Anatomy, M.S., Ph.D.

Saint Louis University’s graduate anatomy programs offers advanced training on the structure of the human body and prepares you for a career in medicine or academics.


About the Program

Offered through Saint Louis University's Center for Anatomical Science and Education, SLU’s graduate programs in anatomy can assist in M.D. or Ph.D. postdoctoral training and to stimulate your interest in research. You will advance the frontiers of your knowledge and technical expertise through active participation in a variety of research projects.

Graduate students in SLU’s anatomy program perform research projects by working with a faculty mentor whose research interests match their own. Doctoral students are expected to publish and present a minimum of two research projects. The program also offers a concentration in neurobiology for Ph.D. students that can help prepare you for a career in neuroscience-related areas.

Research

SLU’s Center for Anatomical Science and Education faculty are engaged in multidisciplinary research of biological structure and function ranging from ultrastructural to gross anatomical levels. Clinically relevant anatomy and neurobiology is a major interest. Other research interests include cell biology and pathobiology.

Facilities are available for autoradiography, electrophysiology, gel electrophoresis, immunoblotting, immunostaining (immunocytochemistry, immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence), high-performance liquid chromatography, in situ hybridization, microsurgery, stereotaxic neurosurgery, microinjections and animal behavioral assays. The center is also equipped to perform optical imaging, including bright field, phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy.

Program Highlights

Teaching faculty and mentors are drawn from a select group of scientists and clinicians at the Saint Louis University School of Medicine. The faculty are united by their extensive experience and teaching and training young scientists, medical students and physicians-in-training.

Master's Curriculum and Program Details

Students pursuing a master’s degree in anatomy at SLU can choose to complete either a thesis or a project.

Thesis Option 

The thesis option provides advanced training in anatomy and is a good option if you are interested in teaching fundamental courses in anatomy or if your main interests are in related fields such as medicine or the allied health professions. It also serves as an introduction to biomedical research. A total of 30 credit hours, including six hours of thesis research, are required for graduation.

 Qualifying Examination and Defense

  • Upon completion of the core curriculum and Basic Research Techniques in Anatomy, the student must register for 4-6 hours of Thesis Research.  The thesis research project generally takes 2-3 academic semesters after the research proposal has been approved. Initially, the student must identify a research project under the guidance of a CASE faculty member.  
  • An M.S. (thesis) committee will then be formed as the student prepares their research proposal. A three member M.S. (thesis) committee, chaired by the student’s primary adviser, will be appointed by the director of the anatomy graduate program.  The committee must include at least two members of the CASE anatomy graduate faculty. A third member of the committee can be appointed by the graduate program director if they are graduate faculty in other SLU departments or at another university.  It is the decision of the anatomy graduate program director to accept the adviser’s recommendation and to identify the final member of the committee.
  • Once the proposal has been approved by the M.S. (thesis) committee, it is then submitted to the Office of Graduate Education.   
  • A thesis must be completed and approved by the faculty adviser and M.S. (thesis) committee.  The thesis should follow the formatting guidelines issued by the Office of Graduate Education.
  • Completion of the thesis research project follows: writing of the thesis, application for advancement to candidacy and the thesis defense. It shall be the responsibility of the student to initiate candidacy by filling out a candidacy form through Office of Graduate Education. The completed form must be returned by the deadline stated in the graduate education calendar of deadlines. Once the completed candidacy form has been processed by the Office of Graduate Education, the thesis committee chair will receive a ballot for the oral defense of the thesis. The ballot is distributed to the other committee members by the thesis committee chair when they vote on the oral defense.  Once the ballots are completed, signed and sealed, it is the committee chairperson's responsibility to deliver the ballots to the Office of Graduate Education immediately following the defense.
  • The defense of the thesis provides an opportunity for the student to formally present their findings to their committee, the faculty and students in CASE, and to any family member or anyone from the general public wishing to attend.  
  • Two weeks before the thesis defense, an electronic and print announcement of the date, time, location and title of the defense will be publicized to all members of CASE. A final draft of the student’s thesis must be made available in the anatomy conference room for faculty and students to review at least seven working days prior to the defense.
  • The thesis defense is two parts. First, the student will make an oral, PowerPoint presentation of no longer than 45 minutes duration where they present their research. Following the presentation, questions from the collective audience will be encouraged.  Once all questions have been satisfactorily answered by the student, the audience is excused and the closed, or executive, part of the defense takes places with only the student and their committee present. The thesis committee can ask detailed questions and expect the student to demonstrate thorough knowledge of their project and related research. Questions on general topics in anatomy, unrelated to their research, may also be asked. Following all questioning, the student is excused from the room and the committee members, without discussion, complete the defense ballot.

