Jun 24, 2019  
2017-2018 University Catalog 
2017-2018 University Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

The Graduate College

Welcome to The Graduate College

On behalf of the faculty and staff, let me welcome you to The Graduate College. This is a time of explosive growth in biomedical knowledge occurring simultaneously with rapidly expanding healthcare needs. We have an unprecedented challenge in optimally preparing graduate professional to contribute to progress in health outcomes for this dynamic world. In the Graduate College, we have six educational programs that include a range of biomedical Doctoral and Masters Degrees to help prepare the next generation of biomedical research and education leaders. For example, we have recently re-engineered our laboratory-based doctoral program, as well as our laboratory-based two year master’s program, so that the research students in those programs will be better prepared to address emerging biomedical challenges. The redesign of our graduate curricula is the collaborative work of the faculty working with students to synthesize many disciplinary perspectives in better understanding of the shared mechanistic basis of human health as well potential perturbations contributing to the development of  human diseases. Our faculty includes a wide range of highly accomplished and nationally impactful researchers and educators, who are deeply committed to biomedical professional development. Over the last decade, Rush research faculty have been consistently successful in competing for new federal research awards. As a result for last year despite tight national biomedical research funding, our faculty has received over $100 million dollars of total federal awards. This great success has many positive dimensions. From our students’ perspective, this provides a vibrant array of research environment with a number of productive research teams to choose from in considering where to conduct their dissertation or thesis research work. This biomedical research environment is further strengthen by several major, federally funded collaborative relationships across the academic medical centers of Chicago in the areas of translational research, precision medicine research as well as medical bioinformatics research. 

The Graduate College is an institution that is invested in the success of each and every student that walks through our doors.  Our goal is to sharpen analytical skills, hone problem solving approaches and prepare our graduate students so that they are well prepared to bring value in creatively addressing complex biomedical problems.  We live and work in a vibrant urban center that enjoys a productive and collaborative biomedical community. This environment coupled with Rush’s strong research and clinical legacy provides for many opportunities for ongoing career evolution both in this region as well as nationally.  Rush Graduate College is a superb environment for biomedical training, and we look forward to working together in advancing your professional career goals while we make real progress in improving health.

James L. Mulshine, MD
Dean of The Graduate College (Acting)

The Graduate College: Mission, Vision and Philosophy


The mission of The Graduate College of Rush University is to promote and assure excellence in research education and mentoring programs responsible for training outstanding and diverse candidates in the basic and clinical sciences. At Rush, the translation of bench research to the clinic and the development of evidence-based medical practice through clinical trials are critical goals of the institution. The faculty works side by side with the students to devise better detection approaches or to develop more effective interventions that improve patient outcomes and the health of all citizens of greater Chicago. The Graduate College promotes respectful, collaborative efforts and provides a rich educational and research environment for students to prepare for challenging careers in the fast moving world of biomedical research.   


Basic and clinical scientist graduates of The Graduate College will become leaders in their respective research fields, secure leadership positions in academia or industry, compete successfully for extramural grants, and train the next generation of research scientists.  Success in this regard relates to embracing the culture of team science and understanding how your efforts can ensure sustained productivity in addressing strategic biomedical problems and to lead in the advancement of the medical sciences and the promotion of health.


Rush University provides outstanding health sciences education and conducts impactful research in a culture of inclusion, focused on the promotion and preservation of the health and well-being of our diverse communities. This statement outlines a vibrant role for the Graduate College in preparing leaders to help Rush, and other institutions that share similar aspirations, to achieve success in transforming our health care system.

The Graduate College was originally established in 1981, to provide opportunities for students to work with nationally recognized faculty to earn doctoral degrees in the sciences basic to health care. Students are engaged in highly individualized training to maximize opportunities for self-realization.  Faculty members share their scholarly  expertise and hands-on laboratory and clinical research experiences with students in a variety of settings.  

The Graduate College is also emerging training  concerns as communicated by the National Institute of Health in regard to optimal biomedical workforce preparation. To address issues with the torrid pace of research innovation as well as  the realities of the rapidly evolving workplace, we have recently completed a comprehensive re-engineering of our laboratory-based doctoral and master’s curriculum. In this process, we have placed a deeper emphasis on presenting course material from an integrated conceptual framework so that students are better prepared to manage the rapidly expanding body of complex biomedical information. Our curriculum moves from a disciplinary perspective to a more systematic, interdisciplinary orientation that is intensely collaborative in nature Thus, all laboratory-based graduate students will now jointly participate in a common, integrated first year curriculum exploring the shared foundations of biomedical sciences. This approach leverages the significant interaction of students with interests across the spectrum of biomedical sciences and provides a common knowledge base to allow students to move more fluidly into the team-based research phase of their specific programs. This integrated biomedical sciences curriculum also creates a more inclusive and welcoming feeling among students to encourage group learning and problem solving.

