Skip to main content

Answer My Questions

Triton Day Q&A Sessions

The Psychology Advising team will host a live zoom seminar and a Q/A session during Virtual Triton Day to welcome newly admitted students and provide students with an overview of opportunities in the Department of Psychology

Virtual Triton Day for Incoming First-Year Students will take place on Saturday, April 10th, 2021 

Virtual Transfer Day for Incoming Transfer Students will take place on Saturday, May 15th, 2021

If you are unable to attend Virtual Triton Day, please check out our recorded videos for First Years and Transfer Students.

Frequently Asked Questions

For the answers to more of your questions, visit:

Majors and Major Planning

What makes the Psychology Department, and its majors, at UC San Diego unique?

At UC San Diego, we have ten majors within the Psychology Department, which we think makes us unique and exciting!  No matter where your interests lie within the field of Psychology, we have a variety of different options to help you accomplish your aspirations. 

Our general Psychology Bachelor of Arts and general Bachelor of Science degrees provide students with an option to explore their interests across the variety of different facets of Psychology. Our specialization majors offer students who have specific interests an opportunity to tailor their Psychology courses towards what most excites them.  Our unique joint major in Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience combines concepts from both Psychology and Cognitive Science.  And our Business Psychology major is the first in the UC System, and one of the few Business Psychology undergraduate degrees in the country.

We also strongly support students in their pursuit of research, encouraging anyone with an interest to participate in research opportunities throughout campus.

What are the differences between majors? What is the best major for me?

We have ten different major options within our department.  Some majors have more subtle differences than others.

For example, our Bachelors of Arts degree requires less rigorous science, math, and programming than our Bachelors of Science degrees, and no research.  This major is a great choice for most students who are not interested in careers in research.

The only differences between our general Psychology B.S. major and our various B.S. degrees with Specializations are in a selected number of Upper Division courses.  These majors are intended for students who want to pursue research-based graduate programs.

The Business Psychology and Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience degrees require coursework from outside of the Psychology Department in addition to Psychology classes.  Both majors are intended for students interested in specific career paths (Human Factors, UI/UX, Organizational Leadership, or Industrial/Organizational Psychology for our Business Psychology Degree; Neuroscience or Neuropsychology for the Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience major).

Whatever major you choose, you'll be prepared for a wide variety of careers in and outside of the field of Psychology.  There is no one best major for you, or even one best major for every career path; we encourage you to explore your different options, be flexible with your major choices, and take our Buzzfeed-style Major Match Quiz to help get you started on the right path!

Why should I major in Psychology? Can I actually do something with my degree?

Of course you can!

Many of our students go on to graduate study after receiving their B.A. or B.S. degrees, but our graduates also go straight into the workforce, if they wish.  Our degrees prepare you for a number of careers, both in and outside of the field of Psychology.  We encourage you to take a look at our website's section on Careers to explore just a few options.

When do I have to know what major I want to declare? When is it too late to switch my major?

The short answer is that it is never too late; we've had students switch majors (usually from a B.S. to a B.A. or between B.S. specializations) in their last quarter!  But we encourage you to explore major options to come up with what you feel will work best for you by the middle of your Junior year.  It is simplest to switch majors before you have completed 135 units (after that you'll be asked to provide a quarterly academic plan within the major change system).  It also helps to declare your major so that you have an accurate degree audit to work from, even if it means you'll change it later.

If I major in Psychology, will I have to go to graduate school?

You will not have to go to graduate school after graduating with a degree from our department, unless your career goals require it.  Students wishing to be Psychologists (for example Clinical Psychologist, Forensic Psychologist, Sports Psychologist) or Therapists will need to go to graduate school in order to meet licensing requirements for those careers.

What sorts of careers will a major in Psychology lead to?

We like to say that there are as many career paths as there are students!  You can see some of them here.  Common career areas among our graduates include therapy/counseling, psychology research (Clinical or Experimental), education, and business.

What is the difference between Psychology and Cognitive Science?

Cognitive Science at UC San Diego is focused more on the brain and on artificial intelligence, than Psychology (our department has a broader focus).

What is the difference between Psychology and Human Developmental Sciences?

Human Developmental Sciences at UC San Diego is an interdisciplinary major focused on all aspects of development.  While many of our courses can be used toward their major requirements, our department has a broader focus.

What is the difference between the Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience major in the Psychology Department versus the one in the Cognitive Science Department?

There are very few differences between the majors, as they are intended to be a joint major and therefore the same.  All coursework for both majors can be taken by students in either department.  However, students may find that the Honors Program for one department or another is a better fit for their needs, and they may connect better with an advising team in one department or another.