Project Option

The project option is appropriate if you want to teach human anatomy structure and function, or if you are undecided about a career in the health professions and want to improve your academic background before applying to professional schools. It provides training in anatomy with a capstone project. A total of 30 credit hours is necessary to complete the degree.

Qualifying Examination and Defense

  • Upon completion of the core curriculum, the student must identify an independent study project under the guidance of a CASE faculty adviser for the required Master's Project (ANAT-5960, 2-4 credit hours) course.  
  • The Master's Project course is intended to foster students' intellectual development by working independently with a faculty adviser and an M.S. (project) committee.  It is hoped that a student will develop the capacity to plan and execute a project and will acquire competence and critical writing skills.
  • The M.S. (project) committee will be formed as the student prepares the project proposal.  A three member M.S. (project) committee, chaired by the student’s primary adviser, will be recommended to the director of the anatomy graduate program for approval. The committee must include at least two members of the CASE anatomy graduate faculty.
  • The initial responsibility of the M.S. (project) committee is to determine the feasibility of the project and its proposal, and to permit the student to proceed only after such determination has been made. The committee and director of the anatomy graduate program shall sign off on the student's proposal and a copy should be kept in the student's file in the CASE office. The signing of this document signifies that the student has permission to proceed with the study as outlined in the proposal.  
  • The M.S. (project) committee will meet regularly with the student and adviser and is responsible for reviewing the ongoing project and manuscript drafts, and to provide feedback in a timely manner.
  • A manuscript of the project, in the form of a treatise, must be completed and approved by the faculty adviser and M.S. (project) committee. The treatise is a critical analysis of the project and is expected to demonstrate mastery of the material using critical thinking skills.  The manuscript should follow the formatting guidelines issued by the Office of Graduate Education.
  • As the project and manuscript near their completion, a tentative date to complete the oral examination will be scheduled, no less than two weeks in advance, by the faculty adviser and approved by the M.S. (project) committee.  The last day to complete the final oral examination will be identified by the graduate education calendar of deadlines and will be strictly enforced.
  • Before the oral examination is officially scheduled to take place, the student's Master's Project course project must be completed and approved by the student's faculty advisor and M.S. (project) committee.  
  • Two weeks before the thesis defense, an electronic and print announcement of the date, time, location and title of the defense will be publicized to all members of CASE. A final draft of the student’s thesis must be made available in the anatomy conference toom for faculty and students to review at least seven working days prior to the defense.   
  • The oral examination will consist of a formal presentation of the student project to the M.S. (project) committee, the faculty and students in CASE, and to any family member or anyone from the general public wishing to attend.  After the presentation, the committee will meet with the student privately to ask any questions relating to the project and manuscript, and of the student's knowledge of anatomy.  After the private meeting, the student will be asked to leave the room as the committee votes on the oral examination performance by filling out the ballot issued by the Office of Graduate Education.  Once the ballot is completed, signed and sealed it is the committee chairperson's responsibility to deliver the ballot to the Office of Graduate Education immediately following the oral examination.  
Ph.D.  Curriculum and Program Details

SLU’s doctoral degree in anatomy provides training in clinical human anatomy and independent research for students interested in teaching and research at the university level. Your dissertation research will be related to the Center for Anatomical Science and Education’s current research focus. These can include clinically relevant topics in neurobiology, pathology, and/or biological structure and function.  A total of 48 credit hours (36 hours of coursework and 12 hours of dissertation research) are required for graduation. It typically takes five years to complete this program. Students can apply for competitive teaching assistantships for clinical anatomy and neuroscience courses and predoctoral fellowships.

Qualifying Examination and Defense

After completing the core curriculum, Basic Research Techniques in Anatomy and Principles of Biostatistics, the student must prepare for and successfully pass the doctoral qualifying examination.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination

The qualifying exam is a written examination that is designed to test the student’s fundamental knowledge of human structure and function, critical analysis and thinking, and design of an independent research proposal. An ad hoc exam committee will be constituted by the director of the anatomy graduate program and include five members of the graduate faculty, four of which shall be anatomists. The program director or associate director shall chair the committee. The written test shall occur over a five-day period (excluding weekends). The committee will request the faculty to submit questions on:  material covered in any of the coursework completed by the student to date, research papers or reviews that will be provided to the student, and/or  philosophical matters related to the history of anatomy and medicine or national or world events that impact medical education and biomedical research. The committee will review the submitted questions and questions will be selected or created by the committee to ensure the questions are fair and appropriate, that they test the student’s knowledge base for areas of anatomy (gross anatomy, neuroanatomy, histology and embryology), and that they help evaluate the problem-solving skills of the student. Failing the qualifying exam will result in the student being recommended to being dropped from the Ph.D. program. In this case, the director of the anatomy graduate program can elect to offer the failed student the option of completing a terminal master’s degree.