The new integrated biomedical sciences master’s program starts with a shared first year course plan but in the second year, students can personalize their research activities in any of five areas of  translational research excellence at Rush.The Graduate College also includes other specialized master’s programs for laboratory-based biotechnology research and another program in clinical science research.  We continue to evolve these course offerings to address the expanding need for clinical scientists and highly trained technical staff, respectively, to advance science in the 21st century. These program also share the Rush unifying features including a high degree of individualized faculty and student interaction through the educational processes of the College grounded in a productive, high quality translational research/clinical environment Students find the open collaborative environment across the College with a shared focus on translational research through team-based research and care to constitute a highly favorable educational environment.

The Graduate College: Organization

The Graduate College Council is the senior representative body of the college.  Its membership includes all program directors including the directors of the PhD in nursing science and PhD in health sciences programs (that run jointly with the College of Nursing and College of Health Sciences, respectively), as well as an elected faculty member from each of the programs serving for a term of two years, and three students from these programs (elected by the students annually).  Only the elected members and students are allowed to vote.  An elected member of the Graduate Council serves as the chair of the council.  The council is the senior representative body of the faculty and is constituted to represent the College faculty and advise the dean regarding: (i) the organization, function, and coordination of educational and research resources, services and activities among the various units of the College; (ii) adequacy of College facilities and infrastructure, (iii) effectiveness of College support services (e.g., student services, technology, information systems, etc.); (iv) faculty grievance process; and (v) amendments to the Policies and Procedures.  Under the Rush University Governance, the Graduate College Council has a number of defined responsibilities in governing the College, such as in conducting periodic reviews of all Graduate College program policies and procedures.  

The faculty of the Graduate College is drawn from the faculty of the other colleges of Rush University, who hold the same rank in the Graduate College as in their primary colleges. All of our programs are administered out of the Dean’s office and are overseen by The Graduate College Council. Faculty members from several programs participate in the education of students in each program.

Program Specific Education Committees

IBS, BTN and CRES all have Education committees that monitor the process of student acceptance, progression and deal with curricular issues. Respective Program Directors chair these Committees. Changes in curriculum must be approved by the GCC. Graduate College Student Council (GCSC)

The Graduate College Student Council will be an open forum, whereby any student member of the Graduate College (MS or PhD) can attend meetings held by the elected graduate student representatives.  These meetings are for the students to discuss concerns related to the graduate college, including the curriculum, insurance, academic matters, fund raising, degree requirements, professional development opportunities, as well as community engagement.  All issues raised at these meetings will be brought to the attention of the Graduate College Council. Also, the GCSC coordinates awards given to the faculty by the graduate students (Mentor of the Year and Excellence in Teaching Award). All students are encouraged to participate to ensure your input is communicated. Students serving on the council are provided the opportunity to take an active role in college governance; serving as liaisons that interact between the student body, the Graduate College, and the University. 

Also, as part of a community of science professionals, the Graduate College Student Council should partake in university or community outreach programs such as fund-raisers, elementary school science demonstrations, and philanthropic work deemed appropriate by the members of the council that year. In more recent years, the GCSC have instituted the Emerald Event, their largest fund-raiser for the students of the Graduate College to attend scientific conferences and present their research.  Since its beginning, the GCSC has raised money to pay for well over 50 travel awards. The GCSC has also helped in various charitable endeavors which raise money for research; as well as university-sponsored fund-raisers including golf-outings, wine and cheese art auctions, and smaller projects throughout the year. The GCSC also organizes several social outings from BBQs to whirly ball competitions, to intra-departmental sporting competitions.



Doctor of Philosophy in Integrated Biomedical Sciences Program

To facilitate its educational mission, the laboratory-based research PhD and MS programs, called the integrated biomedical research programs, are organized into five tracks corresponding to interdisciplinary areas of research excellence at Rush that are also highly aligned with areas of clinical strength. This alignment forms a fertile nexus for sustained, innovative translational collaboration. The tracks typically involve fluid interactions of relevant scientists, clinicians and other professionals working in flexible team structures. This new organizational approach builds on the strong legacy of the Graduate College but is re-designed to create a more stimulating learning environment for the students. This entails moving from the traditional discipline-focused curriculum to a more integrated, systems biology approach embracing multi-disciplinary team-based science required for greater success in addressing existing complex biomedical challenges. The learning environment in the new program format will enhance the student to student interaction as they are immersed into the Rush research environment. All students participate in a shared integrated curriculum and then select to conduct their doctoral or thesis research in one of five inter-disciplinary tracks that related to areas of excellence in clinical care as well as funded research at Rush. At the same time, we have broaden the array of faculty representing a wider range of disciplines from basic to clinical to community working together to address critical biomedical problems in the five track areas.

