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Graduate Masters of Science (MS) Program in Entomology: Vector-Borne Disease Biology at Cornell

This interdisciplinary master’s program falls under the Medical and Veterinary Entomology Concentration, combining courses offered through entomology, public health, and veterinary medicine units at Cornell University. 

Our goal for the MS in Entomology with a focus on Vector Biology program is to provide a foundation from which graduates can immediately enter the workforce in public health vector-borne disease surveillance, vector surveillance and control, and related fields.

Graduates in the program can expect to interact with medical entomologists, virologists, epidemiologists, field ecologists, modelers, and molecular biologists not only at Cornell, but also at leading academic, state government, and public health institutions in the Northeast through our collaborative Center for Excellence, including Columbia University, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and the New York State Department of Health.

The Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases is funded through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with the overarching purpose of addressing the most pressing educational and applied research needs in vector-borne disease biology for the US Northeast region. The Center for Excellence has three primary goals:

  1. Conduct applied research to develop and validate effective vector-borne disease prevention and control tools and methods necessary to anticipate and respond to disease outbreaks
  2. Train a cadre of public health entomologists with the knowledge and skills required to rapidly detect, prevent, and respond to vector-borne disease threats in the USA
  3. Build effective collaborations between academic communities and public health organizations at federal, state, and local levels for vector-borne disease surveillance, response, and prevention

Core Competencies of the Program

Graduates of the program will demonstrate a high level of competency in the following skills and knowledge areas:

  • Understanding of arthropod biology, body plan, organ systems, behavior and physiology, infection biology, and immunity
  • Knowledge of arthropod behavior, host finding, and sensory systems
  • Arthropod taxonomy skills, with a focus on the classification and diversity of disease vector arthropods
  • Practical skills with arthropod identification, demonstration of a solid understanding of disease vector evolutionary relationships
  • Understanding of the current state of knowledge regarding insecticide resistance and methods for resistance monitoring, as well as an understanding of regulation of insecticides in the US and NY, CT, and the Northeast 
  • Knowledge of vector-borne pathogens (viruses, bacteria, protozoa) of global and regional importance
  • A deep understanding and practical experience with surveillance methods for vectors and pathogens
  • An understanding of the components of rigorous experimental design and data analysis
  • Knowledge of alternate control strategies; genetic, behavioral, acoustic and visual/olfactory approaches to sampling; spatial repellents; and push-pull systems for reducing human exposure
  • Effective oral and written communication skills; competent strategies for communicating with peers and the public; leadership skills and training in effective collaborations and teamwork; conflict resolution and management
  • Understanding of sociology and psychology as it relates to public health prevention and messaging
  • A clear understanding of ethical practices in science and public health

Program Cost and Funding

The MS in Entomology: Vector-Borne Disease Biology program is an exciting opportunity to gain advanced training in relevant and novel topics in public health entomology. This is a two-year program, which includes a mandatory 10-week summer internship with a participating academic or public/environmental health partner.

To ensure successful engagement and completion of program competencies and projects, students will receive fellowship support from the Center of Excellence, which will cover full tuition and provide academic-year and full summer internship stipends and health insurance coverage.

For program and application information, please contact:

  • Emily Mader, Program Manager for the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases, emm367@cornell.edu
  • Stephanie Westmiller, Graduate Field Administrative Assistant, st342@cornell.edu

If you have questions about the educational course of study, please contact:

  • Dr. Laura Harrington, Professor of Entomology, Program Director for the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases, lch27@cornell.edu

How to Apply

You can access more information on applying to the MS in Entomology program on the Department’s Application Process page. The deadline for application submissions is December 1.

Please note: You will need to reference Dr. Laura Harrington as your principal investigator, and include your interest in the Medical and Veterinary Entomology: Vector-Borne Disease Biology program in your statement of purpose.

MS in Entomology: Vector-Borne Disease Biology Course Requirements

Graduates of the MS in Entomology: Vector Biology program will be required to complete a minimum 56 total credit hours in the program, with a mixture of instructional credits and masters-level thesis research credits. Students will also be required to establish a committee, including Dr. Laura Harrington and one other faculty member.  

