Master's Programs

The VCU School of Medicine offers a wide range of Master's degree programs in research-based and applied biomedical sciences, public health and other areas. Master's students typically train under the guidance of faculty mentors and perform research or clinical work while taking advanced courses in a specific degree program. Most Master's students complete their degrees in 2 years. Graduates of our Master's programs can be competitive for further academic training (i.e. Ph.D. or M.D. Programs), or may pursue laboratory research positions in academia or industry, more clinically-oriented careers such as Genetic Counseling and Medical Physics, or job opportunities in education as well as other fields.

Please contact the programs below for additional information.

Addiction Studies

Program Overview

The International Programme in Addiction Studies (IPAS) is a unique collaboration of three of the world's leading research universities in the field of Addiction Science: King's College London, the University of Adelaide, and Virginia Commonwealth University. This partnership offers three nested graduate program options available to students from around the globe via distance learning technologies.  Students are introduced to the latest information on topics ranging from the biological basis of addiction to addiction treatment, prevention and policy through lectures produced exclusively for IPAS by an international Who's Who of experts in the field.

Programme Mission Statement

The mission of the International Programme in Addiction Studies (IPAS) is to offer students cross-cultural exposure through distance learning technologies to the critical prevention, treatment, policy and research issues facing the field. These programs will speed the dissemination of the latest international addictions-related knowledge, especially to remote locations around the world.  Students will become familiar with international perspectives and research as well as the importance of translating this knowledge into more effective prevention and treatment practices and evidence-based policies within their own countries.

Expression of Interest

Please complete the electronic expression of interest form if you are interested in one of the IPAS programs. The information in this form will assist us with answering any questions you may have.  Please be sure to include an email address so that may contact you. Note that this is not the official application portal. 

Contact:
Mary Loos, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-828-8019
E-mail: meloos@vcu.edu

Medical Physics

Program Overview

The CAMPEP-accredited Master of Science in Medical Physics at VCU provides students with the foundational knowledge and exposure to hands-on clinical training necessary to practice as future clinical medical physicists. To apply to the VCU Medical Physics Graduate program, you must complete and submit an electronic application through the university's graduate admissions page.

More information can be found on the Medical Physics website FAQ page. A typical time table for this program is shown below:

Contact:
William Song, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-3457
E-mail: william.song@vcuhealth.org

Anatomy and Neurobiology

Master’s Curriculum

The Anatomy and Neurobiology MS Program offers a 2-year graduate curriculum of formal instructional activities and research training mentored by the members of the faculty leading to the terminal MS degree. The Program prepares students for technical careers in neurobiological research laboratories in academic, private and government institutions. The Program also provides a strong foundation for students who choose to continue onto doctoral training.

This is a research-oriented degree program comprised of graduate course work and supervised research leading to a Master's thesis. The Master of Science program involves approximately one year of course work and a research thesis performed under the supervision of a faculty advisor.

Program Goals

The program is designed to provide students with the skills required to advance to positions as bioscience researchers, trainers and technicians in a broad spectrum of positions. The structure of the program provides a framework for the progressive development of a mastery of the current state of the subject matter of bioscience, an ability to synthesize this information and apply this foundation to the identification of key areas of investigation/experimentation in bioscience.

The program relates the above framework to the development of the ability to design, implement and interpret experimental approaches which address the questions identified.

In addition, students will develop skills in the various means of communicating both the core of bioscience knowledge and the expression of experimental design, results, and interpretation to a variety of potential audiences. The program will prepare students to secure a position in their chosen career goal (medical school, doctoral studies, employment in academic or private laboratories). 

