This program is available only to graduates of the University of Massachusetts Amherst or the four colleges in the Five College community who have worked as undergraduates in the lab of a faculty member in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program. Participating students will normally identify a faculty advisor in their junior year and become actively engaged in research throughout their senior year. The research should lead to a well-defined project suitable for a graduate-level major research project in the Neuroscience and Behavior Program. The NSB Program does not provide or guarantee stipend support for students working towards this terminal master's degree. However, in some cases, individual faculty advisors may have research assistantship funds available.

Graduate School Admission

Students may apply for graduate admission in their senior year and must comply with all Graduate School regulations and requirements for admission. The Application packet should include: UMASS Graduate School application, official copy of undergraduate transcript, and two letters of recommendation. GREs are not required. Applications are due on December 1 for Fall admission. The Neuroscience and Behavior Admissions Committee will evaluate all applications and make recommendations for graduate admission to the NSB Director and Graduate School.

Appoint Master's Committee

At the beginning of graduate study the student will select a Thesis Committee consisting of an advisor and two NSB faculty members.

Course Requirements

  • NeuroS&B 792A, NSB Proseminar. This is a 1-credit, pass/fail course that introduces students to the NSB program and its faculty, and covers issues such as research ethics, grant-writing, and the art of oral presentations.
  • Molclbio 793E, Responsible Conduct of Research in the Life Sciences. This 1-credit pass/fail course is designed to stimulate critical thinking about ethical research and to engage students in discussion regarding research ethics in the life sciences. Topics to be covered will include responsible conduct of research, workplace ethics, mentoring, publication practices and authorship, collaborative research, and the use of animals and humans in research.
  • Two Core Courses: NeuroS&B 617: Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Neurobiology, NeuroS&B 618: Behavioral & Cognitive Neuroscience (4 credits) includes lab.
  • Quantitative Requirement (3 credits) research methodology (a variety of options are available including statistics courses, methods courses and research practica).
  • NSB Seminar Series (1 credit). Students are expected to attend the weekly NSB seminars on Wednesdays at 4 PM.

NOTE: Students must earn a B or better in graded courses counted towards the degree. In rare cases, a student who has earned a B- in an elective or statistics course may petition the GOC for permission to use this course to fulfill Master's degree requirements. In deciding whether to grant the exception, the GOC will take the entire student's record into account. In no case can a grade of B- or lower be accepted in a core course.

Optional: Independent Study credits in NeuroS&B 696 or NeuroS&B 796. A maximum of six independent study credits can be counted towards the MS degree. Note: Six (6) hours of course credit not used/needed to fulfill the B.S. degree requirements can be applied to the Master's degree course requirement.

Thirty (30) credit hours are required for a Master of Science degree.

Master's Thesis

  • Register for a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 10 master's thesis credits NeuroS&B 699.
  • The candidate's thesis proposal/outline must be approved and signed by all members of the thesis committee and on file in the NSB Program Office at least four months before the Final Oral Examination ("defense") can be scheduled. All members must attend the defense.

  • Thesis public defense scheduled and passed before graduation deadline date.
  • Students need to review the Graduate School website pertaining to Guidelines for Masters Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. Students can upload electronic thesis files to the ScholarWorks@UMass Amherst website along with two original signature pages on acid-free 8 1/2" x 11" white paper. The thesis must be submitted along with the Master's Degree Eligibility Form to the Office of Degree Requirements, 534A Goodell Bldg. by the deadline for the appropriate degree granting period. The deadlines are absolute and no exceptions will be made by the UMass Graduate School.

September Degree - thesis/forms due by August 31

February  Degree - thesis/forms due by mid-December

May Degree - thesis/forms due by mid-April

Duration of Degree Track

It is anticipated that qualified students should be able to complete the BS/MS program within five years, including two summers. Students may choose to pursue one or more summer internships, for which some academic credit may be arranged.

Career Opportunities

Biotechnology/pharmaceutical companies, medical school, veterinary school, science journalism, law school (i.e. intellectual-property and corporate law), government agencies, academic research laboratories, etc.