The primary objective of the Master of Science program is to prepare students for a career in the broad field of biomedical sciences with focus on, but not limited to, microbiology, virology, immunology and cancer research. This program provides extensive theoretical preparation in combination with hands-on research, where students are trained in research laboratories located on the Health Sciences Campus (HSC), comprising the Keck Medical School, the School of Pharmacy and the USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center, or located at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA).
Goals of the program are to prepare students for employment opportunities in: academic research or teaching at universities, institutes or not-for-profit research centers; research and development in industry (biotech, pharma, petrol, dairies, breweries); health care (hospitals and health care providers, medical technology, diagnostic laboratories); law firms (patents, intellectual property rights, technology transfer, toxic torts); environmental organizations (advisory, management, planning); government (public health, waste management, EPA, FDA, NIH, etc.); publishing (journalism, journal editor).
Admission Requirements Applicants are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in science (usually biology, chemistry or physics) from an accredited college or university. Generally required courses include: at least one year of college-level biology, chemistry through organic chemistry, mathematics through calculus, and one year of college-level physics. Students who do not meet all requirements may still apply, and admission will be decided on a case-by-case basis. In general, a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 is expected. Additionally, a student must take the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE), and a minimum score of 1000 is expected. International applicants are expected to provide results from the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL; results from Internet-based, computer-based or paper-based tests are acceptable).
Course Requirements A total of 34 units is required. Students may pursue a thesis option, which requires completion of MICB 594a , MICB 594b , MICB 594z (2-2-0) plus 30 units of approved course work, no more than 8 of which can be MICB 590 Directed Research . Students pursuing a non-thesis option must complete 34 units of approved course work. Students must choose one of these options by the end of the first year of study.
Fourteen or more course units must be taken in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology; 8 units may be pursued outside the department and, upon approval, a maximum of 8 units of directed research in molecular microbiology and immunology may be applied to the degree. No more than 4 units of course work taken outside of USC can be applied toward the MS degree requirements. Students considering such an action should submit a petition to the department and document a rigorous academic standard for the course (reading materials, tests and other performance criteria, lecture content, etc.). The graduate advisory committee will review the petition and inform the student of its decision.
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