What is it like to study Psychological and Brain Sciences at John Hopkins University?

I am very interested in pursuing undergraduate studies at John Hopkins given the strong research focus with a pre-med track. In saying this, I am very interested in psychology and neuroscience. What is it like studying this major?

You’re looking at the right university if you’re thinking of pursuing psychology or neuroscience!

I can attest that you’ll find yourself exposed to eye-opening academic and research opportunities led by faculty at the international frontline of their fields.

Psychology at Hopkins readily engages research methodology with an empirical orientation: in fact, the very first psychology lab in America was founded at JHU (by G. Stanley Hall, who was also the first president of the American Psychological Association).

There’s a mixture of large lecture courses, as well as classes that run on in-depth discussions that go as small as 9 in enrollment. Covering a broad base of concepts that relate to understanding and analyzing perception, cognition, thought, behavior, and the underlying biological systems, your study may extend beyond the department. A chunk of courses at the 200 level and above are co-listed with Neuroscience, Cognitive Science and Behavioral Biology, and there are also great platforms to characterize and study internal processes through the lens of Philosophy or Sociology via interdisciplinary upper-level classes. Look for courses taught by Professor Halberda or Professor Flombaum – they’re inspiring lecturers, intellectuals and mentors.

Whether you’re interested in neuropsychology, evolutional psychology, psychopathology or interpersonal relations, make sure you explore the range of introductory level classes offered to figure out where your passion really lies. Intro to Developmental Psychology, Intro to Social Psychology, and the Foundations of Brain, Behavior and Cognition are all engaging intro courses for you to consider. Pursuing the major actively propels you to make use of the excellent resources made available to you at Hopkins, as it is a requirement that you complete 3 credits of either Research practica, Internship, Independent study, or a Small group experience, which includes seminars with an enrollment cap of 19 students or less. Professors are devoted to their fields, and you should definitely take advantage. Approach them, express your interest, get involved with lab work, and potentially be published in journals of international accolade.

Neuroscience is another department that thrives at Hopkins. As well as a broader overview of the structure and function of the nervous system, you’ll be trained in one of the following concentrations:

  • Cognitive Neuroscience

  • Cellular and molecular Neuroscience

  • Systems Neuroscience

Although the degree requirements are the same for each, the research you involve yourself with and the advanced upper-level courses you take will distinguish your focus area. If you complete all major requirements and maintain a major GPA of 3.5, you may also choose to apply for the 5-year BS/MS program: you’ll spend one extra year on seminars and extensive research, and the program will cover half of the cost for your last year of study.

You must complete at least 6 credit hours of research to earn a degree in Neuroscience. Each 40 hours of work per semester is worth 1 credit. Because a semester is about 13 weeks long, this means that each credit would require about three hours per week on average. If you work regularly during the semester, then three hours a week will yield 1 credit, six hours will yield 2 credits, and nine hours will yield 3 credits, and so on. The Nervous System I and II, taught by the notorious but brilliant Professor Hendry, are required of all majors. And yes, Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, with all four semesters of labs for both, are major requirements.

On top of classes such as Neuroscience of Decision making and Altered States of Consciousness, you’ll be able to satisfy your intellectual curiosity through attending seminars that feature key speakers with updated research on various fields. One example is Brain Night held by the Johns Hopkins Brain Science Institute, which brings faculty, researchers and students together for thoughtful conversation. Keep in mind that events like this present great networking opportunities.

On top of studying through the Krieger School of Arts and Science for undergraduate study, students pursuing Psychology and Neuroscience at Hopkins are endowed with exciting opportunities to engage with the Mind-Brain Institute and the School of Medicine in varying capacities.