MS Degree in Biomedical Sciences
Students in the M.S. Program in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences receive training in one or more of the following fields of study in the oral health sciences: Anatomy, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Neuroscience, Microbiology/Immunology, and Physiology/Pharmacology.
The programs leading to the M.S. degree in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences are designed primarily to provide advanced scientific training for graduates of dental programs and students enrolled in a specialty clinical program at Baylor College of Dentistry. This program is also well suited for dental specialists from countries other than the United States who desire to obtain or improve their background in dental research, but do not have the time to pursue a Ph.D. degree.
For most of the graduate clinical programs at Baylor College of Dentistry, there is significant overlap in course work with the M.S. degree in Biomedical Sciences. Thus, the M.S. in Biomedical Sciences may serve as an alternative to the M.S. in Oral Biology or the M.S. in Dental Materials, the degrees being pursued by most graduate specialty students.
The M.S. in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences is especially appropriate for those clinical students with stronger academic motivation or who may wish to pursue a combined career of clinical practice and teaching in a clinical department.
Current dental students at Baylor College of Dentistry are also eligible for the M.S. program. These students work with advisors in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences to implement specially designed M.S. programs. The goal is to provide research training that will provide an excellent background for subsequent advanced research training in a Ph.D. program or Fellowship, and clinical specialty training.
Non-dental students with a baccalaureate degree in the biological sciences are also eligible to apply for the M.S. Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences. The M.S. in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences provides non-dental students with the background for a more advanced degree. Also, the degree provides additional training to individuals, such as secondary school science teachers or laboratory technicians, who may benefit from increased scientific knowledge.
The minimum requirements for the M.S. degree in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences include the successful completion of:
- Basic core courses or equivalents
- Additional elective courses
- Thesis proposal and preparation
Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 on a scale of 0 to 4.0. A minimum of 30 semester credit hours is required for graduation. Those entering with a D.D.S. or other advanced degree may transfer up to 10 credits toward this credit-hour requirement on the recommendation of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee.
Students entering the M.S. Program in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences who have completed graduate courses in the basic sciences, typically as part of a predoctoral dental curriculum, may not be required to take a substantial portion of the core curriculum, depending on their specific background. Advanced standing may be given for up to 10 of the 30 credit hours required for the degree. The form called "Transfer Work/Advanced Standing Request" must be submitted in order to be considered for advanced standing.
In most cases, the minimum residence needed to fulfill the requirements for the M.S. degree in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences is two years. Part-time participation in the program is possible, depending on the approval of the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee. In the case of individuals concomitantly pursuing clinical programs or certification at Baylor College of Dentistry, the distribution of effort between the programs must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee prior to the commencement of study. Students with previously completed dental specialty training are encouraged to maintain clinical activity, intramurally or extramurally, if appropriate. However, such involvement must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee.
Curriculum and Credit Requirements
Requirements for the degree consist of a total of 30 semester hours made up of required courses, a selection of at least three elective courses from the broad range of biomedical sciences, and completion of a M.S. thesis.
- Responsible Conduct in Biomedical Research (BMS 5126)
- Cellular and Molecular Biology (BMS 5307)
- Seminar: Current Issues in Science (BMS 5190) (attendance is required during each semester in residence, but the course may be taken a maximum of three times for credit)
Choice of any three of the following courses or course sequences. (This requirement may be waived for students with advanced standing.)
- Neuroscience (BMS 5301)
- General Histology (BMS 5402)
- Gross Anatomy (BMS 5603)
- Microbiology and Lab (BMS 5208, 5210)
- Mammalian Physiology (BMS 5611)
- Immunology (BMS 5251)
Students must take at least three additional elective courses from those approved by the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee (see Courses). The choice of elective courses will be determined on an individual basis through consultation between the students and their advisor(s). Credit for reading courses, laboratory rotations, research, and thesis preparation is arranged on an individual basis.
After receiving approval for admission to graduate studies and prior to enrolling for course work, the student will consult with the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Director, who will serve as the student's initial advisor. The Graduate Program Director will help the student select icourse work and will suggest other faculty with whom the student may consult in order to secure a permanent advisor (mentor).
