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Cornell’s Ph.D. program in Neurobiology and Behavior (NB&B) is unique. Our program integrates the study of neurobiology with the behavior and interactions of organisms at all levels of analysis from mechanism to evolution. Our research approaches the field from the study of ion channels through neural networks to behavioral ecology and the evolution of behavior. We draw from faculty in a variety of disciplines including Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Physics, Entomology, Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Medicine, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Neurobiology and Behavior.
The background and interests of our graduate students is broad and varied. Because of this diversity, each student’s course of study is tailored to individual needs and background. In addition to a wide variety of neurobiology and behavior classes, we offer laboratory courses to get the training you need for your thesis project. These labs include neurophysiology and patch clamping, molecular neurobiology, computational neuroscience, bioacoustics, modeling behavioral evolution, and field studies of animal behavior. Beyond NBB, students can find training in a diversity of subjects including biostatistics and bioinformatics.
We have a weekly seminar series in which internationally renowned scientists are invited to present their research. Following each seminar, graduate students are encouraged to have lunch with the speaker. This provides a great opportunity to meet other scientists from around the world and talk science. Two separate weekly journal clubs are also offered in different focus areas. The topics in neural basis of behavior links neural networks and behavior, and topics in behavioral ecology (lunch bunch) examines diverse topics in animal behavior. The Cornell Neurotech initiative between the Colleges of Arts & Sciences and Engineering was launched in 2015 thanks to a multimillion dollar seed grant from the Mong Family Foundation. The initiative funds collaborative interdisciplinary research at the cutting edge of brain imaging and manipulation technologies. The Cornell Center for Comparative and Population Genomics (3CPG) serves as a key source of communication and collaboration in comparative and evolutionary biology across campus. These and other institutional structures provide valuable resources for accomplishing cutting edge research at Cornell.
Our graduate program is for academically talented undergraduates with a strong interest in neurobiology and/or animal behavior. Students admitted into the program are guaranteed 5 years of support in the form of either training grant fellowships, research assistantships, or teaching fellowships. The deadline to apply is December 1. To apply, simply click on this application link
GRE Scores are not required or accepted.
Some casual advice from the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior. Applying to graduate schools can be daunting - we understand! There are so many programs! There are so many scientists out there whose work is interesting! How should one get started? A good first step is to look through the faculty websites and zero in on a lab that you can imagine yourself in as a PhD student. Scroll through the research descriptions and check out some of the lab’s recent publications. Then email the faculty member with a brief statement of your interests, your research experience (if any) and ask if the lab will be accepting students in the next application cycle. You may not always get an immediate response - but don’t take this personally! Sometimes faculty get ~100 emails per day. So it’s always a good idea to send a follow up email to make sure your first one did not fall through the cracks. As in graduate school, persistence pays off. We at NBB wish all of you best of luck!
Please find detailed application guidelines here
Contacts and Faculty:
Requirements for the Ph.D. degree include:
- a survey course in neurobiology and behavioral ecology
- annual meetings with the faculty advisory (special) committee
- one semester of teaching experience
- Admission to PhD candidacy (A-exam) by end of second, or beginning of third year
- Research proposal for thesis research to special committee by end of third year
- successfully complete and defend a thesis research project (B-exam)
The field has no formal language requirement, but one can be imposed by the student's Special Committee. The field also requires each student to give a publicly announced seminar as part of the dissertation defense.
The Field of Neurobiology and Behavior does not formally offer a Master’s degree.
Information for Prospective Graduate Students
The Graduate Field of Neurobiology and Behavior
Prospective graduate students apply to Graduate Fields of Study at Cornell University, rather than to specific departments. Most Graduate Fields – Neurobiology and Behavior included – involve members from more than one Department, bringing together faculty and students with shared intellectual interests irrespective of their ostensible departmental homes.
The Graduate Field of Neurobiology and Behavior integrates the study of neurobiology with the behavior and interactions of organisms at all levels of analysis. Our research approaches the field from the study of ion channels through neural networks to behavioral ecology and the evolution of behavior. We draw from faculty in a variety of disciplines including Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Physics, Entomology, Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Medicine, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and Neurobiology and Behavior.
The background and interests of graduate students in this field are broad and varied. Because of this diversity, each student’s course of study is tailored to their needs and pre-existing training. In addition to a wide variety of neurobiology and behavior classes, NBB offers laboratory courses to provide the training necessary to complete thesis project work. Lab courses include neurophysiology, molecular neurobiology, bioacoustics, modeling behavioral evolution, computational neuroscience, animal behavior, and patch clamping.
Ph.D. Program Funding Information
Our graduate program is for academically talented undergraduates with a strong interest in neurobiology and/or behavior. Students admitted to the program are guaranteed 5 years of support, typically a combination across years of training grant fellowships, research assistantships, and teaching fellowships.
Applying to the Program
The deadline for fall admission is December 1. There is no spring admission. The application for Fall 2021 will be available online in early September.
For more information about applying, go here. If you have questions about the application process, please contact Graduate Field Assistant Saundra Anderson. If you have questions about the graduate program as a whole, please contact Director of Graduate Studies Jesse H. Goldberg
Graduate Student Awards
NBB graduate students past and present have been recognized and rewarded for their excellence in teaching at both the departmental and University level. A list of our Graduate Student awards can be found here: Grad Student Awards.