PHD Animal Behavior

Program Description

Degree Awarded: PHD Animal Behavior

Our interdisciplinary animal behavior program — one of the few in the world — encompasses many areas of study including, physiology, anatomy, psychology, and neuroscience and more. Our students have ready access to expertise in all of these fields because we are embedded in the School of Life Sciences — a broadly inclusive school, unlike programs at other institutions that are housed in only one department.

While having a breadth of opportunity is an advantage, our program’s small scale also fosters collaboration and teamwork among students and faculty alike. Our sense of community is enhanced by a core set of small, intense seminars and methods classes that all of our students take together. And while we nurture this close community, we also take into account the diverse interests of our students. We build tailor-made curricula from the broad array of courses and expertise available at ASU.

Our doctoral students are generally interested in finding academic jobs that are either research-oriented or teaching-oriented. With this PhD, there is also great potential for government work or jobs with conservation-oriented non-governmental organizations.

If you want to create a unique and integrative research niche in your respective area of animal behavior, this program is ideal. You won't find a program like this one anywhere else.

Animal Behavior (PhD) Faculty


In this degree program, you will receive training in both classic and cutting-edge concepts and techniques in the field, and develop research competence in animal behavior that integrates approaches from many areas, including:

  • anthropology, applied science (e.g. domestication, conservation)
  • ecology, evolution, kinesiology
  • mathematics, neuroscience, physiology, psychology

Your core coursework includes field- and lab-based research, as well as student-driven seminars that cover emerging themes in the literature.

Training spans both theoretical and empirical approaches, ultimate and proximate levels of explanation, and a wide taxonomic breadth of study species.

As an animal behavior student, you'll benefit from internal ASU research centers such as the Global Biosocial Complexity Initiative, and numerous seminar series including the Social Insect Research Group and the Colloquium on Evolution of Social Complexity.

Finally, you'll have access to external research opportunities through ASU partnerships with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the Santa Fe Institute.

Courses and electives

Elective Courses
  • ASM 401 Health and Human Biology (4)
  • ASM 443/543 Primatology (3)
  • ASM 525 Primate Paleobiology (3)
  • BIO 411 Quantitative Methods in Conservation Biology and Ecology (3)
  • BIO 415 Statistical Models for Biology (4)
  • BIO 421/521 Landscape Ecology (3)
  • BIO 423 Population and Community Ecology (3)
  • BIO 436 Sociobiology and Behavioral Ecology (3)
  • BIO 461 Comparative Animal Physiology (3)
  • BIO 462 Endocrine Physiology (3)
  • BIO 465 Neurophysiology (3)
  • BIO 467 Neurobiology (3)
  • BIO 503 Bioimaging Lab (2)
  • BIO 504 Bioimaging (2)
  • BIO 522 Populations: Evolutionary Ecology (3)
  • BIO 524 Ecosystems
  • BIO 526 Quantitative Ecology
  • BIO 561 Environmental Physiology (3)
  • BIO 514 Statistical Models for Biology (4)
  • CHM 460 Biological Chemistry (3)
  • KIN 412/512 Biomechanics of the Skeletal System (3)
  • KIN 414 Electromyographic Kinesiology (3)
  • KIN 440 Exercise Biochemistry (3)
  • KIN 443/533 Exercise Endocrinology (3)
  • KIN 522 Exercise Psychology (3)
  • MAT 420 Scientific Computing
  • MAT 450 Mathematical Models in Biology (3)
  • MAT 451 Mathematical Modeling (3)
  • MAT 591 Topic: Math Biology (3)
  • PLB 419/519 Physiological Plant Ecology (3)
  • PSY 420 Analysis of Behavior (3)
  • PSY 424 Genetic Psychology (3)
  • PSY 426 Neuroanatomy (4)
  • PSY 434 Cognitive Psychology (3)
  • PSY 512 Advanced Learning (3)
  • PSY 515 Quantitative Research Methodology and Statistics 1 (3)
  • PSY 526 Neuroanatomy (4)
  • PSY 528 Sensation and Perception (3)
  • PSY 530 Intermediate Statistics (3)
  • PSY 531 Multiple Regression in Psychological Research (3)
  • PSY 532 Analysis of Multivariate Data (3)
  • STP 530 Applied Regression (3)
  • STP 531 Applied Analysis of Variance (3)
  • STP 532 Applied Nonparametric Statistics (3)
  • STP 533 Applied Multivariate Analysis
  • STP 535 Applied Sampling Methodology

At a Glance: program details

Degree Requirements

Required Core (8 credit hours)
  • ANB 601 Research Strategies in Animal Behavior (4)
  • ANB 602 Current Issues in Animal Behavior (4)
Electives or Research (64 credit hours)
  • See below for a list
Culminating Experience (12 credit hours)
  • ANB 799 dissertation (12)
  • ANB 792 - Research

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree, in a related discipline, from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. graduate admissions application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. academic record form
  4. personal statement
  5. curriculum vitae or resume
  6. three letters of recommendation
  7. proof of English proficiency (if applicable) 

Application Deadline

  • Applications are accepted between the open date, September 1st and close date, December 1st for consideration for the following August
Additional Application Information
  • The Animal Behavior PhD program admits one group of students annually to start their program the following August
  • There is no guarantee that applications received after December 1st will be reviewed 
  • In January, the top applicants will be invited to a recruitment event scheduled in mid-to-late February  
  • You'll be notified of your admission status by April 15th
  • Review tips for applying
Desired Qualifications
  • Research experience
  • International students: TOEFL score of 100 or IELTS score of 6.5

To apply, follow the Apply Now link.

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Program Contact Information

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