Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology

Psychobiology combines principles from neurobiology and neuroscience into an interdisciplinary major that sometimes includes an emphasis on physiological psychology. Learn about education programs and the career outlook for this field.

Is Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology for Me?

Career Overview

Psychobiology applies the principles and theories from neurobiology and neuroscience to the study of animal and human psychology. Physiological psychology is a subdivision of psychobiology that studies perception by directly manipulating neural mechanisms of the brain through laboratory experiments. Degrees in psychobiology are available at the master's and doctoral (Ph.D.) levels.

Work Environment

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), roughly 34% of all psychologists are self-employed through either private practice or as consultants ( As an experimental or research psychologist, you would work mostly in a university or research setting. Government organizations, business corporations and nonprofits are also potential employers. You may work in a laboratory setting with animals, such as monkeys, rats and pigeons.

Salary and Employment Outlook

Job outlook may be moderately favorable, with the BLS estimating that employment for all psychologists will increase by 12% from 2012-2022. As of May 2012, the median annual wage among all psychologists was $69,280.

How Can I Work in Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology?

Undergraduate Education

Typical coursework as a psychology undergraduate major may include physiological psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, behavioral science and cognition and memory. You may be able to participate in electives in psychobiology and physiological psychology in order to focus on this field. Your individual interests and research will dictate your course of study at the master's and Ph.D. levels.

Graduate Programs

For a master's degree program, you could obtain a Master of Arts in Psychology with a concentration in experimental and biological psychology. This degree program would require more than 30 credit hours. Typically it would include courses in physiological psychology, human neuropsychology, psychopathology and behavioral medicine. You would need to complete a master's thesis seminar, do independent research and prepare an original research project to earn the degree.

You can also obtain a Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience within four to five years. Through the study of psychobiology you would gain a strong understanding of the field of experimental psychology and methodology. You would also gain knowledge in the fields of physiology, molecular neuroscience, biochemistry and anatomy. You may be allowed to specialize in animal models of neuropsychiatric disorders, neurobiological mechanisms or sensory neurophysiology, among others.

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