REQUIREMENTS FOR THE MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREE
EXPECTATIONS FOR THE M.S. DEGREE
Students enrolled in M.S. degree programs in GSBS are given the opportunity to gain mastery of the scientific background of their discipline and their specific research problem. Such mastery is acquired from didactic instruction and individual study of the scientific literature. Laboratory studies provide opportunities to gain technical facility with the methods required for their investigation. The preparation of the M.S. thesis provides experience in stating a research problem within the framework of contemporary knowledge, presenting the rationale for the technical approach to be taken in solving the problem, presenting valid and reproducible results obtained by the application of methodology appropriate to the problem, and providing a coherent analysis of the results and the conclusions drawn from this analysis.
The acquisition of technical expertise should be the major objective of students at the M.S. degree level and the M.S. thesis should evidence the student's mastery of the knowledge and technology required for the solution of the research problem. While studies at the M.S. level may place less emphasis than those at the Ph.D. level on the scope and magnitude of the intellectual contribution, the M.S. thesis should demonstrate the student's creativity in the solution of a scientific problem. At the present time, GSBS rules prohibit a student from preparing a thesis by assembling published papers together verbatim. Instead, the thesis should be an original document written by the student.
Although many students currently bypass the M.S. portion of the Ph.D. program, the Faculty continues to recognize the value of studies for the M.S. degree for some Ph.D. students, as well as for students seeking graduate training available through individualized or specialized M.S. programs. Thus, the M.S. degree remains an important component of the educational program at GSBS.
GENERAL COURSE REQUIREMENTS
The M.S. program of work must consist of a minimum of 30 credit hours of coursework, which must include one credit hour of The Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences and effective Fall term 2011, the two ethics on-line modules, at least six credit hours (one semester of full-time registration) of Thesis for Master of Science and a minimum of 6 credit hours of Research in Biomedical Sciences. For students entering in the Fall term of 2010 and thereafter, a minimum of 12 credit hours of didactic courses, graded A/F, must be taken. Other didactic courses, Literature Survey, Special Project: Course, Special Project: Research, and Tutorial Research Experience may be used toward the remaining required credit hours. The majority of these 30 credit hours, plus the majority of any additional coursework required by the Academic Standards Committee or the student's Advisory or Supervisory Committees, must be taken at the UT GSBS at Houston, at other UTHSC schools, or at an institution with which we have consortium arrangements (i.e., Rice University, the University of Houston, or Baylor University).
Students in an M.S. degree program who have completed graduate courses in the general area of biomedical sciences at another institution may request that credit hours be used toward the 30 credit hour requirement at GSBS. While there is no limit to the number of hours for which a student may be credited, no more than two courses may be used toward the GSBS minimum requirement of 30 credit hours. The student must have received at least a C (if the course had A,B,C... grades) or P (if the course was pass/fail) in the course to forward credit to GSBS. The grades from such courses taken at other institutions will not be used in the calculation of the grade point average at GSBS.
The following rules apply to registration for Special Project: Course, Special Project: Research, and Literature Survey:
- Special Projects should not exceed 4 hours per semester and Literature Surveys should not exceed 2 hours per semester.
- No more than 12 credit hours of Special Project (or Tutorial Research Experience) plus Literature Survey may be accepted toward meeting the 30 credit hours required for completion of the M.S. degree.
- If more than one Special Project: Research is included in the M.S. program of work, the projects must be supervised by different instructors.
- Degree students will not be permitted to use credit hours in Special Project: Research taken while they were non-degree students toward meeting the 30 credit hours required for completion of the M.S. degree.
All students are required to pass the course entitled The Ethical Dimensions of the Biomedical Sciences prior to petitioning for candidacy. This is a one credit course taught by GSBS faculty members to provide students with a framework to recognize, examine, and resolve ethical conflicts in their professional lives. The course explores such issues as the commitment to truth and its breakdown; the ethics of authorship; experimentation with human and animal subjects; and the relationships of scientists to industry, society at large, and future generations. Students taking the Ethics course in 2011 and later must also successfully complete two on-line modules, "Data Acquisition and Management" and "Responsible Authorship and Publication" prior to submitting the petition for candidacy.
After completion of the tutorial rotations and the identification of the thesis research Advisor, the student, with the assistance of the Advisor, proposes an Advisory Committee and submits the form to the Office of Academic Affairs. Upon approval by the Academic Standards Committee and the Dean, the Advisory Committee is notified of its appointment. The student immediately schedules a meeting with the Advisory Committee, and schedules subsequent meetings at least every 6 months. The student may modify the membership of the Advisory Committee by forwarding an email from the student's Advisor to the Office of Academic Affairs in which the change is requested and a rationale provided. This request will be forwarded to the Academic Standards Committee for approval.