Contact Information

Raymond Colello, D.Phil.
Program Director
804-828-2262
E-mail: raymond.colello@vcuhealth.org

Biochemistry

Program Description

The Department of Biochemistry offers a graduate program leading to the M.S. degree. This is a research-oriented degree program comprised of graduate course work and supervised research leading to a Master's thesis. The Master of Science program involves approximately one year of course work and a research thesis performed under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The M.S. degree can be completed on a part-time basis. After consultations with faculty and the Chair, students should choose an advisor as quickly as possible. The Advisor assists the student with selection of a Graduate Advisory Committee which consists of the Faculty Advisor, at least one member of the Biochemistry faculty and at least 1 member from another department. The Graduate Advisory Committee assists the student with their course plan, advises on the thesis project, approves the thesis, and conducts the final examination. After the committee has been formed, the Graduate Student Advisory Committee must be submitted for approval. This information is submitted by the student through GradTrak. Full-time students can begin immediately to carry out supervised research in the laboratory of their advisor. A thesis project should be chosen by the student by the end of the first semester in consultation with the advisor.

MS Curriculum in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

MS students in Biochemistry take courses designed for graduate students with an emphasis on research design and experimentation. MS students must amass at least 24 credit hours (exclusive of research credits). The VCU School of Graduate Studies stipulates that “Generally, a maximum of one third of the didactic hours required for a master’s degree or any graduate certificate program may be transferred from another VCU program or outside institution. Acceptance of transfer credit is made at the school level.” The GPC will review all requests for transfer of credit and forward them to the School of Graduate Studies for approval. For students holding the MD, DDS, or other professional degrees, successful completion of biochemistry/ cell biology is equivalent to the BIOC 503-504 series.

The following graduate courses are required and constitute the core courses of the curriculum:

    • BIOC 505: Experimental Biochemistry (research rotation) (typically year 01)
    • BIOC 503: Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology I (typically year 01)
    • BIOC 504: Biochemistry, Cellular, and Molecular Biology II (typically year 01)
    • BIOC 602: Physical Properties of Macromolecules (1-4 modules, typically year 01)*
    • BIOC 604: Enzymology (1-3 modules, typically year 02)*
    • BIOC 690.901: Biochemistry Seminar (each semester)
    • BIOC 691.901: Special Topics in Biochemistry / Student Journal Club (each semester)
    • BIOC 691.904: Special Topics in Biochemistry: Critical Thinking (typically year 01)
    • MICR 512: Laboratory Safety (typically year 01)
    • OVPR 601: Scientific Integrit, or OVPR 602: Responsible Scientific Conduc, or OVPR 603: Responsible Conduct of Research (typically year 02)
    • BIOC 697: Directed research in Biochemistry (each semester)

* Students will select modules from 602 and 604 to get 4 credits (at least 1 credit from each)

The core set of required courses can be supplemented with elective courses offered by the department of Biochemistry or other departments. Electives may include: Enzymology, Advanced Topics in Molecular Biology, Signal Transduction, Techniques in Molecular Biology & Genetics, Bioinformatics, Statistics, Immunology, Microbiology, Molecular Genetics, Mammalian Physiology, Advanced organic and Physical Chemistry, among others.

Contact Information:

Tomasz K. Kordula, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-828-0771
E-mail: tomasz.kordula@vcuhealth.org

 

Microbiology and Immunology

Mission statement

The Graduate Programs of the Department of Microbiology Immunology School of Medicine include degrees offered at the Master’s and Doctoral levels. These educational programs have as their mission the preparation of individuals for a variety of career objectives in microbiology and immunology. The programs incorporate formal instructional activities and, as appropriate, research training, mentored by the members of the faculty. The M.S. program is distinguished by inclusion of the preparation of the individual to function as a laboratory director or scientific investigator.

