As anyone who's ever gotten sick due to stress can attest, the mind and the body can't easily be separated. The worlds of biology and psychology are increasingly merging within academia, with numerous schools offering concentrations in biological psychology, neuropsychology and similar crossover fields. Majoring in both biology and psychology can prepare you for a host of graduate school options and give you a strong background in two sciences that affect human well-being.
Similarities and Crossover
Many schools require that biology and psychology students take similar classes. At Barnard College, for example, both biology and psychology majors must take several lab classes, and psychology students are required to take at least two science classes in a field such as biology. Both biology and psychology majors must master the basics of anatomy, with psychology students concentrating primarily on the brain and nervous system. Your courses in one major may help clarify courses in the other, and you may find that you can get credit for some classes in one of your majors by taking classes for the other major.
Double majors in biology and psychology will gain the skills they need to begin tackling challenging questions about the mind-body connection, how biology affects behavior, whether mental illness has biological roots and how best to treat a wide variety of physical and mental health conditions. At many schools, a senior project or thesis will make up part of your course requirements. You can combine your two research interests to come up with novel projects that you may be able to continue in graduate school or in your career.
A biology-psychology double major can prepare you for graduate school in either field. You might opt to study psychology or biology, or you could consider medical school, genetics, chemistry and similar options. But if you're fascinated by the intersection of biology and psychology, your double major can open up new doors such as graduate school in biopsychology, evolutionary psychology or neuropsychology.
A bachelor of science degree often means you'll have to go to graduate school before you can practice in your field. However, your two majors could open up career opportunities as a biomedical researcher, data analyst or consultant. Because you'll gain experience and expertise in two separate fields, you'll be able to consider careers that merge the two fields as well as careers that focus on only one of the two fields.
Van Thompson is an attorney and writer. A former martial arts instructor, he holds bachelor's degrees in music and computer science from Westchester University, and a juris doctor from Georgia State University. He is the recipient of numerous writing awards, including a 2009 CALI Legal Writing Award.