Our Program

The Behavioral Neuroscience Program at UMSL is a highly unique program that offers specialized training in a variety of areas in the field. The program is ideally suited for students interested in academic research careers or industry careers associated with scientific work (e.g., pharmaceutical industry).

Students are enrolled into a research group headed by a faculty member who serves as the student's primary mentor throughout their graduate training, though communication and collaboration with other laboratories are encouraged.

The Behavioral Neuroscience program offers intense training in four critical areas of skill development that are required to successfully fulfill an academic career. The universal training goals of the Behavioral Neuroscience program are the following:

Critical Thinking

The Program prioritizes the development of critical thinking skills to generate novel and significant research questions that provide insights into the mechanisms of brain-behavior relationships. The goal of the program is to train independent scientists capable of pursuing their own lines of research.

Application of Research Methods and Analyses

Each lab utilizes state-of-the-art scientific methods to answer research questions. Students training within a lab will become fully proficient in the application of the relevant methods to become prepared for independent work upon graduation. While expertise is developed within specific methodologies, students are exposed to a variety of techniques through seminars, journal clubs and coursework. Examples of specific research techniques include human psychophysiology, neuropsychological assessment, MRI, EEG/ERP and animal surgery.

Scientific Writing

Scientific writing is a skill that is continuously developed through instruction, practice and mentorship, and the Behavioral Neuroscience Program at UMSL emphasizes each of these areas. Students enroll in a scientific writing course, attend a grant writing seminar, and author/coauthor scientific manuscripts. Ph.D. students are mentored on the steps to successfully submit manuscripts and grants, respond to editorial feedback, and independently review manuscripts and grant applications.


Ph.D. students in Behavioral Neuroscience are encouraged to participate in the Certificate in University Teaching program at UMSL. This is a university-wide program that provides formal instruction on teaching skills from development of course syllabi to management of students in the classroom. Ph.D. students are also provided an opportunity to serve as a Graduate Teaching Assistant to learn the application of teaching skills directly from a faculty member. Finally, students are provided opportunities to independently apply their teaching skills in the classroom environment.