Courses | MS in Physiology

Students are required to complete 30 credits of coursework, including 20 credits of required courses and 10 credits of elective courses. Students can select from a variety of electives across the biomedical departments to tailor the program to their interests.


đź—ą 6 Required Courses (20 credits)

đź—ą 3-4 Electives (10 credits)

Required Courses

5 credits | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Lewis J. Watson

This course provides an overview of the functioning of human body systems, taught by a team of expert Medical Center faculty. Presentations will include cellular and molecular concepts but the emphasis will be on the integrated regulation among systems.

3 credits | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Anca Dragomir

Designed for students pursuing graduate degrees outside of Biostatistics, this course provides the foundational knowledge to become informed readers of scientific research and methodologies, a key skill for the literature review paper in the spring semester. Students first learn the four pillars of exploring and displaying data appropriately, exploring relationships between two variables, issues of gathering sample data, and understanding randomness and probability. On these pillars, students then can develop the platform for statistical inference including proportions and means, multiple regression, and ANOVA.

4 credits | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Thomas Sherman

This course covers the principles of biochemistry. The first section examines protein structure/function and enzymology; the middle section focuses on cell signaling, and the final section integrates it all in the context of metabolism. Current concepts regarding physiological processes at the cellular and molecular levels are investigated. This course meets twice a week for two hours and has three exams. The primary textbook is Lehninger Principles of Biochemistry.

3 credits | Spring Semester
Course Director: Dr. Jennifer Whitney

This graduate course will cover the fundamental mechanisms and the pathophysiologic basis of major human diseases. This course will complement the basic physiological principles covered in the fall semester’s Fundamentals of Physiology and also feature a forensic component. It is a lecture-based course.

Students can substitute this course with the PBIO 603: Graduate Pathophysiology (3 credits) in summer.

3 credits | Spring & Summer Semester
Course Director: Dr. Sarah Knight Marvar

This course is an introductory neuroscience course that emphasizes the study of the human nervous system as it applies to clinical medicine. Topics include cellular electrophysiology, anatomy of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nervous system, the structure and function of sensory and motor systems, sleep and cognitive topics such as learning, memory and emotion. Information given in lectures is reinforced using case studies, discussions and clinical correlates.

1 credit | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Lewis J. Watson

Designed specifically for pre-medical graduate students, this course consists of study skills workshops, interviewing skills workshops, presentations from admissions officers of various medical schools including military medicine, primary care medicine, and osteopathic medicine, as well as presentations on career pathways for specialty and subspecialty medical training. Evaluation of students will be based on attendance and homework assignments.

This course is offered jointly to students in the MS in Physiology and SMP programs. Students applying to or planning to apply to medical school are required to take PBIO 602 as an elective in the fall semester.

2 credits | Fall, Spring, or Summer Semester
Course Director: Dr. Lewis J. Watson

Under the guidance of a faculty mentor, students will write a critical review paper on a topic of their interest within physiology, involving thorough research of the current scientific publications in that field.

Elective Courses

Students in the MS in Physiology program must complete 10 credits of elective coursework.  We require pre-med students to take PBIO 602 Biomedical Career Pathways as one of their elective credits in the fall semester. 

  • Students are welcome to take courses not on the pre-approved list by seeking approval from the Program Director (and in some cases additional approval from the course’s instructor or department are required) to count a course toward the degree before registering for that course; you can search the Schedule of Classes to see what is offered each semester. 
    • To gain approval, current students should email the course description to the program director.
    • Some courses may also require approval from the instructor or from the department to which it belongs (ie, Physiology students may not have registration priority for courses in other departments). 
    • Even if the program director approves a course as an elective to count toward your MS in Physiology degree, your ability to enroll in the course is at the discretion of the course instructor and the department/program to which the course belongs.
  • Note: Electives may not be offered every semester or could be offered in different semesters than those listed below. Check Schedule of Classes (new window) (Main Campus) for current and future semester course offerings; current students can also view the schedule on MyAccess. Also note: certain courses listed in the schedule may be cancelled due to low registration. 


