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2018-2019 Graduate Studies Bulletin 
  Jul 17, 2024
2018-2019 Graduate Studies Bulletin [Archived Catalog]

Biomedical Sciences, Ph.D.

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The School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program provides extensive educational opportunities with the ultimate goal of training the next generation of biomedical researchers and educators. Biomedical science is a multidisciplinary field of study encompassing biological and chemical disciplines focused on medical issues including enhanced understanding, detection and treatment of human disease. Scientists working in the School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences program have diverse interests ranging from the study of molecular and subcellular processes to the study of organ systems and whole organism functions. This interdisciplinary program prepares students for careers in biomedical research (both in academia and industry), by providing a broad foundation of knowledge in the basic medical sciences with expanded focus in a specific discipline that is emphasized in the dissertation research. This is accomplished through extensive didactic courses, development of career skills and training in research laboratories involved in diverse areas of biomedical science. The Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program is administered by a Graduate Director with the consultation of the Graduate Curriculum Committee and the Graduate Advisory Committee. These committees have representatives from the three basic science departments in the School of Medicine.

The School of Medicine also participates in the Integrated Biomedical Science Program. This program is composed of faculty from across the University of South Carolina and includes departments from the School of Medicine, the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Public Health. Students in this program take a common core curriculum in the first year of the Ph.D. The students subsequently select a mentor and join one of the participating departments.

Learning Outcomes

  • Scientific Method - Students will be able to evaluate scientific literature, formulate ideas/ hypotheses, solve problems, carry out critical evaluations and arrive at conclusions.
  • Biomedical Ethics - Students will demonstrate an understanding of ethical issues related to biomedical research including animal use, human subjects in research, authorship and plagiarism.
  • Oral Presentation Skills - Students will be able to organize and deliver an oral presentation summarizing relevant literature and/or research data.
  • Scientific Writing - The students will demonstrate effective written communication through manuscripts and poster preparation.
  • Career Advancement - Students will obtain postdoctoral, faculty or other positions of employment in the biomedical science area following graduation from the School of Medicine Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program.

Curriculum (62 Post Baccalaureate Hours)

The curriculum includes multiple training components designed to prepare students for their dissertation research and for a career in biomedical science. The curriculum includes the following components:

  • A core of basic science courses including advanced biochemistry, molecular biology and cell biology. The student can follow two tracks in the first year: basic molecular and cellular biology or neuroscience. The tracks are sufficiently similar in content such that a student may switch tracks, if required.
  • A multidisciplinary laboratory course that exposes the student to research methods, facilities, and major equipment.
  • An ethics course which addresses topics important in biomedical research including human subjects, animals in research, authorship, plagiarism and others.
  • Advanced graduate course work in specific areas of specialization such as neuroscience, developmental biology, immunology, molecular biology and cancer, reproductive biology, and cardiovascular sciences.

The Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. degree requires a minimum of 62 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate and a minimum of 30 hours beyond the master’s degree, including at least 12 credit hours of dissertation preparation. Course work includes 12 or more hours of a core curriculum and at least 9 elective credit hours in specific content areas of the concentration.

Transfer of graduate credits earned prior to admission into the doctoral program will be determined by the Graduate Advisory Committee within limits determined by The Graduate School.

Admission Standards

An applicant must have a baccalaureate degree or its equivalent from an accredited college or university. Undergraduate courses should include two semesters each of biology, physics, inorganic chemistry, and organic chemistry as well as some math (preferably through calculus).

Admission to the Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. program is determined by the Dean of The Graduate School after recommendation by the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Director and the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Advisory Committee. Criteria examined include an appraisal of courses taken, grades achieved, letters of recommendation, research experience, scores on the GRE, and the student’s statement of purpose for graduate study. A MS degree in a biomedical subject or biotechnology, although not required, makes an application more competitive. Applicants may designate a preferred academic specialization, but, because of the interdisciplinary nature of biomedical research, this is not necessary. Highly ranked domestic applicants are invited to interview and visit the university. Selected overseas applicants receive a telephone interview.

A GPA average of 3.00 or better is required in both the major and overall. GRE scores on the general section above the 50th percentile are also required. A minimum TOEFL score of 80 (out of 120) is also required for students whose native language is not English; however, a score of 100 or above is preferred and this level has been achieved by almost all students admitted recently.

Degree Requirements (62 Hours)

Graduate studies in biomedical science are designed to provide broad interdisciplinary training as well as specialization in an area of research. The Ph.D. degree requirements include an admission-to-candidacy examination, a comprehensive examination, participation in seminar programs and a dissertation based upon the student’s research.

Following completion of required courses, the student must successfully complete a written comprehensive examination in the format of a research grant proposal. The student must also complete an oral defense of the comprehensive examination. The written and oral components will be evaluated by the student’s Advisory Committee.

Ongoing seminar programs expose students to cutting-edge research by scientists at the School of Medicine, other departments of the University, and from around the nation and world. Students are required to present their own data in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Seminar series. The students also are required to present once at the annual Morgan W. Newton Graduate Research Symposium. These seminars provide students with the opportunity to share their research findings with student and faculty colleagues. They also provide the student with valuable opportunities to enhance their oral presentation skills.

Biomedical science graduate students may elect to carry out research in such current areas of interest as cancer, reproductive biology, immunology, biodefense, complementary medicine, cell and molecular biology, neuroscience, microbiology, vision science, developmental biology, cardiovascular biology, AIDS and many more specialties. A detailed description of research activities within the biomedical science program may be found at the USC School of Medicine web site: Research performed by the student culminates in the PhD dissertation. The dissertation research is presented at a seminar open to all students and faculty of the university. The student also must successfully complete an oral defense of the dissertation to their Advisory Committee.

Application Information

Inquiries concerning admission and requests for printed program information should be directed to the School of Medicine Office of Graduate Studies, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, telephone 803-733-3100, e-mail

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