Integrated Biomedical Sciences: MS Program Progression
Year 1: Classes
The goal of course work in the first year is to expose students to the biomedical sciences in a logical progression and to provide the students with tools for approaching their future research experience. The reading courses provide a critical
understanding of the literature and existing base of knowledge. They will also show students how new knowledge in these areas can help us understand diseases and use this information to identify new therapeutics. This broad-based
approach to disease is the core of the integrated biomedical sciences program.
Year 1: Research Experience, Advisor and Research Track Selection
During the first year, students will typically have two lab rotations in different laboratories. Laboratory rotations will expose students to diverse research environments and allow them to assess how they fit in to a particular laboratory or
mentor situation. Students are expected to learn techniques and attend all scheduled experiments, lab meetings, mentor/student discussions, etc. Based on these rotations, students will submit the name of a potential advisor and their track choice to the Integrated Biomedical Sciences Education Committee. The committee, in consultation with the potential advisor, will approve advisor-student matches. Specific research projects will be determined by the thesis advisor after advisor-student discussions. If a student cannot choose a thesis advisor based on the first two laboratory rotations, a third rotation may be taken in the spring or summer. The selection of a research advisor and project will determine the student’s selection of a research track.
Year 2: Classes, Research Experience, Thesis Committee, Thesis Proposal and Thesis Presentation
Any classes will be dictated by the track cognates and electives available that academic year. Course selection should complement research activity and the student’s interests and should help prepare him or her for the career choice identified through the use of the individual development plan website and additional resources provided by the Graduate College. When the student is not in class or studying, the student should be working on his or her research project. The student’s assessment at this time relates to the following student outcomes:
The student is able to acquire research skills, collect and analyze data, and interpret results to address an original research question.
In addition, this step begins the continuing assessment of the following outcomes: A graduating student is capable of independent critical thinking and writing, as well as proposing, performing and effectively presenting his or her research.
The graduate is able to work collaboratively with other scientists, physicians and health care professionals to give and obtain feedback concerning the approach to research problems, data analysis and implications of research.
The student creates an individual development plan (IDP) to better define his or her areas of interest, including teaching, administration, and research in industrial or academic environments or further professional education. Upon graduation, the graduate will have used the IDP, mentorship and training opportunities to refine his or her career path.
In consultation with an advisor, the student chooses a thesis committee consisting of the advisor, and two additional Graduate College faculty members. Committee members should be familiar with either the research area or crucial technical aspects of the student’s project. Each student will write a succinct research project proposal which will be presented to the committee for approval. The proposal serves to keep the student focused on achieving project aims and allows the committee to track student progress based on the stated aims. Students should view the committee members as a resource for didactic and technical assistance.
The student is expected to write a thesis and present his or her research to the Rush research community (thesis presentation). The thesis committee will then meet with the student to address any questions or issues related to the data or format of the thesis document. The student may be asked to make revisions before final committee approval.
Minimal Credit Hours Required for the Integrated Biomedical Sciences MS Degree
The program is designed to be completed in five consecutive semesters and requires completion of at least 37 semester hours. These hours include 20 credit hours of core courses, seven credit hours of track-specific cognates, four credit hours of elective courses, and six hours of thesis research credit.
The core curriculum focuses on developing 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. In addition, students will work with faculty advisors to select one area from five available tracks: translational cancer research; cardiovascular and respiratory biology; immunity, infection and inflammation; function and disorders of the musculoskeletal system; and function and disorders of the nervous system. Students will each have a research project, write a thesis and give a thesis presentation at project completion.
The core curriculum, which is common to all students, 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. These courses will provide systematic exposure to the contemporary process of scientific discovery and will serve as the basis for the remainder of the curriculum.
Students will be required, in conjunction with their advisors, to select seven credit hours of courses from concentration-focused
cognates in their chosen tracks and a minimum of four elective credits from the Graduate College courses offered. Finally, students will be required to accrue a minimum of six credit hours of thesis research. Master’s students will be encouraged
to participate in track-specific advanced topic seminars in the second year.
Academic Advisor/Principal Advisor
The program’s assistant director functions as the academic advisor to the students during the first year of matriculation in the program. After two rotations, the student will identify the track that he or she wishes to enter and will begin working in the laboratory of his or her research advisor. At this time, both the track director and research advisor will serve as mentors for the student.
Research Advisor Selection
During the first year, the student, in consultation with the assistant program director and track directors in areas related to the student’s interests, will select two laboratories for research rotations. Based on these rotations, the student will identify the track that he or she is interested in and submit the name of a potential advisor to the IBS education committee. The committee will match students with advisors.
Master’s Thesis Research Committee
After the student selects a research advisor and begins to collect preliminary data, the student and advisor will select a research committee in consultation with the track director. This committee will advise the student and evaluate his or her proposal and thesis documents. The thesis committee will consist of the advisor and two additional Graduate College faculty members. Committee members should be familiar with either the research area or crucial technical aspects of the student’s project. Committee members are intended to be a resource for the student and their advisor to enhance didactic and technical knowledge towards the completion of the student’s project. The track director (or designated representative) will serve as an ex-officio non-signing member of the thesis committee to oversee the procedural aspects of the committee meetings and student progression through the program. The thesis committee will strive for consensus in all its actions; however, a majority vote of the committee’s membership is sufficient for all activities except the final approval of the thesis, in which case only one member may disagree with the final decision.
Each student will write a succinct research project proposal to be presented to the committee for approval. The proposal serves to keep the student focused on achieving project aims and allows the committee to track student progress based on the stated aims. Proposals should contain the following elements:
A background section with relevant literature citations in the specific research area
The specific aim or aims (appropriately limited in scope)
The experimental design and methods to be utilized
Any preliminary data collected
The target date for proposal presentations is within the first 45 days of the fall semester of year two; it is also acceptable for the proposal presentation to be held in the summer term between years one and two. The thesis committee evaluates the feasibility and scope of the project and recommends alterations as needed to ensure adequate student progress through the program in a timely fashion. Students must maintain a B average in the first year. If they drop below a B average, they should discuss the possibility of remediation with the director of the course causing difficulty. The course director may issue an incomplete grade for a limited time in accordance with university policy while agreed-upon remediation takes place. However, once a failing grade (No Pass or letter grade less than B) has been given, the education committee must approve a remediation plan. Until a grade is remedied or the average is improved in some other way, the student is on probation. A student who remains on probation for two semesters will be dismissed.
Students who have entered a track must receive at least a B grade in any courses deemed required by their track director. Failure to remediate a grade of less than B in a required course or a no-pass grade in a pass/no-pass course or the receipt of another such grade while on probation will result in dismissal.