Institute for Behavioral Genetics
John K. Hewitt
University of Colorado
T: 303-492-7362

The Institute for Behavioral Genetics (IBG) offers a training program in behavioral genetics. The goal of the program is to train scientists in the study of genetic contributions to individual differences in behavior. This is accomplished by requiring students to obtain strong training in a primary academic discipline, by providing training in the interdisciplinary field of behavioral genetics, and by providing an atmosphere in which close interactions among scholars with different perspectives may be established.


Admission Requirements

To train at IBG, students must be admitted to a PhD program at the University of Colorado (Boulder or Denver). To be considered for admission, the Graduate School requires an undergraduate GPA of at least 2.75. Additionally, the most competitive applicants should have verbal and math GREs >85th percentile. Subject GRE scores are not required but will be considered if they have been completed. We carefully consider all components of the application including undergraduate grades, letters of recommendation, previous research experience and GRE scores.

Required Courses and Credits

Deviations from the IBG certificate requirements may be requested by petition to the student's advisory committee. Specific requests for course substitution, resolution of an ambiguity, etc., should be made by written petition. A petition may be approved by a majority vote of both the advisory committee and the IBG Training Committee. Disapproval of a petition may be changed to approval by a majority vote of the IBG faculty. Students with sufficient backgrounds may also test out of required courses 1–2 (i.e., pass the final exam for the course).

Required Courses
PSYC/IPHY 5200Physiological Genetics and Genomics3
PSYC 5102Introduction to Behavioral Genetics3
PSYC 5741General Statistics 1 14
or PSYC 5751 General Statistics 2
or IPHY 5800 Advanced Statistics and Research Methods in Integrative Physiology
or PSYC 5541 Special Topics in Psychology
PSYC 5112Concepts in Behavioral Genetics (Required Course: Responsible Conduct in Research)3
Complete two courses from the following:6
Behavioral Neuroscience (May overlap with NRSC 5100)
Quantitative Genetics
Introduction to Physiology Genomics (MCDB 5230 or MCDB 5471 may replace IPHY 5102)
Biometrical Methods in Behavioral Genetics
Application of Bioinformatics and Genomics
Introduction to Neuroscience I
Introduction to Neuroscience II
Complete one course from the following:3
Neurobiology of Learning and Memory
Clinical Neuroscience: A Clinical and Pathological Perspective
Behavioral Neuroendocrinology
Seminar (Aging and Neurodevelopmental Disorders)
Seminar (Geroscience and Anti-Aging Medicine)
Special Topics in Psychology (Statistical Programming in R)
Special Topics in Psychology (Methods in Genetics of Complex Traits)
Neurobiology of Addiction
Developmental Psychopathology
Structural Equation Modeling
Topics in Advanced Structural Equations Modeling
Seminar: Behavioral Genetics (Genetics of Substance Use Disorders)
Seminar: Behavioral Genetics (Genetics of Psychopathology; this course is required for NIMH trainees)
Seminar: Behavioral Genetics (Benchmark Papers in Behavioral Genetics)
Seminar: Behavioral Genetics (Population Genetics in the Modern Genomics Era)
Other approved seminar courses on topics relevant to behavioral genetics
Total Credit Hours22

NOTE: As some courses can only be taught every other year, it is each student's responsibility to take relevant courses when offered. Some equivalent courses may be offered at the Health Sciences Center or other venues. Course substitutions may be requested.

Teaching Requirements

Each of the students in the IBG Training Program must TA for at least one semester in a course judged by their advisory committee to be relevant to their professional specialty. (As part of their general responsibilities for the development of the student, advisory committees may sometimes require additional teaching.)

General Requirements

IBG students are required to conduct their doctoral dissertation research on topics of direct relevance to animal or human behavioral genetics, under the supervision of an IBG faculty member. A training file for each student is maintained in the IBG office for tracking progress toward completion of program requirements. Each student is to assist in updating this file at least once per year.

Specific departmental and Graduate School requirements in addition to those listed here are the responsibility of each student, in consultation with his/her advisory committee.


Each student in the training program must complete the comprehensive/qualifying and dissertation exam requirements of their academic department (e.g. IPHY, PSYC, MCDB). Depending upon the academic program in which the student is enrolled, they may also have additional exam requirements including a dissertation proposal. Students are advised to check their academic department for specific requirements.

Annual Presentations at IBG Orientation

All continuing students are required to present a poster describing their research activity of the past year at the annual IBG Orientation—held each year in August (the last Friday before the beginning of the fall semester). Students are also expected to present their research at the annual IBG mini-conference held each spring. 

Exit Colloquium

All students are expected to do an exit colloquium at the conclusion of their training program. This presentation should be modeled as a "job talk," not a repeat of the final defense.