Guidelines for M.S. in Biological and Physical Sciences

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Guidelines for M.S. in Biological and Physical Sciences

Guidelines and Description of M.S. in Biological and Physical Sciences

1. History and Mission of Sponsoring Units

There are a number of sponsoring units of the M.S. in Biological and Physical Sciences.  These sponsoring units are all graduate departments and programs affiliated with the University of Virginia School of Medicine and its faculty. Historically, schools of medicine have divided teaching responsibilities for basic science medical education amongst a limited number of departments. At the University of Virginia, these include Biochemistry, Cell Biology, Microbiology, Neuroscience, Pathology, Pharmacology, and Physiology departments. In addition to the education of medical students, the departments have been granted the privilege of administering doctoral programs. The primary mission of the Doctoral Programs of the University of Virginia School of Medicine is to produce the very highest quality scientists, educators, and scholars possible. It is our goal and expectation that these individuals will become the scientific leaders of the future, not only in academia, but also in industry, government, and science education at all levels. We emphasize providing a broad-based educational experience for our students in order to allow them to excel in a broad range of scientific disciplines, and to exemplify leadership qualities of innovation, initiative and a wide breadth of knowledge. In order to meet our goals and expectations, as well as those of a changing society, the graduate programs at the University of Virginia have found that interdisciplinary programs were needed which bridged traditional boundaries. Such programs are also sponsoring units for this M.S. degree and include the interdisciplinary programs of the Biomedical Sciences admissions groups, as well as a number of Training Programs funded by extramural sources such as the National Institutes of Health& In keeping with the mission of the School of Medicine to improve the quality of health care, the creation of interdisciplinary groups of graduate faculty have permitted us to improve the capabilities of our graduates to carry out applied and translational research such that results of basic research here and elsewhere can be transduced into improved quality of life for mankind.

The programs and departments sponsoring this M.S. degree program grant a total of 8 different Ph.D. degrees. For more than 10 years, each program and department has periodically sent representatives to a meeting where curricula has been evaluated and reformed. One outcome of these periodic meetings is the establishment of a core curriculum that is recommended for most entering graduate students. Each of the programs start with this core of scientific information that has been deemed essential for establishing a fundamental foundation for the development of successful scientists.

2. Entrance and Exit Requirements

Admission Requirements

The University of Virginia Biomedical Sciences admissions groups do not routinely consider nor admit Masters applicants. Eligibility for the M.S. results from application to the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. graduate admissions groups of the University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Applicants may access information electronically through either the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences http://www.virginia.edu/artsandsciences/admissions/ or through the Biomedical Sciences http://www.bims.virginia.edu . Traditional written inquiries may be addressed to either: Graduate Admissions, P.O. 400775, 437 Cabell Hall, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903 or Graduate Programs Office, P.O. 800738, Health Sciences Center, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22908. All applications must ultimately be processed by GSAS.

Applications may be made at any time within the guidelines and deadlines established by the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. In general, applications must be complete by October 15th for a January admission and by April 15th for a September admission.
  • All applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree program (four years or equivalent).
  • All applicants must submit results from the Graduate Record Examination and/or the Medical College Admissions Test.  Frequently applicants will need to have limited research experience to compete successfully for admission.
  • Applicants must provide a minimum of two letters of recommendation from someone familiar with their academic or scientific qualifications.
  • Applicants must submit a brief statement on their reasons for seeking an advanced degree and their career plans.
  • Owing to the intensive requirements of the curriculum, candidates are expected to register as residents with the University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
  • Each student must complete not less than 24 credits of graduate courses. The program can be completed in two full academic years (4 semesters total) and a summer session period for completion of research projects.
3. Course Requirements
In concordance with the guidelines set forth by the University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, each student must complete not less than 24 credits of graduate courses while regularly enrolled as a graduate student. No transfer or extension credits may be counted.

A core of four courses (totaling 15 credits) is required of each degree candidate.
  • BIMS 5030 – Macromolecular Structure and Function (4 credits)
  • BIMS 8010 – Gene Structure and Expression (5 credits)
  • BIMS 5012 – Cell Structure and Function (5 credits)
  • BIMS 7100 – Research Ethics (1 credit)
The core will generally be completed during the first semester of graduate work but may be spread over no more than two years. These courses are designed to acquaint students with a core knowledge of the basic sciences.  The instruction consists largely of cross-disciplinary exchanges with participation of approximately 30 faculty members, representing all of the sponsoring units.

All candidates are expected to participate in a colloquium, seminar or journal club series each semester during their first two years in the graduate program (4 credits total).  Seminar series should be selected based on the student’s needs and interests.

All candidates are expected to complete a written research paper and to make a satisfactory standing in a final oral presentation of that paper before an examining committee of two or more faculty members designated by the program in which the candidate is working.  The result of the presentation, with the names of the examiners, must be reported to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in accordance with GSAS guidelines.

All work for the Master’s degree must be completed within five years from the time of admission if the work is done wholly during the regular academic session and within seven years if the work is done wholly or in part in summer sessions. In special cases, upon approval of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, out-of-date work may be revalidated by the examining committee.