Academic Programs

Biomedical Sciences PhD Program

The Biomedical Sciences Area PhD is a multidisciplinary program in which the student will utilize molecular, cellular and whole-animal approaches to answer fundamental biological questions that have relevance to human and animal health. In the first year of the program students will be enrolled in our Core Curriculum (see below), taking courses which will provide them with fundamental knowledge in Physiology, Cell Biology and Neuroscience. This coursework provides the student with the conceptual foundation prior to pursuing a research project in their chosen field (see Areas of Study below), under the mentorship of an established investigator within the department. In the course of their research students will be introduced to cutting-edge methods which will make them highly competitive for future positions in biomedical research.

The program is administered through the Department of Biomedical Sciences, which has faculty conducting research in a variety of fields, including cardiovascular and respiratory physiology, neurophysiology, gastrointestinal physiology, cardiac physiology, cancer, reproductive physiology, toxicology, exercise and neurodegenerative disease. The program offers a rich environment for graduate study and a unique opportunity for training in an integrative and multidisciplinary fashion that maximizes their ability to obtain jobs in research, industry, or as teachers.

Admission Requirements

Typically, the successful applicant will possess a baccalaureate degree with a GPA of 3.0 or above (A=4.0). Undergraduate course prerequisites are (in semester credit hours or equivalent):

  • Biology (10)
  • Chemistry (10)
  • Biochemistry (3)
  • Physics (3)
  • Calculus (3)

The applicant will be expected to score 1000 (combined score of verbal and quantitative sections) and 3.5 on the analytical writing section on the GRE examination. Minimum TOEFL requirements for international applicants is 600 paper-based, 250 computer-based and 100 internet based.

University Requirements

The general requirements and procedures published by the University of Missouri-Columbia Graduate School apply to all students admitted to the Doctoral program in Biomedical Sciences.

Degree Requirements

To attain the PhD degree, 72 hours of graduate credit must be completed; 15 hours or more at the 8000/9000 level (exclusive of research, problems and independent study courses). The Core Curriculum includes:

  • Physiology (9 credit hours)
  • Cell Biology (4 credit hours)
  • Neuroscience (2 credit hours)
  • Multidisciplinary Approaches to Biomedical Research (2 credit hours)
  • Departmental Seminar (2 credit hours)

A grade of 3.0 or better is required for each course in the core curriculum and serves in lieu of any qualifying examination for the degree. In addition to the core curriculum, students take a minimum of one additional 7/8/9000-level course in each of the following three areas: Molecular Biology, Cellular Biology and Integrative Biology. The choice of these courses will be made individually by the student in consultation with his/her advisor and doctoral program committee. Following completion of their coursework, PhD students must pass a Comprehensive Exam designed by the doctoral program committee. The Comprehensive Exam has both written and oral components, and typically takes the form of a NIH-style grant application that allows the student to demonstrate their breadth of knowledge in their specific field, as well as their ability to think critically, design experiments, and finally interpret and present experimental data.

The PhD Candidate is evaluated by their PhD advisory committee every 6 months by to ensure a satisfactory rate of progress, typically demonstrated by the timely completion of core courses and productivity in research activities as assessed by the student’s doctoral program committee. The PhD Candidate must carry out original research culminating in a written dissertation, present the dissertation work at a departmental seminar and defend it in an oral examination given by the doctoral program committee. Students typically graduate in just over four years.

Areas of Study

Major biomedical fields within our department include:

  • Cardiovascular physiology
  • Neurophysiology
  • Respiratory physiology
  • Gastrointestinal physiology
  • Cardiac physiology
  • Cancer
  • Reproductive physiology
  • Toxicology
  • Exercise
  • Neurodegenerative diseases

Specific areas of interest include the etiologies of hypertension, sleep apnea, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, heart failure and other cardiac diseases, vascular disease, Cystic Fibrosis, the swallowing and respiratory dysfunction associated with Amotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative diseases, and vision loss related to trauma.  Our research also focuses on potential therapies that can reverse some of the pathology related to these diseases, including exercise and molecular and transgenic therapies.

Applying

The application deadline for entry in Summer or Fall Semesters is January 5th of the year the student wishes to enter the program. The deadline for entry in Spring Semester (i.e. start in January) is September 15th of the previous year. The application for admission to the Biomedical Sciences PhD Program begins with a completed online application, found at the MU Graduate School website: https://gradschool.missouri.edu/admissions/apply/.   The applicant must provide undergraduate transcripts and at least three letters of recommendation from former professors or advisors. The applicant must also provide a Personal Statement indicating the applicant’s reasons for pursuing graduate study, career goals, and his/her area of research interest. Applicants are encouraged to contact one of our research faculty members to express their interest in their research. See a listing of our faculty at: https://biomed.missouri.edu/faculty-and-staff/

Biomedical Sciences MS Program

The Department of Biomedical Sciences also offers an MS in Biomedical Sciences. The MS program provides in-depth training to prepare scientists in interdisciplinary basic research (molecular, cellular, organ and integrative).

Degree Requirements

To attain the MS in Biomedical Sciences, 30 hours of graduate credit must be completed; 15 hours or more shall be 8000 level (exclusive of research, problems and independent study courses); and six to nine hours of 8090 Research. A grade of 3.0 or better is required in all core courses and serves as the qualifying examination for the degree. In additional to the departmental core courses, students may take courses specifically planned to meet the needs and strengths of the individual. The MS candidate is evaluated every 6 months for satisfactory rate of progress as defined by timely completion of course courses and progress on research activities as stipulated by the MS program committee. The MS candidate must carry out original research culminating in a written thesis, present the thesis work at a departmental seminar and defend the thesis in an oral examination by the MS program committee. The time limit for the MS degree is five years after initiating the program.

Applying

The application deadline for entry in Summer or Fall Semesters is January 5th of the year the student wishes to enter the program. The deadline for entry in Spring Semester (i.e. start in January) is September 15th of the previous year. The application for admission to the Biomedical Sciences MS Program begins with a completed online application, found at the MU Graduate School website: https://gradschool.missouri.edu/admissions/apply/.   The applicant must provide undergraduate transcripts and at least three letters of recommendation from former professors or advisors. The applicant must also provide a Personal Statement indicating the applicant’s reasons for pursuing graduate study, career goals, and his/her area of research interest. Applicants are encouraged to contact one of our research faculty members to express their interest in their research. See a listing of our faculty at: https://biomed.missouri.edu/faculty-and-staff/

Dual PhD/DVM Degree in Biomedical Sciences Area Program

The Biomedical Sciences graduate program enables veterinary medical students to pursue studies in the basic biomedical discipline of their choice for a PhD or MS degree while enrolled in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The program is designed to prepare students for advanced professional careers in universities and colleges, research institutes, and industrial research. With consent of the student’s graduate program committee, courses from the professional curriculum (which includes a major portion of the core curriculum) can be accepted toward the graduate degree. The PhD program requires a minimum of 30 credit hours of 8090 Research culminating in the completion of original research and defense of a written dissertation.

The Master’s/DVM program enables veterinary medical students to complete a master’s degree while enrolled in the College of Veterinary Medicine. The program allows qualified students to seek in-depth involvement in the basic biomedical discipline of their choice. With consent of the dual DVM/MS candidate’s program committee, credit hours from the professional program (including the core courses) can be accepted for the master’s degree. Six hours of 9090 Research that result in an original thesis are required. Financial support may be provided through teaching assistantships in gross anatomy laboratory (Veterinary Anatomy 5500 and 5011). Please see the “MS in Basic Biomedical Sciences” page on our website for more information.