Psychological & Brain Sciences BS

The Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences (PBS) offers three degrees: the Psychological and Brain Sciences B.S. (open to incoming freshmen in Fall 2016), the Biopsychology B.S., and the Psychology B.A. (closed to incoming freshmen but open to students that began coursework at UCSB before Fall 2016 and transfer students until Fall 2017). Pre-Psychological and Brain Sciences, Pre-Biopsychology, and Pre-Psychology major students work on completing Pre-Major classes while earning qualifying grades before advancing to the full Psychological and Brain Sciences, Biopsychology, or Psychology major. Once in the full major, students must then satisfy the upper division requirements.

Please use the information found within the corresponding major tabs to the left to explore the PBS majors and their requirements, including Pre-Major classes and qualifying grades. The PBS department does not offer any major emphases, nor does the PBS department offer any minors.

Major requirements protect the integrity of the PBS program and the learning outcomes for eligible students. PBS is a severely impacted department and enrollment is only granted to students performing to these pre-major qualification standards. There are no quotas to how many students are denied or accepted into the major, but rather all those that qualify are accepted to the pursue Psychological and Brain Sciences, Biopsychology or Psychology.

PBS Equalization of Grading Policy: The “Bell Curve”

To ensure that grading procedures are consistent between classes offered quarter to quarter, instructors of Pre-Major PSY courses are required to use the equalization of grading policy. This policy is commonly known as “bell curve grading”. The PBS department does not control the grading policies of other academic departments.

The purpose of this policy is to minimize variables that might feel unfair to students (i.e. instructors, tests, textbooks used, times of day offered, quarter offered, location of classroom, etc.). Grading is based solely on student performance level in comparison to the others in the same class.

According to the policy, the following grades will be evenly distributed:

  • Approximately only 10-15% of the class will get a mark of an A (A+ to A-).
  • Approximately only 25% of the class will get a mark of a B (B+ to B-).
  • Realistically, approximately 40-45% of the class will get a mark of a C (C+ to C-).
  • Unfortunately, approximately 20% of the class will get a mark of a D+ or lower.

Students must earn a 2.7 Pre-Major GPA to join the full Psychological and Brain Sciences, Psychology or Biopsychology major, and about 65% of the students taking any given one pre-major course will not earn marks high enough to join the major. However, the combination of all Pre-Major courses marks allows students the opportunity to obtain the minimum GPA requirement.

This minimum GPA requirement protects the integrity of our program and the learning outcomes for eligible students. PBS is severely impacted department and enrollment is only granted to students performing at these standards. There are no quotas to how many students are denied or accepted into the major but rather all those that qualify are accepted to the pursue Psychological and Brain Sciences, Biopsychology, or Psychology.