MS in Biomedical Sciences

The Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences (MSBS) is 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, a written thesis, and an oral thesis defense. Students choose one of nine tracks as their field of concentration.

  • Biostatistics
  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • Epidemiology
  • Microbiology and Immunology
  • Molecular and Cellular Biology and Pathology  
  • Neuroscience
  • Experimental Pathology & Laboratory Medicine
  • Cell & Molecular Pharmacology& Experimental Therapeutics
  • Regenerative Medicine & Cell Biology 

Stipend support is not available from the College of Graduate Studies for master’s students. Federal financial aid, including work study is available for eligible students.

Degree Requirements

The College of Graduate Studies has specific course requirements and proficiency standards for the Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences degree. MSBS students are required to register for a minimum of nine hours each semester including the summer between first and second year. Coursework of at least 45 total credit hours, including a minimum of 15 hours of didactic (non-research, non-thesis) instruction (Refer to Program Curriculum) is required. All tracks also require completion of an original laboratory research project under the direction of a faculty member (Major Advisor) in their chosen field, written thesis, and oral thesis defense.

Graduate students are expected to maintain at least a 3.0 overall grade point average in merit graded courses and a passing grade in all research and Pass/Fail courses, in order to satisfy the required graduate credit hours. A student whose total cumulative record is below these requirements at the end of any semester is placed on Academic Probationary status and is given until the end of the next fall or spring semester, whichever comes first, to bring the cumulative average back to the required standard.  If by the end of the following semester the required level has not been attained, the student is eligible for dismissal.

Each student is expected to be familiar with the elements of statistics.  If the thesis advisory committee 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.

Courses Audited

Any graduate student, with permission of the instructor and their Major Advisor, 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 Plan of Research on the proposed thesis 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. At least 33 percent of semester credit hours applied toward a Medical University degree must be earned through instruction by the University.

Admission to Candidacy

In a meeting with the student and his/her Thesis Advisory Committee, the student will orally present 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.  Admission to Candidacy in the Biostatistics and Epidemiology tracks also requires that the student earn a passing score on the Basic Written Examination, which is administered once annually to students who have successfully completed the first-year departmental core curriculum. 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 and experiments for their 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 and submission of the written thesis approved by the Thesis Advisory Committee.

Research Seminar

Students are required to make a research presentation at MUSC Research Day or another scientific conference once before graduating.


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 one week prior to the last day of classes in the term in which the student wishes to graduate. 

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 MSBS 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 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

The M.S. in Biomedical Sciences degree is a two year course of study. All requirements must be fulfilled within a period of three years following initial registration, although course credit is not nullified until six years after completion of a course.  Any student who has not achieved candidacy by the end of their second year (Spring Term 2) will be reviewed by the MSBS Program Committee for placement on academic probation, regardless of grade point average, and recommendations for progress will be established.