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Integrated Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program

Degree Requirements           

Interim Advisor 

The Director for the Integrated Biomedical Science Graduate Program will serve as interim advisor to PhD students until they have selected a major professor.  The interim advisor will assist the student in the selection of a course of study and in the selection of laboratory rotations.  The interim advisor will also ensure that all early requirements are met.  At all stages of the student’s participation in the graduate program, the interim advisor will try to ensure the smooth progress of the student through the program.  A permanent graduate faculty advisor, usually the major professor, should be appointed as soon as an area of research is identified but no later than July 1 the first year. 

Transfer Credits and Course Substitution for Advanced Standing 

Applicants with previous graduate or medical training may request advanced standing to reduce course requirements so that the time to complete a degree is reduced.  Students may be excused from repeating courses in the Integrated Biomedical Science Program when a similar graduate course has been taken elsewhere within the past three to five years.   The student should consult with the Director for the Integrated Biomedical Science Graduate Program immediately after orientation so that a decision may be reached within the drop-add period of registration.  Decisions regarding transfer of graduate credits as a substitution for required program core courses are decided by the Advisory Committee.  Students may be asked to provide information about the course including an outline, credit hours, and required tests; in some cases, a competency exam may be recommended as a condition of course waiver.  It is unlikely that transfer of credits will be allowed from colleges or universities whose standards are unknown to the faculty of the University of South Carolina. Note that USC Graduate School policy requires that all course work including transfers must be no more than eight years old when the Ph.D. degree is awarded.  The Graduate School imposes a limit to the number of credit hours that may be transferred. 

Academic Regulations 

Grades and Academic Progress 

Graduate courses may be passed for degree credit with a grade as low as C, but the student’s average on all courses attempted for graduate credit must be at least B (3.0 on a 4 point system).  Graduate students whose cumulative grade point average drops below B (3.00) will be placed on academic probation and allowed one calendar year in which to raise the grade point average to at least 3.00. Students who do not reach a cumulative 3.00 grade point average during the grace period will not be permitted to enroll for further graduate course work in that degree program.  Appeals for reinstatement to degree candidacy may be made first to the Integrated Biomedical Science Graduate Program Advisory committee in the first “umbrella” year and the major professor’s department committee thereafter. The appeal and the committee’s recommendation will then be forwarded to the Dean of the Graduate School.

Graduate Assistantships 

The primary means of graduate student support is the Graduate Research Assistantship.   Graduate Assistantships are provided to support costs of graduate education, providing a stipend for living expenses and reduced or waived tuition.  The graduate assistant is considered a temporary employee of the University and is normally obligated to assigned responsibilities in supporting the research endeavors of the university.  The maximum number of hours of assigned duties required per week during semesters with required course work is twenty; during summer or semesters without required coursework, the student is expected to devote full time to research.   

Whereas the Program Office coordinates administrative processing of appointment forms at the start of each fiscal year, supervision of graduate assistants is delegated to the major professor or to an appointed advisor prior to selection of the major professor.  Graduate Assistants are not normally expected to work during examination periods and school holidays. Other vacations are at the discretion of the major professor or the program director (before a major professor is selected). It is the responsibility of the supervisor to discuss the period of appointment, work schedule, specific duties, manner, method, and schedule of evaluation with the Graduate Assistant.  Regular reviews should give feedback to the Graduate Assistant about areas of excellent performance and substandard performance which are detailed enough to make clear what results are desired.  

Graduate students are expected to devote full-time effort to their studies and assistantship research responsibilities.  Additional employment is therefore discouraged during terms of appointment.  Students must discuss with their supervisor and obtain prior approval for any additional employment to insure that it does not interfere with academic performance.  Students may request assistantship appointment for less than a 12-month period if they need time off to pursue other activities.  Failure to comply with these policies is grounds for termination of assistantship support.

Teaching Assistantships and responsibilities 

The Integrated Biomedical Science Graduate Program supports all students during the first year. Some departments participating in the program have  major undergraduate teaching responsibilities and all graduate students in the integrated program will be expected to participate in teaching in some way during their first year. All incoming students will attend the Graduate School’s teaching assistant training program during the orientation period and will be assigned some teaching responsibilities. These will usually be the running of one or more laboratory sessions or recitations. Teaching assignments will be made by the participating departments.

Curriculum

 Teaching tracks 

The annual Graduate Studies Bulletin (available at the Graduate School’s website) lists, with a brief description, all graduate course offered by the University of South Carolina, arranged by graduate program and department.  The Master Schedule (accessed from the Registrar’s website) lists which courses are offered in a given semester, as well as meeting time, place, and instructor.  In order to satisfy program requirements, the sequences below are strongly recommended for all first year students:

MOLECULAR AND CELLULAR BIOLOGY TRACK 

SEMESTER I (FALL SEMESTER) 

BIOL 711   - Structure-Function Nucleic Acids - 3 credit hours

BIOL 717   - Biological Chemistry - 3 credit hours

BMSC 700 - Interdisciplinary Lab I - 1 credit hour

BMSC 706 - Biomedical Ethics - 2 credit hours

BMSC 801 - Seminar in Biomedical Sciences - 2 credit hours

 

First year students will also attend a course in which faculty will present their research interests. This will enable the selection of a major professor. They will also register for research credit for their rotations.

