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MUSC Bulletin | College of Graduate Studies

College of Graduate Studies | Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences

Section Contents
IntroductionDegree Requirements | Advisory Committee | Program of Study | Courses Audited | Repeating Course | Transfer Credit | Plan of Research | Admission to Candidacy | Residence | Research Seminar | Thesis | Final Examination | Time Limit


A research intensive degree program requiring completion of an independent laboratory research project under the direction of a mentor in a student's chosen field, written thesis, and oral thesis defense. Students choose one of the following tracks as their field of concentration:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Public Health Sciences
Cell and Molecular Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics

Microbiology and Immunology
Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Regenerative Medicine and Cell Biology

Degree Requirements

The College of Graduate Studies has specific course requirements and proficiency standards for the master of sciences (MS) degree. All tracks require completion of an independent, laboratory research project under the direction of a mentor in their chosen field, written thesis, and oral thesis defense. Coursework requirements vary by track, but consist of at least 45 total credit hours including a minimum of 12 hours of didactic instruction. Each student follows an individual Program of Study designed in consultation with the Thesis Advisor. Master students are required to register for a minimum of nine hours each semester. 

Each student is expected to be familiar with the elements of statistics.  If the sponsoring department considers that the student has insufficient preparation in this field, one or more courses may be in included in the Program of Study.

Thesis Advisory Committee

This committee, which is recommended by the major department and approved by the Dean, shall consist of at least four members, including at least one from outside the department.  All members of the committee shall be members of the Graduate Faculty. The Advisory Committee chairperson must be a full member of the Graduate Faculty, or an associate member with a full member co-mentor. The Thesis Advisory Committee should be appointed after a student has chosen a specialized area in his/her field and no later than 6 months after the student enrolls.  In the interim, the student is advised by the departmental graduate committee or advisor.

Program of Study

Each student follows an individual Program of Study designed in consultation with his or her Thesis Advisor. It is a list of courses and other requirements (including those of the major department) that the student must complete in order to meet the minimum requirements of a given degree.  It lists courses that are being transferred as well as courses which are to be taken on campus.  After approval by the Thesis Advisor, the approved Program of Study is filed with the departmental graduate coordinator and with the Office of the Dean of Graduate Studies within three months after the Thesis Advisor is chosen.  A decision to remove, substitute, or add courses to the program can be made in a joint meeting of the student and the Thesis Advisor.  Any changes in the program must be completed no later than one week after the substituted or additional course has begun.  A record of any change in the program will be submitted by the Thesis Advisor to ensure that any change in the Program of Study is consistent with the maintenance of at least the minimum course requirements of the major department.

Ordinarily, only courses listed in the catalog of the College of Graduate Studies will be included in the program.  The program must be completed before the final oral examination is scheduled.

Courses Audited

Any graduate student, with permission of the instructor and the chairperson of the Thesis Advisory Committee, and with written notice to the Graduate Office, may audit a course.  Audited courses are not part of the Program of Study and will not be given credit.

Repeating Courses

The Thesis Advisory Committee may permit a student to repeat a course in order to raise the grade. Courses that have been repeated will be treated as follows:  (1) Credit hours will be granted only once.  (In computing the overall average to determine eligibility for degrees or in rulings on probationary matters, the credit hours must be counted twice and both grades included.)  (2) The transcript must show both grades, with the second being designated as Repeated, and credit hours being given only once.

Plan of Research
Prior to a student being certified as a candidate for the MS degree, he/she will submit a research proposal on the proposed topic in NIH grant format to his/her Thesis Advisory Committee. This proposal should show evidence of creative integration of course material, superimposed on a sound understanding of the pertinent literature.

Transfer Credit

Only those courses (none from correspondence or research) in which grades of 3.0 or above were received will be acceptable for transfer on the Program of Study.  In some instances, the department may request that a student transfer hours received in certain courses that have been taken on a pass/fail basis, but these cannot be averaged in the GPA.  It is the responsibility of the department to determine the student's comprehension of the material before such hours are shown on the Program of Study for credit toward the degree.

Admission to Candidacy

In a meeting with the student and his/her Thesis Advisory Committee, the student will orally pesent and defend their Plan of Research. Upon approval of the Plan of Research, the student will be certified as a candidate for the MS degree.  Such admission to candidacy must occur at least three months prior to completing requirements for the degree.

The graduate school recognizes that the student's research may deviate substantially from that originally proposed.  The student should be encouraged to pursue promising leads; however, long-term changes in the direction of the student's research should be in consultation with the Thesis Advisory Committee.


At least one year of residency at the Medical University is required before receiving the MS degree.  A graduate student who has completed all the course requirements for a degree and plans to write the thesis either in absentia or in residence must register and pay tuition for a minimum of one hour each semester until completion of a successful oral defense of the thesis.

Research Seminar

Students are required to make a research presentation, on campus, in a manner to be determined by the department or program and the Thesis Advisory Committee.


A thesis, contributing new knowledge or the treatment of familiar materials from a new point of view, is required on a topic in the major field.  It must comply with the regulations contained in A Guide to the Preparation of Theses and Dissertations which is available in the Graduate Office or through the CGS website.

The final approved Thesis MUST be turned in within 30 days of the defense. 

Students who do not submit their Thesis/Dissertation within this time limit will be required to register for the next semester at their own expense for a minimum of one hour and will receive that semester as their completion date.

Final Examination

Each candidate is required to pass a general oral examination covering the major field and the thesis.  This shall begin with a formal presentation with appropriate slides and shall be at least 20 minutes in length for the M.S. candidate.  The examination is conducted by the Thesis Advisory Committee, with its Chairperson presiding.

The Thesis Advisory Committee will have primary responsibility for evaluating the student's research, including the written thesis, and the formal oral presentation (which is open to the general graduate faculty) and for administering the final oral examination.

Upon completion of the defense, each faculty will fill out a defense rubric form and give them to the Major Advisor.  The Major Advisor will in turn collate the evaluations into one form, discuss it with the trainee and then submit it to the College’s Registrar.

Approval by the Thesis Advisory Committee, with no more than one dissenting vote, is necessary for recommendation for awarding the degree.  The decision of the Thesis Advisory Committee will be forwarded to the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies.  The Graduate Faculty has the authority, which it has delegated to the Dean, for final approval of the candidate for the awarding of the degree.

Only one opportunity for re-examination shall be given (in not less than six months and not more than one year from the time of the final examination at which this decision was made). Any candidate who is granted the privilege of re-examination shall retain the status and obligations of a graduate student until the time of such re-examination.

Time Limit

All requirements for Masters should be completed within a period of five years following initial registration, although course credit is not nullified until six years after completion of a course.

Last Published with Edits:July 28, 2016 2:36 PM
Last Comprehensive Review: July 2016

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