Sep 23, 2021  
2013-2014 University Catalog 
2013-2014 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biological Sciences

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The Department of Biological Sciences offers a master of science degree in cell biology and biotechnology and the PhD in Cell and Molecular Biology. The curricula of these programs are designed to give a theoretical and practical background in biotechnological and molecular techniques and applications, the function of cells at the molecular and cellular levels, methods for studying cell systems, and the means used for understanding the genetics of cell systems. The program places a heavy emphasis on methodology, and each student is given the opportunity to learn techniques that are required in modern molecular, cellular, and biochemical laboratory settings. The programs are designed to offer opportunities for qualified individuals to pursue graduate studies in the fields of cell biology and biotechnology at the level of the master’s degree (non-thesis, thesis, and professional) and in cell and molecular biology at the doctoral level. Course offerings are designed to accommodate the needs of working individuals.

Students who complete a graduate program of study in the Department of Biological Sciences will be able to:

  • Conduct basic and applied research, and other scholarly work, for the purpose of advancing knowledge and education in the biological sciences.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in analytical and problem-solving approaches to hypothesis testing.
  • Gain experience in the use of modern laboratory techniques and equipment.
  • Disseminate the results of their research and scholarly work through publication in scientific journals and presentation to professional groups.

The MS program offers four degree options. The non-thesis option has a course requirement of 36 credit hours. The thesis option is a research-based degree in which the student conducts research on a topic of mutual interest with a faculty advisor. The course requirement is 20 credit hours of didactic work plus at least 10 credits of research. The professional option is a non-thesis degree that combines the core of the cell biology and biotechnology MS program with selected courses in management. The professional MS requires 18 credits from the pharmaceutical business program and a total of 38 credits. The non-thesis option with a certificate in biomedical writing incorporates courses in biomedical writing for students who are developing in the regulatory or documentational GxP aspects of a science career. This option includes 12 credits of biomedical writing courses and a total of 39 credits. All four options require successful completion of a core of courses fundamental to the understanding of cellular and biotechnological processes and applications. To maximize interaction among the graduate students, all students enroll in courses scheduled in the evening hours. Any of these options may be pursued on a part-time or a full-time basis.

The PhD in cell and molecular biology is a research-based degree that includes a minimum of 20 didactic course credits, including the core of the cell biology and biotechnology MS program, 20 research credits, completion of an extensive research program, and preparation of a doctoral dissertation. USciences has an agreement with Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine to offer a combined DO-PhD degree in cell and molecular biology. This degree option will lead to clinician scientists trained to conduct research in clinically relevant and translational areas.

The Department of Biological Sciences is well equipped with instrumentation related to the investigation of cellular, genetic, and molecular systems. The department has a DNA microarray system, a phosphorimager, real-time PCR instrumentation, digital image analysis systems, 2-D LC-MS, and confocal microscopes, as well as other typical electrophoresis, chromatography, centrifugation, and microscopy equipment. Students will have frequent hands-on experience with molecular biology techniques, PCR, centrifugation, epifluorescence and DIC microscopy, and electrophoresis. Cooperation among departments allows ready access to a variety of other analytical instruments. The department is particularly well supplied with computers for protein and gene database searches and bioinformatics applications.

Admission Criteria

Applicants are expected to have at minimum a baccalaureate degree in biology, biochemistry, or a related field; other disciplines may also be acceptable depending on the student’s career plans. Program prerequisites of at least two courses of microbiology, biochemistry, genetics, or cell biology are required (with laboratory) for a MS or PhD degree option. Credit may be granted for relevant post-baccalaureate work experience and courses. Transfer of graduate credits taken while an undergraduate student or at other schools will be done in accordance with the policies of the College of Graduate Studies.

Applicants to the biological sciences graduate programs will be required to submit an application form, an application fee (as determined by the College of Graduate Studies office), a statement of academic/career goals, a current résumé, official transcripts of all previous college work, and proof of satisfactory completion of a baccalaureate degree (BA or BS) program (or its equivalent), all prior to the beginning of formal study at the graduate level. Before formal study, students must provide three letters of recommendation from faculty and professional supervisors and official GRE scores demonstrating an average 50th (MS) or 60th (PhD) percentile performance or better.

International applicants are also expected to submit official TOEFL, TWE, and TSE (or TOEFL-iBT) scores and a Certificate of Finances. International applicants must have transcripts evaluated on a course-by-course basis by World Education Services (WES) or a comparable service; this evaluation is done at the applicant’s expense. An exception to the requirement of GRE scores will be made under one of the following conditions:

  • A post-baccalaureate student who is taking our cell biology and biotechnology graduate program courses on a nonmatriculated basis, who has completed a minimum of eight credits of such courses, who has maintained an overall GPA of 3.00 in the program, and has earned no course grade less than “B-” will not be required to submit GRE scores.
  • A pre-baccalaureate student who intends to participate in the integrated BS/MS program option, who has completed at least two semesters of work at USciences immediately prior to application, who has or will have completed all program prerequisites, and who has maintained an overall GPA of 3.25 (all courses with a BS prefix at the 300 level or above will have a grade of “B” or higher) will not be required to submit GRE scores.
  • Other special circumstances or agreements as specified by the College of Graduate Studies.

Some students may need to take additional courses and credits to earn the degree due to a need to remediate deficiencies or weaknesses from the undergraduate program. The need to take additional courses will be assessed early in the program to allow the program director to guide course selections.

MS students have a maximum of five years and PhD students have a maximum of eight years from the semester of first matriculation to complete the degree. Although these maximum times are available to the student, students will be encouraged to make regular, consistent, and reasonable progress toward earning the degree. Full-time MS students typically complete degree requirements in 2–3 years; full-time PhD students typically complete degree requirements in 4–5 years.

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