Psychology Major at Brown 

December 19, 2022
By AdmissionSight

Psychology Major at Brown

Does Brown offer a psychology major?

Does Brown offer a psychology major? The Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) offers five undergraduate concentrations (the equivalent of majors at other institutions): Psychology, Cognitive Science, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Linguistics. The psychology major at Brown offers fundamental courses in the field’s key sub-disciplines: perception, cognition, developmental, behavioral neuroscience, and social psychology.

The Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) was formed in 2010 by the merger of the departments of Psychology (founded in 1892) and Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences (formed in 1986). The combination of these two closely related departments has produced an atmosphere where this intellectual synthesis may flourish. State-of-the-art research in mind, brain, behavior, and language involves crossing numerous levels of study and using a variety of approaches and methodologies. The establishment of CLPS follows Brown’s idea of bridging disciplines and encouraging interdisciplinary studies.

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The field of psychology investigates a wide variety of phenomena and levels of analysis to accomplish three primary objectives: to expand the knowledge of the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying sensation, perception, learning, and emotion; to examine the biological and evolutionary foundations of behavior, and to illustrate the social perception and evaluation of individuals and groups. Students of the psychology major at Brown also take a quantitative methods course and choose from a variety of seminars on specialized themes and laboratory courses that focus on research design and cutting-edge approaches. Students who major in psychology are prepared for jobs in research, teaching, clinical psychology, business, law, and education, among other fields.

Student Objectives

Students in this concentration will be able to:

  • Gain a foundation in the science of perception and cognition, as well as social, comparative, and developmental psychology
  • Gain expertise in at least one of the core areas of psychology
  • Learn to formulate a scientific question
  • Make use of quantitative and other research methods
  • Conduct original research

To complete the AB concentration, 12 courses are needed. For the Bachelor of Science in Psychology major at Brown, there are additional requirements to be completed. Courses must include 1 laboratory course and 4 approved science courses, for a total of 17 required courses.

What courses do you need to take to major in psychology at Brown?

Before pre-registering for the fifth semester, you must designate a concentration by the middle of your fourth semester, usually in the spring semester of your sophomore year at Brown.

Now, what courses do you need to take to major in psychology at Brown? Students interested in the CLPS concentrations, including the psychology major at Brown, could take the CLPS 0010 course as an introduction at the start of their academic experience, or as an integration after having completed several specialized courses in a single concentration. CLPS 0010 cannot be substituted with an AP or IB Psychology credit.

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CLPS 0010 (Mind, Brain, and Behavior) is an introductory course that covers the broad region of the scientific study of the mind as uniquely represented by the CLPS department. Neural processes, perception, learning, memory, emotion, language, social development, social judgment, personality, and mental illness are all covered.

In addition, statistics are required for careers in psychology and related professions. As a result, the psychology concentration requires a course in quantitative methods (CLPS 0900). Because CLPS 0900 is a prerequisite for research techniques and laboratory courses, concentrations should plan to take it by the fourth semester. With the consent of a psychology concentration advisor, students may substitute a comparable statistics course given in another department for CLPS 0900. For more information, you may speak with a concentration advisor. Regardless of your score, the department does not give concentration credit for AP Statistics.

A course on research methods is another component of the psychology major. The ideal course for completing this requirement is Research Methods and Design (CLPS 1900 or CLPS 1901). This course expands on the introductory statistics course by introducing students to a wide range of topics in the psychological sciences, including empirical methods (e.g., surveys, chronometry, eye tracking, brain imaging), common designs (e.g., factorial experimental, correlational, longitudinal), research ethics, and best practices of literature review.

Other CLPS laboratory courses can be used to meet the research techniques requirement; for a list of authorized courses, it’s best to speak with a psychology advisor. Other departments’ laboratory or research methods courses cannot be used to complete the research technique requirement. The research techniques requirement must be completed before the senior year.

Does Brown offer a master’s degree in Psychology?

