Graduate Program

Welcome to the graduate program in Behavioral Neuroscience

Garet LahvisBehavioral neuroscience explores the interplay between what happens inside the brain and what the brain does, how genetic and environmental factors influence the physiological, anatomical, and epigenetic processes inside the brain that manifest in organismal behavior. Students joining our PhD graduate program gain outstanding training and mentorship across these boundaries of biology and behavior through studies of a variety of vertebrate species, including humans, rodents, and non-human primates. Our faculty offers expertise in the neurobiology of substance abuse, cognitive and affective neuroscience, behavioral genetics, animal communication, learning and memory, social neuroscience, and impulsivity. We integrate our diverse interests through the highly collaborative structure and collegiality of our program.

We accept students with a diverse array of qualifications and encourage applications from those who have completed undergraduate coursework in biopsychology or neuroscience and other basic biological science areas that are useful for studies in behavioral neuroscience (e.g., biology,chemistry). Applicants are strongly encouraged to have completed at least one semester of physical chemistry and at least one semester of organic chemistry prior to submittal of their application to our program. 

During the first year of our graduate program, students participate in laboratory research rotations to identify a mutual fit with a laboratory and faculty mentor. By the end of the second year, students have completed required coursework and a research proposal. Students then focus on their research. After graduating, some students pursue postdoctoral fellowships and others apply their expertise to careers in industry, government or communications.

Dr. Garet Lahvis
Graduate Program Director


Brief Overview of Program Requirements

Required Coursework

Students complete most of their required coursework during the first 2 years. Thereafter, the majority of the time is spent conducting research under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

Research Rotations

Students will complete a series of laboratory research rotations during their 1st year and then choose a faculty mentor. 


Research Paper Requirement

All students must fulfill a research paper requirement by the end of the 2nd year (i.e., before the 1st day of class for fall term of the 3rd year). Completion of a Master's thesis may be used to meet this requirement.

Qualifying Examination

All students must pass a written qualifying examination to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. by the end of fall term of the 3rd year of training.

Ph.D. Research Proposal

A written Ph.D. Research Proposal must be submitted by the student and approved by the departmental Dissertation Advisory Committee by the end of the 3rd year.

Ph.D. Dissertation and Oral Examination

All students must complete a Ph.D. dissertation and pass the Graduate Council Oral Examination. It is generally expected that students will complete this requirement during 5th year of training.

Please note that the above is a brief overview and does not include all detailed program requirements.