Why are we attracted to some people and not others? How do addictions develop, and what breaks the cycle? How do stressful events affect people’s bodies?

The Behavioral Neuroscience degree is a good fit for students who are interested in professional or research careers in medicine, pharmaceuticals, animal science, neurology, and neuroscience. Many pre-health students find this major a good fit because the degree requirements align with graduate school requirements. This also is helpful for students interested in pursuing other types of advanced degrees. 

Then, you’ll take your education into the field with the 120-hour Research and Field Experience course. You’ll apply what you’ve learned in the classroom to real-life situations in a mental-health and addiction facility, a hospital, a physical therapy clinic, or a research lab. When you graduate, you’ll be ready to help people by using the tools of science to solve the mysteries of human behavior.

What do our graduates do?

Behavioral Neuroscience majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s.
Here’s a sample.

  • Business development executive for startups
  • Behavioral data coordinator at MediaScience
  • Neuropsychiatry research coordinator at Baylor College of Medicine
  • Outreach program and data coordinator for Girls Inc.
  • School psychologist in Austin Independent School District
  • PhD candidates in Colorado State University’s Molecular Neuroscience program, Icahan
  • University’s Behavioral Neuroscience program, Georgia State University’s Neuroscience Institute
  • and North Carolina State University’s Applied Social and Community Psychology program

Find Your Place. Advocate for Others.

Find Your Place. Advocate for Others.

The possibilities for learning at St. Edward’s are practically limitless. Meet Sydney Mitchell ’19 who flourished while studying Behavior Neuroscience — and read the stories of other students who went big on the hilltop.

Degree Requirements

Major Requirements: The BS in Behavioral Neuroscience requires 63 hours of major-specific courses, which include a combination of psychology and natural sciences coursework. 

Electives: Students complete 9 hours of elective courses in any area of study they choose. These courses do not have to relate to the major.

General Education Requirements: The degree requires 48 hours of general education courses that students complete over four years in addition to their major courses and electives.

View and download the full degree plan for the Behavioral Neuroscience major (PDF).

A few examples of courses students in this major take:          

  • Biopsychology – Delves into the function and anatomy of the nervous system and the role it plays in directing thought and behavior.
  • Behavioral Neuroscience – Students will examine how the central nervous system mediates perceptions, emotions, memories, and other behaviors.
  • Learning and Cognition - Students study processes that span from invertebrates to humans, drugs to disease, and theories to clinical treatment. The course examines learning principles, memory processes, and cognitive skills. 

Faculty and Student Support Services

Dr. Boyette-Davis' research interests focus on the mechanisms and consequences of both pain and addiction. In her teaching and research efforts, Dr. Davis seeks to develop an environment that is both challenging and encouraging. 

– Jessica Boyette-Davis, Program Director and Assistant Professor for Behavioral Neuroscience

Dr. Goldey enjoys working with students as they learn processes fundamental to psychological research: developing questions, reading relevant literature, collecting and analyzing data, and sharing findings with others. Dr. Goldey's research interests include hormones and behavior, evolution, human sexuality, gender, pair bonding/romantic relationships, and stress. 

– Katherine Goldey, Assistant Professor of Psychology and Behavioral Neuroscience

Faculty Research Areas

The faculty are trained in a variety of behavioral specialties in human and non-human animals, cellular and systems neuroscience, and clinical research.

Psychology Faculty

Jessica Boyette-Davis - Pain systems, addiction
Mike Disch - Sensation and perception, vision, decision making
Katy Goldey - Stress and hormones, motivation and emotion, sexual selection
Delia Paskos - Cognitive neuroscience, event related potentials, ADHD

Biology Faculty

Fidelma O’Leary - Molecular neuroscience, learning and memory, disease models

Student Support Services

Along with personal attention and mentorship from their professors, our students have access to offices and programs outside of the classroom that support their success. We encourage students to take advantage these resources that help them thrive and excel:

  • Academic counseling and advising
  • Supplemental instruction and tutoring
  • Career preparation and advising 
  • Writing Center consultation
  • Health and wellness counseling
  • Student disability support

Learn more about these services.

Outside the Classroom

Students majoring in Behavioral Neuroscience can explore career paths and practical application of their studies through internships and interactions with the greater Austin community.

Research and Field Experience

The Research and Field Experience course requires students to work 120 hours in the field doing either research or an internship in a related setting. Some internships are clinical, such as a mental health and addiction facility. Some are in the biomedical fields, such as hospitals, physical therapy clinics, and other similar settings. 

Scholars Programs

We have several students engaged in the McNair Scholars program, the National Science Foundation (NSF) summer research programs, and related summer research projects, as well as ongoing research during the academic year.

Conferences and Presentations

Students present their research at conferences regionally, such as the Texas Academy of Sciences and Southwestern Psychological Association. They also have the opportunity to present at conferences nationally and internationally, such as the Society for Neuroscience and the Society for Behavioral Neuroendocrinology.


Our students have recently interned with:

  • Anxiety Treatment Center of Austin
  • Austin State Hospital
  • Central Texas Occupational Rehabilitation Center
  • Central Texas Veterans' Administration
  • MD Anderson Cancer Research Center
  • Sleep Disorders Center of Central Austin
  • Southwestern University Behavioral Neuroscience Lab
  • Texas Department of Health