The degree requires a minimum of 60 semester credit hours of graduate coursework. Students with previous graduate training may have their transcript reviewed on an individual basis to determine how much credit is transferable to the degree program. Doctoral students typically are enrolled as full-time students for the first two years and, thereafter, may work part-time off campus in a setting related to the field of study.

Required Coursework
The following graduate seminars are currently required of all doctoral students in the Neuroscience, Behavior and Cognition emphasis area:

  • 7421 Quantitative Methods I (4 hours)
  • 7422 Quantitative Methods II (4 hours)
  • 5465 Seminar in Behavioral Neuroscience (3 hours)
  • 5407 Psychopharmacology (3 hours)
  • 5468 Seminar in Cognitive Psychology (3 hours)
  • 5001 Seminar in Neuropsychological Assessment (3 hours)
  • 7483 Directed Research or 7484 Directed Reading (every semester until beginning 7492 Ph.D. Thesis Research)
  • 7492 Ph.D. Thesis Research (minimum of 6 hours total)

Other Recommended Courses

  • 4330 Hormones, the Brain & Behavior (3 hours)
  • 7403 Psychopathology (3 hours)
  • 7412 Social Psychology (3 hours)
  • 7423 Quantitative Methods III (3 hours)


To qualify for the Ph.D. degree, the student must:

  • complete 60 hours of coursework at the graduate level, including credits from supervised research hours, transfer hours, and a minimum of 6 hours of credit for the doctoral dissertation
  • pass the Qualifying Examination (both written and oral components)
  • write a research paper approved by a faculty committee that is appropriate to be submitted to a scientific journal.
  • satisfy the residency requirements (see University Bulletin for details) of the Graduate School
  • propose, complete, and defend an acceptable dissertation project. It should be understood that the Ph.D. degree is awarded on the basis of scholarly excellence and demonstrated research performance, rather than for the mere accumulation of course credits.

Qualifying Examination
Doctoral students are required to take a written and oral Qualifying (or "Comprehensive") Examination after they have completed two years in the program. The examination committee will consist of the student's advisor and two additional faculty members. The committee may provide a broad reading list covering the traditional and modern literature in the chosen emphasis areas on which the student will be tested.

Fulfill a research requirement:

  • Specialty Manuscript
    When students have passed the Qualifying Examination and completed the major portion of their coursework, they may choose to complete an independent research project prior to beginning their dissertation work. The purpose of this exercise is to give students experience preparing a research manuscript for publication. This normally will begin in the student's third year with the selection of a two- person committee, including the student's advisor.

Conference Presentation
Although not required, students are encouraged to present their research at a scientific conference appropriate for their work. Conferences students might want to consider include: Society for Neuroscience, American Psychological Association, Society for Psychophysiology Research, Midwestern Psychological Association, Science, Missouri Psychological Association.

The dissertation is a major project of independent research undertaken with the supervision of the student's advisor. The advisor and a committee of at least three additional faculty, one of whom must be from outside of the Department of Psychology, first review the proposal for the dissertation research. When approval of the proposal is given by the committee and the Graduate Dean, the student may begin data collection on the project. A final paper (dissertation) must be approved by the committee and defended by the student in an oral exam. A minimum of six hours credit for Ph.D. thesis research (Psychology 7492) is to be earned for dissertation research, although the doctoral student should register for the number of credit hours commensurate with the time required of the mentor that semester.