The five educational/ research tracks of the College are as follows:

  • Cardiovascular & respiratory biology
  • Function and disorders of the musculoskeletal system
  • Function and disorders of the nervous system
  • Infection, immunity & inflammation research
  • Translational cancer research


The primary goal of each track is to provide excellent graduate education in the sciences basic to medicine. The tracks of the College are flexible and responsive to the changing needs and experiences in their disciplines. This approach is highly aligned with our shared vision: The Rush learning community will be the leading health sciences university committed to transforming health care through innovative research and education.

The educational process for the first year integrated curriculum is coordinated by an Associate program director who works to ensure that the integrated first year curriculum is delivered in a fashion that supports student mastery in approaching complex biomedical problem solving. The overall Program Director is responsible for the learning environment for the remainder of the dissertation years and is charged with achieving full programmatic integration including learning assessment as well as timely student progression. Each track leader interacts with the other track leaders and the integrated biomedical sciences Directors through the educational committee to ensure smooth functioning of this program.

Doctor of Philosophy in Nursing Science Program

The PhD in Nursing Science program prepares you to be a clinical researcher who advances the nursing care of individuals and communities through scientific discovery.


This program will help you do the following:

  • Integrate knowledge from biological, behavioral and clinical sciences
  • Perform clinical research that contributes to the scientific basis of care provided to individuals across the lifespan and in any setting where care is provided
  • Gain the leadership skills necessary to serve as a senior academician and influence health care systems and policy
  • Develop and submit manuscripts for publication throughout the program


A three-year accelerated plan of study is available to qualified students.  Accelerated students are given full tuition support and a stipend. 

One of the full tuition scholarships is funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Future of Nursing Scholars Program.  The RWJ program offers unparalleled development, leadership, and networking opportunities through sponsored institutes and workshops.

Learn about additional scholarships and research support for PhD students

This program is delivered by the College of Nursing faculty in conjunction with the Graduate College. The full description of the doctorate is provided at https://www.rushu.rush.edu/college-nursing/programs-admissions/nursing-science-phd


Doctor of Philosophy in Health Sciences Program

The program of study for the Doctor of Philosophy degree involves a rigorous curriculum that emphasizes fundamentals and advanced concepts in leadership, education, research and professional development.  The guiding principal of the curricular design is three-fold and presented in a continuum of foundations (theory), application (real world problem resolution), and vision (synthesis and creative/critical forward thinking regarding the future trajectory of health care). First, an epistemological framework is established associated with leadership, education and research.  The curriculum then challenges the learners to address real world applications through focused seminar courses and learner-centered projects.  The curriculum culminates with challenging the learner’s axiological considerations through research, demonstration projects, dissertation focus, ownership of learning, and philosophical challenges to the status quo.

Transition to doctoral candidate occurs upon successfully completing all core courses, passing a comprehensive qualifying examination, and approval of dissertation proposal.  Doctoral candidates conduct research and publish under the guidance and supervision of a research mentor.

Program Objectives

To produce scholars who will:

  1. Generate new knowledge and innovative applications through research.
  2. Disseminate knowledge through education and publications.
  3. Shape the future of health sciences through leadership and cooperation.
  4. Produce scholars who will uphold the highest ideals of health sciences.

This program is delivered by the College of Health Sciences faculty in conjunction with the Graduate College. The full description of the doctorate is provided at https://www.rushu.rush.edu/college-health-sciences/academic-programs/doctor-philosophy-health-sciences 


Integrated Biomedical Sciences Master’s Program

The Master of Science Program is a two-year program that is designed to educate science professionals to have productive careers in research and academic positions, as well as for career advancement opportunities within their specialized fields. Graduates of this program will go on to perform high quality, impactful biomedical research at colleges and universities, government agencies, hospitals, non-profit agencies and industry. Students in the program will work with faculty and scientists to generate new knowledge in the fields of biomedicine through the application of sophisticated research methods. This degree is intended to offer students an intermediate step in a career path, provide research experience to supplement their primary professional path or provide supplementary training for other reasons.