Note: Each elective below is offered at the instructor’s discretion and could be offered in a different semester

  • PBIO602  Biomedical Career Pathways (1cr) (required as elective credit for all pre-med students)
  • PHAR584  Introduction to Pharmacology (1cr)
  • CLTR501  Introduction to Biostatistics in Clinical Research (3cr)
  • MICB606  Public Policy for Scientists (3cr) (Permission of Instructor & MICB dept required)
  • NSCI425  Topics in Neuroscience: Diseases, Research & Treatment (3cr) (Taught by PhD students)
  • NSCI521  Functional MRI: Theory & Practice (3cr)
  • TBIO523  Cancer Epigenetics (3cr)
  • TBIO525  Cancer Genetics * (3cr)
  • INNS520  Translational Neuroscience * (2cr) (Permission of Instructor required)

This course has historically had a direct time conflict with our core courses in the fall and therefore is only available to our part-time students.


Note: Each elective below is offered at the instructor’s discretion and could be offered in a different semester than where it is listed below.

  • PBIO529  Human Nutrition and Health (2cr)
  • PBIO906  Research in Physiology (2-4cr) (students must be approved by the program director)
  • PHAR592  Introduction to Toxicology (1cr)
  • PHAR604  Medicinal Plants and Pharmacognosy (3cr)
  • PHAR605  Advanced Topics in Nutrition (3cr)
  • NSCI558  Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration (3cr, permission of instructor requiredmust have strong background in Neuroscience)
  • CLTR506  Study and Clinical Trial Design (2cr)
  • CLTR507  Epidemiologic Methods (3cr)
  • CLTR700  Aspects of Drug Development (3cr) (permission of CLTR department required)
  • BCHB515  Intro to Bioinformatics (1cr)
  • BCHB522  Drug Targets/Drug Design (2cr)
  • MICB705  Science Diplomacy and World Health (2cr)
  • TBIO536  Cancer Pharmacology (4cr)


  • PBIO529  Human Nutrition & Health
  • PBIO550 Evolutionary Medicine

Class Sizes

Below you’ll find the number of registered students in each of the core courses for 2021, as well as class sizes for electives taken by our current MS in Physiology students.

For elective courses that are not on the pre-approved list above, individual permission is required from the program director. Previous permission for a student to take a certain elective course does not guarantee future permission for a future student to take that same elective course.

* Not a pre-approved elective; requires permission from program director and may additionally require permission of instructor.
Fall 2021 Course NameClass Size
PBIO501: Fundamentals of Human Physiology54
PBIO504: Intro to Biostatistics30
PBIO534: Cellular & Molecular Physiology43
[Elective] PBIO602: Biomedical Career Pathways (1cr)143
[Elective] MICB606: Public Policy for Scientists (3cr)7
[Elective] MICB612: Immunology* (3cr)14
[Elective] NSCI425: Topics in Neuroscience (3cr)8
[Elective] MICB549: Infectious Diseases & Conflict* (2cr)23
[Elective] PHAR584: Intro to Pharmacology (1cr)30
[Elective] GLID501: Perspectives in Infectious Diseases* (3cr)13
[Elective] TBIO523: Cancer Genetics (3cr)17
[Elective] EPID507: Intro to Social/Behavioral Health & Health Disparities Research* (3cr)14
[Elective] NSCI521: Functional MRI: Theory & Practice (3cr)10

* Not a pre-approved elective; requires permission from program director and may additionally require permission of instructor.
Spring 2021 Course NameClass Size
PBIO568: Advanced Pathophysiology67
PBIO569: Intro to Neurophysiology40
[Elective] PBIO529/PHAR605 Nutrition (2/3cr)45
[Elective] PHAR592  Introduction to Toxicology (1cr)10
[Elective] HESY460 Healthcare Management Consulting* (3cr)18
[Elective] BCHB522  Drug Targets/Drug Design (2cr)35
[Elective] BCHB540 Molecular Basis of Carcinogenesis* (3cr)15
[Elective] CLTR506 Study and Clinical Trial Design (2cr)11
[Elective] CLTR507 Epidemiological Methods (3cr)9
[Elective] GLID502 Perspectives in Infectious Disease* (3cr)7
[Elective] GLOH640 Reproductive & Maternal Health* (3cr)12
[Elective] GLOH650  Combatting Non-Communicative Diseases* (3cr)14
[Elective] GLOH708 Access to Pharmaceuticals* (3cr)15
[Elective] MICB562 Shaping National Science Policy* (3cr)13
[Elective] MICB660 Concepts of Immunotherapy* (3cr)20
[Elective] MICB705 Science Diplomacy & World Health (2cr)19
[Elective] MICB803 Biosafety, Biosecurity, & Biodefense* (2cr)8
[Elective] NSCI558 Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration* (3cr)22