Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology

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Graduate courses in physiology may be taken leading to the Master of Science (M.S.) or the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degrees in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology. Graduate courses offered by the program may also contribute to graduate degrees in biological science or to a teaching specialty for the Master of Science in Education degree.

The Department of Physiology offers advanced training in mammalian physiology, aging, cancer biology, cell physiology, molecular biology, molecular endocrinology, neuro-endocrinology, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, reproductive biology, and reproductive endocrinology, metabolism and human anatomy. Students entering the graduate training program are advised to plan the course work so as to acquire a broad knowledge of the field before emphasizing one of these sub-disciplines. The advisory system in the Department is set up to help students in planning their work. All graduate training programs in the Department are subject to approval of the graduate program committee (GPC) of the Department.

Each term the student must be engaged in a training assignment which supplements formal course work and will consist of research or teaching or both. The student is required to have participated in both types of activities, research and teaching, as a graduate student at SIUC as a condition for receiving a graduate degree.

Prerequisites for graduate training in molecular, cellular and systemic physiology include an undergraduate degree in one of the biological, physical, or behavioral sciences, preferably with one year each of physics, mathematics, and chemistry.

Financial Assistance

The Department of Physiology offers financial assistance to qualified applicants accepted by the Department. The funds which provide this assistance come from a variety of sources which include: teaching assistantships from the Department; University fellowships which are applied for directly by the student; and research assistantships from grants obtained by the graduate program faculty. Students interested in financial assistance should fill out the Financial Support Form available online and in the Department of Physiology office. Additional financial aid information may be found at the SIU Financial Aid Office web page. Financial assistance depends on availability and the student’s qualifications and academic status. Continued financial support is contingent upon the student’s progress toward the degree and good academic standing.

The Department may support master's students for up to 24 months and doctoral students for 48 months on department teaching assistantships. However, every effort will be made to encourage the student and their adviser to find alternative sources of funding. Continuation of support will be conditioned on satisfactory performance in areas of academics, research, and teaching. Academic performance will be based on good standing in the Graduate School (3.0 GPA) and passage of the preliminary exam by the end of the third year (Ph.D. students only). Satisfactory research performance will be based on the filing of an approved research proposal by the end of the (Ph.D. students only) calendar year and after that time by an annual memo from the student’s advisory committee indicating progress in the area of research. It will be the student’s responsibility to provide this documentation to the GPC. Evaluation of teaching effectiveness will be carried out by the GPC from sources possibly but not limited to the course coordinator, student evaluations and by direct observation of classes by the GPC.

A departmental stipend for graduate student research will be available to molecular, cellular and systemic physiology graduate students working in laboratories of regular physiology department faculty members provided that the student is making satisfactory progress in their research program and remains in good academic standing (as defined above).

Research Tools

Doctoral students must acquire competence in one research tool and are encouraged to attain competence with two tools. The requirements for a research tool may be satisfied by establishing proficiency in advanced statistics, computer science, electronics, advanced mathematics, electron microscopy, foreign language (with suitability of a particular language being determined by the student’s committee), or some technique which is acceptable to the student’s advisory committee. Courses which are normally part of a track requirement or are highly recommended for students in a particular track cannot serve as tools for students in that track. Approval of a given tool by the student’s committee will be granted only if the student has demonstrated proficiency by taking a formal course and receiving a grade (preferably B or better) or by passing a formal examination given by an expert in that field (preferably a faculty member in the University department where the subject is normally taught).      

Master of Science (M.S.) in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology

Application

The application should be submitted online through the Graduate School. All applicants must submit a brief (300-600 words) statement of goals and ambitions indicating why they wish to do graduate work and three letters of recommendation submitted by individuals who can comment on their academic abilities, character, and potential for doing research. 

This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology. Applicants may pay this fee by credit card.

The Graduate School requires an earned grade point average (GPA) of 2.70 or better (A = 4.0) on all undergraduate work. A minimum GPA of 3.00 (A = 4.0) in all undergraduate and graduate work is needed for serious consideration.

The graduate program committee of the department will normally examine the credentials, which include the application form, transcript(s), letters of recommendation, goal statement, and GRE scores, only after all materials have been received.

International students must submit English language equivalency exam test scores and obtain a score equal or greater to the department requirements to qualify for admission by the Graduate School, and must pass a Test of Spoken English prior to the awarding of teaching assistantships by the Department of Physiology.

Advisory Committee

The Director of Graduate Studies will act as an advisor to new graduate students until a research advisor is selected. The choice of a research advisor is a very important step and should be carefully considered. During the first semester, most students rotate through four research laboratories to get acquainted with faculty members and research programs before selecting an advisor who will direct the thesis research and help plan course work.

