Ewan McNay reviewing scans in the behavioral neuroscience lab.

Doctor of Philosophy

Behavioral Neuroscience

Program of Study


During the first two years of the PhD in Behavioral Neurosciences program you will complete rigorous training in statistics and a grounding in multiple aspects of neurobiology and psychology. You will then proceed to specialized classes in neuroendocrinology, learning and memory, behavioral genetics and special-topics classes. Next you will conduct hands-on research, working towards your thesis.

Behavioral Neuroscience Required Courses:

  • Behavioral Neuroscience I and II
  • Neurobiology of Learning & Memory
  • Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
  • Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience

Behavioral Neuroscience Electives (choose one):

  • Special Topics in Psychology Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuropharmacology
  • Behavior-Genetic Analysis

Other Psychology Courses (choose two):

  • Survey of Learning & Conditioning
  • Survey of Psychopathology
  • Survey of Cognitive Psychology

Out of Specialization Area Courses

  • Two courses from two different areas of specialization within Psychology PhD programs

Statistics/Method Courses (8 credits):

  • Statistical and Experimental Methods I and II

Biology Courses (6 credits):

  • Cell & Molecular Developmental Neurobiology
  • Molecular Neurobiology

Initial Research Project

  • Demonstrate good experimental design and basic research competency in your subfield of Psychology, by the end of your second year

Research Tool Requirement - demonstrated proficiency in one of the following:

  • Pass a foreign language test
  • Course in computer programming, mathematics, electronics, biochemistry, histological techniques, foreign language, pharmacology, or advanced statistics
  • Master a technique, statistical or otherwise, in the process of conducting the Initial Research Project or another research project.

Qualifying Examinations (at the end of your third year)

PhD Thesis

A major, significant contribution to the body of knowledge in your field, typically including several published and peer-reviewed papers reporting your work to the scientific community.

Full-Time Study in Residence

Additional Information

See the Graduate Bulletin for details.

For more information contact, Program Director Andrew Poulos at [email protected]​​​​​​​.



The most significant element of your PhD is the design and completion of your thesis - an original research contribution to the field, planned with the help of your faculty thesis committee. You will gain the expertise to become an independent researcher by making required contacts with industry partners and labs, analyzing data, reporting and presenting the results at scientific conferences.

UAlbany has the facilities and resources needed for your success Our Life Science Research Building has generous lab space, a state-of-the-art animal housing facility, and access to core facilities including tissue culture, molecular biology and behavioral analysis cores. You will interact with research scientists and students across a range of disciplines including Neuroscience, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. 

Locally, additional collaborations are common and increase the resources and expertise available with colleagues at RPI, Albany Medical College and the Wadsworth Center at the New York State Department of Health.



Team of researchers working on a computer in a laboratory
UAlbany PhD student Natalie Odynocki in the Andrew Poulos psychology lab
Career Outcomes

With a PhD in Behavioral Neuroscience you will be on the path to pursue careers such as:

  • Research scientist
  • Medical scientist
  • Scientific writer
  • Teaching faculty
  • Research faculty
  • Non-profit sector research and policy
  • Public policy advisor

“The Behavioral Neuroscience program encourages active problem solving, teaches critical thinking and reading, and fosters a passion for the field of behavioral neuroscience.”

- Zachary Rosinger, PhD graduate in Behavioral Neuroscience

International Students

This degree is designated as a STEM program. International students maintaining F-1 status are allowed to apply for up to 12 months of post-completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) following completion/graduation from their degree program. Currently, this degree program is also designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an eligible degree for the F-1 STEM OPT work authorization extension; students who secure qualifying employment may be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT extension for a cumulative total of up to 36 months of F-1 OPT work authorization.

Admissions Requirements

Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: December 15
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available

 No Departmental Assistantship Consideration

  • Fall: December 15
  • Spring: Not Available
  • Summer: Not Available
Required Application Materials
  • Transcripts from all schools attended
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE general test (GRE not required but may be considered.)
  • Statement of goals
Special Notes

This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If applicants have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of the intended academic program.

Student Learning Objectives

Learning objectives that UAlbany students are expected to attain through their course of study within their academic program.

  1. Students will be able to conduct original research including:
    (a) Literature review and generation of hypotheses
    (b) Understand and apply an appropriate laboratory technique or research methodology
    (c) Statistical analyses of data
    (d) Incorporate findings into the existing literature and identify implications of study 
  2. Students demonstrate effective presentation skills.
  3. Students will demonstrate a working knowledge of the behavioral neuroscience literature, an ability to use critical thinking skills and scholarship to create new ideas and hypotheses and an ability to synthesize scientific approaches and findings across research areas.
  4. Students will demonstrate accomplishment of laboratory skills