Master of Science in Entomology: Vector-Borne Disease Biology Curriculum

NEVBD has partnered with the Department of Entomology at Cornell University to offer a novel, interdisciplinary Master of Science program in vector-borne disease biology. This program falls within the Medical and Veterinary Entomology Concentration, and combines entomology and public health course work from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine.

Program Highlights

Our goal for the MS in Entomology program in vector-borne disease biology is to provide a foundation from which graduates can immediately enter the workforce in vector surveillance, control, and related fields. Students will experience an innovative curriculum covering vector biology and ecology, public health competencies, and the most recent advances in vector control and vector-borne disease prevention.

During this two-year program, students will interact with leading medical entomologists, virologists, epidemiologists, field ecologists, and statistical modelers across multiple academic, state, and federal government and public health institutions in the Northeast. Students will also gain hands-on experience in the field through coursework and a required 10-week summer internship with a regional partner

Graduates of this program can immediately enter the workforce in a wide range of roles, including biologists and control specialists for vector control districts and agencies; program coordinators and managers for public health agencies and programs; scientists working with agricultural and cooperative extension programs; and more.

Core Competencies

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

  1. Arthropod biology, behavior and taxonomy
  2. Vector-borne pathogens of global and regional importance
  3. Vector-borne disease prevention and control strategies and systems
  4. Impact of public health systems on vector-borne disease transmission
  5. Professionalism in the public health and vector biology workforce
  6. Core competencies of public health professionals at a Program Management/Supervisory (Tier 2) level

Program Costs and Funding

To ensure successful engagement and completion of program competencies and projects, students enrolled in this program will receive fellowship support from the NEVBD. This support will cover full tuition, health insurance, and will provide stipends for the academic year and summer internship.

This financial support is provided under the NEVBD Cooperative Agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is currently only available to students matriculating for the 2018 to 2020, 2019 to 2021, and 2020 to 2022 program cohorts.

How to Apply

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

Please note: This graduate degree program is supported through funding within the Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector-Borne Diseases from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which supports students matriculating for the 2018-2020, 2019-2021, and 2020-2022 program cohorts. Continuation of this program is contingent upon future availability of funding.

Individuals interested in applying to this program should contact NEVBD program staff in Fall 2020 to inquire if additional cohorts will be eligible to apply.

Program Requirements

Graduates of the MS in Entomology Vector-Borne Disease Biology program will be required to complete a mixture of instructional credits and master-level thesis research credits. Students are be required to establish a committee, including Dr. Laura Harrington and one other faculty member.

Summer Internship:

A mandatory 10-week summer internship at a federal, state, or local health department or vector control agency is required. NEVBD will provide salary and housing support for summer internship students. Students can select from the following topical areas for their internship project:

  • Vector biology
  • Vector surveillance
  • Vector control
  • Insecticide resistance
  • Repellents
  • Big data management
  • Statistical modeling
  • 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.

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 in Entomology program.

Required Courses

This program includes 7 required core courses covering topics of entomology and vector biology (16 credit hours), and 6 required core courses covering public health topics and competencies (16 credit hours). Students must also dedicate at least 2 credit hours each semester to master-level thesis research.

This program is designed to be completed in two years. Please visit the Cornell Class Roster to learn more about the courses listed below.


Core Entomology and Vector Biology Courses
Total credits: 16

Course Semester Credits
ENTOM 2120 + LAB Insect Biology Fall 4
ENTOM 4520 Introduction to Disease Vectors​ Fall 3
ENTOM 4521 Introduction to Disease Vectors​ Lab Fall 1
ENTOM 6520 Malaria Seminar Spring - Odd Years 2
ENTOM 6530 Control of Disease Vectors Spring - Even Years 2
ENTOM 6540 Vector Biology in Practice Spring 2
ENTOM 7670 Professional Development in Entomology Fall 2

Core Public Health Courses
Total credits: 16

Course Semester Credits
VTPMD 6101 Public Health Foundations I Fall 3
VTPMD 6102 Public Health Foundations II Spring 3
VTPMD 6104 Epidemiology in Practice Fall 3
VTPMD 6105 Biostatistics for Health Sciences Fall 3
VTPMD 6191 Public Health Communication Fall 2
VETMI 6111 Principles of Infectious Disease for Public Health Fall 2

Research/Thesis Courses

Course Semester Credits
ENTOM 8900 Master-level Thesis Research Fall; Spring; Summer Varies
IRB and IACUC training certification (online) Fall; Spring None

Elective Courses

Course Semester Credits
ENTOM 4550 Insect Ecology Fall 4
ENTOM 4830 Insect Physiology Spring 2
ENTOM 4940 Special Topics in Entomology Spring 1
ENTOM 6900 Seminar in Ecology & Evolution of Infectious Diseases Fall; Spring 1
VTPMD 6182 Public Health Practice and Planning Spring 2
BIOMI 2500 Public Health Microbiology Fall 3
BIOMI 2600 Microbiology of Human Contagious Diseases Spring 3
BIOMI 4090 Principles of Virology Fall 3
BIOMI 4310 Medical Parasitology Fall 2
COMM 2850/STS 2852 Communication, Environment, Science, & Health Spring 3
NTRES 6200 Spatial Modeling and Analysis Spring 3
NS 3600 Epidemiology Fall 3
STSCI 2150 Introductory Statistics for Biology Spring 4

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