Chatham University

Master of Science in Biology (MS) Curriculum

In many professions, the master’s degree is now the minimum requirement for either employment or advancement. To meet this need, Chatham has developed two options for the MS biology program. The non-thesis option can be completed in one calendar year, and different tracks are available focusing on different areas of biology. The thesis option includes a research component and typically takes one and a half to two years.

Non-Thesis Option:
Students must complete a total of five required courses, two required laboratories, and five approved electives (32- 33 credits). Final selection of electives requires approval of the student’s academic advisor. Students may enroll in the program part-time, but should be aware that the majority of the courses are not available evenings or weekends. The program is designed for students beginning in the fall semester, and is typically completed in 9-12 months. Students who elect to begin the program in the spring semester will require a minimum of 12 months to complete the program requirements.

Thesis Option:
This option takes 4-5 semesters; students are expected to enroll full-time beginning in the fall semester and complete a total of seven required courses (including two semesters of thesis research), two required laboratories, and three approved electives (32-33 credits), allowing the program to be adapted to meet the needs of many different career goals. Students prepare for the thesis by taking a required research methods course in the fall semester and working with faculty to develop a research proposal, which must then be accepted by a faculty committee before thesis work can begin. Many of our graduates have gone on to present their work at regional or national conferences and many have had their research published.

The focal point of the program is human biology. This program is designed primarily for students who wish to improve their credentials and/or complete requirements for advanced programs in medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, etc.

Program Requirements

+Human Biology Track Degree Requirements

12 courses, including 7 required courses and 5 electives:

BIO512 Advanced Human Gross Anatomy

An in-depth study of both regional gross human anatomic structures & cellular level tissue. The course is clinically oriented with emphasis on the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, gastrointestinal, cardiopulmonary, urinary & reproductive systems. Regional study of the head/neck, trunk, and upper/lower extremities, is accomplished through human cadaver dissection.

BIO512L Advanced Human Gross Anatomy Lab

The laboratory compliment to BIO512, this course uses human cadavers to facilitate a deeper appreciation for regional gross human anatomic structures. The course is clinically oriented with emphasis on the musculoskeletal, neuromuscular, gastrointestinal, cardiopulmonary, urinary and reproductive systems, via regional study of the head/neck, trunk, and upper/lower extremities.

BIO514 Advanced Human Physiology

An in-depth study of the mechanisms of human body function, emphasizing cells, genetic control of protein synthesis, transport across membranes, contraction and excitation of muscles, the physiology of cardiac muscle, and rhythmical excitation of the normal heart.

BIO516 Advanced Neuroscience

A study of the structure and function of the human central and peripheral nervous system, including vascular components and special senses. The course emphasizes nervous system control of movement. Three hours of class per week.

BIO516L Advanced Neuroscience Lab

This lab complements the lectures in BIO516, using hands-on laboratory and data collection exercises. It examines nervous system function, emphasizing excitability, synaptic transmission and neuron-target interactions. It also includes a study of integrative neural function in sensory, motor, learning, memory and limbic systems. Two hours of laboratory per week.

BIO532 Biostatistics

The study and application of biostatistics and probability distributions in biology, for students who already have a working knowledge of statistics and want to understand the place and application of biostatistical methods in science. Topics include hypothesis testing, analysis of variance for one and many variables, and linear and nonlinear regression.Three hours of class per week.

BIO623 Methods of Biological Research

Study of experimental design in biology, including hypothesis formulation, literature review and bibliography selection, experimental methods, budgeting, setting timetables, and consideration of legal and ethical issues. Students will prepare and defend a proposal for their thesis work. Three hours of class per week.

For the MS with thesis option, Thesis I and II (BIO698 and BIO699) are also required. Thesis courses are not available to students pursuing the non-thesis track.
ELECTIVES - Choose from:
BIO508 Developmental Biology


BIO517 Genetics

A study of the modern concepts of the gene. Lectures stress theory and experimental evidence relating to the structure of the gene, heritability of characteristics, and the behavior of genes in populations.

BIO518 Chemical Analysis Laboratory

This laboratory teaches the proper design, implementation and analysis of modern techniques in instrumental chemistry, encompassing spectroscopy, electrochemistry, and separation science. In addition, several inorganic compounds are synthesized and characterized. Student-originated research projects are used extensively throughout this course. Additional Fee(s): Laboratory fee.

BIO519 Immunology

This course covers fundamental principles of immunology with emphasis on molecular and cellular immunology, including antigen and antibody structure and function, effector mechanisms, complement, major histocompatibility complexes, and the cellular basis for the immune response. Three hours of lecture per week.

BIO531 Advanced Principles of Cell and Molecular Biology

Topics include genes and genomes, transcription, translation, the control of gene expression by prokaryotes, and eukaryotes, DNA synthesis and repair, and cell signaling.

BIO538 Biochemistry I

This course offers the structure and function of proteins, polynucleic acids, and biological membranes. Enzymes and kinetics are also taught. Metabolic pathways, with emphasis on the thermodynamics of the equilibria and the storage and usage of energy are also discussed.