The program consists of:

 1) A core curriculum that builds knowledge and skills in research theories and methodology, data analysis and statistics, laboratory applications and skills, and the molecular and cellular sciences basic to health and disease.

2) Research project and dissertation. Students select their research area and advisor from five tracks that include: Translational Cancer Research; Cardiovascular and Respiratory Biology; Immunity, Infection & Inflammation Research; Function & Disorders of the Musculoskeletal System; and Function & Disorders of the Nervous System. Thesis research hours are consistent across all of the tracks within the Integrated Biomedical Sciences MS program and encompass laboratory research time required for completion of the thesis including: analyzing published data, developing a research proposal, learning and applying advanced methodologies and statistical data analyses, developing skills to write a project proposal, practicing presentation skills to disseminate own research findings, and developing, writing, presenting and defending a thesis project.

The primary goal of each track is to provide excellent graduate education in the sciences basic to medicine. The tracks of the College are flexible and responsive to the changing needs and experiences in their disciplines. This approach is highly aligned with our shared vision: The Rush learning community will be the leading health sciences university committed to transforming health care through innovative research and education.

The educational process for the first year integrated curriculum is coordinated by a Program Director who works to ensure that the integrated first year curriculum is delivered in a fashion that supports student mastery in approaching complex biomedical problem solving. The overall Program Director is responsible for the learning environment for the remainder of the dissertation years and is charged with achieving full programmatic integration including learning assessment as well as timely student progression. Each track leader interacts with the other track leaders and the integrated biomedical sciences Directors through the educational committee to ensure smooth functioning of this program.

Master of Science in Biotechnology Program

The Graduate College offers a nine-month, non-thesis academic, research and laboratory master’s level training program designed to prepare the student for a research career in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries or the university laboratory. This program is also an excellent preparation for further training in graduate school or professional doctoral programs.

The student will take The Graduate College’s Core Curriculum series of didactic courses covering principles of molecular biology and genetics, cellular biochemistry, cell biology, tissue biology and system physiology and pharmacology. Additional courses designed specifically to prepare students for a career in the laboratory and research, including Experimental Design and Models in Disease, Tools for Research, Biostatistics, Research Ethics, Scientific Writing, Communication and Management, are also required. Finally, students will participate in hands-on laboratory courses designed to cover the common and most important techniques and methods employed in research today. The student will also participate in the IPE 502 university course, which will expose students to interprofessional teamwork on healthcare settings. The course will appear on the stuent’s transcript.. The laboratory and research experiences will ensure proficiency in a wide variety of techniques, making the student highly competitive for employment in this ever-expanding and understaffed job market. This program also gives an excellent expansion in basic sciences and its applications in translational research, thus serve well those students who wish to further their studies in professional schools (medical, dental, pharmacy, and other health sciences) or join a PhD program.

Master of Science in Clinical Research Program

The Masters of Science program is designed to provide physicians and other health care professionals the tools necessary to undertake and evaluate clinical research. This program is part of the Graduate College. The two-year thesis-requiring program involves two semesters of didactic lectures in the late afternoon followed by a three semesters of mentored clinical research experience. Both years are designed to provide the necessary skills needed to perform clinical research in the 21st century. The coursework covers experimental design and historically important clinical trials, as well as clinical research with a faculty member.


The Graduate College: Admission Requirements

The faculty of The Graduate College encourages diversity among the student population and therefore seeks to admit persons from various backgrounds. The Graduate College uses the following guidelines to evaluate candidates for admission. Individual programs within the college may have additional requirements and criteria for admission. Applicants are encouraged to first check with the program of interest. The College’s requirements are listed below. 

Deadline for applications: Priority deadline for Doctor of Philosophy programs is January 1; final deadline is March 1.  Priority deadline for Master of Science is March 30; final deadline is May 1.  Final deadline for clinical research is July 30th; final deadline for Rush and Stroger affiliates is July 30th. (International students and some programs will have earlier deadlines.  Please check with the individual program director early in the application process.)

