Graduate Master of Science (MS) Program in Entomology: Vector-Borne Disease Biology
Department of Entomology, Cornell University
This interdisciplinary master’s program will fall under the Medical and Veterinary Entomology Concentration, combining courses offered through entomology, public health, and veterinary medicine units at Cornell University.

Program Background

The Northeast Regional Center of Excellence for Vector-Borne Diseases, together with Cornell’s Department of Entomology, are excited to announce a new Master of Science in Entomology: Vector-Borne Disease Biology graduate program. This interdisciplinary master’s program will fall 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:
  • 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
  • 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
  • Build effective collaborations between academic communities and public health organizations at federal, state, and local levels for vector-borne disease surveillance, response, and prevention

Learn more about the MS program by navigation through the topics below:

How to Apply​​

You can access more information on applying to the MS in Entomology program on the Cornell Entomology Department’s Application Process page. ​​

The deadline for application submissions for Fall 2019 is December 1, 2018.

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.

Program Costs 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,
  • Stephanie Westmiller, Graduate Field Administrative Assistant,

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,

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 Structure and Requirements

Graduates of the MS in Entomology: Vector Biology program will be required to complete 42 to 43 instructional credits and 8 independent study credits, for a total of 50-51 total credit hours. Students will also be required to establish a committee, including Dr. Laura Harrington and one other faculty member. Full course descriptions can be accessed through the Cornell Course Catalog here .

Topical Seminars
Students must take two topical seminars worth two credits each. Seminar options include:
  • Current topics in tick biology and disease transmission
  • Current topics in mosquito biology and disease transmission
  • Advanced vector behavior
  • Vaccines for vector-borne disease
  • Novel strategies for vector-borne disease control
  • Emerging pathogens and potential introductions to the Northeast USA

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

Example Course of Study

Fall - Year 1
  • ENTOM 4520 - Introduction to Disease Vectors, with Lab (4 credits)
  • ENTOM 2120 - Insect Biology, with Lab (4 credits)
  • ENTOM 7670 - Professional Development in Entomology (2 credits)
  • VTPMD 6101 - Public Health Foundations I (3 credits)
  • BIOMI 2500 - Public Health Microbiology (2 credits)

Spring - Year 1
  • ENTOM 4900 - Toxicology of Insecticides (3 credits)
  • NEW ENTOM COURSE - Vector-borne Disease Control Lab (1 credit)
  • VTPMD 6102 - Public Health Foundations II (3 credits)
  • VTPMD 6103 - Public Health Ethics and Leadership (3 credits)
  • TOPICAL SEMINAR (2 credits)

Summer Internship - 10 weeks

Fall - Year 2
  • BRTY 3010/ENTOM 3030 - Statiscal Methods (3/4 credits)
  • BIOMI 4090 - Virology (3 credits)
  • VTPMD 6640 - Introduction to Epidemiology (3 credits)
  • BIOMI 4310 - Medical Parasitology (3 credits)

Spring - Year 2
  • TOPICAL SEMINAR (2 credits)

Required Courses

    ENTOM 4520 W/LAB
    Surveys the key aspects of vector taxonomy, evolution, biology and behavior, history of VBD control globally and in the US. (4 credits)
    ENTOM 2120 W/LAB
    Introduces the science of entomology, focusing on the systematics, anatomy, physiology, basic and applied ecology, and natural history of insects. Early fall laboratories include field trips to collect and study insects in the natural environment. A personal collection emphasizing ecological, behavioral, and taxonomic categories is a requirement of the laboratory. Must be taken during first semester of MS program. (4 credits)
    ENTOM 7670
    Focus on professional development skills, including critical reading of scientific literature, oral and written presentation, and grant writing. Must be taken during first semester of MS program. (2 credits)
    VTPMD 6640
    Course covers fundamental epidemiology concepts and methods in the investigation of determinants of health or disease in populations. (3 credits)
    BTRY 3010 OR ENTOM 3030
    BTRY 3010 students gain competency in statistical theory and application, experimental design and scientific rigor. ENTOM 3030 students get hands-on experience in how to design, analyze and interpret biological experiments. (3/4 credits)
    Includes insecticide/acaracide toxicology and control; insecticide resistance, biological control, IVM and emerging tools for control; and a regulatory process overview. (1 credits)
    BIOMI 2090
    Provides a broad understanding of how viruses infect and cause disease. Topics include the classification of viruses, virus entry, genome replication and assembly, and virus pathogenesis. (3 credits)
    BIOMI 2500
    Employs a variety of methods (including historical and current case studies and databases) to help students understand basic principles of microbiology as they apply to the emergence, transmission, pathogenicity, and control of infectious human disease. (2 credits)
    BIOMI 4310
    Covers protozoan, and helminth parasites of public health importance, with emphasis on epidemiologic, clinical, and zoonotic aspects of these parasites. (3 credits)
    VTPMD 6103
    This course covers competent strategies for communicating with peers and the public, effective collaborations and teamwork, conflict resolution and management. (3 credits)
    Students will take this course the semester after their summer internship. They will reflect on their internship experience and summarize their experiences in a final report and presentation. (2 credits)
    (see above Topical Seminar description)
    (2 credits)
    VTPMD 6101 & 6102
    These courses cover Leadership skills; Research Ethics; Effective Communication in Public Health (oral and written expression); Concepts in One Health (two semesters, 6 credits)
    To be taken as independent study credits. See above thesis research description.
    (8 credits)
  15. TOTAL
    50 to 51 Credit Hours