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Graduation Requirements

Requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy Degree

Candidates for the Ph.D. degree in the biomedical sciences function under the general administration of the College of Graduate Studies and the direct supervision of the faculty of this College. Programs must comply with the requirements for an advanced degree set by the Graduate Council and the Graduate Faculty Organization of the College of Graduate Studies.

A total of 90 credit hours is required for the Ph.D. degree. A minimum of 30 credit hours is devoted to research and a minimum of 30 credit hours must be taken in didactic course work. The remaining 30 can be completed through any combination of didactic and/or research credits.


For the Doctor of Philosophy degree, at least one year (24 credit hours earned during a single academic year) must be spent in residence at the Upstate Medical University campus. A student must be registered in the semester which the student defends their thesis/dissertation.


The receipt of a graduate student stipend is not dependent upon the student's teaching undergraduate or lower level graduate courses. However, recognizing that some teaching experience is essential for the mastery of a discipline and for the training of future instructors at the university level, numerous opportunities are made available for the students to gain teaching experience, and they are strongly encouraged to do so. Although for most students the teaching experience is currently voluntary, all departments do reserve the right to require their students to gain at least a modicum of teaching experience for the reasons given above. Some departments expect its advanced graduate students to spend some time assisting the faculty in instructing more junior graduate students and medical students in some scheduled laboratories.

Requirement for the Master of Science Degree

Applicants for the M.S. degree must have a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Undergraduate courses in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and biology are usually recommended prerequisites, as well as courses deemed appropriate by the various departments or programs. Requirements for the master’s degree include the following:

  1. Satisfactory completion of at least 20 semester hours of course work and 10 semester hours of thesis work for a minimum total of 30 semester hours.
  2. Preparation of a thesis based upon data derived from an experiment originating with the student in conjunction with their advisor. (In highly selected cases, with the approval of the Dean following recommendation by the student's department chair/program director, a literature review might be presented.)
  3. Successful completion of a written thesis followed by an oral defense. The College of Graduate Studies does not maintain a residency requirement for the master’s degree.

Requirements for the MD/PhD Program

The MD/PhD candidate must be formally accepted by the appropriate MD/PhD Admissions Committee. A minimum of six didactic credit hours must be taken by the MD/PhD candidate in addition to those didactic courses for which multiple credits is given in the combined program/department. As part of the minimum 30 didactic credit hours required for the PhD Degree, 24 credit hours may be transferred from medical school courses. Specific MD/PhD program requirements are outlined in the description of the MD/PhD program in the College of Medicine section of this handbook. MD/PhD students are also subject to the academic policies of the College of Graduate Studies as outlined in this handbook.