Applications to the Graduate College are reviewed considering all parts of the application when determining admission. The following documents must be completed and submitted to be considered for admission: (minimum requirements listed under each point below) with each program defining requirements to enhance success in addressing the mission of Rush:

  1. Online application submitted by the deadline.
  2. Statement of Purpose that includes, in a maximum of 500 words, a statement about the applicant’s research interests as they pertain to graduate school in the biomedical sciences. Applicants should include past undergraduate studies, research experience and activities that have influenced their specific areas of interest. Previous research experience is strongly preferred for admission into the PhD program.
  3. Curriculum Vitae or Resume
  4. Three letters of recommendation (a minimum of two should come from academic sources).  Letter must be on an official letterhead and submitted by the recommender.
  5. GRE scores, or scores of an equivalent test (e.g., MCAT, DAT, PCAT, or USMLE Scores).  Applicants must perform at least at the 50th percentile on these standardized examinations.  GRE will be waived for applicants with a PhD degree in the Basic Sciences and may be waived for applicants with or a professional degree in the Health Sciences (e.g., MD, DO, DDS, PHARM D) or with significant relevant work experience..
  6. Applicants with an international medical degree must submit USMLE Step 1 and Step 2 scores with a minimum performance at the 50th percentile.
  7. Official Transcripts from all institutions attended.
    • Applicants must hold a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Students with an international degree must submit official transcripts along with a course by course evaluation from ECE, which confirms the equivalence of at least a U.S. Bachelor’s degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
    • Completion of the following courses with a “B” grade or better is preferred: two semesters of biology with laboratory, two semesters of chemistry with laboratory, biochemistry or cell biology with laboratory, calculus, and college physics.
  8. TOEFL scores must be submitted for all non-native English speakers.
    • The minimum TOEFL score required for admission is an 80.
    • TOEFL scores will be waived for non-native English speakers who have completed a Bachelor’s degree or higher from a U.S. accredited institution or with work experience in the U. S. demonstrating language proficiency.
    • USMLE Step 2 may be substituted for the TOEFL
  9. Completion of an interview with Graduate College Faculty is required for the competitive Integrated Biomedical Sciences and the Biotechnology candidates. All competitive PhD applicants will be asked to interview over the phone, in person, or via Skype.

Acceptance of transfer credit: Petition for transfer of graduate credit is consistent with University Policy. Graduate level transfer credit is subject to the approval of the faculty advisor, program director or designated college administrator based on an evaluation of quality and equivalence. For graduate level programs, no more than one-third of the total number of required credits that contributed to the one’s GPA may be granted to a student as transfer credit for work done at another graduate institution.

The Graduate College: Shared Curriculum

The Graduate College Shared Curriculum is designed to enhance interaction among students from all the programs while at the same time provide the basic knowledge base the faculty have deemed necessary to become successful in science. The Graduate College curriculum runs for two consecutive semesters (fall and spring) and provides introductory training in molecular genetics, genomics cellular biochemistry, cell biology, tissue biology and cell signaling, as well as provides a comprehensive and systematic overview of physiology and pharmacology. Students will also learn basic theories underlying modern scientific technique. In addition, the student will take courses in ethics, scientific writing and basic statistics. These courses will be supplemented by specialized, advanced courses offered by the individual programs.

The following courses comprise The Graduate College-shared (GCC) curriculum:       


  • GCC - 501 Molecular Biology: Genome to Proteome  
  • GCC - 502 Cellular Biochemistry: Proteins, Transport and Signaling  
  • GCC - 503 Functional Cell Biology  
  • GCC - 504 Functional Tissue Biology  
  • GCC - 505 Techniques in Biomedical Sciences  
  • GCC - 506 Research Ethics  
  • GCC - 507 Biomedical Statistics  
  • GCC - 508 Scientific Writing  
  • GCC - 510 Introduction to Pharmacology  
  • GCC - 511 Readings in Molecular Biology  
  • GCC - 512/513 Readings in Cellular Biochemistry and Functional Cell Biology  
  • GCC - 514 Readings in Functional Tissue Biology  
  • GCC - 544 Advances Statistics 
  • GCC - 546 Principles of Biostatistics I  
  • GCC - 547 Principles of Biostatistics II  
  • GCC - 551 Ethics in Biomedical Research and the IRB  
  • GCC - 593 Introduction to Grantsmanship  
  • GCC - 711 Advanced Readings in Molecular Biology  
  • GCC - 712/713 Advanced Readings in Cellular Biochemistry and Functional Cell Biology  
  • GCC - 714 Advanced Readings in Functional Tissue Biology  

In addition to these requirements, full-time PhD candidates in The Graduate College must attend a minimum of four ethics seminars per year following their first year of classes. Failure to attend the required number of lectures or equivalent will delay graduation.