The functions of the research advisor are:

  1. To provide guidance in the student’s research and the use of facilities.
  2. To provide mentorship in conducting, evaluating, and publishing scientific research.
  3. To serve as chair of the Advisory Committee and consultant for the selection of the other members of the Advisory Committee (at least three additional members from the graduate faculty, including one from outside the Department).

Members of the Advisory Committee should provide expertise in or complementary to the research area and provide guidance in the selection of course work. The student should meet with the committee yearly or as needed to discuss research and academic progress.

Following the selection of a research advisor and the Advisory Committee, the Graduate Faculty Committee Approval Form (available online and in the department office) must be filled out with the names and signatures of committee members and filed with the department secretary. The completed form will then be forwarded to the Graduate School for final approval.

Total Hours Required

A total of 30 credit hours at the 400- and 500-level is required for the master's degree. Of the total credit hours completed, at least 21 of these must be graded (A, B, C) hours. At least 15 of the total 30 credit hours must be 500-level courses taken at SIUC. Of these 15, a minimum of 3 credit hours of PHSL 599 (thesis) is required. More than three credit hours of PHSL 599 may be taken, however only six may be counted toward the 500-level requirement.

Thesis

The thesis should represent a competent piece of original research carried out on a specific physiological problem or area under the research advisor’s supervision. It should include an adequate review of the literature, a statement of the hypothesis, a set of experiments testing the hypothesis by whatever methods are appropriate, an analysis of the results, and an interpretation of the work and its significance. Upon completion of the thesis research, a final department seminar is presented followed by an oral examination. The examination will be conducted by the Advisory Committee and will cover the subject of the thesis and other matters related to the discipline.

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology

The Graduate School requires a grade point average in previous graduate work of at least 3.0 and acceptance by the academic unit offering the Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology. There are accelerated and direct entry options.

The application should be submitted online through the Graduate School. All applicants must submit a brief (300-600 words) statement of goals and ambitions indicating why they wish to do graduate work and three letters of recommendation submitted by individuals who can comment on their academic abilities, character, and potential for doing research. 

This program requires a nonrefundable $65 application fee that must be submitted with the application for Admissions to Graduate Study in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology. Applicants may pay this fee by credit card.

The graduate program committee of the Department will examine the credentials, which include the application form, transcript(s), letters of recommendation, goal statement and GRE scores (if applicable) only after all materials have been received.

International students must submit English language equivalency exam test scores and obtain a score equal or greater to the department requirements to qualify for admission by the Graduate School, and must pass a Test of Spoken English prior to the awarding of teaching assistantships by the Department of Physiology.

Direct Entry Option into Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology

This option is presently available for admission to the Graduate School. Contact the Department of Physiology for further information regarding this option. In general, the Department of Physiology may accept a post-baccalaureate student directly into the Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology program, provided that the student has:

  1. A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of 3.25 (A = 4.0).
  2. Sufficient undergraduate course work in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics or an outstanding score on the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) on: (a) the general part or (b) the advanced part in biology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics.

A student admitted to the doctoral program under this option is subject to the admissions requirements stated above and all other requirements of the doctoral degree including: course work, retention, residency, examinations, research proposal, dissertation, and all applicable time limits. The Advisory Committee may adjust the course work and requirements of the student based on the student’s background and research area. Students who have taken one or more core courses at another accredited university may be given credit toward their core requirements if such courses are deemed equivalent to our core courses by the Graduate Program Committee and department grade requirements are met.

Accelerated Entry Option into Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology

The Department of Physiology offers an accelerated entry option to a graduate student in the master’s program who demonstrates the intellect, research aptitude, and commitment for pursuing a doctoral degree. At the end of at least one year of studies at the master’s level, the student may request that their Advisory Committee review their qualifications and performance in order to establish eligibility for entry into the doctoral program under this option. The student must have a GPA of at least 3.25 (A = 4.0) in graduate course work and letters of reference attesting to the student’s abilities and potential to perform doctoral level research. The Advisory Committee must establish that the student is prepared and able to conduct research at the doctoral level, which may be established by publications; presentations at meetings; depth of understanding; and quality of seminars, presentations, and research proposal. The Advisory Committee will make a recommendation that the student should either continue in the Master’s program or advance into the doctoral program.

After the student’s eligibility has been established, the research advisor and/or the Advisory Committee will prepare a written review of the student’s qualifications and submit it to the Graduate Program Committee for approval. The Graduate Program Committee will then submit a recommendation to the Chair of the Department of Physiology, who will in turn submit a letter to the Graduate School requesting a waiver of a master’s degree or master’s equivalency and entry into the doctoral program.