How many students are majoring in the department?

We currently have nearly 2000 students majoring in our department. 

The most popular major is our B.S. with a Specialization in Clinical Psychology, followed by our general Bachelors of Science and Bachelors of Arts majors and our B.S. in Business Psychology.

Classes and Faculty

What kinds of Psychology classes are offered?

We offer a wide variety of Psychology classes in our department, from introductory-level Lower Division General Psychology coursework, Statistics and Research Methods to Upper Division Core classes to Psychology Electives in Clinical, Cognitive, Developmental, and Social Psychology to Elective coursework in Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience to labs and other research classes.  We offer a selection of large and small classes each quarter.  For more about the courses that we offer, please visit our Courses page.

Are the classes big? How do I get to know my professors?

While it is true that many of our introductory classes are large, with 200 students or more, several of our Electives and all of our Lab classes are far more intimate.

Still, it is important for students to be able to make connections with professors (for a number of reasons, but especially for graduate school recommendations!), so here are our best suggestions for connecting to faculty and lecturers in the department:

  • Sit near the front!
    Seriously, we know it sounds silly, but you won't notice the size of the class quite as much if you only have a row or two of students separating you and the professor.
  • Ask questions!
    In class, after class, in e-mails...  Just try to straddle the line between "I am an engaged, informed student" and "I am demanding your attention for the fifth time this week for a question that could easily be answered by reading the assignment." 
  • Go to office hours!
    Want to chat one on one or in a small group with your professor or TA? Office hours are the best way to get in front of them!  And don't be afraid to ask questions (during quieter times in the quarter, of course, not right before an exam) about graduate school, careers in Psychology, and more.
  • Take a small class!
    We know that this can be tough, especially at first.  But small classes exist all over campus, from First Year Seminars to Research classes to Seminar-style courses.  Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to enroll in classes that pique your interest.
  • Get involved with Research!
    Research labs are one of the best ways to get to know faculty on campus. Students involved as Research Assistants in PSYC 199s work 12 hours/week in labs, some of which are very small.  Many of these labs not only have weekly meetings where you'll get to have regular interaction with the faculty PI, but projects which will require your PI to get to know and trust you.
  • Get an internship!
    Internships are handled through the Academic Internship Program here on campus.  Any internship for which you earn academic credit is required to be supervised by a faculty member.  They'll help you connect what you learn on the job to what you learn in the classroom.  Doing an internship is a great way to show a faculty member on campus what you can do.
  • Join our Honors Program!
    If you're passionate about research, consider applying to join the Psychology Honors Program, a two year statistics-based program which culminates in a research project and presentation.  This is a great way to get to know a faculty member very well!

How hard is it to get into classes? Will I be able to get the ones I need?

On any large college campus, there will be times that getting into classes is difficult.  However, the university is committed to ensuring that students can make adequate academic progress, and departments across campus are consistently trying to ensure that enough classes are offered, in large enough sizes, to meet demand. 

We can't say that you'll never be waitlisted, but we do our best to resolve as many waitlists within our control as possible (we can't conjure up larger classrooms!), and we know that other departments do the same.  What we do know is that you should be able to find classes that meet your requirements - whether for major, minor, or general education - each quarter.  We encourage all students, regardless of major, to come up with flexible academic plans and check in frequently with advising offices to stay on track.

By the way, the majority of Psychology Core classes' waitlists resolve themselves by the end of the first week or two of classes.  Most often, our waitlisted classes are small (and optional) seminars or labs.  We are constantly adding more labs and seminars, to try to minimize enrollment frustration, and we are pretty confident when we say that you should be able to get into all of your required classes in order to graduate, especially if you plan ahead.

How will I choose the right classes for me?

We're glad you asked!  We start you off at Orientation with an overview of coursework you'll need to complete, and every one of our majors includes a quarter-by-quarter plan (also found on  We also offer individual and group advising sessions!

What AP or IB credit counts toward my major? What if I don't have any AP or IB credit?

Neither AP/IB Psychology nor AP Statistics fulfill any requirements for our majors, but many students are able to complete major requirements using AP/IB Calculus, AP/IB Biology, AP/IB Chemistry, AP/IB Physics, or AP/IB Computer Programming.  Refer to the AP/IB charts in the UC San Diego General Catalog for more information about course equivalents for AP/IB classes.

If you're not coming in to UC San Diego with AP or IB credit, we promise that's okay!  You can still finish all the requirements for your major and degree within a four year time frame.

Research, Internships, Events, and Student Involvement

What is Psychology research and why should I care?

Psychology research, as it relates to our department, involves answering questions related to Psychology.  For example, we have researchers within the Department of Psychology asking how people learn to add,

Can I really get involved with research as an undergraduate?