The Graduate College: MS and PhD Degrees

The Graduate College prepares students for the Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. The Doctor of Philosophy is awarded in recognition of high achievement in a particular field of scientific research as evidenced by submission of a dissertation that demonstrates the power of independent investigation and contributes to the body of existing knowledge. An undergraduate record of scholastic excellence is an important background for The Graduate College experience. The Graduate College also provides excellent research and training opportunities for advanced medical students who want to take time out of their medical school studies to enroll in The Graduate College in an MS or PhD program. The process of application review includes a search for evidence of creativity and scholarly potential in the applicant. Non-degree students are not admitted with advanced degree objectives and are ineligible to become candidates for advanced degrees. Upon approval by a course director and appropriate registration, any individual may audit a course. In all cases, a student considering application for admission should first establish contact with the director of his or her choice of program to determine program requirements. The student must meet all of the requirements for progress and graduation in the graduate studies program. In this regard, individualized studies will be programmed to meet the student’s need in achieving essential knowledge in preparation for these requirements.

Doctor of Philosophy

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is the highest degree conferred by Rush University. The PhD is restricted to those scholars who have demonstrated superior ability in a recognized academic discipline. While each program has identified requirements, the PhD degree is not awarded following the completion of any specific number of formal courses nor on the basis of miscellaneous course studies and research. The entire PhD program must be integrated and highly research oriented. It should culminate in a work of literary and scholarly merit, which is indicative of the candidate’s ability to conduct original research in a recognized specialty (generally in the form of a first-author manuscript). PhD programs are directed by selected faculty members who work closely with graduate students. In practice, each program is composed of formal courses, guided individual study in a chosen field or discipline; study in such cognate subjects as may be required by the candidate’s advisory committee and original research that serves as the basis of a required scholarly dissertation.

Admission to Candidacy

Admission to candidacy is evidence that the doctoral student has successfully completed all preliminary coursework and is prepared to move into his or her intensive research experience. Depending upon the program’s requirements, these exams will test accumulated knowledge, scientific reasoning and the ability to develop hypotheses and test them with appropriate designs. Admission to candidacy is a demonstration of confidence that the student will successfully accomplish the remaining requirements of the program. Students failing to achieve admission to candidacy, but have otherwise completed all other pre- requisites, will be granted a terminal master’s degree.


A doctoral student must complete a dissertation. This document is developed through faculty-guided independent research projects. Review of the dissertation will follow the sequence of steps described in the manual, “Preparation of Theses and Doctoral Dissertations.” Copies of this manual are available in each graduate program and in the Library of Rush University Medical Center. The dissertation must be original and cannot have been used to meet the requirement of any other degree, either at Rush University or any other university.

Each student will have a Dissertation Committee whose role it is to assure that the student’s dissertation is of high quality and meets the standards of the program, the College for originality, contribution to the field and scholarly presentation. The Committee is also to assure that the student is making satisfactory progress toward completion of the degree. The dissertation committee is chosen by the student in conjunction with the student’s primary advisor and should consist of at least five total members. The primary advisor must be a member of the Graduate College. At least one member of the committee should be from outside of the program or track, and preferably from outside of the institution. Once the committee convenes, it will choose a chairperson who cannot be the student’s primary advisor. The chairperson will oversee the scheduling and activities of the committee.

At or near the completion of the dissertation, each student will share, by means of a public presentation with the academic community at large, the knowledge that the student has developed. Students are responsible for posting announcements (at least two weeks prior to the presentation) on institutional bulletin boards and e-mailing all faculty and students of the Graduate College the title of the dissertation, the student’s name, and the location, date and time of the public presentation. This public presentation must precede the final approval of the dissertation by the Dissertation Committee.

Upon completion of the public presentation, the student will meet with the dissertation committee to review the presentation, the dissertation document and the student’s preparedness to enter the scientific community. A majority of members of the committee must sign the dissertation certifying the completion of all requirements for the doctor of philosophy degree.

Master of Science

The Master of Science degree is offered in many programs. This degree is designed to offer students an intermediate step in a career path, provide research experience to supplement their primary professional path or provide supplementary training for other reasons. The College offers two types of MS degrees: 1) the research MS in basic sciences or clinical research are a thesis-requiring programs that traditionally takes two years to complete; and 2) a non-thesis MS that is a consequence of the successful completion of a series of classes and laboratory skills (i.e., the MS in biotechnology).


The research MS degree requires the successful completion of course work and publication of a scientific thesis that reflects the research experience of the student. This thesis should reflect original work, which can be published in a peer-reviewed journal.  The student, together with the advisor, will form a thesis committee comprised of thee members: the advisor (who must be a member of The Graduate College) and two additional members. The advisor will work with the student to develop a research project that can be completed within the framework of the program. The committee members will assure the quality of the work and of the thesis document. Upon completion of the thesis, the student will present the findings in a public forum open to the University. The members of the committee that includes the student’s advisor must sign off on the thesis, certifying the completion of all requirements for the MS degree.

