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 the recommended electives are listed below to tailor the program to fit their interest. Students can take electives not on the list below with the Program Director and Course Instructor approval. Email the Program Director with the course description for approval.


   6 Required Courses (20 credits)

   3-4 Electives (10 credits)*

*Students applying to or planning to apply to medical school are required to take PBIO 602 as an elective.

Required Courses

5 credits | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Jennifer Whitney

This course is designed to provide students enrolled in graduate programs in biomedical sciences with a basic overview of the function of human body systems. The presentations will include cellular and molecular concepts but the emphasis will be on the integrated regulation among systems. The method of instruction will be mostly lecture.

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

This course is designed for introductory biostatistical theory and application for students pursuing a master’s degree in fields outside of the Department of Biostatistics, Bioinformatics, and Biomathematics. 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 BCHB-561, PBIO-562, PBIO-563, PBIO-564 and BCHC-565, as well as PBIO-501 (Fundamentals of Human 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. Ryan Downey

This graduate 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, brain & spinal cord anatomy, peripheral nervous system anatomy, the structure and function of sensory and motor systems, sleep, and cognitive topics such as learning and memory, stress, and reward. Information given in lectures is reinforced using problem-solving workshops and clinical correlates. This course is a requirement for the MS in Physiology program.

1 credit | Fall Semester
Course Director: Dr. Ryan Downey

This course consists of study skills workshops, interviewing skills workshops, presentations on military medicine, primary care medicine, osteopathic medicine, and complementary and alternative 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.

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. Ryan Downey

Students will perform a thorough literature search and prepare a state-of-the-art, critical review paper on a topic of current interest in physiology, under the tutelage of a faculty member.

Elective Courses

Fall Electives | Spring Electives | Summer Elective

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. 

  • All of the elective courses listed below (categorized by the semester in which they are typically taught) are pre-approved by the Program Director to count toward the MS in Physiology degree. Some may additionally require instructor approval to register.
  • Students are welcome to take courses not on the pre-approved list by seeking approval from the Program Director 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. 


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.

  • PBIO602  Biomedical Career Pathways (required as elective credit for all pre-med students)
  • PHAR584  Introduction to Pharmacology
  • PHAR604  Medicinal Plants and Pharmacognosy
  • CLTR501  Introduction to Biostatistics in Clinical Research
  • MICB606  Public Policy for Scientists (Permission of MICB dept required)
  • NSCI425  Topics in Neuroscience: Diseases, Research & Treatment (Taught by PhD students)
  • NSCI521  Functional MRI: Theory & Practice
  • TBIO508  Cellular and Molecular aspects of the Transformed Cell (Permission of Instructor & TBIO dept required)
  • TBIO523  Cancer Epigenetics
  • TBIO525  Cancer Genetics *
  • INNS520  Translational Neuroscience * (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)
  • PBIO699  Learning Design & Science Education
  • PBIO906  Research in Physiology (students must be approved by the program director)
  • PHAR510  Neuropsychopharmacology (permission of instructor required; not offered every year)
  • PHAR592  Introduction to Toxicology (1cr)
  • PHAR605  Advanced Topics in Nutrition (3cr)
  • NSCI558  Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration (3cr, permission of instructor required, must have strong background in Neuroscience)
  • CLTR506  Study and Clinical Trial Design
  • CLTR507  Epidemiologic Methods
  • CLTR700  Aspects of Drug Development (permission of department required)
  • BCHB515  Intro to Bioinformatics
  • BCHB522  Drug Targets/Drug Design
  • MICB705  Science Diplomacy and World Health
  • TBIO536  Cancer Pharmacology
  • TBIO588  Preparing a Scientific Paper (Permission of Instructor required)
  • INNS531  Neurobiology of Drug Addition (Permission of Instructor required)


PHAR606  Human Nutrition & Obesity

Class Sizes

* Not a pre-approved elective; requires permission from program director and may additionally require permission of instructor.
Spring 2020 Course NameClass Size
PBIO568: Advanced Pathophysiology73
PBIO569: Intro to Neurophysiology49
[Elective] PBIO529/PHAR605 Nutrition44
[[Elective] PHAR592  Introduction to Toxicology5
[Elective] PHAR604 Medicinal Plants21
[Elective] BCHB522  Drug Targets/Drug Design23
[Elective] GLOH650  Combatting Non-Communicative Diseases*14
[Elective] MICB660 Concepts of Immunotherapy*19

Fall 2019 Course NameClass Size
PBIO501: Fundamentals of Human Physiology70
PBIO504: Intro to Biostatistics31
PBIO534: Cellular & Molecular Physiology39
PBIO602: Biomedical Career Pathways179
[Elective] PHAR584: Intro to Pharmacology27
[Elective] MICB606: Public Policy for Scientists16
[Elective] NSCI425: Topics in Neuroscience16
[Elective] NSCI521: Functional MRI: Theory and Practice8
[Elective] TBIO523: Cancer Epigenetics19
[Elective] TBIO525: Cancer Genetics14
[Elective] INNS520: Translational Neuroscience17