Ph.D. in Psychology: Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience

Wayne State's Ph.D. in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience (BCN) prepares students for positions in research and teaching in many areas of neuroscience, including functional cognitive imaging, neural physiology, behavioral pharmacology and neurobehavioral teratology.

Training is provided via foundation courses, specialized seminars and intensive participation in research. Students are mentored in one-to-one working collaborations with the faculty. Our program prepares students for post-doctoral training and employment in academic and non-academic settings, including colleges and universities, industry and government.

The study of the brain and behavior is one of the last great frontiers for human investigation. Neuroscientists are discovering how billions of neurons and thousands of chemical and electrical signals result in perceptions of the world around us, memories about our experiences, emotional reactions to the subtle and profound events in our lives, and the dynamics of our behavioral reactions to all these happenings. In understanding how the brain works we can come to understand some parts of ourselves. Knowledge of these functions in the normal brain provides a foundation for investigations of the abnormal brain and the psychopathological states that trouble human existence. In this way, behavioral neuroscientists can develop strategies to alleviate these disorders.

The BCN program is an interdisciplinary research and training area within the Department of Psychology. We are a dynamic collaboration of faculty and students who are investigating a broad array of neural and biobehavioral phenomena. These investigations range from studies of cognitive and neurochemical processes associated with aging, drug addiction and neurological disorders to studies of the neural circuits that underlie learning, emotion, and weight regulation, to research on the life-long developmental plasticity of the neurobiological processes of behavior. Graduate study in behavioral and cognitive neurosciences at Wayne State means, learning about behavioral neuroscience at many levels of analysis and having the opportunity to study these phenomena in state-of-the-art laboratories using modern neurobiological techniques.


See graduate admissions for more information.

Research training

Current students conduct research in such areas as:

  • Pharmacology and toxicology
  • Food intake and body weight regulation
  • Neurochemistry
  • Molecular processes underlying learning and synaptic plasticity
  • Biological bases of memory and emotion
  • Substance use and abuse
  • Cognitive processes associated with aging
  • Neurobehavioral teratology

More than 60 faculty members from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the School of Medicine currently participate in neuroscience research. The BCN area has strong ties with the Cellular and Clinical Neurobiology Program (CCN) in the School of Medicine which fosters interactions between students and faculty and provides additional avenues for coursework and research seminars. Faculty and graduate students actively participate in research collaborations within WSU's departments, at various research centers such as the Karmanos Cancer Institute, the C.S. Mott Center for Human Growth and Development, Brain Imaging Research Division and the Center for Behavioral Medicine, as well as the Henry Ford Hospital's Sleep Disorders Laboratory and Health Psychology Laboratory.

Laboratory facilities

A broad spectrum of equipment housed in the BCN laboratories enhances graduate training and research.

Contact 💬

Alia Allen, academic services officer III

Career insights

This tool provides a broad overview of how major selection can lead to careers and is provided without any implied promise of employment. Some careers will require further education, skills, or competencies. Actual salaries may vary significantly between similar employers and could change by graduation, as could employment opportunities and job titles.