The Graduate College: Academic Policies

The Graduate College adopts college-wide policies and procedures and reviews program-specific regulations. Students follow the college and program-specific policies in effect at the time of initial matriculation in The Graduate College. However, The Graduate College reserves the right to make substantive changes in its programs after the student’s matriculation. Students will be informed in writing by the program director of any changes made during their tenure in the program. Students re-entering the college after an absence will be guided by policies and procedures in effect at the time of re-entry.

Examination Policy

Re-enforcing the examination policy of the college is the responsibility of the individual course director, who will inform students and the proctors about the examination requirements for that particular course. A period at the end of the semester is provided for examinations; however, any form of assessment can be conducted at any week of the semester.  This information will be included in the course schedule and syllabus.

Pass/No Pass Grades

Each program identifies all courses required of its students. Required courses are usually taken for letter grade and not under the pass/no pass (P/N) option. Research hours are generally graded using the P/N option. However, a program may opt to provide a letter grade for research classes. The grading policy for post-candidacy research hours (over 600) for doctoral students is graded as P/N.

Good Academic Standing

To remain in good academic standing, students must maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 and meet the requirements of their program. A student must be in good academic standing to be admitted to candidacy and to graduate. Students failing to maintain a GPA of 3.0 will be notified by the Dean in writing that their student status has been changed to “on probation.” Students who fail to remediate their deficiencies within one academic year or are placed on probationary status a third time, are subject to dismissal by The Graduate College.

Academic Difficulty

Each program has policies and procedures regarding students who fail to maintain good academic standing. While the responsibilities of informing students of their academic problems and of establishing conditions for regaining good academic standing reside within the program, The the Graduate College Council monitors the progress and promotion of all students and gives final approval to award students’ degrees.


Each program establishes grounds for dismissal beyond the minimal criteria established by The Graduate College. Should a program recommend the dismissal of a student, the director will forward such recommendation to The Graduate College Council for final action. Letters of dismissal come from the Dean. Appeal of a dismissal action begins within the appropriate program.

Full-time Enrollment

Full-time enrollment is required of all Graduate College students with the exception of the clinical research students and students within the PhD programs in nursing science and health sciences. Full-time students must register for at least nine semester hours for each term, except when advised differently.  Students must obtain written permission from the program director for exceptions to this policy. Students receiving a thesis-requiring master’s degree from The Graduate College as a full-time student must be enrolled for all terms between their matriculation and graduation.  The average length of this program is five semesters.  Part-time students earning a master’s degree must be enrolled a minimum of two semesters per academic year.   The accelerated, non-thesis master’s program’s length is two semesters.  The minimum requirement for graduation from the college is program specific. At the time of graduation, the student must be enrolled in the College. The maximum time allowed to graduate from a full-time thesis-requiring master’s degree program is four years starting the first semester of official enrollment and for the PhD degree is five years.


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) candidates are expected to meet all requirements for graduation within five enrolled academic years in The Graduate College (excluding leaves of absence [see below]). This period begins with the semester in which the student formally matriculates. A student exceeding that time limitation must submit to the graduate council, in writing, a request to extend their candidacy beyond that time period. This request must identify the reasons for the extension and provide a written plan with reasonable deadlines for completion. This document will be co-signed by the student’s advisor and program director. The council will then vote whether to accept the extension or not (passed by simple majority). The student’s advisor will then provide an update on the student’s progress after six months. One year after the extension is granted, the student is expected to complete all requirements. A second request may be made by the student’s advisor and program director, but will be accepted only through a two-thirds majority of the voting members present at a formal hearing of the Graduate College Council. Within one year of that second request, the student must complete all requirements for the PhD degree or face dismissal. Alternatively, the student may be awarded a MS degree upon the recommendation of the student’s graduate program.


Any student who has withdrawn from the University or any dismissed student may apply for readmission by submitting an application for this purpose to the Graduate College admission office. An interview may be required. A re-entering student must meet the conditions for re-enrollment stated in his or her dismissal or re-entry acceptance letter and all policies, requirements and course sequence in effect at the time of re-entry. The student will pay tuition and fees at the rates in effect at the time of re-enrollment. Application deadlines may vary by program.

