Welcome to the graduate program in Behavioral Neuroscience
Behavioral 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
Students must complete all of the following didactic courses during the first year
- CONJ 650 The Practice and Ethics of Science
- CONJ 620 Biostatistics (or other relevant statistics course)
- BEHN 607 Issues in Behavioral Neuroscience Seminar
- BEHN 624 Neurophysiological Basis of Behavior
- NEUS 625 Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
- BEHN 640 Behavioral Systems Neuroscience
An additional 9 hours of elective credits are required, but do not need to be completed in the first year.
New graduate students participate in 2-4 research rotations during their first year. The objective of rotations are to (a) match the interests of the student with available research opportunities and (b) assign faculty who are willing and have the resources needed to serve as the student's faculty mentor after the first year.
During the first year of graduate training, students are expected to obtain experience in the critical evaluation of original research reports. This training is provided in part by the core courses and is typically supplemented by a program of supervised reading with their research advisors.
The preliminary or "reprint" exam serves to set a standard
of competency in the critical evaluation of research articles and in oral
expression, a standard which students are expected to attain early in their
graduate career. In addition, it helps faculty to identify areas of weakness in
All students must pass a written qualifying examination to advance to candidacy for the Ph.D.
The qualifying exam follow the format of a formal NIH-NRSA proposal and including three parts:
- Written proposal
- Oral presentation
- Oral examination.
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.
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.