The graduate program in psychology at Brown University is aimed at preparing students for careers as scientists and instructors who will contribute to society in academic and applied contexts.

Brown University’s Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) is dedicated to the multidisciplinary study of the mind, brain, behavior, and language. Psychology is one of three Ph.D. degrees provided by the university, along with cognitive science and linguistics. After the first year, Ph.D. candidates are officially accepted by the department and can select one of three programs.

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You might wonder, “Does Brown offer a master’s degree in psychology?” Unfortunately, the department does not admit students seeking terminal master’s degrees. There are no Ph.D. or master’s programs in clinical, counseling, school, or applied psychology offered by the department either.

Students in the psychology major at Brown will receive a wide understanding of scientific concerns, theories, and experimental procedures, and expertise in one or more research specializations. Programs of study are highly personalized. The decisions regarding research and coursework are made in close consultation with the student’s chosen research advisor and graduate committee. As their interests evolve, students may switch majors, programs, or advisors. Additionally, students are encouraged to work with faculty members who are not their primary mentors.

Accepted students in the Psychology Ph.D. program are guaranteed five years of financial support if they make satisfactory progress toward the degree. In addition to doctoral support from the Graduate School, the department usually grants a summer stipend for a fourth summer if the student continues to focus on research during that time. Students are encouraged to apply for their own fellowships (e.g., NSF) before or after being admitted to the program, and support is typically provided in the form of teaching or research assistantships.

Application Requirements

  • GRE Subject: Not required
  • GRE General: Not required
  • Writing Sample: Required
  • Personal Statement: Applicants should define their background and interests in relation to the selected Ph.D. program (e.g., Psychology) and the research undertaken by specific professors who may act as research advisors in their statement of purpose.


Application Deadline: December 1, 2022

Requirements for Completion

The graduate program for the psychology major at Brown includes the following completion requirements:

  • First-year research project
  • Three core courses
  • Two quantitative courses
  • Three specialization courses
  • Four semesters of teaching assistantships
  • Preliminary exam paper
  • Dissertation proposal
  • Dissertation and oral presentation.

The assessment of the fit between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more faculty members is a significant component in considering applications. You must thoroughly read through the departmental website before applying, paying special attention to the faculty research descriptions. Applicants are highly encouraged to contact faculty members before applying, but this is not required. Keep in mind that the admissions officers or faculty members cannot predict your chances of admission before you apply.

The admission decisions are based on the whole application, which is reviewed by several faculty members thus admission to the CLPS Ph.D. programs is extremely competitive. Approximately, 15% of candidates are invited for interviews, and about half of the interviewees are admitted. Accepted students are financially supported for five years (tuition and stipend), as discussed earlier.

Is Brown a good school for Psychology?

The study of the complexities of the human experience is important to a psychology curriculum. With a graduate degree, psychologists can work in healthcare institutions, schools, and the government. The U.S. News & World Report rankings for the 2023 Best Psychology Schools ranked Brown’s psychology program as number 23 in the whole country.

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To answer the query, “Is Brown a good school for psychology?” The Department of Cognitive, Linguistic, and Psychological Sciences (CLPS) teachers, staff, and students work hard to create a community in which all department members feel secure, supported, included, and valued.

Recognizing that science is a collaborative and creative process that relies on the free exchange of ideas, Brown emphasizes that this aim is vital not only for the type of community the school wants to build but also because a healthy community improves the quality of its science.

The CLPS community commits to:

  • Create and foster a diverse department that encompasses encouraging diversity across different aspects such as racial, religious, gender, sexual orientation, nationality, ethnicity, handicap, first-generation status, and socioeconomic status.
  • Take personal responsibility for being aware of both individual and community needs, including being conscious of power relations.
  • Take advantage of opportunities to learn more about how to create and sustain an inclusive community.
  • Foster open discussion and trust among community members.
  • Put mental, emotional, and physical health first of all members of the community.