Academic Progression

The graduate program, in concert with the rules of the college and Rush University, develops specific regulations governing the process that results in final awarding of the degree. While such regulations differ slightly from one program to another, The Graduate College Council reviews each program’s regulations for approval. In all cases, graduate programs are required to be explicit and clear about regulations that will affect the candidate. This must be stringently observed in program regulations concerning selection of principal advisors, advisory committees, and a plan of study. Similarly, programs will be explicit and clear concerning academic policies and procedures surrounding qualifying, preliminary and final examinations when they are required. The programs are also responsible for providing the candidate with the support needed to plan and conduct the dissertation research. At the same time, a major responsibility of the student is to become familiar with the regulations and expectations of his or her chosen program. These regulations and expectations are included in this catalog within the sections devoted to each program and are also included within program publications. The student is responsible for understanding the regulations, and monitoring changes that may occur during their tenure in the program.

Student Academic Appeals Policy

Any student of The Graduate College may appeal a final course grade, failure on a preliminary or comprehensive examination, or failure of the thesis or dissertation that results in his or her academic probation or dismissal from the University. A student may also appeal an unreasonable delay in his or her graduation from the University. No other issues may be appealed through this process.

The process for filing an appeal is maintained by each program. The student may request a copy of the program appeal process from the program director. This process will be completed within one semester. If a resolution cannot be achieved at the Division level, the following procedure must be followed. At any step in the process, the student may withdraw the appeal by written notification to the program director with a copy to the Dean. In the event of a dismissal decision, a student may continue to enroll until the appeal process is completed or the student withdraws the appeal.

Step 1: If the student wishes to appeal the decision beyond the program, within two weeks of receiving a decision from the program, the student will submit a written statement to the Dean requesting consideration of his or her case by an advisory panel. The student must provide the following in the written statement.

  • Course number and grade being appealed or other cause for probation or dismissal, i.e., failure of preliminary or comprehensive examination,  or thesis or dissertation
  • Action being requested
  • Justification for the request
  • An outline of the efforts and actions already taken to obtain consideration of the request

The student will send copies of this communication to the program director and the Dean’s office. In addition, if a course grade is being appealed, the student will send a copy to the course director. If the evaluation of a thesis or dissertation is being appealed, the student will send a copy to the chairperson of the thesis or dissertation committee. The advisory panel will be the Graduate College Council. Its chairperson will be appointed by the Dean from among the members. The program director of the student’s program and any other member who is evaluating the student’s academic status will not vote.

Step 2: Within two weeks after notification to the Dean, the Chairperson of the Advisory Panel will arrange a meeting of the Advisory Panel. It will submit a written recommendation to the Dean.

Step 3: Within two weeks following receipt of the advisory panel’s recommendation and upon discussion with the student and with others as appropriate, the Dean shall reach a final decision and notify each party of the decision. The decision reached by the Dean is final.

The issues discussed and the outcomes of all meetings in this appeal process are documented. This record-keeping is the responsibility of a faculty member who is to be designated at each meeting. Copies of the documentation should be distributed to the individuals present at a meeting, to the program director, the Dean and to the student’s academic file.

Academic Honesty and Student Conduct


The Graduate College and its programs follow the University policies on academic honesty and the University statement on student conduct.  Each student is expected to conduct himself or herself at all times in a professional manner - a manner which conforms to the ethics of the profession, and which instills confidence in one’s abilities as a working scientist.  Irresponsible,  or unethical behavior, as determined by the Graduate Honor Code Committee may results in dismissal from the program.


The College and its programs will not condone cheating in any form.  Allegations of cheating will be reviewed by the program director with the help of an ad hoc committee.  If merited, the report will be forwarded to the Graduate College Honor Code Committee.

Rush University Academic Policies

The Academic Resources and Policies section of this catalog contains additional Rush University academic policies.

This Rush University catalog also details the policies regarding inclusion of minorities and those with disabilities, as well as the policies and procedures for reporting harassment.  Students who may need special accommodations can access this information at https://www.rushu.rush.edu/students-disabilities. 


The Graduate College: Committees

The Graduate College Council

The Graduate College Council is the senior representative body of the college. Its membership includes all program directors, the directors of the Integrated Biomedical Sciences, Biotechnology and Clinical Research programs, the directors of the PhD in nursing science and PhD in health sciences programs (that run jointly with the College of Nursing and College of Health Sciences, respectively), as well as an elected faculty member from each of the programs serving for a term of two years, and three students from these programs (elected by the students annually).  Only the elected members and students are allowed to vote.  The Dean or his or her designee serves as the chair of the council. The council is responsible for setting policies for the admission of students; the formulation and adoption of general operating policies, standards and procedures of the college; the appointment of the Graduate College faculty; and the approval of those recommended for degrees.  Although the Dean and the council maintain significant oversight of programs  in the Graduate College, the programs also establish policies and procedures, consistent with the policies and procedures of the College and the University.  The Graduate College Council periodically reviews all program policies and procedures.