Each student is required to meet with their advisor/mentor and the Graduate Program Director prior to the beginning of each semester to discuss course work for the upcoming semester and progress toward the degree. The Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee will review the progress of students on a regular basis.
In some cases, an Advisory Committee may be appointed for the student to facilitate construction of the student's degree plan. The Advisory Committee will be appointed by the Graduate Program Committee and will most often consist of the student's proposed mentor, the Graduate Program Director, and one or two other members. Advisory Committees will typically be formed when: 1) the student proposes a mentor who is an adjunct faculty member, a part-time faculty member, or a faculty member who is not familiar with the graduate program, or 2) the student's proposed program is interdisciplinary and could benefit from the input of multiple faculty advisors.
In cases of students pursuing concurrent M.S. training and clinical certification, an Advisory Committee will be appointed by the Graduate Program Committee. This Committee will consist of the student's mentor/advisor, and the Biomedical Sciences Program Director and Clinical Graduate Program Directors. Other members may also be appointed by the Graduate Program Committee. Meetings of the advisory committee for joint students will be held at least once a year to review the student's progress and will be organized by the student and the mentor. Additional meetings may also be held at the request of the student or mentor, or if any issues affecting progress develop. If necessary, the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies will attend meetings of the advisory committee to help coordinate the clinical and basic science components of the program.
By no later than the completion of the second semester of residence, each student will select a mentor from among the graduate faculty who are members of the Texas A&M Health Science Center Graduate School of Biomedical Science. The mentor will be responsible for helping the student formulate a degree plan, including appropriate course work and a research proposal. In some circumstances, a mentor from outside the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences may be allowed, upon approval by the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee. In such cases, a co-mentor from the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences faculty will be appointed to serve as the student's advocate and to advise the student about meeting the degree requirements.
The qualities of a good mentor are numerous. The mentor: 1) must produce scholarly activity and be able to establish a close rapport with the graduate student; 2) should have a substantial background in the methodology for the proposed project and be able to guide the student with formulating a credible scientific design; and 3) must have sufficient time for research and for counsel and supervision of the student. Consequently, a mentor typically cannot accommodate more than a relatively small number of students, usually a maximum of three (including both M.S. and Ph.D.) at any particular time.
The student, in consultation with the mentor and Thesis Committee, will develop a proposed degree plan for submission to the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Director by no later than the end of the second semester of residence. Part-time students may submit this plan at a later time as determined by the pace of their program and consultation with the Graduate Program Director. The form (GSBS Degree Plan) used to establish or change a degree plan is found at http://gsbs.tamhsc.edu/forms/index.html. After being filled in, a hard copy should be printed and the required signatures obtained.
The degree plan must contain a listing of completed and ongoing course work, an approximate listing of future course work, a proposed thesis topic and brief discussion of this topic, and a tentative list of Thesis Committee members. The Biomedical Sciences Graduate Program Committee will review this document and make suggestions for changes as appropriate.
In the case of students pursuing simultaneous clinical certification, the degree plan must also be approved by the student’s Clinical Graduate Program Director. The Clinical Graduate Program Director and the student's mentor will be invited to attend the meeting of the Graduate Program Committee where the degree plan is reviewed. The student should also be available during such meetings in case consultation is requested by the Graduate Program Committee.
Minor changes to degree plans, including the addition, deletion, or change in timing of reading and research courses, and the change in timing of preliminary examinations must be requested in writing from the Graduate Program Director.
Students enrolled in the M.S. Program in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences are required to submit and defend a thesis, which will be prepared after completion of the majority of the course work.
The thesis may take one of two forms: 1) a single document describing the finished research in traditional format, or 2) an article prepared and submitted for publication to a refereed journal. If the latter option is chosen, an introduction to the article, providing a more detailed summary of the literature, must be included with the manuscript as a single document. Articles must be in the review process, although their final acceptance is not required prior to the thesis defense.
The thesis should deal with a topic related to the major field of study, embody the results of the original individual research, demonstrate an understanding of the literature on the subject, establish mastery of appropriate research techniques, and constitute a contribution to knowledge. Thesis guidelines are available in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences Office and on the web page of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies to assure conformity with standards of good writing. The text must be written in English.