Curriculum

The MS student and his/her GAC will formulate a suitable curriculum of study based on the student's area of research interest. Most students in the MS degree program complete at least 24 semester hour credits in formal graduate courses. A typical MS program curriculum in Microbiology & Immunology includes:

  • BIOC 503 Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIOC 504 Biochmeistry, Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Laboratory Safety (IBMS 600)
  • Scientific Integrity (OVPR 601)
  • Student Research Seminar (MICR690)
  • Current Topics - Journal Clubs (MICR691)
  • Immunobiology (MICR505) or
  • Principles of Molecular Microbiology (MICR515)

Based on research interests, students can select from three possibilities for MICR691 topic courses based on their research interests: Immunology, Molecular Pathogenesis, or Molecular Biology. A typical curriculum of study for the MS degree would contain the nucleus of graduate courses listed above and also include additional courses such as:

  • Advanced Immunology (MICR686)
  • Mechanisms of Viral and Parasite Pathogenesis (MICR616)
  • Molecular Bacterial Pathogenesis (MICR618)
  • Molecular Genetics (MICR605)
  • Special Topic courses from other departments

Application for Admission

Applicants must have earned a baccalaureate or equivalent degree prior to admission. The typical successful applicant will have taken introductory level courses in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics; advanced level course work in these disciplines also is strongly recommended.

Applicants may complete an online application form. Application to School of Medicine (SOM) Masters Programs, including those in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology, also can be accomplished via the umbrella program in Molecular Biology & Genetics. The deadline for applications is typically May 1 for a student to matriculate the following semester, but earlier application is recommended.

Contact Information:

Mrs. Martha L. VanMeter
Office Services Specialist
(804) 828-9728  eMail: martha.vanmeter@vcuhealth.org

Cynthia Cornellissen, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-827-1754
E-mail: cynthia.cornellissen@vcuhealth.org

MS in Biostatistics

Program Overview

Data are an abundant feature in nearly all professions, from medicine and public health to business and government. As the amount of data available to us increases in both quantity and complexity, the abilities to manage data, to analyze and make meaning out of data, and to communicate what data show, are becoming increasingly important. The VCU Department of Biostatistics has trained biostatisticians for over 40 years and continues to help students prepare for an ever-changing landscape. In addition to training in database management and analysis, our students are provided experiential training in biostatistical collaboration and consulting, where they work with real researchers on actual projects. VCU graduates enter the marketplace ready to handle all types of responsibilities and challenges. Our M.S. program is applicable for those wishing to complement their existing skill sets as well as for those hoping to continue on to further graduate study. The program is designed to be completed in 18 months.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants must submit an application form, undergraduate and graduate (if applicable) transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and test scores from the verbal, quantitative and analytical writing sections of the Graduate Record Exam. Priority is given to applications received by January 15 prior to the fall semester of enrollment. All applicants are expected to hold at least a B.S. or B.A. degree.

The following four mathematics/statistics courses or their equivalents are required for admission:

  • MATH 200 and 201 Calculus with Analytic Geometry
  • MATH 309 Introduction to Probability Theory
  • MATH 310 Linear Algebra
  • STAT 210 Basic Practice of Statistics or STAT 212 Concepts of Statistics

The first-year of graduate work builds upon the material covered in these courses. Students are advised to retake these specific courses if several years have elapsed since their original completion. Although not required, prior course work in additional mathematics (particularly multivariate calculus), statistics or computer science is helpful.

The departmental admissions committee evaluates all applicants for graduate work in biostatistics and arranges personal interviews when possible. The committee then recommends the most qualified candidates for admission.

For more information regarding the application process, please visit the VCU application page or the Graduate Bulletin.

Course Work

M.S. students must complete at least 35 semester credit hours of courses worth three or more credits. In addition to the required first-year courses, each student is required to select at least four elective courses at the 500- or 600-levels. M.S. students must take four semesters of BIOS 516 Biostatistical Consulting and three semesters of BIOS 690 Biostatistical Research Seminar.

Contact Information

Russ Boyle, M.A.
Program Director
804-828-9824
E-mail: russell.boyle@vcuhealth.org

PhD in Pharmacology & Toxicology

Program Overview

The department offers a graduate program leading to the Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology. This is a research-oriented degree program comprising graduate coursework and supervised research leading to a master’s thesis.

