Double Major in Biology & Psychology

Jan 24, 2018

Biology and psychology both apply to the study of human beings, so there is a great deal of overlap in topics covered by coursework. A double major may have benefits, and you can read more to find out.

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Overview of a Double Major in Biology and Psychology

Students interested in medical professions may choose to double major in biology and psychology. This type of degree program involves coursework that addresses both the neurological and social contributions to behavior. Students enrolled in this double major can expect classes on the structure and function of the nervous system, how drugs and other compounds affect behavior and how perception and cognition are established. Additional information including program requirements, descriptions of specific classes and possible career options will be discussed below.

Admission Requirements for a Double Major in Biology and Psychology

To be approved to major in both biology and psychology students may need to demonstrate that they are responsible enough to manage the course load and finish both degrees within a specific time limit. Often classes such as AP Biology taken while in high school will help to gain an advantage by reducing the number of classes to be completed within the time constraints of the program.

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Double Major in Biology and Psychology Coursework

Standard coursework for both biology and psychology majors are included for a double major, which may include mathematics especially calculus and statistics. Computer sciences coursework may also be helpful.

Genetics

How traits are inherited is the major focus of this class. Coursework may cover standard Mendelian models but also explore mechanisms on the molecular level. The role of DNA and mutations are normal molecular topics covered.

Cell Biology

The individual parts of a cell and how they work together is the major focus of this class. Methodology in studying cell organelles such as the nucleus and the function of membranes may be part of a laboratory component. Other organelles studied include the cytoskeleton, mitochondria and lysosomes.

Human Physiology

This course examines the way molecular and cellular components contribute to the overall function of a human body. Feedback models which help maintain the homeostatic function of the major organ systems such as the digestive system, endocrine system and nervous system are discussed. Intercellular communication facilitates the coordination of all the body components.

Biological Basis for Behavior

The nervous system and developmental biology are primary topics in this class because learning influences behavior. To understand the influence of social factors it is first necessary to understand variations in anatomy and response to stimuli. The regions of the brain and how they process information as well as cognition are also covered.

Cognitive Science

Mental imagery, pattern recognition and other cognitive theories are explored in this class. Research on how language acquisition and problem-solving develop is included with an expectation that students will conduct experiments of their own. Data analysis methods require some familiarity with statistics.

Developmental Psychology

This course follows human cognitive development from birth through childhood. The progression of developmental events that stimulate organizational changes in the brain are followed and research with neural plasticity is explored. At some universities, direct experience with children may be included.

Social Psychology

The influence of social interaction on behavior is at the core of this class. Social norms and conformity as well as cultural influences and social status have an effect on human behavior. Theories and everyday observations will be compared with a focus on causal relationships and the establishment of proof.

How to Choose a Program with a Double Major in Biology and Psychology

Things to consider when deciding on which university to attend include the level of involvement with clinics or schools. Even if the program is lacking in these cooperative connections, the program may offer internships with employers which will allow you to gain this experience. In addition, look for opportunities to participate in the research a university conducts with their cooperating institutions. These opportunities in an undergraduate program will give you critical thinking and communication skills which are often sought by employers.

Career Options for a Double Major in Biology and Psychology

With a double major in biology and psychology you are prepared to attend graduate school and become a psychologist. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a career in psychology with a master's degree can have an average salary of $75,230 (in 2016) and is expected to grow between 6% and 9% over the years 2016-2026. Other occupations that a double major in biology and psychology graduates can consider are below.

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