Program mission

The M.S. in Anatomy and Neurobiology program offers a two-year graduate curriculum of formal instructional activities and research training mentored by the members of the faculty leading to the terminal M.S. degree. The program prepares students for technical careers in neurobiological research laboratories in academic, private and government institutions. The program also provides a strong foundation for students who choose to continue onto doctoral training.

This is a research-oriented degree program comprised of graduate course work and supervised research leading to a master's thesis. The M.S. program involves approximately one year of course work and a research thesis performed under the supervision of a faculty adviser.

Program goals

  1. The program is designed to provide students with the skills required to advance to positions as bioscience researchers, trainers and technicians in a broad spectrum of positions. The structure of the program provides a framework for the progressive development of a mastery of the current state of the subject matter of bioscience, an ability to synthesize this information and apply this foundation to the identification of key areas of investigation/experimentation in bioscience.
  2. The program relates the above framework to the development of the ability to design, implement and interpret experimental approaches which address the questions identified.
  3. In addition, the program will develop skills in the various means of communicating both the core of bioscience knowledge and the expression of experimental design, results and interpretation to a variety of potential audiences. The program will prepare students to secure positions in their chosen career goals (medical school, doctoral studies, employment in academic or private laboratories).

Student learning outcomes

The following are the learning outcomes for the program. Students will be able to

  • Define the molecular, cellular and tissue-level organization of the central and peripheral nervous system
  • Apply the properties of cells that make up the nervous system, including the propagation of electrical signals used for cellular communication
  • Compare and contrast the properties of individual cells to their function in organized neural circuits and systems
  • Model and explain how the interaction of cells and neural circuits leads to higher level activities such as cognition and behavior
  • Distinguish the fundamental biochemical principles, such as the structure/function of biomolecules, metabolic pathways and the regulation of biological/biochemical processes
  • Generate testable scientific hypotheses and develop research plans to test these hypotheses
  • Evaluate and critically review primary research literature in seminar discussions
  • Engage effectively in independent and collaborative research projects
  • Make presentations that convey complex knowledge in an audience-appropriate and venue-appropriate fashion and answer questions effectively
  • Write scientific texts such as abstracts, full-length manuscripts and research proposals

VCU Graduate Bulletin, VCU Graduate School and general academic policies and regulations for all graduate students in all graduate programs

The VCU Graduate Bulletin website documents the official admission and academic rules and regulations that govern graduate education for all graduate programs at the university. These policies are established by the graduate faculty of the university through their elected representatives to the University Graduate Council.

It is the responsibility of all graduate students, both on- and off-campus, to be familiar with the VCU Graduate Bulletin as well as the Graduate School website and academic regulations in individual school and department publications and on program websites. However, in all cases, the official policies and procedures of the University Graduate Council, as published on the VCU Graduate Bulletin and Graduate School websites, take precedence over individual program policies and guidelines.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on academic regulations for graduate students.

Degree candidacy requirements

A graduate student admitted to a program or concentration requiring a final research project, work of art, thesis or dissertation, must qualify for continuing master’s or doctoral status according to the degree candidacy requirements of the student’s graduate program. Admission to degree candidacy, if applicable, is a formal statement by the graduate student’s faculty regarding the student’s academic achievements and the student’s readiness to proceed to the final research phase of the degree program.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following degree candidacy policy as published in the VCU Graduate Bulletin for complete information and instructions.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on degree candidacy requirements.

Graduation requirements

As graduate students approach the end of their academic programs and the final semester of matriculation, they must make formal application to graduate. No degrees will be conferred until the application to graduate has been finalized.

Graduate students and program directors should refer to the following graduation requirements as published in the Graduate Bulletin for a complete list of instructions and a graduation checklist.

Visit the academic regulations section for additional information on graduation requirements.

Other information

School of Medicine graduate program policies

The School of Medicine provides policies applicable to all programs administratively housed in the school. Information on master’s programs is available elsewhere in this chapter of the Graduate Bulletin.