This program is intended primarily as a terminal M.S. degree. Students intending to pursue a Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Toxicology should apply directly to the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral Portal Ph.D. program. The M.S. program will be of interest to individuals planning on technical positions in pharmacology or toxicology research or testing; students in the health professions, such as medicine or dentistry, who desire additional research training; and students interested in a government position, such as with regulatory agencies, who seek training in pharmacology and toxicology and those interested in a career as a technician in the pharmaceutical industry or academia.

Qualified applicants typically have a baccalaureate degree with a major in fields such as biology, chemistry, biochemistry, pharmacy and related sciences. Successful applicants will typically have the following credentials: 300 (verbal plus quantitative) and 3.5 analytical GRE scores (or equivalent scores on the new GRE exam), undergraduate GPA of 3.2 and some laboratory research experience.

The typical student requires 2 years to complete the degree. Many students who earn the M.S. degree enter careers in industry or government, or pursue admission to medical school and other professional schools. Students earning an M.S. degree with exemplary performance may apply to the Ph.D. program but will compete with prospective undergraduate students for admission to the BSDP. Prospective students intending to earn a Ph.D. degree, therefore, are encouraged to apply directly to the BSDP rather than the M.S. program. Students in the M.S. program do not receive stipends, payment of tuition and fees, health insurance or have the opportunity for teaching assistantships. Prospective students should apply to the Pharmacology and Toxicology M.S. program through the VCU Graduate School or for international applicants, the VCU Office of Global Education. Application materials are provided at these sites, respectively.

Curriculum

The minimum requirements for the M.S. degree are:

Year 1 Fall semester 
BIOC 530 Protein Structure and Function (variable, 2-5 credits) (modules) (recommended)
PHTX 690 Research Seminar (1 credit)
PHTX 697 Directed Research in Pharmacology (variable credits)

Year 1 Spring semester 
PHTX 630 Basic Concepts in Pharmacology for Graduate Students (3 credits)
PHTX 690 Research Seminar (1 credit)
PHTX 697 Directed Research in Pharmacology (variable credits)

Year 1 Summer semester 
PHTX 697 Directed Research in Pharmacology (optional)

Year 2 Fall semester 
PHTX 636 Principles of Pharmacology (5 credits)
PHTX 690 Research Seminar (1 credit)
PHTX 697 Directed Research in Pharmacology (variable credits)

Year 2 Spring semester 
PHTX 690 Research Seminar (1 credit)
PHTX 697 Directed Research in Pharmacology (variable credits)

In addition to the above courses, one advanced course in the student’s specialty is required.

The master’s program differs slightly from the Ph.D. program in that no written comprehensive exam is given, although a final oral defense of thesis exam must be passed to complete the degree program. In addition, the M.S. degree can be completed on a part-time basis, while the Ph.D. requires full-time enrollment. All M.S. students are required to prepare and defend a thesis based upon original research.

Contact Information

Hamid I. Akbarali, Ph.D. 
Program Director
804-828-8400
E-mail: hamid.akbarali@vcuhealth.org

Genetic Counseling

Program Overview

Established in 1990, the VCU Genetic Counseling program has prepared over 130 graduates to work in all areas of Genetic counseling.  Our graduates hold leadership positions in the NSGC and the ABGC and are well prepared to enter the fast paced and constantly changing world of the field of Genetics.

Our program is a full time, on campus program spanning 21 months.  Students take 60 total credits of didactic, clinical, and research activity. Upon graduation, graduates are eligible for board certification by the American Board of Genetic Counseling and are well prepared to enter the job market.

What sets us apart?  At VCU you will start your clinical experience in the first semester and formal clinical rotations in the spring semester of the first year, continuing through both semesters of the second year.  Our students also engage in clinical experiences during the intervening summer as well with opportunities for on campus and off campus rotations. 

Curriculum

The Master of Science in Genetic Counseling program at VCU is a full-time, on-campus program. As a part of their coursework, students begin shadowing within clinics at VCU Medical Center during their first semester in order to gain further knowledge and comfortability interacting with patients. During the spring semester of the first year, students begin clinical rotations that continue until the end of the second year. During the intervening summer between first and second year, students will participate in a 3 week long laboratory rotation within the Cytogenetics and Molecular Diagnostic Genetics departments at VCU Health System. Students are required to register for up to 5 credits during this intervening summer semester.