All theses must be submitted electronically to the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies following the guidelines set by the Texas A&M Health Science Center Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. The student must contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies for current instructions on preparing the thesis for submission as soon as their thesis committee has signed the thesis research proposal.
The mentor serves as the Chair of the Thesis Committee, which shall consist of a minimum of three graduate faculty members, including at least two from the faculty of the Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Baylor College of Dentistry. One or more members of the Thesis Committee may come from another component of the Texas A&M Health Science Center or from another institution (outside member). Additional members are frequently appointed to enhance some aspect of the research problem. Since members of the committee must be available for meetings and consultation with the student, full-time faculty members are preferable.
In the case of students pursuing a concurrent M.S. degree in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences and a clinical certification, the Clinical Graduate Program Director will be appointed as an additional member of the Thesis Committee, and may, if appropriate, serve as the outside member of the Thesis Committee.
Approval of the membership of the thesis committee will be secured using the form entitled "Dissertation/Thesis Committee Membership Approval Form" found at http://gsbs.tamhsc.edu/forms/index.html (click on "Committee Membership Approval").
The first function of the Thesis Committee is to help plan the proposed research project. During the progress of the research and the writing of the thesis, members of the committee provide guidance to the student to maintain the quality of the work. Thesis Committees should meet with the student as a group annually or more frequently to review the progress of the research.
The student, in consultation with their mentor and the Thesis Committee, will develop a thesis proposal, which will follow the standard format for graduate research proposals at Baylor College of Dentistry. Briefly, the format will include the following sections: Specific Aims, Background and Significance, Research Plan (consisting of Materials, Methods of Investigation, Methods of Analysis, Potential Difficulties, and Sequence of the Investigation), Consortium/Contractual Arrangements, Compliance, and Literature Cited. Prior to the beginning of thesis research, required documentation indicating approval of the thesis proposal in final form must be signed by each member of the Thesis Committee. Complete copies of the approved proposal and signed documentation must be submitted to the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences Office and the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies. If the thesis research involves human or animal subjects, an approved form from the Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects or the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee must accompany the thesis proposal. The necessary forms and further information are available in the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences Office and the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies.
A final draft of the thesis must be submitted to the members of the Thesis Committee and to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies not less than one week before the defense-of-thesis examination. In addition, a form stating the approval of the chair of the Thesis Committee must be submitted to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies with the final draft. If changes are required in the thesis that cannot be accomplished in the time available, the defense-of-thesis examination must be rescheduled.
The Thesis Committee administers an oral examination in which the student defends their thesis. Scheduling of the oral examination is arranged through the Graduate Program in Biomedical Sciences Office, with notice given to the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The candidate must show appropriate mastery of the chosen research area and evidence of independent thought. The oral examination typically consists of three parts: 1) presentation of the thesis research in a seminar format; 2) questions related to the general area of the student's research; and 3) in-depth queries concerning the research and thesis.
Any interested faculty and administrators at Baylor College of Dentistry may participate in parts 1 and 2 of the defense-of-thesis examination. Only Thesis Committee members will be present during part 3 of the examination. Final committee approval of the defense of the thesis will be indicated on the "Defense and Oral Examination Outcome" (http://gsbs.tamhsc.edu/forms/index.html) (click on "Defense Outcome Form for Thesis or Dissertation).
Following the defense, the student must bring their thesis in final form on plain paper for the thesis/dissertation coordinator in the Office of the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies to review, offer comments on, and answer questions on the style, format, forms and procedures of submission. The final step will be the electronic upload of a PDF version of the thesis as a single file to http://dissertations.umi.com/bcdtamhsc. Approval and confirmation that all information is correct will be sent to the student by the thesis/dissertation coordinator.
All degree requirements must be completed within a period of six consecutive years in order for the M.S. degree to be granted. The student may request with cause that the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Studies grant a one-year (only) extension. Graduate credit for course work that is more than seven calendar years old at the time of the final examination (oral or written) may not be used to satisfy degree requirements.