Apr 17, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Molecular Pathology and Experimental Medicine (MS)

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Program Director: Cheng-Ming Chuong, MD, PhD

For more information about our program, please contact our program office: pathgrad@usc.edu


The Department of Pathology offers a program for the Master of Science (MS) degree in Molecular Pathology and Experimental Medicine. The primary objectives of this program are to provide the necessary theoretical and practical training in experimental pathology that culminates with the master of science degree. The goal of the program is to train students in preparation for positions in various professions. Such professions include, but are not limited to, senior research staff/senior technician positions in academic or industrial institutions, further MD or PhD study, consultantships requiring multidisciplinary backgrounds or advanced teaching positions in community colleges.

Opportunities and Advantages for Graduates of the Master of Science Program

  1. Advanced position as senior research staff or senior technician in biotechnology firms
  2. Advanced position as research staff or senior technician in academic institutions
  3. Teaching position at the community college level
  4. Able to continue academic studies to pursue a PhD Degree
  5. Increase chances for entering MD program
  6. Use credentials in pathology along with other expertise (e.g., MBA) to gain a unique niche in health industry, journalism, financial institutions, public policy, etc.
  7. Can be completed within two years
  8. Research is optional; requirements may be fulfilled by course work only. Research-based and scholarly-based thesis options available

Goals and Objectives of the Program

The main goals of the program are to train students for positions as senior research staff or senior technicians in academic or industrial settings, to enable students to continue toward their MD or PhD degrees, to prepare graduates for multi-disciplinary consulting positions or teaching positions in community colleges. This program provides a flexible short-term objective to position students for many job markets and advanced studies.


The prerequisite for applicants to the graduate program in Pathology is a bachelor’s degree with an undergraduate major in one of the natural sciences. A minimum GPA of 3.0 in the natural sciences (including mathematics) is usually required. In addition, the department requires at least two letters of recommendation from faculty members who can evaluate the applicant’s potential for graduate work. Demonstrated proficiency in English lan­guage is required. Special circumstances may provide consideration for conditional admission.

Progressive Degree Applicants: Current undergraduates at USC may apply to the Pathology MS Program as a Progressive Degree.

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Students in the MS Program in Molecular Pathology and Experimental Medicine are expected to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students who earn a GPA of below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation and must improve according to established terms if they are to remain in the school. Students on academic probation who do not raise their GPA to 3.0 after two semesters of written notification of academic probation will be academically disqualified.

Degree Requirements

At least 34 units of graduate study are required. Fourteen or more course units must be taken in the Department of Pathology, 8 units may be pursued outside the Department and upon approval, and a maximum of 8 units of directed research in Pathology may be applied to the degree. No more than 4 units of course work taken outside of USC may be applied toward the MS degree requirements. In some rare cases, up to 8 transfer credits may be approved (with departmental permission). Students considering such an action should submit a petition to the Department and document a rigorous academic standard for the course, which includes reading materials, lecture content, tests, and other performance criteria. The Pathology Graduate Committee would need to review the petition and inform the student of their decision. Students have the option of fulfilling their MS degree by either thesis (Experiment-based Thesis) or comprehensive examination (Scholarly-based Thesis). At the end of each academic year, all students’ coursework progress will be reviewed by the Graduate Committee.

For Experiment-Based Thesis Option

  • Year Two:  Fall Semester Admission
    • Add PATH 594a  (2 units) Master’s Thesis (Fall semester)
    • Add PATH 594b  (2 units) Master’s Thesis (Spring semester)
  • Year Two:  Spring Semester Admission
    • Add PATH 594a  (2 units) Master’s Thesis (Spring semester)
    • Add PATH 594b  (2 units) Master’s Thesis (Fall semester)
  • Must continue enrollment in PATH 594z  (0 units) Master’s Thesis if student does not complete degree after the second year.

For Scholarly-Based Thesis Option

Students should enroll in GRSC 810  (0 units) Studies for Master’s Examination (fall/spring/summer) in the semester during which the comprehensive examination is to be taken if not otherwise enrolled.

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