Requirements of the program include:

  • Students must complete 60 total credit hours, traditionally over a 21 month time frame.
  • students must maintain a 3.0 GPA for all semesters. (Students who fail to maintain a 3.0 GPA are permitted one semester to bring up their GPA average to the required level).

More curriculum information can be found here: https://gen.vcu.edu/graduate-and-training-programs/ms-in-genetic-counseling/curriculum/

Contact Information

Rachel Gannaway, M.S.
Program Director
804-628-3507
E-mail: rachel.gannaway@vcuhealth.org

Physiology & Biophysics

Master of Science Degree

The M.S. program provides the skills required for positions as biomedical researchers or educators in academia, industry and government, and it offers appropriate preparation for those considering a Ph.D. or seeking admission to a Medical or Dental School.  The knowledge base acquired also is invaluable in technical and administrative roles in multiple settings.  M.S. training is highly individualized to match student needs and interests and combines didactic course work, an apprenticeship in research supervised by a mentor, and the preparation and oral defense of a thesis.  The program usually is completed in 2 years. Appropriate courses taken during the VCU Premedical Health Sciences CERT program can be applied to the M.S. requirements.  Selected M.S. students also have the opportunity to acquire teaching experience and financial support by serving as teaching assistants.

Contact:
Christina I. Kyrus, M.B.A.
Program Coordinator
804-628-5506
E-mail: cikyrus@vcu.edu

Human Genetics

Program Overview

Our M.S. program in human genetics prepares students for careers in research and teaching by developing their knowledge of the field and skills in laboratory techniques as well as writing, critical thinking, data interpretation, study design, and literature research. Many who graduate from our M.S. program work in academic, governmental or industrial research laboratories or teach at the high school or college level. Additionally, many of our graduates further their training by completing doctoral or other advanced degrees at VCU or other leading research-based institutions.

The M.S. degree requires at least two years of study for students entering with a B.S. or B.A. degree, and must be completed within five years.  No departmental funding is available for M.S. students; however, M.S. students that are U.S. citizens or permanent residents are encouraged to seek financial aid through the VCU Office of Financial Aid.

Students working toward the M.S. degree focus on their coursework during the first year and then primarily focus on their original research project during the second year, although students enroll in courses and perform laboratory research during both years of M.S. training. Each student must conduct an original investigation under the supervision of an adviser, prepare a thesis reporting the results of their research project and analyze its significance in relation to existing scientific knowledge. Students are expected to develop knowledge of their chosen area of inquiry and a mastery of laboratory research skills to a level that makes them competitive for additional graduate training, a career in laboratory research, or a career in teaching.

Curriculum

M.S. students in Human Genetics are trained to integrate existing fundamental knowledge with their own creative, novel research findings. The M.S. in Human Genetics curriculum helps students develop a solid background in the biomedical sciences through coursework in biochemistry, cell biology, statistics and scientific integrity. Additionally, students develop a broad knowledge base in the field of human genetics through introductory and advanced coursework that covers Mendelian genetics, cytogenetics, molecular genetics, statistical genetics, genomics, disease pathogenesis and the study of complex disorders. A one credit course in clinical genetics is also part of the curriculum. Students also take two electives within their specific discipline of study and participate in journal clubs and seminars to learn to critically read the original scientific literature as well as develop skills in oral communication. To help students get started in the research component of their training, students perform small research projects during rotations in laboratories during their first year. Students choose a laboratory and a mentor for their M.S. research based on their rotations and then continue training with that mentor until completion of their thesis research project. To view a typical course plan and student learning outcomes please view the M.S. in Human Genetics Graduate Program in the Bulletin. The student will master these learning outcomes through course work and other research related activities.  Specific learning outcomes have been identified for each course and this information can be found here‌. A track in quantitative genetics is available for students who want to specialize in this discipline.

