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Curriculum

The Program

The PhD Program in Psychology offered by The Graduate School and University Center of The City University of New York currently consists of ten areas of specialization, with Biopsychology based at Hunter College, located on Park Avenue at 68th Street in Manhattan. Biopsychology interrelates the concepts and methods of neuroscience, cognitive science, the biological disciplines, and behavior analysis with experimental psychology. It offers a comparative and ontogenetic perspective on species-typical behavior acquired and modified during the organism's life cycle. Basic psychological processes are studied in conjunction with contributions from neurobiology, ethology, ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, endocrinology, pharmacology, and other sciences to illuminate the many ways in which species adapt, survive, reproduce, and evolve. Through diversified laboratory experience plus core courses, electives, seminars, colloquia, and field studies, students develop an interdisciplinary perspective. The subprogram in biopsychology provides unique training for basic research and teaching in the field of animal and human behavior, as well as in the application of biobehavioral knowledge to a variety of problems in industrial, business, institutional, health, and environmental settings. Among the admission requirements is the completion of at least 15 undergraduate credits in psychology, including one laboratory course in experimental psychology and one in statistics. It is expected that the applicant will have received at least a B average in courses completed at other institutions. The applicant may be requested to appear for an interview. Students of ability trained in fields other than psychology may be admitted with conditions.


Courses of Study

The course of study leading to the PhD in Biopsychology is designed to ensure competence in the three disciplinary axes of the program (required courses): Animal Behavior, Neuroscience, Psychological Processes (Development, Cognition, Learning, Sensation and Perception.) 1. To provide a multidisciplinary perspective for the study of behavior, incorporating behavioral biology, experimental psychology and neuroscience. The basic curriculum includes overviews of animal behavior, molecular, cellular and systems neuroscience, behavioral neuroendocrinology, developmental biopsychology, sensorimotor control and cognitive processes. Many of the basic courses are team-taught by faculty from both the Biopsychology and Biology (Neuroscience) doctoral programs. 2. To provide an opportunity for laboratory and field research experience. Students will participate in a series of laboratory rotations during which they will design and carry out a research project and prepare a research report in journal style. A Field Studies course at the American Museum of Natural History Field Station in southwestern Arizona is held every other summer. 3. To provide supervised experience in the teaching of Psychology and an introduction to ethical considerations for the researcher and teacher. 4. To provide experience in the presentation of research reports and an opportunity to interact with distinguished researchers from other institutions. Two Colloquia are held each year. The first is devoted largely to presentations by faculty and students in the Program; the second is focussed on a theme of general interest (e.g., Evolutionary Biology; Hormones and Behavior, Behavioral Development), features guest speakers and an associated Special Topics Seminar at which students have an opportunity to interact with distinguished researchers.

 

Timetable

During the first three semesters students will take one year sequences in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior, courses in sensory processes, cognitive science, development and statistics, and complete three laboratory internships. Teaching Fellows will assist in various department courses. During the intersession between the 3rd and 4th semester, the student will take a comprehensive examination based upon course material offered during the first three semesters. After passing this examination, the student will take courses in Ethical issues and Teaching, select a laboratory in which to carry out the Dissertation, and begin to gather preliminary data on his Dissertation topic. Teaching Fellows will be assigned independent courses in Introductory Psychology and/or in their special areas of competence. However, from this point on, the student's primary focus will be on laboratory work. By the end of the 2nd year, a brief Topic Proposal is prepared which outlines the general thrust of the proposed Dissertation. A Dissertation Committee is chosen in consultation with the proposed Dissertation Sponsor. At this point the student is strongly encouraged to prepare an application for a Research Fellowship Program sponsored by NIH or NSF, which provide excellent support for up to three years for work on the Dissertation. Research continues while the student prepares for a second Examination designed to assess his preparation in areas closely related to the Doctoral Dissertation. Following completion of the Dissertation the student defends his Dissertation before his peers and undergoes an examination before a Dissertation Committee, including scientists from other research institutions.

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