Final Practical and Written Exam

Students will take a final oral practical exam and a written exam. A passing grade of 75 is required to complete the MS program. 

Summer Internship

A mandatory 10-week summer internship at a federal, state, or local health department, or at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, is required. A scholarship program will provide salary and housing for summer internship students. Students can select from the following topical areas for their internship project:

  • Vector biology and modeling
  • Vector surveillance
  • Vector control
  • Insecticide resistance
  • Repellents
  • Big data management
  • Novel strategies for vector control
  • Public health messaging
  • Public perceptions of vector-borne disease

Thesis Research

Students will be expected to complete a written, publication-quality thesis based in part on their summer internship programs. Additional research may be conducted before or after the summer internship is completed. Final Practical and Written Exam

Required Courses

This program includes 7 required core courses covering topics of entomology and vector biology (16 credit hours), as well as 5 required core courses covering public health topics and competencies (15 credit hours). 

Students must also complete a capstone seminar in vector-borne disease offered through the Entomology Department, as well as dedicate at least 1 credit hour each semester to masters-level thesis research.  

This program is designed to be completed in 2 years. Please find more information about the required core courses and program electives below.  

Please visit the Cornell Class Roster to learn more about the courses listed below.

CORE ENTOMOLOGY AND VECTOR BIOLOGY COURSES

Course Semester Credit Hours

ENTOM 4520 Introduction to Disease Vectors

FALL

3 credits

ENTOM 4521 Introduction to Disease Vectors Lab

FALL

1 credit

ENTOM 2120 + LAB Insect Biology

FALL

4 credits

ENTOM 7670 Professional Development in Entomology

FALL

2 credits

ENTOM 6540 Vector Biology in Practice

SPRING

2 credits

ENTOM 6520 Malaria Seminar

SPRING

2 credits

ENTOM 6530 Control Disease Vectors

SPRING

2 credits

CORE PUBLIC HEALTH COURSES

Course Semester Credit Hours

VTPMD 6101 Public Health Foundations I

FALL

3 credits

VTPMD 6012 Public Health Foundations II

SPRING

3 credits

VTPMD 6104 Epidemiology in Practice

FALL

3 credits

VTPMD 6105 (or equivalent) Biostatistics for Health Sciences

FALL

3 credits

EHS 590 Introduction to Environmental Health*

SPRING

3 credits

*Online course through SUNY Albany School of Public Health

RESEARCH/THESIS COURSES

Course Semester Credit Hours

STSCI 2150 Introductory Statistics for Biology*

*Opt out with previous statistics course

SPRING

4 credits

ENTOM 8910 Capstone Seminar in Vector-borne Disease

SPRING

2 credits

ENTOM 8900 Masters Level Thesis Research

FALL; SPRING

various credits

IRB and IACUC training certification (online)

FALL; SPRING

none

ELECTIVE COURSES

Course Semester Credit Hours

ENTOM 4550 Insect Ecology

FALL

4 credits

ENTOM 4830 Insect Physiology

SPRING

4 credits

ENTOM 4940 Special Topics in Entomology

SPRING

1 credit

ENTOM 6900 Seminar in Ecology & Evolution of Infectious Diseases

FALL; SPRING

1 credit

VETMI 6111 Principles of Infectious Disease for Public Health

FALL

2 credits

VETMI 6112 Cases in Infectious Disease & Health

FALL

1 credit

VTPMD 6182 Public Health Practice - Planning

SPRING

2 credits

BIOMI 2500 Public Health Microbiology

FALL

3 credits

BIOMI 2600 Microbiology of Human Contagious Diseases

SPRING

3 credits

BIOMI 4090 Principles of Virology

FALL

3 credits

BIOMI 4310 Medical Parasitology

FALL

2 credits

NTRES 6200 Spatial Modeling and Analysis

SPRING

3 credits

NS 3600 Epidemiology

FALL

3 credits

 

Students may choose additional electives if approved by their advisor and committee.