Virginia Commonwealth University

Virginia Institute of Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics

Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Statistical Genetics (PBSG)


PO Box 980149

PO Box 843051

Richmond, VA 23298

United States



Program Information

Degree Offered:

Ph.D.-Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Statistical Genetics (PBSG)

Format: Campus

Program Description:

Announcing a new interdisciplinary PhD program run out of the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics (VIPBG) at Virginia Commonwealth University. VIPBG now offers a PhD in the area of Psychiatric, Behavioral, and Statistical Genetics (PBSG). Students in the PBSG track obtain interdisciplinary training, with coursework in human genetics, psychology/psychiatry, biostatistics, and epidemiology, with flexibility to tailor training and research experience to the student’s interests and career goals. VIPBG brings together faculty with a wide range of scientific backgrounds ranging from statistical and molecular genetics to epidemiology, psychology, and psychiatry, all with the joint focus of understanding how genetic and environmental factors impact the development of psychiatric and substance use disorders and related behavioral outcomes. Faculty work across twin and family studies, gene identification projects, and genetically-informative longitudinal, community-based samples. Faculty are also involved in statistical methods development for the aforementioned projects. Students in the PBSG track obtain interdisciplinary training, with coursework in human genetics, psychology/psychiatry, biostatistics, and epidemiology. Students can tailor their training and research experience to their particular career goals by selecting electives in their focused area of interest. The PBSG is one of the few truly interdisciplinary training programs of its sort in the world, housed in an interdisciplinary institute (VIPBG), and consisting of a curriculum that cuts across traditional departmental boundaries. For more than a decade, the VIPBG has pioneered transdisciplinary research and training in the genetic epidemiology of psychiatric and substance use disorders. The PBSG training program is a natural extension of VIPBG. The shared focus of the training program is on psychiatric and substance use disorders, as well as related behavioral outcomes. The program provides broad-based training that cuts across traditional training programs and departmental divisions. Studying these disorders requires a strong foundation in basic genetics, epidemiology, psychological assessment and phenotyping, and biostatistics/statistical genetics. Training of students at the interface of statistical/molecular genetics and basic behavioral epidemiology is critical to develop young scientists optimally positioned to address the cutting-edge research questions that so drastically impact the nation's health. We hope you will consider applying to be one of this exciting cadre of next generation scientists. Course Curriculum: We anticipate that most students will complete all degree requirements in four years of full-time study, although a fifth year may be necessary for some students. The core curriculum is designed to provide students with a common foundation and consists of interdisciplinary coursework across the areas of psychology/behavior, genetics, and statistics, as well as basic research design, grant writing, and scientific integrity. The core curriculum is as follows: * HGEN 501/502: two semester introductory sequence to basic human genetics * BIOS 543/544: two semester introductory sequence on biostatistics * HGEN 620: Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics * PSYC 616: Psychopathology * EPID 571: Epidemiology * HGEN 603: Mathematical and Statistical Genetics * PSYC 691: Research Methods * PSYC 700: Grant Writing * MICR 510: Scientific Integrity Note: core courses may be waived and/or substituted in consultation with the student's advisory committee, and upon the approval of the program director, depending on the student's background and previous coursework. In addition, a minimum of 3 elective courses must be taken, and can be selected according to the student's primary focus and interests, in consultation with the student's advisory committee. All students are expected to be actively engaged in research throughout the duration of their PhD. Students are generally admitted under a mentorship-model, meaning that they will begin research under the supervision of a faculty advisor to whom their research interests most closely align. Students may change faculty advisors, and/or work with multiple faculty members. Other didactic experiences that VIPBG trainees engage in include the weekly seminar series (both at the Institute and in external departments), as well as participation in workshops and scientific meetings of relevance to the student's research area.


Not applicable.

International Student Requirements:

Applicants holding an undergraduate degree from recognized foreign institutions must display an acceptable level of English proficiency by achieving a score of 100 on the TOEFL examination.

Facts & Figures

Classification: Doctoral/Research University—Extensive

Locale: Midsize City

Size & Settings: 20,000-39,999