Psychology is the academic field that studies behavior—both human and animal. It is a broad field with many areas of specialization. At Iowa, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences offers course work in five areas: behavioral and cognitive neuroscience, clinical psychology, developmental science, cognition and perception, and personality and social psychology.

Many vocational opportunities in psychology require advanced professional training through a master’s degree (typically two years of graduate study) or a doctoral degree (typically four or five years of graduate study), so some undergraduates choose to combine a psychology degree with a second major in education, social work, business, journalism, or nursing.

Clinical psychologists work in clinics, hospitals, or in private practice, where they diagnose and treat psychological disorders. Clinical psychology is sometimes confused with psychiatry, but psychiatrists are medical doctors (MDs) with specialized training in the treatment of mental disorders.

Psychologists in academic settings teach and conduct research designed to increase our knowledge about behavior. They also work in governmental and industrial organizations, carrying out basic and applied research and providing professional advice.

Why Study at Iowa?

Psychology is one of Iowa’s most popular undergraduate majors. It provides a foundation for advanced study in psychology and related disciplines as well as in areas such as business, law, medicine, and communication.

The program involves a broad curriculum, training students in the study of individual behavior through human and animal studies. You will have access to a comprehensive advising system that includes individual faculty and peer advisers as well as an academic coordinator of undergraduate education.

Many research laboratories in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences have openings for undergraduate research assistants. You may become involved in all aspects of research, from scheduling and running subjects to analyzing data. Depending on the lab, you may speak to clients, run infant test sessions, and even design your own research projects.

Working in a research lab is a great way to learn whether you might be interested in a research career. In addition, students considering graduate study in psychology are encouraged to have research experience while they are undergraduates, since most graduate schools weigh research experience strongly when making acceptance decisions.

Course Work

Students majoring in psychology may earn a Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Science (BS).

The BA program is designed for students who are interested in law, business, education, the allied health professions, or fields such as counseling, rehabilitation, and social work.

The BS program emphasizes research and the natural sciences and is good preparation for graduate work in psychology and in related disciplines.

Several courses are required for both degrees:

  • Elementary Psychology
  • Biological Psychology
  • Research Methods in Psychology
  • A core statistics course
  • Three lower-level psychology elective courses
  • Three upper-level psychology elective courses

If you're a BA student, you'll also take:

  • An upper-level computer science or statistics course
  • A concentration area of at least three courses in a discipline outside psychology

If you're a BS student, you'll also take these courses:

  • Laboratory in Psychology
  • Psychology Seminar
  • An approved pair of natural sciences courses (chosen from biology, chemistry, and physics)
  • One calculus course
  • One advanced course in computer science, mathematics, or statistics

See Psychology in the UI General Catalog to learn more about the major and graduating with honors.

Teaching Licensure

Students interested in teaching should review the requirements for admission to the College of Education's Teacher Education Program and work closely with an academic adviser.

Minor in Psychology

Review Psychology in the UI General Catalog.

Admission Requirements

Psychology majors must meet the requirements for admission to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Students who declare the psychology major are admitted to the BA program. Students who want to earn a BS degree enroll in the BA program until they have completed 30 semester hours (s.h.) of course work with a grade-point average (GPA) of at least 2.67. There is no limit to the number of qualified students admitted to the BS program. Please visit for more information.

Admission Requirements Tabs

Student Opportunities

In addition to nearly 500 Student Organizations, Iowa students choose from multiple Living-Learning Communities, Study Abroad Programs, and Undergraduate Research Opportunities.

Psychology majors are encouraged to learn outside the classroom by participating in community service, volunteer opportunities, or in research projects with a faculty member.

The Iowa Student Psychology Association sponsors speakers, films, career days, and student symposiums.

The department also sponsors a chapter of the national honor society in psychology, Psi Chi, which is affiliated with the American Psychological Association.


Iowa graduates have job placement rates ranging from 86-100 percent, depending on their area of study, and our Pomerantz Career Center offers multiple resources to help students find internships and jobs.

Students who pursue a master’s degree in psychology have many opportunities to teach psychology in community colleges or high schools or to find employment in a business, school, or hospital. Undergraduate psychology students who don’t intend to enroll in graduate school right after earning their bachelor’s degree frequently earn a second major in a discipline that has broad opportunities for employment, such as education, social work, business, journalism, or nursing.

Learn more about careers in psychology at the American Psychological Association website.


The Office of Admissions and the Office of Student Financial Aid are great resources for students seeking scholarships.

Application Process

Application Process Tabs

Apply to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.


Psychology (BA)
Psychology (BS)
Teaching Licensure
in Social Science
Honors Courses
Four-Year Graduation Plan
Selective Admission
for the BS Program