Cell and Molecular Biology

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Graduate programs

Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology

Scott D. Zimmerman, Director of Graduate Studies
Professional Building, Room 353
Phone 417-836-6123
BMS Department phone:  417-836-5603

Program description

The graduate program in Cell and Molecular Biology is designed for students preparing for entry into doctorate or health professional programs, or for expanding career opportunities in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, health science research, bioinformatics, and genomics sectors. The program offers students with biological or biochemical preparation to increase knowledge in the molecular biosciences and provides initial or additional experiences using the biotechnologies emerging from the rapidly-growing disciplines in cell and molecular biology.  The development of laboratory research skills occurs in a laboratory-focused curriculum that has a health and human emphasis.

Program objectives 

  1. To educate students at the graduate level in modern concepts and methodologies of cell and molecular biology.
  2. To build upon the student’s foundation of knowledge in cell and molecular biology through enhanced exposure to course, laboratory, and research opportunities.
  3. To enhance the student’s ability to carry out independent research in cell and molecular biology.

Entrance requirements

Admission to the program requires a strong science and mathematics background identical to that required of a student completing the undergraduate program in cell and molecular biology. In addition, admission to the program requires evidence that the applicant will be able to successfully complete a rigorous graduate program in the sciences at a high level of performance. Entrance into the program requires completion of the following.

  1. Two semesters of organic chemistry
  2. Two semesters of physics
  3. A course in calculus
  4. A bachelor's degree from a Missouri State University recognized accredited college or university and a grade point average (GPA) of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale, overall, or for the last 60 hours
  5. Applicants must have:
    1. an official transcript including all undergraduate work
    2. three letters of recommendation
    3. GRE scores
    4. a statement of research interest

Applicants will be evaluated for admission based upon their submitted materials.  By the end of the first semester, candidates must be accepted into a research laboratory by a member of the Graduate Faculty who becomes the student's advisor.

Accelerated Master's Degree option

Majors in cell and molecular biology may be accepted into the Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology program after admission requirements for the accelerated master’s option are met. Once accepted for early admission, up to 12 credit hours of approved 600 and 700-level coursework may be counted toward both the Bachelor of Science and the Master of Science degree programs. Other required 600-level courses in the master’s program that are taken by the undergraduate student, but not included in the accelerated option, may be waived on the master’s degree program by the student’s graduate advisor if the required courses were taken less than four years previously and the student earned at least a grade of B or better in those courses. Additional graduate coursework to replace waived courses may be needed to meet the 32 hours degree requirement. Accelerated option students must enroll in BMS 730 each semester.

The accelerated option allows cell and molecular biology majors who are interested in biomedical research to complete the requirements for the Master of Science degree in two semesters and a summer rather than the typical four semesters and a summer. Contact the program director in the Department of Biomedical Sciences for information and guidelines.

Before enrolling in each course to be counted as both undergraduate and graduate credit, an undergraduate student must be accepted into the accelerated program and complete a mixed credit form.  Acceptance into the program and all approvals must be completed prior to the end of the Change of Schedule Period for the course(s). See the Graduate College for further information.

Admission Requirements for the Accelerated Master’s Option

  1. Junior standing and an overall GPA of 3.40 or better
  2. Completion of BMS 110, BMS 231, BMS 321; CHM 160, CHM 170, CHM 175, CHM 310 with a GPA of 3.40 or better 
  3. Undergraduate laboratory research experience is strongly recommended before applying
  4. Applicants must submit:
    1. an official transcript including all undergraduate work
    2. three letters of recommendation, one written by the future graduate advisor formally accepting the student into their research laboratory.
    3. GRE scores
    4. a statement of research interest
  5. Acceptance of the applicant by the graduate faculty in cell and molecular biology under the accelerated master’s option

Degree requirements

The program requires completion of a minimum of 32 semester hours and includes the following.

  1. Core Courses.  This requirement is met by completing:
    BMS 622   Molecular Cell Biology (4 hrs)
    BMS 625   Molecular Biology (4 hrs)
    BMS 635, Signal Transduction (2 hrs)
    BMS 658   Recombinant DNA and Protein Techniques (3 hrs) or BMS 629 Molecular Genetics (3 hrs)
  2. Orientation.  The candidate must enroll in BMS 701, Research in the Biomedical Sciences (3 hrs).
  3. Statistics.  The candidate must enroll in an approved introductory statistics course at the graduate level if a course in statistics is not a part of their previous academic record.
  4. Electives.  Other remedial or elective courses will be selected by the advisor in consultation with the student.  Up to nine hours of appropriate course work, excluding research and thesis, may be selected from outside the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
  5. Research.  All candidates (thesis and non-thesis options) must satisfactorily complete a research requirement of at least 3 hours by enrolling in BMS 798.  Thesis option candidates may apply an additional 3 hours of BMS 798 and a maximum of 6 hours of BMS 799 toward the 700-level requirement for the degree.  Non-thesis option candidates may not apply more than 4 hours of BMS 798 and may not apply BMS 799 toward the degree.
  6. 700-level courses.  At least 16 hours of course work must be 700 level or above.  A maximum of 6 hours in BMS 798, Research and 6 hours in BMS 799, Thesis may be counted toward the degree. In addition, candidates will be required to enroll every semester in the journal topics course, BMS 730, Current Literature Topics, for a maximum of 4 semesters.
  7. Comprehensive Examination.  The candidate must pass a written exam taken in the third semester of graduate study and an oral examination administered by the departmental cell and molecular biology graduate faculty.
  8. Students must earn at least a C grade in all courses.  Any grade of less than C will result in the dismissal of the student from the program.