SEMESTER II (SPRING SEMESTER) 

BIOL 718 - Intermediary Metabolism - 3 credit hours

BMSC 705 - Cell Biology - 3 credit hours

BMSC 801 - Seminar in Biomedical Sciences - 2 credit hours

Again, registration for research credit during rotations will be required.

 

NEUROSCIENCE TRACK

In the first semester students are required establish their basic education in biochemistry and molecular biology. In the second semester, students participate in neurobiology basic  training modules which will provide students with neuroscience-based literacy using a modular format that can accommodate training graduate students from diverse backgrounds ranging from psychology to cell & molecular biology. The five week modules (2 hrs, 30 min twice a week) provide basic literacy in neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurochemistry, neuropharmacology, or molecular neuroscience, plus the needed proficiency in physiology and quantitative methods required for conducting research in neurobiology.   

Students may take additional modules in their second year of training.  Additional Fundamental Psychology Modules may be used to fulfill this requirement as well: Cognitive Psychology, Developmental Psychology, Learning and Motivation, Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience, Integration across areas of Psychology.

SEMESTER I (FALL SEMESTER)

BIOL 711   - Structure-Function Nucleic Acids - 3 credit hours

BIOL 717   - Biological Chemistry - 3 credit hours

PHPH 751 - Fundamental Neuroscience – x credit hours

BMSC 700 - Interdisciplinary Lab I - 1 credit hour

BMSC 706 - Biomedical Ethics – 2 credit hours

BMSC 801 - Seminar in Biomedical Sciences - 2 credit hours

 

First year students will also attend a course in which faculty will present their research interests. This will enable the selection of a major professor. They will also register for research credit for their rotations.

SEMESTER II (SPRING SEMESTER)

PHPH 752- 753  - Neurobiology disease Modules 

BMSC 801 - Biomedical Seminar

PHPH742 - Neuroscience Seminar

BMSC 801 - Seminar in Biomedical Sciences

Again, registration for research credit during rotations will be required.

In either track, other items, such as journal clubs, may be recommended.  The Biomedical Sciences Graduate Committee may recommend additional course work in special circumstances.

 

Discussing the Research Interests of the Faculty

In the first semester, students are also expected to meet the faculty to familiarize themselves with the ongoing research in the biomedical sciences across the university campus.  To help the student, symposia will be scheduled at the beginning of the first semester in which potential mentors will describe their research.  Students should attend these symposia and may meet with potential mentors individually.

Laboratory Rotations

A laboratory rotation will usually consist of approximately 8 weeks of research experience working with a faculty member; this may consist of a small independent project or of a component of an on-going project.  A student who undertakes a laboratory rotation with a faculty member is under no obligation whatsoever to continue dissertation research with that professor.  A student will start rotations in his/her first semester.

To ensure the smooth progression of the student through the program, it is a requirement that students must do one or more for-credit laboratory rotations during the first year.  The student must complete Form 1 (see Appendix) identifying the chosen mentors and return it to Ms Roberts in the Graduate Office as soon as a mentor is selected.  A new Form 1 detailing the planned rotation must be submitted for each rotation. The forms should also be signed by the faculty member involved.

The faculty member in whose laboratory a rotation is carried out should submit a report on the student’s performance to the Graduate Office using a form that may be obtained from Ms Roberts or downloaded from the program web site.

Selection of Major Professor

The selection of major professor is by mutual agreement and is formalized by submission of a completed “Selection of Major Professor” form to the program office (Form 2, see Appendix).  The student should formally affiliate with a major professor by the end of the first year of graduate study. Failure to identify a major professor by July 1 after the student’s matriculation into the program may result in suspension from the program.

It is important that the selection of a major professor be an informed decision by the student and advisor. The symposia given during the first semester by potential advisors to showcase their research interests will give students the opportunity to select faculty with whom they share an interest.  Rotations allow the student and faculty to determine on a trial basis whether they can act productively in a student/mentor relationship and whether the student can commit to a specific area of research.

The choice of a major professor by a graduate student and the acceptance of the role of major professor by a faculty member are important decisions that imply a certain sense of obligation on both sides.  The choice of a major professor is normally made with every intention of that being a final decision.  However, it is appreciated that a student may decide that the choice was inappropriate for that student; therefore, a mechanism exists for changing the major professor.  It is pointed out to the student that this is not a decision to be taken lightly.  It will almost certainly delay completion of his/her degree program as it will be necessary to develop a new dissertation research program and have it approved.  If a change in major professor is to be made, it should always be made prior to the point at which the student attempts the Comprehensive Examination.

In the event that a graduate student deems a change of major professor necessary, the  procedures of the major professor’s department will apply. The student may seek advice from the department’s graduate director and/or the director of the integrated program, if necessary.

Compact

As noted above, selection of a major professor and a laboratory in which to work entails a commitment by both the student and professor and should not be entered into lightly. The student is undertaking to complete a rigorous research project in a professional manner and the professor is committing to support that project. The Graduate Directors  of the American Association of Medical Colleges have drawn up a draft compact for professor and graduate student. A copy of this follows. Both the student and major professor should read and agree to this compact.

 

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This page was last up-dated on Tuesday, May 25, 2010      Phone: (803) 733 3100    Fax: (803) 733 3192  Please contact  Dr Richard Hunt    for further information
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