PETITION TO CANDIDACY FOR THE M.S. DEGREE
A petition to candidacy for the Master of Science degree must be submitted to the Academic Standards Committee for approval. The petition consists of the program of work, an abstract of the proposed research, and the proposed members of the Supervisory Committee. The program of work should indicate the courses that will be used to fulfill the minimum 30 semester credits for the M.S.; for purposes of the petition to candidacy this may include courses taken, in progress, and/or planned. The petition must be approved by the Academic Standards Committee and the student admitted to candidacy before the student can receive credit for the first semester of Thesis. The petition should be submitted within two years of admission to the M.S. program or within two years of admission to the Ph.D. program, or for M.D./Ph.D. students, after the first full year of registration in the GSBS. If an extension is requested, written justification must be provided to the Academic Standards Committee for its approval.
DEFENSE OF THE M.S. THESIS
During the final semester of Thesis the student is to submit for approval by the Dean a form to request the defense of the M.S. thesis. The form, with a one-page summary of the research, should be submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs at least 14 days before the scheduled defense. At the same time, the thesis should be submitted to the GSBS Office of Academic Affairs for analysis by Turnitin. (The GSBS reserves the right to check theses using other databases as they become available). The Office of Academic Affairs checks to be certain that all courses included in the program of work have been completed. If all is in order, an announcement of the defense is distributed by electronic mail to GSBS students and faculty and is posted on appropriate bulletin boards throughout the Texas Medical Center. If the program has not been completed, the student and the Committee are notified and the defense is not allowed to be given until the required courses have been completed.
Application for the M.S. defense must be made within one year after advancement to candidacy. Requests and justification for extensions must be submitted to and approved by the Academic Standards Committee.
GUIDELINES FOR M.S. DEFENSE
The purpose of the defense is to facilitate a thorough evaluation of the thesis and the student's understanding of the research, as well as the student's ability to report information to the scientific community in a well organized and interesting form.
The defense consists of two parts: a public seminar and an examination. In the public seminar, the student will make a 45 to 60 minute oral presentation, including a detailed description of the background, rationale, materials and methods, results and conclusions appropriate to the research. Following the presentation, the student will respond to questions from the audience.
Immediately thereafter, and at a location announced at the end of the seminar, the Supervisory Committee will examine the student on the thesis. Any member of the GSBS Faculty who attends the public presentation may participate in the examination to the extent described below. Others wishing to attend must be approved by the Supervisory Committee.
The student's Advisor will serve as moderator of the examination. The student will be expected to respond to questions from those attending on any aspect of the written thesis or the material presented at the seminar.
After the defense, the student will meet privately with the Supervisory Committee to discuss the results. Finally, the Supervisory Committee (in executive session, if desired) will determine what recommendation to make to the Dean and the Academic Standards Committee.
The Committee may conclude that the student has passed, or it may require additional research, modifications to the thesis, and/or another defense.
Following the defense, the results of this meeting will be communicated through the Office of Academic Affairs to the Academic Standards Committee and the Dean for approval.
Within one week of the defense, any GSBS faculty member who has read the student's thesis and has attended the defense may write directly to the Dean to provide an evaluation of the student's performance. In reaching a final decision on whether to award the M.S. or require further work and/or another defense, the Dean will take into consideration the recommendation of the Supervisory Committee and other comments received from GSBS Faculty. In particular cases, the Dean may solicit additional evaluations of the thesis from experts in the field either within or outside the GSBS Faculty.
The decision of the Dean will be communicated to the student and the Supervisory Committee within one month of the defense.
COMPLETION OF M.S. REQUIREMENTS
The M.S. degree is not issued until the student has successfully completed the defense; the unbound dissertation, approved by the Supervisory Committee, is submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs for the Dean's signature; and all exit forms are completed and submitted to the Office of Academic Affairs. The M.S. degree is awarded on the last day of the semester in which all requirements are completed. The student must be registered for Thesis in the final semester in which requirements are met.
All requirements for the M.S. degree must be completed within three years of first registration in GSBS. Students may continue registration in GSBS after the three-year limit only with the express written permission of the Dean. Students admitted to GSBS for the express purpose of obtaining only an M.S. degree and who wish to continue on for the Ph.D. must reapply for admission.