Students in the M.S. in Physiology program must complete 30 credits of coursework, including 20 credits of required courses and 10 credits of elective courses. Students can choose from a variety of electives across the biomedical departments to tailor the program to their interests.

Required Courses

5 credits | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Lewis J. Watson

This course provides an overview of the functioning of human body systems, taught by a team of expert Medical Center faculty. Presentations will include cellular and molecular concepts, but the emphasis will be on the integrated regulation among systems.

3 credits | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Anca Dragomir

Designed for students pursuing graduate degrees outside of biostatistics, this course provides the foundational knowledge to become informed readers of scientific research and methodologies, a key skill for the literature review paper in the spring semester. Students first learn the four pillars of exploring and displaying data appropriately, exploring relationships between two variables, issues of gathering sample data, and understanding randomness and probability. On these pillars, students then can develop the platform for statistical inference including proportions and means, multiple regression, and ANOVA.

4 credits | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Thomas Sherman

This course covers the principles of biochemistry. The first section examines protein structure/function and enzymology; the middle section focuses on cell signaling, and the final section integrates it all in the context of metabolism. Current concepts regarding physiological processes at the cellular and molecular levels are investigated. This course meets twice a week for two hours and has three exams. The primary textbook is Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry.

3 credits | Spring Semester
Course Director: Dr. Jennifer Whitney

This graduate course will cover the fundamental mechanisms and the pathophysiologic basis of major human diseases. This course will complement the basic physiological principles covered in the fall semester’s Fundamentals of Physiology and also feature a forensic component. It is a lecture-based course.

Students can substitute this course with the PBIO 603: Graduate Pathophysiology (3 credits) in summer.

3 credits | Spring & Summer Semester
Course Director: Dr. Sarah Knight Marvar

This course is an introductory neuroscience course that emphasizes the study of the human nervous system as it applies to clinical medicine. Topics include cellular electrophysiology, anatomy of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system, the structure and function of sensory and motor systems, sleep and cognitive topics such as learning, memory and emotion. Information given in lectures is reinforced using case studies, discussions and clinical correlates.

1 credit | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Lewis J. Watson

Designed specifically for pre-medical graduate students, this course consists of study skills workshops, interviewing skills workshops, presentations from admissions officers of various medical schools including military medicine, primary care medicine, and osteopathic medicine, as well as presentations on career pathways for specialty and subspecialty medical training. Evaluation of students will be based on attendance and homework assignments.

This course is offered jointly to students in the M.S. in Physiology and Special Master’s Program. Students applying to or planning to apply to medical school are required to take PBIO 602 as an elective in the fall semester.

2 credits | Fall, Spring, or Summer Semester
Course Director: Dr. Lewis J. Watson

Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, students will write a critical review paper on a topic of their interest within physiology, involving thorough research of the current scientific publications in that field.

Elective Courses

Students must complete 10 credits of elective coursework. We require pre-med students to take PBIO 602 Biomedical Career Pathways as one of their elective credits in the fall semester.

Students are welcome to take courses not on the pre-approved lists below by seeking approval to count the course toward the degree before registering for the course. You can search the Schedule of Classes for offerings each semester. To get approval, you should email the course description to the program director. Some courses may also require approval from the instructor or from the department to which the course belongs (i.e., Physiology students may not have registration priority for courses in other departments). If the Physiology program director approves a course as an elective to count toward your degree, your ability to enroll in the course is at the discretion of the course instructor and the department/program to which the course belongs.

Electives might not be offered every semester, or could be offered in different semesters than listed below. Search the Schedule of Classes for electives offered each semester. Current students may also view the schedule on MyAccess. Note that certain listed courses may be canceled due to low registration.

Note: Each elective is offered at the instructor’s discretion and could be offered in a different semester.

  • PBIO 602 Biomedical Career Pathways (1cr) – Required as elective credit for all pre-med students
  • PHAR 584 Introduction to Pharmacology (1cr)
  • CLTR 501 Introduction to Biostatistics in Clinical Research (3cr)
  • MICB 606 Public Policy for Scientists (3cr) – Permission of instructor and MICB Department required
  • NSCI 521 Functional MRI: Theory & Practice (3cr)
  • TBIO 523 Cancer Epigenetics (3cr)
  • TBIO 525 Cancer Genetics* (3cr)
  • INNS 520 Translational Neuroscience* (2cr) – Instructor’s permission required

*This course has historically had a direct time conflict with our core courses in the fall and therefore is only available to our part-time students.

Note: Each elective is offered at the instructor’s discretion and could be offered in a different semester.

  • PBIO 529 Human Nutrition and Health (2cr)
  • PBIO 906 Research in Physiology (2-4cr) – Program director’s approval required; for more information, see Spring Research Elective
  • PHAR 592 Introduction to Toxicology (1cr)
  • PHAR 604 Medicinal Plants and Pharmacognosy (3cr)
  • PHAR 605 Advanced Topics in Nutrition (3cr)
  • NSCI 558 Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration (3cr) – Instructor’s permission required; must have strong background in neuroscience
  • CLTR 506 Study and Clinical Trial Design (2cr) – Permission of CLTR program required
  • CLTR 507 Epidemiologic Methods (3cr) – Permission of CLTR program required
  • CLTR 700 Aspects of Drug Development (3cr) – Permission of CLTR program required
  • BCHB 522 Drug Targets/Drug Design (2cr)
  • MICB 705 Science Diplomacy and World Health (2cr)
  • TBIO 536 Cancer Pharmacology (4cr)

Note: Each elective is offered at the instructor’s discretion and could be offered in a different semester.

  • PBIO 550 Evolutionary Medicine

Degree Plans

Browse options for completing the program requirements.


Get information about tuition and the application process.