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Behavioral Neuroscience Master's Program


The master's (M.A.) degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Behavioral Neuroscience (BN) has two tracks: a thesis track and a non-thesis track. Both tracks involve course work on the biological basis of behavior and scientific inquiry. The thesis track 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. Both M.A. tracks are 32 credit hours.

Completion of the M.A. program does not necessarily qualify a student for admission into the BN doctoral program. An M.A. student must reapply for consideration for the Ph.D. program.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of the degree, graduates of the M.A. 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. (Psychological Science Knowledge Base)

Goal 2. Explain and apply (thesis track only) the scientific method 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. 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 thesis track M.A. typically receive a Graduate Teaching Assistantship ($5,000/semester + tuition remission) in their first year (and sometimes in (part of) their second year). Typically, no funding is available for non-thesis track M.A. students.

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
    • Successful applicants must have completed a baccalaureate degree with a minimum of 15 undergraduate hours in psychology before beginning the master's 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
    • Letters of recommendation are required from persons qualified to evaluate the applicant's recent academic work, normally present or former college teachers.
  4. Entrance examinations
    • International students are required to document English proficiency by providing scores from an internationally accepted standardized examination.
  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 personal statement of 300-400 words with your rationale for seeking admission to the M.A. program in Behavioral Neuroscience. Describe your interest in the biological basis of behavior and your career goals. Indicate if you are applying to the thesis track or non-thesis track and why. If you are applying to the thesis track, please describe any prior research experience and list the faculty member(s) with whom 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.