Contact Information

Rita Shiang, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-4083
E-mail: rita.shiang@vcuhealth.org

Master of Public Health

Program Overview

The Master of Public Health Program prepares students committed to public health careers in either the public, private, or non-profit sectors.  Public health works to prevent health problems in populations before these problems occur.  The Master of Public Health Program provides a rigorous curriculum to help students develop the analytic and critical reasoning skills to improve population health.

MPH Program goals are as follows:

  • to ensure that the Program provides a foundation of didactic learning and training to prepare students for their anticipated career paths
  • to produce graduates who have the skills to perform well on the job upon initial hire and who will be attractive to potential employers
  • to enhance the quality of the student learning experience through applied, experiential and didactic learning experiences and close faculty mentoring to help students meet their goals in the Program

Fully accredited by the Council on Education for Public Health, the VCU MPH Program is closely linked with local, state and national public health agencies, organizations, and professionals to enhance the student's appreciation and understanding of the application of public health principles to practice. The MPH Program provides students with the skills for employment in a broad range of positions in local, state and national public health agencies as well as private and academic research, depending on the student’s areas of interest. Students begin practical experience in professional public health settings beginning with the first semester, building on this experience to develop the degree’s capstone project in the final semesters.

Program Requirements

Each candidate shall complete a minimum of 45 credit hours towards the degree. This includes core courses in biostatistics, environmental health, epidemiology, health policy, and social and behavioral health. Students are also required to complete a two-semester integrated course series in biostatistics and data analysis, a course in public health ethics, two semesters of practicum, one semester of internship, and at least one semester of the capstone project. Students have 15 credits of electives to focus on their chosen area(s) of public health interest. Please see the VCU Bulletin for additional information on program requirements and grading policies.

Master of Public Health

Lisa S. Anderson, M.P.H.
Director of Educational Programs
804-628-2512 
E-mail: lisa.s.anderson@vcuhealth.org

 

How to Apply

Each M.S. program recruits students that are uniquely qualified and therefore each program has its own admissions process. Please contact each program below for more information on how to apply.

Financial Support, Tuition & Fees

Due to limited resources, M.S. students do not typically receive direct financial support. Please see VCU Student Accounting for the most recent information on tuition and fees. U.S. citizens and permanent residents should contact the VCU School of Medicine Financial Aid Office for information on financial aid.

VCU SOM Financial Aid Office

Contacts

Please contact the individuals below for additional information about each program.

Program

Addiction Studies



Anatomy and Neurobiology



Biochemistry



Biostatistics



Genetic Counseling



Human Genetics



Medical Physics



Microbiology and Immunology



Pharmacology and Toxicology



Physiology and Biophysics



Master of Public Health



Contact

Mary Loos, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-828-8019
E-mail: meloos@vcu.edu

Raymond Colello, D.Phil.
Program Director
804-828-2262
E-mail: raymond.colello@vcuhealth.org

Tomasz Kordula, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-828-0771
E-mail: tomasz.kordula@vcuhealth.org

Russ Boyle, M.A. 
Program Director
804-828-9824
E-mail: russell.boyle@vcuhealth.org

Rachel Gannaway, M.S.
Program Director
804-628-5307
E-mail: rachel.gannaway@vcuhealth.org

Rita Shiang, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-4083
E-mail: rita.shiang@vcuhealth.org

William Song, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-3457
E-mail: william.song@vcuhealth.org

Lisa Shock, Ph.D.
Program Director
804-628-2289
E-mail: lisa.shock@vcuhealth.org

Krista Scoggins, D.V.M.
Program Director
804-828-8400
E-mail: krista.scoggins@vcuhealth.org

Christina I. Kyrus, M.B.A.
Program Coordinator
804-628-5506
E-mail: cikyrus@vcu.edu

Lisa S. Anderson, M.P.H
Director of Educational Programs
804-628-2512 
E-mail: lisa.s.anderson@vcuhealth.org