Return to: Keck School of Medicine of USC
Keith Administration Building 409
1975 Zonal Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90089-9031
FAX: (323) 442-9031
Program Director: H. Kaslow, PhD, firstname.lastname@example.org
Physiology is the study of the functions and activities of life and living matter at all levels of organization within an organism. While physiology research is frequently at the molecular level, the tradition of the discipline challenges the researcher to consider all homeostatic and developmental functions of an organism. This tradition can guide research efforts seeking to identify causes of disease and critical physiological functions possessing therapeutic and health-promoting opportunities. The Medical Physiology program focuses on the research experience of the thesis track but in special circumstances will consider applications to the non-thesis track.
Admission Applicants to the Master of Science in Medical Physiology (MPHY) program will have earned a bachelor's degree and completed course work in mathematics (including calculus), physics, chemistry and biological sciences. To be considered, applicants must complete a USC Graduate Admissions application and submit either GRE or MCAT test scores, a brief personal statement explaining the reasons for applying to the program, official transcripts from all academic institutions previously attended and three letters of recommendation. Foreign applicants are required to submit results from a TOEFL or IELTS examination. Potential applicants are encouraged to submit questions regarding the program and application process to the Medical Physiology Graduate Program Office prior to submitting the formal application (email@example.com). In the personal statement, applicants must specify whether they are applying to the thesis- or non-thesis track and the rationale for that decision. Normally, admission will be in the thesis track and a recommendation to admit an applicant will require MPHY graduate committee approval of an agreement between an applicant and a faculty member who will serve as mentor of the thesis project. The agreement shall specify the general research area of the thesis.
The Medical Physiology graduate program participates in the USC Progressive Master's Degree Program and seeks applications from qualified students (usc.edu/programs/ugprograms/progressive).
Course Requirements The master's degree in Medical Physiology requires the completion of at least 32 graduate-level units with a grade point average of 3.0. All students are required to take the following: INTD 531 , INTD 561 , MPHY 572 , MPHY 573 , MPHY 590 , PM 510L , and at least 2 units in either INTD 574 , PHBI 550 or a seminar course approved by the program director. Elective courses must be approved by the director of the MPHY Graduate Program. Students may pursue a thesis option, which requires completion of MPHY 594a , MPHY 594b , MPHY 594z . The thesis track is required when students take less than 26 units of non-research units (i.e., more than 6 research units out of the 32 units required for graduation). Students pursuing a non-thesis option must complete 32 units of approved course work.
Continued enrollment: Continued enrollment in the program requires an average GPA of at least 3.0, a grade of at least B in MPHY 572 and MPHY 573 . Beginning no later than the second year of enrollment, students must enroll in PHBI 550 , INTD 574 , or equivalent, and achieve a grade of at least B, "Pass" or "Credit." At any time, after evaluating a student's progress, the MPHY Graduate Committee, at its discretion, may require a student pass a screening examination to be eligible to progress to the third or later semester of graduate study. If a student fails to achieve these metrics or pass a screening examination, the MPHY Graduate Committee will make a recommendation as to whether or not to place the student on probationary enrollment with a defined remediation sufficient to remedy the deficiency or to recommend the student withdraw or be dismissed from the program.
The thesis work of a student in the thesis track will be conducted under the guidance of a Master's Student Thesis Committee, which shall consist of at least:
- The student's adviser who shall chair the committee and be a tenure-track member of the MPHY Graduate Committee.
- The student's thesis mentor if not the same faculty member as the adviser.
- One additional tenure-track faculty member of the Department of Physiology and Biophysics.
- One additional tenure-track faculty member.
Final Examination: Passing the examination requires: 1) submission of a thesis document describing the work of the thesis, and 2) an oral defense of the thesis both to the satisfaction of the Thesis Committee. The thesis document shall be distributed to the student's Master's Thesis Committee and a copy provided to the Medical Physiology Graduate Program Office at least two weeks prior to the oral examination. If the document is not provided by that date, then the oral examination shall be rescheduled to accommodate this requirement. Final acceptance of the document and passage of the oral examination requires the unanimous recommendation of all members of the thesis committee. If the student does not pass the examination on the first attempt, at its discretion the MPHY Graduate Committee may grant a second opportunity to pass the examination according to policies in the USC Catalogue.
Final Examination. A comprehensive examination replaces the thesis defense. The MPHY Graduate Committee shall appoint a member of the MPHY Graduate Committee to supervise the final examination process (the "Examination Supervisor"). The examination shall be on a topic approved by the Examination Supervisor and consist of: 1) a document sufficiently discussing the topic, and 2) passing an oral examination on the substance of the topic. The document shall be submitted to the Examination Supervisor at least two weeks prior to the oral examination. If the document is not provided by that date, then the oral examination shall be rescheduled to accommodate this requirement. To qualify as the final examination, all the faculty of the MPHY Graduate Committee shall be invited to attend the presentation with notice given at least two weeks in advance and at least three members of the MPHY Graduate Committee or alternates selected by the program director shall attend.
During and following the presentation, faculty members may pose questions relevant to the presentation to determine if the student has mastered an appropriate breadth and depth of knowledge of physiology. The Examination Supervisor shall then receive reports from faculty attending the presentation, usually within a week, and make a recommendation to the MPHY Graduate Committee as to whether or not the student passed the examination. Unless a member of the Graduate Committee objects, the recommendation shall be considered accepted. If an objection is received a decision shall be made by a secret ballot vote with two thirds of those voting in favor of passage required for passage of the examination. If the student does not pass the examination on the first attempt, at its discretion the MPHY Graduate Committee may grant a second opportunity to pass the examination according to policies in the USC Catalogue.