Yes!  Undergraduate students from our department are heavily involved with important, cutting-edge research throughout campus, including at Scripps and Salk Research Institutes, the UC San Diego School of Medicine, and the VA San Diego, as well as in the Psychology Department, of course!  We see highly-motivated students who get into research labs during their first year on campus and stay involved in research until graduation.  If you're passionate about psychological research, we encourage you to start exploring opportunities as early as this Fall.

Do I have to do research? I don't think I would like it.

While we encourage our students to get involved in research, we understand that research is not for everyone!  For students who are not interested in doing research during their undergraduate career, we recommend that they choose our Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology major.  The B.A. is our only major that does not require research. Keep in mind that this does not make it a lesser major! The B.A. is perfect for students who are interested in careers that do not require a background in research such as therapy/counseling.

Can I get an internship? How will that work?

Yes!  Internships are available on and off campus, including in Washington D.C. and Sacramento, through the Academic Internship Program.  AIP offers a number of information sessions throughout the year specifically for Psychology students, focused on how to get an internship and how to use transferable skills from internships and other opportunities to make themselves more desirable candidates for jobs and graduate programs.  Students majoring or minoring within the Psychology Department may use one Psychology-related internship, with approval, toward major or minor requirements.  For more information visit our internships page.

Can I study abroad?

Absolutely!  We encourage all interested students to take advantage of study abroad opportunities through the UC San Diego Study Abroad Office.  Majors may use up to three Upper Division courses toward major requirements (with approval), and can take courses for a minor or general education requirements as well.  For more information visit our education abroad page.

Are there any clubs for Psychology students?

There are a number of clubs that may be of interest to students studying Psychology.

Our department is affiliated with an active Psi Chi chapter (meetings and events are open to all students, even those not officially registered with Psi Chi).  Students from our department are involved with a host of other on-campus organizations focused on mental health, wellbeing, pre-career, and other interests.  We encourage students to explore their many options by visiting the Center for Student Involvement.

What sorts of activities can I expect to participate in as a Psychology student?

Our department holds a number of events each year, including our annual Paths to PhDs panel, Careers in Mind symposium, Honors Poster Session, and Senior Send Off celebration.  We also hold quarterly workshops on a number of topics, and Orientation sessions each Fall and Winter.  Stay on top of opportunities to participate in workshops and events on our Events page or Facebook page and by checking your e-mail for invites.

Advising and Student Support

How can I get the information I need? How available is the Psychology Advising Office?

We are committed to making all information about our majors and programs as available as possible.  Chances are VERY good that, if you look, you'll be able to find the answers to your simple questions on our website.

Students can ask questions online at any time using the Virtual Advising Center; the advising team will answer your question within 2-3 business days.

For complicated questions, such as major selection, careers, and academic planning, you are welcome to walk in to Psychology Advising during posted advising hours or make an appointment.

Is the Department Orientation mandatory? Why should I attend?

Psychology Department Orientation isn't strictly mandatory, but we highly encourage you to participate so that you are as prepared as possible to succeed in our department.

I receive testing accommodations at my high school or community college; will the Psychology Department also provide them?

The Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD) promotes and facilitates educational access for students with disabilities. Each year they serve about 650 students with various permanent or temporary documented disabilities.  Students who have testing accommodations from high school or community college can meet with OSD to receive accommodations on a quarterly basis while at UC San Diego. Our department works directly with OSD to provide accommodations for our Psychology students.

What academic support is available for students? Can I get tutoring if I need it?

UC San Diego offers a number of academic support opportunities, from tutoring available in other departments across campus to programs offered through OASIS and the Teaching + Learning Commons

Although the Psychology Department does not offer tutoring, the Teaching + Learning Commons has partnered with the Psychology Department to offer Supplemental Instruction for PSYC 60.

We also encourage students to visit professor and TA office hours to get additional help.

More Questions

What do your students do after they graduate?

Many of our students attend graduate programs in Clinical Psychology, Experimental Psychology, or Therapy/Counseling.  Others go to health professional schools (such as Medical or Dental school).  But a large percentage of our department's graduates find jobs straight out of college, or delay graduate school for a few years.  A number of our alumni have returned to participate in programs such as Careers in Mind and Alumni 101, so students can learn from their experience.

How involved are alumni in the department?

We run quarterly and annual programs which encourage students to interact with alumni, including our Alumni 101 workshop series and our Careers in Mind symposium.  Alumni are also available for mentorship through TritonsConnect.  We additionally have a number of alumni from our undergraduate program who are current graduate students, staff, or faculty in our department.