Plan of Study

Students entering the MS in medical sciences can choose either a thesis option (Plan A), requiring 30 hours of graduate level coursework, including  six hours of research, or a non-thesis option (Plan B), also requiring 30 hours of graduate level coursework. Plan A requires a defense of the master’s thesis while Plan B requires a final master’s exam. Most students enrolling in the MS in Medical Sciences as a stand-alone degree utilize the Plan B platform. 

Thesis Options A and B Description.pdf

Faculty Research Mentor Handbook.pdf

For both Plan A and Plan B, 50 percent of the graduate level coursework must be at the 600 level or above and two-thirds must be formal, organized graduate level courses. Students in either Plan A or Plan B are encouraged to have at least a one semester of biomedical research experience with a faculty member in one of the disciplines cited above. On average the program takes two years to complete.

The plan of study for the MSMS program consists of a ten (10) credit hour core curriculum and a recommended course of study based on career tracks. The ten credit hour core curriculum consists of the IBS courses listed below.  Please note: students may take IBS 602 OR IBS 603.


IBS 602: Molecular Biology and Genetics

3 credit hours - Fall

IBS 602 is an introductory graduate-level course on mechanisms associated with DNA structure, replication, recombination and repair, chromatin, transcriptional control, mRNA processing, and protein synthesis. Aspects of contemporary genetics, genomics and bioinformatics will also be included. Techniques in genetic engineering and recombinant DNA that are critical to molecular biology research will be covered.

Prerequisites: CHE 105 and 107, CHE 230 and 232, BIO 150 and 152, or equivalents

IBS 603: Cell Biology & Signaling

3 credit hours - Spring

IBS 603 is an introductory graduate level course that is focused on a number of topics related to cell biology including cell types and cell architecture/organization, membrane structure, cytoskeleton, nucleus, and mitochondria. Aspects of development, cell division, cell cycle, and apoptosis will also be discussed with an emphasis on signaling pathways controlling these processes.

Prerequisites: CHE 105 and 107, CHE 230 and 232, BIO 150 and 152, or equivalents

IBS 606: Physiological Communications

3 credit hours - Spring

IBS 606 is an introductory graduate-level course that considers the function of the mammalian organism from a perspective ranging from cells to organs, with an emphasis on physiological communication between organ systems. The course is organized into 3 sections that include: (a) overview of basic physiological mechanisms maintaining homeostasis and mechanisms of endocrine communication via the bloodstream, (b) mechanisms of cell to cell communication by the immune system, and (c) mechanisms of neural communication.

Prerequisites: BCH 401G and IBS 602

IBS 611: Practical Statistics

2 credit hours - Spring

An introductory graduate level course that will introduce students to basic statistical concepts and applications that are used in a majority of biomedical and translational research studies. The emphasis will be on “how” and “why” certain basic statistical applications are used rather than the theory behind various statistical methods.

Prerequisites: Have taken or concurrently taking IBS601 and IBS602

TOX 600: Ethics in Scientific Research

1 credit hour - Spring

Overview of good laboratory practices as the basis of good scientific research and an overview of quality assurance and appropriate practices in data analysis and data interpretation. Ethics of human and animal experimentation; the concepts of data and intellectual property, their ownership and access to them.

MI 772: Seminar in Microbiology

1 credit hour

Review of current literature in microbiology; presentation of papers on work in progress in the department or on assigned topics; reports on meetings of national and international scientific and professional societies and symposia.

Other Course Requirements

Additional coursework to fulfill the MSMS degree requirement is selected from courses offered in the basic and biomedical science programs in the College of Medicine and other colleges. Students will work with their mentor to design a career-focused curriculum along discipline-specific tracks that target the needs, training, and career goals of each student (e.g., medical school, dental school, the doctoral, pharmaceutical industry, laboratory technician, etc.).

Examples of recommended courses that provide advanced scientific training can be found HERE and are based on prerequisites that are consistent with different professional degree programs and areas of specialization.

For example

  • Students planning to pursue an advanced degree in biomedical research, such as the IBS program at the University of Kentucky, would benefit from taking IBS 601/BCH 607 Biomolecules and Metabolism.
  • The Fundamentals of Biochemistry course (BCH 401G) would provide sufficient exposure and background material for students wishing to pursue a non-research based health-related professional degree program.