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Behavioral Neuroscience Doctoral Program


The doctoral (Ph.D.) program in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Neuroscience (BN) involves course work on the biological basis of behavior and scientific inquiry. It also has an apprenticeship model in which each student works closely and continuously with a faculty member within the realm of the faculty member's research interests. This work will result in an empirical research thesis and an empirical research dissertation. After completing two years in the program, students must pass written and oral exams to continue in the program. Students are also required to complete a specialty paper for publication. The Ph.D. program is 60 credit hours.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the degree, graduates of the Ph.D. in Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience program at UM-St. Louis will be able to:

Goal 1. Demonstrate an integrative understanding of psychological concepts, theories, research, and historical trends in Behavioral Neuroscience and apply this knowledge in research and teaching. (Psychological Science Knowledge Base)

Goal 2. Explain and apply the scientific method using a variety of research paradigms to solve problems in Behavioral Neuroscience and articulate how the solutions rely on scientific reasoning. (Critical Thinking)

Goal 3. Evaluate, identify, and apply appropriate research methods in Behavioral Neuroscience, including research design, data analysis (i.e., selecting, conducting, and interpreting basic statistical tests) and data interpretation. (Scientific Inquiry)

Goal 4. Communicate using a variety of written and oral formats (e.g., papers in the format specified by journal or granting agency, oral research presentations, posters for research at conferences, grant applications, professional publications) in a clear, concise way. (Communication)

Goal 5. Evaluate and apply ethical principles to Behavioral Neuroscience research and teaching according to national and international standards, while adopting social and ethical values that build community at local, national, and global levels (Ethical and Social Responsibility)

Goal 6. Demonstrate self-reliance and independence in initiating a program of research and carry out research projects from design to dissemination. (Professional Development; Scientific Inquiry)

Goal 7. Display professionalism and ownership of professional growth and learning through an evolving career development plan tailored to one’s accurate self-assessment of abilities, achievements, motivations, and work habits. (Professional Development)


Students in the Ph.D. program receive a Graduate Teaching Assistantship ($18,000/year + including tuition remission) in their first and second year. Funding in later years is not guaranteed, but could come from grant funding and/or teaching courses.

Application Deadline

The deadline for receipt of all admission materials can be found here. This deadline is each year for admission to the Fall semester only.

Application Requirements

See here for more information and to apply.

  1. Official transcripts from all universities attended
    • Applicants must have at least a baccalaureate degree at the time they will begin the program.
  2. Grade Point Average (GPA)
    • Minimum of 3.0 GPA on 4.0 scale overall and 3.2 in psychology courses
  3. Three letters of recommendation
    • From individuals who are familiar with the applicant's potential to successfully complete graduate training in biological psychology. Ideally, individuals who provide letters of recommendation will be sufficiently familiar with the candidate to address critical thinking, academic success, written and oral expression, responsibility, organization, and other important skills necessary for successful graduate training.
  4. Entrance examinations
    • International students are required to document English proficiency by providing scores from an internationally accepted standardized examination before a decision is made on admission.
  5. Statement of Purpose
    • Please submit a sentences or two about what you plan to do (e.g., I plan to earn a Ph.D. degree; I plan to earn an M.A. degree; I need to take a graduate level course to transfer back to …).
  6. Personal Statement
    • Please submit a statement of 300-400 words with your rationale for seeking admission to the Ph.D program in Behavioral Neuroscience. Describe your interest in the biological basis of behavior, any prior research experience, your career goals, and which faculty member(s) you would like to work with and why
  7. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
    • Please submit a CV with information about your higher education (school name, degree, major/minor/emphasis area, (expected) graduation month and year, and grade point average), any research experience, relevant work experience, any software skills.
  8. Other information that the student feels is pertinent (e.g. writing sample) may be submitted directly to the Program Director Dr. Carissa Philippi.


Application fees may apply.