The student will need to submit the following items to the Graduate School: a letter of acceptance into the doctoral program from Graduate Program Committee Chair, a Graduate School application form (indicating Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology), and a completed Notification of Accelerated Entry Option Students Form.

A student admitted to the doctoral program under this option is subject to all requirements of the doctoral degree including: course work, retention standards, residency, examinations, research proposal, dissertation, and all applicable time limits.

Please note that only courses taken after admission to the doctoral program will count toward residency.

Advisory Committee

The Director of Graduate Studies will act as an advisor to new graduate students until a research advisor is selected. The choice of a research advisor is a very important step and should be carefully considered. During the first semester, most students rotate through four research laboratories to get acquainted with faculty members and research programs before selecting an advisor who will direct the dissertation research and help plan course work.

The functions of the research advisor are:

  1. To provide guidance in the student’s research and the use of facilities.
  2. To provide mentorship in conducting, evaluating, and publishing scientific research.
  3. To serve as chair of the Advisory Committee and consultant for the selection of other members of the Advisory Committee (at least four additional members from the graduate faculty, including one from outside the Department).

Members of the Advisory Committee should provide expertise in or complementary to the research area and provide guidance in the selection of course work. The student should meet with the committee yearly or as needed to discuss research and academic progress.

Following the selection of a research advisor and the Advisory Committee, the Graduate Faculty Committee Approval Form (available in the department office) must be filled out with the names and signatures of committee members and filed with the department secretary. The completed form will then be forwarded to the Graduate School for final approval.

Total Hours Required

The requirements for the Ph.D. in Molecular, Cellular and Systemic Physiology are those established by the Graduate School, the Guide to Graduate Studies, and the student’s advisory committee. The Graduate School requires 24 credit hours prior to candidacy and 24 hours of dissertation credit. Of the total credit hours completed, at least 10 of these must be graded (A, B, C) hours.

Preliminary Examination

Preliminary examinations for doctoral students consist of a set of written exams covering the student’s research area and course work, a research proposal in the area of the dissertation research project, and an oral defense of the proposal. In most cases, the written exams are taken in early August after completion of the second year of study. After passing the written exams, the student will have one month to write the research proposal. The student’s Advisory Committee will evaluate the research proposal and if it is found acceptable, the oral defense of the proposal will be scheduled with the Advisory Committee. Details of the preliminary examinations are available from the Graduate Program Committee.

Dissertation

The dissertation should represent a competent piece of original research carried out on a specific physiological problem or area under the advisor’s supervision. It should include an adequate review of the literature, a statement of the hypothesis, a set of experiments testing the hypothesis by whatever methods are appropriate, an analysis of the results, and an interpretation of the work and its significance. The research should be of sufficient quality and quantity to merit publications in peer-reviewed journals. Upon completion of the dissertation research, a final department seminar is presented followed by an oral examination. The examination will be conducted by the Advisory Committee and will cover the subject of the dissertation and topics related to the discipline.

Certificate in Anatomy

The purpose of the anatomy certificate is to allow graduate students to become proficient in anatomy teaching. This will allow them to compete more effectively for jobs in this field. Students are eligible for the anatomy certificate if they are in an existing anatomically-based master’s or Ph.D. program (e.g. Physiology, Anthropology, or Zoology). Additional prerequisites (e.g., embryology, basic vertebrate anatomy) are preferred. Students lacking such prerequisites will be encouraged to obtain them prior to admission into the anatomy certificate program. The Graduate Program Committee of the Department of Physiology will review all applications. In addition to graduate coursework in anatomy, students in the anatomy certificate program will obtain experience teaching gross anatomy to undergraduates and medical students. A minimum of 17-18 graduate credit hours are required for fulfillment of the certificate requirements. They are: Advanced Human Anatomy with lab, (PHSL 401A, PHSL 401B, 10 credit hours), Vertebrate Histology, (ZOOL 409, 4 credit hours) and either Neuroanatomy, (PHSL 573, 3 credit hours) or Vertebrate Anatomy Lab, (ZOOL 418, 3 credit hours). Where appropriate, these courses may also count for credit toward the master’s or Ph.D. degree. The Graduate Program Committee in the Department and the student’s advisory committee will make recommendations for other coursework and oversee the student’s progress. In additional to graduate coursework in anatomy, students in the anatomy certificate program will obtain experience teaching gross anatomy to undergraduates and medical students. Students supported by assistantships will have the same teaching obligations as all other departmentally supported students. Students will be required to teach at least two semesters of gross anatomy assisting Physiology and Anatomy Department faculty in the Medical School.

For more information, contact:
Director of Graduate Studies
Department of Physiology, School of Medicine
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL  62901-6512
Telephone: 618-453-1544
Email: physiology@siu.edu