Once the student has passed the doctoral qualifying examination, the student must register for Dissertation Research. A minimum of 12 hours is required for degree completion and typically occurs over 2-3 academic years. Initially, the student must identify a research project under the guidance of a faculty member. A Ph.D. dissertation committee will then be formed as the student prepares their research proposal.

A three-member Ph.D. dissertation committee, chaired by the student’s primary adviser, will be appointed by the director of the anatomy graduate program. The committee must include at least two members of the anatomy graduate faculty. A third member of the committee can be appointed by the graduate program director if they are graduate faculty in other SLU departments or at another university. It is the decision of the anatomy graduate program director to accept the adviser’s recommendation and to identify the final member of the committee. Once the proposal has been approved by the Ph.D. dissertation committee it is then submitted to the Office of Graduate Education.

Doctoral Oral Qualifying Examination

The oral qualifying exam will be scheduled after the student has submitted a detailed dissertation research proposal, conducted preliminary experiments to substantiate the proposal and the dissertation advisory committee formed. The committee will consist of five members of the graduate faculty and will be approved by program director. The oral exam will be public and designed to test the student’s fundamental knowledge of their proposed studies, background for the studies, and critical analysis and thinking.

Prior to the doctoral student’s request for consideration for advancement to candidacy, submission of their research proposal, formation of their research committee, initiation of the major components of their proposed doctoral research project, and registration for any research hours, the student must have completed most of their required core or elective coursework and successfully passed their preliminary/written qualifying exam.

Advancement to Candidacy

Completion of the dissertation research project entails the following: writing of the thesis, application for advancement to candidacy and the dissertation defense. It shall be the responsibility of the student to initiate their candidacy by filling out a candidacy form through the Office of Graduate Education. The completed form must be returned by the deadline stated in the graduate education calendar of deadlines. Once the completed candidacy form has been processed by the Office of Graduate Education, the thesis committee chair will receive ballots for the oral defense of the thesis. The ballots are distributed to the other committee members by the thesis committee chair when they vote on the oral defense. Once the ballots are completed, signed and sealed, it is the committee chairperson's responsibility to deliver the ballots to the Office of Graduate Education immediately following the defense.

Dissertation Defense

The defense of the dissertation provides an opportunity for the student to formally present their findings to their committee, the faculty and students in CASE, and to any family member or anyone from the general public wishing to attend. Two weeks before the dissertation defense, an electronic and print announcement of the date, time, location and title of the defense will be publicized to all members of CASE. A final draft of the student’s dissertation must be placed in the anatomy conference room for faculty and students to review at least seven working days prior to the defense. The dissertation defense is two parts. First, the student will make an oral, PowerPoint presentation of no longer than 45 minutes duration where they present their research. Following the presentation, questions from the collective audience will be encouraged. Once all questions have been satisfactorily answered by the student, the audience is excused and the closed, or executive, part of the defense takes place with only the student and their committee present. The dissertation committee can ask detailed questions and expect the student to demonstrate thorough knowledge of their project and related research. Questions on general topics in anatomy, unrelated to their research, may also be asked. Following all questioning, the student is excused from the room and the committee members, without discussion, complete the defense ballot.

Faculty
  • Michael Ariel, Ph.D.
  • Craig Lawson, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Joshua W. Little, D.C., Ph.D.
  • John R. Martin III, Ph.D.
  • Yun Tan, M.D., Ph.D.
  • MariaTeresa A. Tersigni-Tarrant, Ph.D., D-ABFA
  • Paul A. Young, Ph.D., Emeritus 
Careers
Possible careers for graduates with a degree in anatomy include medical doctor, allied health professional and university professor. 
Tuition and Fees

Saint Louis University takes pride in being one of Barron's Best Buys in College Education and Kiplinger's Best Values in Private Colleges.

For information regarding the upcoming academic year’s tuition rate, fees and financial aid, visit SLU Financial Services.

2017-2018 Tuition and Fees
Cost Calculator
Financial Aid

 


Applicant Criteria

Applicants are admitted on a competitive basis and must have a B.S. or B.A. degree from an accredited U.S. college or university with a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 and/or science GPA of 2.8. In addition, applicants must have either a minimum combined MCAT score of 495 or a GRE general test score at the 40th percentile.

To apply, you’ll need:

Application Requirements
Application form and fee
Transcript(s)
Three letters of recommendation
GRE G scores (GRE S optional)
Résumé
Interview
Professional goal statement

 

Requirements for International Students

Application Deadlines

Students should apply for the M.S. program by July 1 for fall admission, and for the Ph.D. program by March 1 (also for fall admission).