Which Physiology Program is Right for You?

Our department offers two specially designed pre-health master’s programs in Physiology, as well as a partnership program, for students interested in studying human physiology at the graduate level to strengthen their preparation and competitiveness for medical school, dental school, or other terminal degree programs in the health sciences.

Prospective students may apply to all three of these programs if they are eligible; a separate application is required for each program.

Our department also offers a traditional master’s program in Pharmacology with a rigorous curriculum to prepare both pre-health and pre-doctoral students for further education and research opportunities in the medical and biomedical sciences, or careers in biotech, pharmaceuticals, and clinical/lab research. Students with strong science GPAs, especially those interested in gaining a full year of wet lab research and mentorship, are encouraged to explore the MS in Pharmacology program in addition to the programs below.

MS in Physiology 

The “regular” MS in Physiology program is designed for strong pre-health students (average GPA is 3.5) who are pursuing medical school, and is also open to students pursuing other health professions (dentistry, physician assistant, podiatry, etc) or careers in related fields. In a typical year, 80% of our students are pre-medical, 10% are pre-dental, and 10% are pursuing PA school, PhDs in biomedical sciences, or other health-related degrees/careers. Our alumni have been admitted into many different MD, DO, Dental, PA, and PhD programs across the country.

The curriculum consists of medically relevant graduate courses in physiology and biomedical science: required courses provide an advanced science framework, and elective courses, including option for lab research in the spring, allow students to tailor the program to their specific interests. Typical cohort size is 30 full-time students.

The program is generally completed in two terms over a traditional academic year (fall and spring), but the flexible curriculum allows for alternative schedules.  Schedules for part-time students can be made with special arrangements; students interested in part-time study should indicate this on their application.

For the “regular” MS in Physiology, MCAT/DAT/GRE is not required for admission. Recommended minimum GPA is 3.3, required minimum is 3.0. [Exceptions for students with GPAs below 3.0 are only made for those applying through our George Squared partnership who have successfully completed the ABS certificate program.]

See our How to Apply page for full details on eligibility and application requirements.

Special Masters Program (SMP)

The SMP is a 10-month MS program exclusive to students pursuing a career in medicine who need to significantly strengthen their academic credentials for application to medical school (GPA below 3.5). MCAT score is required (minimum 505; most competitive applicants 508 or higher), average incoming GPA is 3.2 and students with GPAs below 3.0 can be considered on a very limited, case-by-case basis.

In addition to graduate courses in the biomedical sciences, students in the SMP take 6 first-year medical courses alongside the GUSOM medical students. Grading in these courses is based on the performance of the medical students: in order to earn a “B” in these courses, SMP students must perform at least as well as the average GUSOM first-year medical student. The SMP is a set curriculum without electives or research option. Typical cohort size is 180 full-time students.

George Squared (G²) Program

The George Squared Program is a joint program offered through a partnership between Georgetown University and George Mason University (GMU).

The first phase of the program, the Advanced Biomedical Sciences (ABS) Certificate at GMU, is a post-baccalaureate graduate-level program designed for individuals interested in careers in the wide variety of health-related professions. The 20-credit program, including a gross anatomy lab, terminates in a graduate certificate and includes optional MCAT/DAT/GRE prep depending on students’ goals. The program is held on GMU’s Science & Technology Campus in Manassas, Virginia.

Through the GeorgeSquared partnership, students who successfully complete the ABS Certificate at GMU can apply to the second phase of the program, the MS in Physiology at Georgetown. Accepted students can apply their ABS certificate credits toward the MS degree at Georgetown and finish in as little as one semester.

Comparison Chart

MS in PhysiologySpecial Master’s Program (SMP)GeorgeSquared (G²) ABS Certificate
Credits30 credits31 credits20/22 credits
Curriculum Flexibility10 elective credits0 elective credits2 elective credits (optional)
Research OptionYes (spring semester)NoNo
Schedule Flexibility1 academic year (fall, spring) or three semesters (fall, spring, summer); traditional semester schedule Fixed 10-month curriculum; modular block schedule1 academic year (fall, spring)
Program Size~35 full-time students~180 full-time students~100 full-time students
Open to all Pre-Health StudentsYes; each cohort is usually 85% Pre-Med, 10% Pre-Dental, and 5% Other (PhD, PA, etc)No, only those pursuing MD/DO (100% Pre-Med)Yes
Average Matriculant GPA~3.5

(does not accept GPA below 3.0; recommended min 3.3 GPA)

(minimum 3.0 GPA recommended; 2.7-2.9 on a limited basis)
Minimum 3.0 GPA recommended; 2.7-2.9 on a case-by-case basis
MCAT or GRE RequiredNoYes, MCAT 505 min., 510+ competitive

(GRE may be substituted on a case-by-case basis)
Courses with Medical StudentsNoYes, some courses with GUMSOM M1s and graded against their performanceNo
MCAT/DAT Prep NoNoYes, optional MCAT/DAT Prep
Gross Anatomy LabNoYesYes
Degree EarnedMS in PhysiologyMS in PhysiologyGraduate Certificate (option to apply and transfer credits to Regular MS in Physiology program)
Alumni Outcomes85% accepted into MD/DO/Dental/PhD or other terminal degree in years following graduation50% accepted into MD/DO during their SMP year;
overall 85% accepted into medical school in years following graduation
65% admitted to a health professional school program within 2 years

Guidance for Pre-Med Students

We welcome you to contact us for individualized guidance on which program(s) would be the best fit for you. While the admissions committee for each program conducts a holistic review of each application, we provide these general guidelines below for pre-med students interested in applying to one or more of our programs. In many cases, students apply to two or all three of the programs and then choose between the programs where they’re accepted.

Generally, the minimum MCAT for the SMP is a 505, however the most competitive applicants will have a 510 or higher.

Please note: This information is meant as general guidance and does not guarantee or predict acceptance into or rejection from any program. Admissions decisions are made by each program’s admissions committee after a holistic review of each application.

* GPAs below 3.0 are not eligible for admission to the Regular MS program except through our G² program.
GPA above 3.3GPA 3.0–3.3GPA 2.7–3.0*
MCAT 505 and aboveRegular MS
or SMP
MCAT 500–504Regular MS
MCAT below 500Regular MS
or G²
No MCATRegular MS