May 20, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2023-2024 
USC Catalogue 2023-2024

Integrative Anatomical Sciences (PhD)

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This program is designed to provide students with a broad foundation in the Anatomical Sciences, including Human Gross Anatomy, Microanatomy and Neuroanatomy. Students will build on this foundation to develop detailed expertise in their chosen area of research under the guidance of the faculty in the Department of Integrative Anatomical Sciences. Faculty research interests span a wide range of topics including Evolutionary Morphology, Comparative Biomechanics and Integrative Physiology. The core course work includes in-depth training in fundamental anatomical sciences including cadaveric dissection and microscopic study of tissues. This program is aimed at preparing students for tenure and non-tenure track teaching and research faculty positions in medical schools, allied health programs, universities and colleges, and research museums.


The Department of Integrative Anatomical Sciences selects highly qualified students for admission into the Integrative Anatomical Sciences PhD program. The prerequisite for applicants to the PhD program is a bachelor’s degree with a science major or equivalent. Applicants should have a superior undergraduate record at an accredited college or university, with a minimum undergraduate grade point average of 3.0. Applicants are expected to have a strong background in science and mathematics. College-level courses in evolutionary biology, developmental biology, organismal biology and physiology are recommended. All applications are expected to be supported by three strong letters of recommendation. 

Demonstrated proficiency in the English language is required. Foreign applicants are expected to provide results from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or comparable test. Results from Internet-based, computer-based or paper-based tests are acceptable. However, candidates with special circumstances may be considered for conditional admission.

Degree and course requirements:

Course work

Each student must complete a minimum of 60 units of formal courses, seminars and research units while maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.0. The core required courses include 16 units from courses in Human Gross Anatomy (IAS 501aL , IAS 501bL ), Microscopic Anatomy (IAS 511aL , IAS 511bL ) and Neuroanatomy (IAS 521 ), equivalent to medical school instruction. An additional 8 units of electives must be taken from course offered by the department. Relevant courses in other departments and schools can also be selected, but all course work must be approved by the student’s dissertation committee. Following completion of the required course work, students must be continuously enrolled in IAS 794 abcdz (Doctoral Dissertation) each Fall and Spring semester until the PhD degree is conferred.

Screening Exam

After completion of the core anatomical sciences course work (IAS 501aL , IAS 501bL , IAS 511aL , IAS 511bL  and IAS 521  ) during the first year, the student’s degree progress will be evaluated by a screening committee composed of members of the IAS faculty as well as the student’s major adviser. The purpose of this written and oral evaluation is to determine competence to continue graduate study and identify areas to be strengthened prior to the qualifying examination.

Qualifying Exam

Prior to the end of the third semester, the student must select a Qualifying Exam Committee to oversee the qualifying exam. The makeup of the committee must include five members, at least three of which must be from IAS, including the chair, and at least one member from outside IAS. All members of the committee must meet the requirements of the graduate school. The student should consult with all members of the committee for guidance on material to be covered on the exam.

The qualifying exam consists of a written and oral component and will be conducted following the requirements of the graduate school. The oral exam must be conducted within 60 days of the submission of the written exam, and the written exam must be reviewed and approved prior to moving forward with the oral exam. 

Dissertation Committee

Following completion of the Qualifying Exam, the student must select a Dissertation Committee to provide guidance on the student’s dissertation research. The Dissertation Committee must be comprised of at least three, but no more than five members. The majority of the committee must be from IAS and include at least one member from outside IAS. The student’s major advisor will serve as the chair of the committee and must be appointed in IAS.

Doctoral Dissertation

A doctoral dissertation comprising original, publishable research must be submitted to dissertation committee members no fewer than 60 days prior to the dissertation defense date. Dissertations must follow the requirements outlined by the graduate school.

Dissertation Defense

The student will deliver a 50-minute presentation of their PhD dissertation research that is open to the public. Following the presentation, the student must successfully defend their PhD dissertation before their dissertation committee in a closed-door setting.

IAS Core Curriculum and Research

Core courses to be taken by all students in the IAS PhD Program.

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