Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Concentration

Catalog Year: 2023-2024


The PhD in Psychology provides knowledge of the basic content areas in psychology and practical experience in applying this knowledge to solve human problems in relationships, work, and education. Core course requirements cover subject matter identified by the profession as essential to doctoral training. This includes biological, social, cognitive, and individual bases of behavior, as well as the history of psychology. The program offers the following concentrations: applied developmental psychology, clinical psychology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, human factors/applied cognition, and industrial/organizational psychology.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on program requirements and courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes. Requirements may be different for earlier catalog years. See the University Catalog archives.

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 72

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

In addition to satisfying the requirements for all doctoral degrees, students must successfully complete 72 credits of required coursework. 

Concentration in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (CBNR)


This cognitive and behavioral neuroscience concentration focuses on studying biological substrates of behavior. Core and affiliated faculty study areas as diverse as neural control of behavioral development; animal models of learning and memory and their disorders (such as Alzheimer's); human brain systems involved in cognition, perception, human error, decision making, and movement; the relation of neural activity to human performance; and cognitive aging. A focus of the program is on translational neuroscience-complementary study of neural systems in humans and animals, including application of animal research to human behavior.

The program’s core facilities have well-equipped behavioral testing and histological/histochemical facilities. The program’s strong links to the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study and the Center for Biomedical Genomics and Informatics allows opportunities for collaborative work as diverse as tissue slice preparations and molecular genetics. The doctoral program prepares students for research-based careers in academics, government, or industry.

Students pursuing this concentration must complete 72 graduate credits comprised of coursework and at least 12 credits of dissertation research. The number of credits required may be reduced for a prior master's degree as described above.

Doctoral Coursework

Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience Core

PSYC 531 Mammalian Neurobiology 3
or NEUR 603 Mammalian Neuroanatomy
PSYC 555 Neuroimaging 3
PSYC 559 Behavioral Chemistry 3
PSYC 558 Neuronal Bases of Learning and Memory 3
or PSYC 685 Cognitive Neuroscience
Total Credits 12

Quantitative and Research Methods 

Two required Courses  
PSYC 642 General Linear Modeling I 4
PSYC 643 General Linear Modeling II 4
Elective Statistics and Methods 6
Students will choose from research methods and statistics courses in consultation with their advisor. May include but not limited to PSYC 563.  
Laboratory Methods in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience  
Total Credits 14

Teaching Practicum

PSYC 850 Teaching Practicum in Psychology 2
Total Credits 2

Research Credits

The research credit requirement can be met through completion of a master's thesis (recommended) or other research course as approved by the program.

Select 6 credits in either a master's thesis or other research course 1 6
Total Credits 6

Elective Credits

Students can complete the 72 credit requirement through credits of additional coursework, within or outside the department, with prior approval of the advisor. 

Some options for fulfilling this requirement:

NEUR 602 Cellular Neuroscience
NEUR 689 Topics in Neuroscience
BIOL 585 Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
BIOS 740 Laboratory Methods in Functional Genomics and Biotechnology

Advancement to Candidacy

To advance to candidacy, students must complete all core courses required by the program. Students must also successfully complete and pass written and oral comprehensive exams.

Dissertation Research

The dissertation requirement is designed to demonstrate the student's ability to apply psychological principles to research problems. Once enrolled in PSYC 999 Doctoral Dissertation, students must follow the university's continuous registration policy as specified in AP.6.10.6 Dissertation Research. Students who defend in the summer must be registered for at least 1 credit of PSYC 999 Doctoral Dissertation.

Students apply to this degree a minimum of 3 credits of PSYC 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and 3 credits of PSYC 999 Doctoral Dissertation; they may apply a minimum 12 and a maximum of 24 dissertation credits (PSYC 998 Doctoral Dissertation Proposal and PSYC 999 Doctoral Dissertation combined) to the degree. Because of the continuous registration policy, students may be required to register for additional credits of these courses.

Select 12-24 credits from the following: 12-24
Doctoral Dissertation Proposal  
Doctoral Dissertation  
Total Credits 12-24