Understanding people in context.

The Psychology Brochure

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At UC Santa Cruz, our psychology curricula foster an understanding of the whole person in the context of their lived experience. Our work is grounded in both basic science and real-world issues, with practical applications for individuals, families, schools, institutions, technological innovation, and public policy. We maintain a collaborative research environment that engages students in vital ways.


Our diverse faculty conducts research in wide-ranging areas, from investigating how people produce speech, to how everyday interactions shape children’s learning, to how we can make our society a more just place. Our work is divided into three distinct areas of specialization:

Cognitive Psychology

Psychology by the numbers

• 9,155 students enrolled in psychology classes
• 1,570 undergraduate psychology and cognitive science majors
• 49% of majors are first-generation college students
• 15% of all UC Santa Cruz undergraduate degrees are in psychology and cognitive science
• 61 graduate students
• 235 service learning opportunities offered each year
• 26 full-time professors
6th in the nation in having faculty members share their research with the public through the media (The Center for a Public Anthropology)

Our blend of traditional cognition theory combined with innovative perspectives helps us understand how people communicate, how they remember, and how they perceive the world around them.

Developmental Psychology
Our research considers the integration of individual, interpersonal, and cultural processes of development. We emphasize diversity in development and the study of children and adults in everyday
contexts such as families, peers, schools, and media.

Social Psychology
We use theory and data to analyze and propose solutions for a host of social problems, with a focus on social justice.


To best support our students while producing high-quality research with real-world resonance, we have identified specific goals:

•  Strengthen undergraduate and graduate resources
To expand support for on-the-ground experiential learning, support student groups, implement fellowship programs, increase student research grants, promote student participation at professional conferences, and create new opportunities for student-faculty collaboration.

• Institute a departmental Distinguished Lecture Series
To bring cutting-edge psychologists and leaders in related fields to speak on our campus.

• Establish new research clusters and centers
To incubate new ideas and promote interdisciplinary connections.

• Establish endowed chairs in each of our areas of specialization
To advance outstanding learning experiences and groundbreaking scholarship.

• Establish University-affiliated childcare and community programs
To provide opportunities for hands-on research and training while serving the UC Santa Cruz faculty, staff, and student communities.

• Improve technology and research labs
To keep pace with new developments and stay at the forefront of the field.


We depend on support from individuals and institutions alike. With your help, we can continue to provide an unparalleled student experience while pursuing research that makes a significant impact.
Your gift makes all the difference.

Call the Social Sciences Development Office at 831-459-3857