skip navigation

Program Overview

In order to receive the Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience, students must complete the following requirements:

  • A minimum of 72 credit hours, including core behavioral neuroscience coursework, electives, and departmental breadth requirements.
  • Completion of the preliminary exam.
  • Doctoral dissertation and oral defense of the dissertation.


Description of the program

The goal of the Behavioral Neuroscience Program is to provide the student with both a broad and deep knowledge of the physiological and biological factors that control and affect behavior. Through a close and personalized student-mentor relationship, we try to instill in the student an appreciation for programmatic problem oriented, rather than technique oriented, research. We seek to produce sophisticated, versatile teacher/scientists. Faculty in the area represent a wide range of interests in Behavioral Neuroscience, making our program a particularly rich and diverse intellectual environment. A number of adjunct faculty add to this intellectual breadth by participating in some program activities and serving on some student committees.

Although there are no set requirements for admission to the program, preference will be given to students with a master’s or bachelor’s degree in psychology or neuroscience, who have been involved in research, who have taken organic chemistry or biochemistry, and who have some course background in physiology or neuroscience.

Progress through the program

It is expected that students will complete their graduate training in a timely fashion. We expect students to complete their PhD degree in no more than 7 years; however, extensions can be granted when needed. It is understood that individual progress through the program is a reflection of the relationship between the student and the mentor, as well as the nature of the research area. The suggested timeline for progress through the program is below:

Year 1:
The student is accepted into a lab with an a priori mentor assignment. The student begins research training in that lab under supervision of the mentor: Required coursework (i.e., 607, 608, 513, some distribution courses, and the neuroanatomy module) is completed.

Year 2:
The student begins more intensive lab work. He/she is encouraged to participate in area offerings, or other courses from other departments that relate to his/her area of interest. Remaining distribution courses are completed.

Year 3:
The student identifies a preliminary-exam (prelim) committee that will focus upon specific areas of conceptual development. Ideally, prelims should be completed by the end of the third year.

Year 4 and beyond:
Once prelims are completed successfully, the student should focus on the dissertation. We encourage students to formally propose their dissertation experiments before the end of the fourth year. The remaining time in the program should focus on completing the dissertation.

Other information for all years:
Research ethics training is completed as a ongoing series that is part of the Behavioral Neuroscience Area weekly meeting (brown bag meeting). Attendance at the weekly meeting is mandatory for all Behavioral Neuroscience graduate students. Each semester, one or two sessions focus on research ethics. At the completion of the student’s tenure at UB, if the student has satisfactorily attended the weekly sessions, the student will receive a letter from the Area attesting to such training in research ethics.