain and process relevant information
  • Analyze quantitative data
  • Create and/or edit written reports
  • Obtain technical knowledge related to the job
  • Proficiency with computer software programs
  • Create and edit written reports
  • Ability to persuade or influence others

As you explore various career fields, pay attention to specific job descriptions and requirements. If there are areas where your skills or knowledge are lacking, talk with your academic and career advisors about how you can develop in those areas while you are at Indiana University.

Your academic advisor and career coach can also help you find ways to strengthen and deepen the knowledge you already have, becoming more prepared for whatever path you select after your college career.

Launch your career

Plan your search

A good career exploration starting point is an appointment with the Natural and Mathematical Sciences career coach.

The Walter Center for Career Achievement offers job search resources, career courses, job fairs, information about internships and full-time jobs, and help with social media networking through professional organizations. Get advice about how to write your resume, ask for letters of recommendation from faculty and workplace supervisors, and prepare for job interviews, too.

Explore and enroll in Career Communities to learn more about industries relevant to your interests. These offer unique information about each field, including alumni spotlights, opportunities and resources, and in-person events.

The job market

A major in psychology prepares students for work in a vast variety of industries and work environments, making the outlook promising due to the diversity it allows. Psychology students can take their depth of understanding and broad set of skills into hundreds of different fields and career paths.

Students with the Psychology B.A. degree are well prepared to work in education, research and academia, health care, government, nonprofit organizations, and business.

Graduates with the Psychology B.A. have become researchers, educators, marketers and advertisers, social services providers, counseling aides, child and family service providers, volunteer directors, nonprofit directors, psychiatric technicians, human resources specialists, probation officers, consultants, entrepreneurs, and much more.

Talk with Psychology faculty, an academic advisor and other students to gain insights into the career paths taken by graduates of the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and the College of Arts & Sciences.

The Occupational Outlook Handbook from the Bureau of Labor Statistics offers career information about hundreds of occupations.

Post-graduate short-term experiences

After graduation, a short-term experience or internship can help you make connections, gain life skills, and assess your interest in future careers. Talk with your career coach and use these and other resources to find opportunities that are a good fit with your educational experience and career goals:

Fellowships for post-graduate study

Fellowships are temporary post-graduate opportunities to conduct research, work in a field, or fund graduate school. Most opportunities can be found through universities, non-profit, and government organizations.

Good examples of resources for finding fellowship opportunities include:

Graduate and professional study

When applying to graduate or professional schools, you'll need letters of recommendation from faculty members who are familiar with your work. Make a practice of attending office hours early in your academic career, to get to know your professors and discuss your options for advanced study in the field.

A Psychology B.A. degree will prepare you for entry into graduate programs in a wide variety of fields, including: counseling, school psychology, clinical psychology, social work, education, research, non-profit management, business, and consulting.

With careful planning, and in consultation with the Health Professions and Prelaw Center, you could also prepare to enter law school, medical school, or other programs in the health professions.

Students who pursue graduate studies in Psychology have gone into careers with top academic and research institutions, education, local, state, and federal government, nonprofit organizations, business and entrepreneurship.

You might consider these Indiana University graduate opportunities:

Alumni connections

Stay connected with happenings and alumni from IU's Department of Psychological and Brian Sciences via the PBS Update Newsletter.

The IU College of Arts and Sciences organizes Alumni and Friends events. Check out the IU College Luminaries program, which connects students with the College's most influential, successful, and inspiring alumni.

Join and use the IU Alumni Association to remain in touch, network directly, follow careers, and let others know where your path takes you.


Is it for you?

The Psychology major attracts a diverse set of students who are curious about some of the following types of questions:

  • How does the brain work?
  • What causes mental disorders and how best can we treat them?
  • How can broken relationships be mended?
  • What makes people different from one another?
  • What can animal behavior tell us about what makes us human?
  • How do people behave differently in the presence of others?
  • What is the fastest way to learn a new skill or language?
  • Why do we make certain decisions, and are these decisions correct?

Learn more

Contact the Psychology and Neuroscience academic advisors and schedule an appointment to explore your options. Complete information about the requirements of the major can be found in the College of Arts and Sciences Bulletin.

Department website
Advisor email address
psyneuro@indiana.edu