BIO539 Biochemistry II

This course offers the structure and function of proteins, polynucleic acids, and biological membranes. Enzymes and kinetics are also taught. Metabolic pathways, with emphasis on the thermodynamics of the equilibria and the storage and usage of energy are also discussed. Prerequisite(s): enrollment in MS Biology program or permission of instructor.

BIO551 Bioinformatics

An introduction to computer-aided analysis of gene sequences and their relationships to DNA, RNA, and proteins. Topics include use of the computer for restriction mapping, primer selection, and database searches for homology discovery. In addition, students will be able to carry out analyses aimed at predicting the structure and evolution of macromolecules. Three hours of class per week.

BIO552 Computational Drug Design

Study of computational techniques of importance in contemporary drug design. Topics include molecular docking, ligand binding free energy calculations, de novo drug design, pharmacophore elucidation, quantitative structure-activity relations, and combinatorial library design. Cross-listed as BIO 452 and CHM 452.

BIO553 Special Topics in Biology

Lectures and/or laboratories in selected areas of contemporary biology, with a focus of recent research. Prerequisite(s): Graduate standing.

BIO555 Medical and Bio-ethics

This course will discuss selected topics in medical ethics emphasizing methods of ethical reasoning about moral dilemmas and contributions of philosophical theories and principles to practical problems of medicine. Includes legal aspects of health care decisions.

BIO558 Histology

A microscopic analysis of human and animal tissue and organ function at the cellular level. Material comes from textbook, lecture, images and animations in addition to practical application and identification of histological specimens. Recommended for students planning to apply to professional schools of medicine, veterniary medicine, or dentistry.

BIO561 Pharmacology

This course covers the general principles of drug action, including administration, distribution, mechanism, and excretion. Emphasis will be placed on key pharmacological concepts, basic signal transduction pathways and molecular mechanisms. Pharmacology of the nervous, cardiovascular, and endocrine systems as well as the mechanisms of various antimicrobial agents will be considered.

BIO638 Internship

BIO639 Internship

BIO693 Independent Study

FST512 Practical Nutrition

Course provides an overview of nutrition as an evidence-based research field, focusing on groups and communities where research is conducted and then applied. Topics include science and politics of food categories; supplements and functional foods; weight and disordered eating, commercial, local, organic, and conventional foods; cuisine, culture, and diet.

NUR507 Health Policy & Advocacy

In this course students analyze and synthesize innovative approaches to complex issues in health care delivery at the local, state, and federal levels. Concepts such as politics, policy, market forces, and advocacy are used to assess how system approaches can affect health care delivery.

NUR651 Database Management for Evidence-based Decision making

This course is designed to assist the student in understanding the various database systems used within a healthcare setting. Key to this course is understanding how healthcare professionals can collect and extract data from database systems to assess the organizations performance and impact on patient outcomes.

PSY503 Applied Biological Psychology

The course addresses biological aspects of human psychology, including the biological basis of neurological deficits and mental disorders, and the use psychotropic medications for treating mental illnesses. Topics also include stress and health, mental disorders such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia, and contemporary issues in biological psychology.

PSY530 Introduction to Sport and Exercise Psychology

This course is designed to introduce students to the basic concepts and intervention techniques of sport and exercise psychology. Topics covered will include motivation theory applied to sport, team dynamics, an introduction to psychological skills training, the psychology of sport injury, and issues pertinent to exercise adoption, adherence, and drop-out.

PSY629 Human Development across the Life Span

The course explores cognitive, social, emotional and physiological development throughout the life span. While including concentration on the major theoretical approaches to life span development, an equally significant focus will be on practical application of material.

PSY635 Concepts of Mental Health and Illness

The course provides an overview of concepts of mental health and its development, and of the etiologies of psychopathology, from a culturally sensitive perspective. Students learn to recognize the complex biological and environmental contributors to mental illness, and to evaluate effective treatment approaches for mental illness.

PSY663 Foundations of Health Psychology

Students will explore how psychological processes influence physical health. Further, the psychological sequellae of physical illness will be examined. Students will delve into the mind-body connection with consideration given to the cultural context. The role of the counseling psychologist as a member of the healthcare team will be explored.

PWR616 Technical Writing

This course teaches students how to prepare letter reports and technical reports about subjects that require technical explanations, diagrams, charts, and jargon understood by technical readers. In addition, this course teaches students how to present technical information to technical readers so they understand the concepts and can apply them in their work.

PWR632 Science and Environmental Writing

This course focuses on the practice of writing about science, environment, medicine, and technology for audiences ranging from the general public to scientists and engineers. It starts with basic science writing for lay audiences, emphasizing organization and clear writing techniques and also explores problems of conveying highly complex technical information to multiple audiences, factors that influence science communication to the public, and interactions between scientists and journalists.

*Students may substitute two undergraduate courses for one graduate elective upon recommendation to the appropriate academic dean.