The department acknowledges that the community and its members may fall short of the values to which the school aspires at times.  In addition to making active efforts to better accomplish these principles, the department promises to adopt clear procedures to hold everyone accountable for achieving these ideals and to ensure that these procedures are fair and transparent.

CLPS is headquartered in a 36,000-square-foot refurbished and historic facility featuring cutting-edge laboratories, classrooms, and formal and casual gathering places. Apart from high-end facilities, the department has several centers and resources that make the students’ stay at Brown worthwhile and allow students to make the most out of the opportunities available to them.

Carney Institute for Brain Science Institute

The Carney Institute for Brain Science (Carney) strives to promote Brown University as an internationally recognized leader in brain research by advancing multidisciplinary research, technology development, and teaching in the brain sciences.

More than 100 faculty members from Brown’s basic and clinical departments, as well as physical and biological sciences, are part of the Carney Institute. The Carney Institute facilitates integrative research activities within this diverse population. The Carney Institute assists in obtaining and administering multi-investigator funding for research, infrastructure, and training. The Institute is aggressively seeking new training grants to enable multidisciplinary education that goes beyond what is offered in individual academic departments.

Brown Initiative for Computation in Brain and Mind

Computational methods have proved extremely useful in unraveling the intricacies inherent in natural systems, ranging from weather to aerodynamics, physics, and biology. The brain is the most sophisticated of these systems. Knowledge of the relationship between the brain and mind is such a difficult topic that close collaboration between theorists and experimentalists is essential to acquiring a deeper understanding of the underlying brain and cognitive processes.

Due to the several layers stretching from molecules to cognition, multiple types of computer simulations—from those focusing on the specifics of neural function to those focusing on the abstract calculations that emerge from these networks—can be utilized effectively to bridge this gap. At Brown’s Computation in Brain and Mind, faculty members and students of all levels often engage in these types of interactions.

Data Science Initiative

The Data Science Initiative (DSI) at Brown University is a cross-disciplinary collaboration of four main foundational departments (Applied Mathematics, Biostatistics, Computer Science, and Mathematics) to accelerate data-enabled science and scholarship throughout campus. Collaborations across these departments broaden Brown’s data science competence and open new avenues for innovation in both data science methodologies and applications.

Brown’s Data Science Initiative utilizes established academic strength to create a campus hub for  data science research and instruction, with an outward focus on application fields and critical engagement with concerns about the impact of the data revolution on society, culture, and social justice.

Department Undergraduate Groups (DUGs)

A Department Undergraduate Group is a community-building organization within a concentration (or two to three). As outlined by Brown University, DUG leaders are responsible for the following: a) assisting students in making and strengthening connections with other concentrators, professors, and concentrator alumni; b) providing a means for first- and second-year students to explore various concentrations; and c) allowing concentrators to explore potential career opportunities related to their disciplines.

The Cognition DUG comprises Cognitive Science and Cognitive Neuroscience, and we will sponsor activities to foster friendships and mutual support across these concentrations during their time at Brown.

Honors Program

Undergraduates in the Honors Program in any focus within the CLPS Department have the unique opportunity to do research under the supervision of a faculty member. Participation in the program enables students to further understand research and obtain research skills and background knowledge. All A.B. and Sc.B. majors, including students taking up psychology major at Brown, are highly encouraged to consider the Honors Program.

Unlike its Ivy League counterparts, Brown University undergraduates choose a more intellectually-curious, artsy, and progressive environment than a competitive, cutthroat classroom setting. However, gaining the right to spend four years on the campus in Providence, Rhode Island, studying courses of your choice is a privilege that must be earned rather than granted.

Group of students doing research in a room.

Brown has unquestionably been a very selective institution for generations, but admission rates today are much lower than those experienced by candidates ten or twenty years ago. In 2000, the acceptance rate was 16.2%; in 2026, it was only 5%.

To get through this extremely challenging admissions process, AdmissionSight has programs and services that could help you craft a strong application and assist you in your strategies to become admitted to Brown. Feel free to book an initial consultation with AdmissionSight experts to know us and what we can offer.







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