Study Abroad for Psychological and Brain Sciences Majors

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences encourages students to broaden their educational experience through participation in the UC Education Abroad Program. This program provides students with the opportunity to understand psychology from an international perspective while broadening their academic horizons. With careful planning, students may spend up to one year of study in a foreign university, with no loss of time in completing their degrees.

Why study abroad?

EAP provides students the opportunity to develop a global understanding of the field of psychology. Students abroad are able to take classes in subfields that are not offered at UCSB, such as Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Applied Psychology, and the Psychology of Communication. If you are interested in going to graduate school in a field other than Experimental Psychology, EAP offers you valuable experience. If Experimental Psychology is your passion, you will have the opportunity to see how other countries approach this field. You will also find that many of the courses abroad are smaller in class size, more intimate, and more interactive than courses at UCSB.

Where should I study abroad?

Most of the universities available through EAP have psychology programs in which you can takes classes for your major. Some countries, such as Spain, take a more humanistic or applied approach to psychology than we do at UCSB. If you are hoping to take psychology classes different from those you will take at UCSB, this may be a good choice for you. On the other hand, countries such as England and France take an empirical approach to psychology and offer courses very similar to those at UCSB. This makes it easier for you to find equivalent courses.

For a summary and links to programs with opportunities in psychology and biopsychology, go to this UC EAP website.

The Psychological and Brain Sciences Department website features a UCEAP Equivalency List of courses taken by previous students for major credit. This list will help you determine which universities offer the most choices to fulfill your major requirements.

When should I study abroad?

The best time for psychology majors to study abroad is in their junior year. By this time, you should be a full major and be in the process of completing your upper-division classes. It is very important that you complete the premajor before you study abroad. If you go abroad as a pre-major, you will most likely exceed the department’s 144 unit cap for declaring the major. It will then be impossible for you to continue in the Psychology or Biopsychology major.

Psychology majors will find it very easy to go abroad for one semester to take only general education classes. The major has very few upper-division units required and one or two quarters away from UCSB will not usually put students behind in completing their degrees. However, be sure to verify your progress with the undergraduate advisor before applying to study abroad.

For Biopsychology majors, careful planning is required if you wish to study abroad. Since this major has many required courses that must be taken in a particular sequence, you need to be sure that your time away from UCSB will not put you behind in your degree progress. Students who prefer not to miss time during the regular academic year might consider studying abroad during the summer through one of the short-term EAP programs. The programs at Cambridge and Sussex in England allow you to take psychology courses, an opportunity which is not usually available in summer programs.

What classes should I take?

Psychology majors will most likely take classes that will count for the upper-division portion of the major. Most, but not all, classes taken by students through EAP will count for the psychology courses numbered 110 and above. The classes do not have be exactly equivalent to courses at UCSB, but it is imperative that the classes are upper-division psychology courses that deal with and/or consider an empirical approach to the subject matter. Applied psychology courses cannot be used to fulfill major requirements. The under- graduate advisor can help you determine whether or not a class will count for your requirements.

Biopsychology majors will have more difficulty finding courses that fulfill the lecture requirements in Area C of the upper-division major. However, it is possible to fulfill your psychology electives while abroad. Review the list of previously approved courses to find out which biopsychology classes students have taken through EAP. 

Fulfilling the laboratory class requirement abroad will be difficult for both psychology and biopsychology majors. Therefore, this is a requirement that you should complete at UCSB.

Keep in mind that at least 20 units of upper-division major coursework (or 12 upper-division minor units) must be completed in residence at UCSB along with other residence requirements. Consult an advisor in the College of Letters & Science for more information. 

Psychology majors can apply up to 16 upper-division EAP units to their major. Biopsychology majors can apply 20 to 24 upper-division EAP units to their major. EAP students automatically earn UC credit for the work they complete abroad. However, application of credit to major requirements is subject to the discretion of the student’s major department and approval of the college.

How do I get started?

Begin by identifying your goals for study abroad and then consult the EAP web pages ( to identify appropriate EAP programs. To find programs which offer particular disciplines or to search courses taken by EAP students over the last 5 years by subject, keyword and/or location, explore the resources found under Program and Course Search.

Review the information on the department websitewhcih contains links to course equivalents, 4-year plans, and the petition process for major credit.

Navigate to host universities’ web sites on the available links to learn more about the schools and their departments. 

Stop by the EAP office at 2431 South Hall. Peer advisors who have recently returned from studying abroad as well as staff advisors are eager to answer your questions. Go see your department Undergraduate Advisor and a College of Letters & Science advisor to discuss major, general education, residence and other requirements.

Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
Psychology East 1814
University of California, Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9660
Phone: (805) 893-2844

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