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The Department of Psychology and Social Behavior (PSB) at UCI offers exciting and innovative programs of study at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Our 25 faculty members are prominent scholars whose specialties include developmental, social, personality, health, psychology and law, biological, clinical, cultural, community, environmental, and ecological psychology. The faculty are united by an overarching interest in understanding the origins of human behavior as it develops across the life course and in diverse sociocultural contexts. The faculty also share a strong commitment to interdisciplinary scholarship and to research that has the potential for application to important societal problems.


Undergraduate Program

The approximately 1200 undergraduate majors in the Department of Psychology and Social Behavior begin their program of study with core courses in developmental, social, health, and abnormal psychology. Advanced courses cover specialized topics in these fields, as well as in environmental, clinical, and community psychology. A number of advanced courses delve into the psychological aspects of important societal issues and problems, such as child abuse, violence, divorce, work and family, and community health. Undergraduates also gain rigorous training in research methods and statistics (see Degree Requirements for Psychology and Social Behavior Majors). A rich array of internships are available to undergraduates through a very popular required Field Study sequence. Opportunities for Field Study internships are plentiful in Orange County in settings such as schools, child care facilities, counseling centers, senior citizen centers, hospitals and other health care settings, and social service agencies. Opportunities to participate in faculty research projects enrich the undergraduate experience by providing competence in the research process, thereby readying students for future careers and graduate study. Outstanding undergraduates have the opportunity to conduct an Honors Research Project with individual faculty guidance. Graduates from our program have assumed positions in the private and public sectors or have continued their education at leading graduate institutions, where they have pursued advanced degrees in psychology, education, human development, public health, social work, counseling, law, and business, among other fields.

Graduate Program

The Department offers a broadly oriented degree program that leads to the Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior. Graduate study in our Ph.D. program will provide students with a foundation for a primary, or major, specialization in one of four core areas: health psychology, developmental psychology, social/personality psychology, and affective science. Students select another area as a secondary, or minor, field of specialization. Our program seeks to provide students with a foundation of the theories, methods, and knowledge base of these four core areas in order to understand the antecedents and developmental course of adaptive or maladaptive behavior in diverse sociocultural contexts. An additional objective of our program is to provide training in the translation of basic research to guide the formulation and evaluation of social interventions, programs and policies that have the potential to promote health and well-being.

Graduate students in our doctoral program acquire a strong foundation in theory, research methods, advanced statistics, as well as in the classic and contemporary issues of their respective fields. Students collaborate with faculty on research from the very beginning of their graduate training and are encouraged to gain research experience with more than one faculty member. As their interests and skills develop, students pursue more independent research projects. With 25 full-time faculty to serve as mentors for approximately 70 graduate students, our students enjoy the benefits of a program with an excellent faculty-to-student ratio and with a strong sense of community. Because students work closely with faculty throughout their graduate careers, they regularly have opportunities to co-author conference presentations, journal articles, and book chapters.

For more information about the Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Behavior, please see the Graduate Program webpage or visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. Finally, if you have specific questions that remain unanswered, please contact Professor Sarah Pressman, PSB Graduate Advisor, at

Specialization in Developmental Psychology

The specialization in developmental psychology focuses on the development and adaptation of individuals across the life-span and the effects of variations in the social, physical, and cultural contexts of development at different points in the life-span. Coursework introduces students to developmental theories, concepts, and empirical research at all phases of the life course.

Specialization in Health Psychology

This specialization focuses on understanding the psychosocial and behavioral factors that influence the onset or progression of illness and disease and the effectiveness of health promotion programs and medical treatments. Training will allow students to develop a strong foundation in the theoretical perspectives, research methods, intervention strategies, ethical issues, and current controversies in the field of health psychology.

Specialization in Social/Personality Psychology

The specialization in social/personality psychology trains students to examine how features of the social environment and characteristics of individuals interact to influence behavior, cognition, and affect. Training will allow students to develop a strong foundation in the theoretical perspectives, research methods, and current controversies in the field of social/personality psychology. Special emphases include social cognition, emotion, subjective well-being, self and identity, personality resilience, interpersonal relations, cultural psychology, and adaptation to stress and perceived risks.

Specialization in Affective Science

The specialization in affective science focuses on the effects of emotion, motivation, and values on human reasoning, behavior, and health in typical and atypical populations, across the life span, and across cultures. Special emphases include the biological bases of emotional experience; relations between emotion, reasoning, and memory; emotion regulation; goal engagement and disengagement; effects of emotion on physical and mental health; emotion in social relationships; and how emotional experience changes over the lifespan.

Concentration in Psychology & Law

UCI has emerged as one of the world's leading centers for research and scholarship in the interdisciplinary field of Psychology and Law. The concentration in psychology & law (forensic psychology) endeavors to investigate issues and train graduate students to address problems that fall at the intersection between these fields. Click here to read about the Center for Psychology and Law at UC Irvine. Click here to learn more about the option to pursue a J.D./Ph.D. at UCI.

Research and Computing Facilities

The Department maintains research facilities and equipment to support students and faculty in all aspects of their research. The Department has several laboratories equipped with observation stations, one-way mirrors, and audio-visual equipment. The rooms in these laboratories are configured to allow for observations of children, couples, families, or larger groups. Several faculty members also maintain laboratories with state-of-the-art equipment for both behavioral observation and psychophysiological assessments.

The School also maintains two microcomputer laboratories, which are equipped with updated computers, laserjet and color printers, scanners, and a wide variety of software programs including SPSS (Statistical Package for the Social Sciences), SAS (Statistical Analysis System), SYSTAT, EQS, LISREL, and AMOS (structural equation modeling programs), and standard word processing, graphics, and speadsheet programs such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Corel WordPerfect. The computers are networked to the campus ethernet system to provide high-speed access to e-mail and the Internet. Graduate students and faculty are given unlimited free access to these computers, and orientation sessions offered in the fall quarter each year provide introductions to much of the statistical software available. The Office of Academic Computing at UCI provides further resources for computing and statistical analysis, as well as workshops on a variety of topics. Their technical staff are also available to consult with students and faculty about individual needs.


The School of Social Ecology

The Department of Psychology and Social Behavior (PSB) at UCI is part of the interdisciplinary School of Social Ecology. For nearly 30 years, the School of Social Ecology has been training scientists to examine human behavior and social problems from interdisciplinary and contextual perspectives. Recent discussions of the future of academic psychology have emphasized the need for psychology to dedicate itself to the scientific study of important societal problems, and to deal with the complexity of human behavior as it unfolds in diverse social and cultural contexts. With its longstanding commitment to the application of multidisciplinary scientific research to fundamental problems in human adaptation, the School was ahead of its time, and not surprisingly, it has earned a reputation as "one of the most successful interdisciplinary arenas in the field and a good example of a growing trend in behavioral research" (American Psychological Society Observer, 1999). The School enrolls approximately 250 graduate students and more than 2,900 undergraduate majors, making it one of the most popular undergraduate programs on campus. Across the School, five doctoral programs, three masters programs, and five bachelors programs are offered. Affiliated faculty from the School, and from other departments on campus, teach relevant undergraduate and graduate courses and serve on committees for PSB graduate students.