Master’s in Anatomy & Neurobiology (Vesalius Program)

The M.S. degree in Anatomy and Neurobiology is a rigorous two-year program incorporating coursework in anatomical and neurobiological principles. In addition, the degree has a strong focus on producing outstanding educators through a combination of lecturing and one-on-one mentoring. The program also requires the acquisition of scholarly and scientific expertise through the generation of a Masters level thesis. The program for the M.S. degree consists of the equivalent of one year of foundational course work and at least one year of directly supervised research work. Candidates are required to complete 32 credits at the graduate level. Course selection for the M.S. program is done in consultation with your academic advisor.By the end of their first year of study, Masters students will normally be expected to have chosen an adviser from among the faculty of the Department, and to spend the first summer occupied with scientific research. This faculty member will then advise the student on which courses should be taken in the second year of their training.The research work carried out, and the results obtained, will be presented as a thesis atthe end of the M.S. program. This should be comparable in design and content to a full-length article in a scientific journal. The M.S. program has a maximum time limit of three years after first registration for the M.S. degree.

To see more details on the courses we offer, please visit the Course Description page.

Required Courses for the M.S. Degree

Medical Gross Anatomy (includes full cadaveric dissection) 8cr AN701
Medical Neuroscience 4cr AN703
Experimental Design & Statistical Methods
OR Elementary Biostatistics
OR SPH Introduction to Biostatistics
Vesalius 1: Teaching in the Biomedical Sciences 2cr AN806
Vesalius 2: Teaching Apprenticeship 2cr AN809
Vesalius 3: Mentored Teaching Project 2cr AN805
Research Colloquium in Anatomy & Neurobiology (Journal Club) 2cr AN801/AN802
Professional Skills 2cr AN715
One Departmental Elective 2cr List Below

Elective Options for Masters Students

Advanced Clinical Anatomy 2cr AN708
Advanced Neuroanatomy (even numbered years) 4cr AN724
Cognitive Neuroscience 4cr AN811
Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
(*on demand)
4cr AN716
Dynamic Modeling 2cr AN820
Learning and Memory (even numbered years) 2cr AN702
Methods of Functional Imaging of the Brain 2cr IM630
Methods in Neuroscience 4cr AN718
Molecular Basis of Neurologic Disease 2cr MS783
Neurobiology of Aging 2cr AN707
Neurobiology of the Visual System (on demand) 2cr AN807
Graduate Histology (odd numbered years) 2cr AN824
Advanced Human Osteology 4cr FA806
Biomedical Imaging Foundations 4cr IM600
Cells, Organs and Tissues (Histology) 4cr AN722
Forensic Biology 3cr FS702
Forensic Pathology 3cr FS712
Fundamentals of Cell & Molecular Neurobiology 4cr AN777
Human Anatomy and Osteology 4cr FS711
Molecular Biology of Forensic DNA 3cr FS720
Scientific Writing 2cr AN815
Systems Neurobiology 4cr AN810

Requirements for the Masters Vesalius Module

All Master’s degree students are required to complete the Vesalius Module. Students must have successfully completed the two following prerequisite courses to pursue the Vesalius Module:

Medical Gross Anatomy 8cr AN701
Medical Neuroscience 4cr AN703

The Module consists of three courses/components.  The program begins with a course on the development of teaching skills in the biomedical sciences. This is followed by a teaching apprenticeship (40 hours service as a Teaching Fellow in one or more of the medical or graduate required courses, above), and concludes with a Mentored Teaching Project that involves the development of a didactic lesson or exercise under the direct mentorship of experienced and award-winning faculty.

Vesalius 1: Teaching in the Biomedical Sceinces 2cr AN806
Vesalius 2: Teaching Apprenticeship 2cr AN809
Vesalius 3: Mentored Teaching Project (Practicum) 2cr AN805

Typical curriculum for Masters in Anatomy & Neurobiology students:

Year 1: Fall

Medical Gross Anatomy 8cr AN701
Medical Neuroscience 4cr AN703

Year 1: Spring

Vesalius 1: Teaching in the Biomedical Sciences 2cr AN806
Professional skills for Students in the Biomedical Sciences 2cr AN715
Research Colloquium in Anatomy & Neurobiology (Journal Club) 2cr AN801/802
Elective(s) 2cr List above

Year 2: Fall and Spring

During Year 2 students must take:

An approved statistics course 2-3cr
Vesalius 2: Teaching Apprenticeship 2cr AN809
Vesalius 3: Teaching Practicum 2cr AN805
Research variable
Electives as desired (see list above) variable

If it is deemed that an equivalent and appropriate course has been successfully completed in the preceding three years, the student may petition the Graduate Education Committee (GEC) to be exempt from the course. The course syllabus should be submitted with the petition letter. If the petition is approved, then the course may be substituted for another course. Requests to substitute a course must be submitted in writing to the GEC before the time of registration.

Please note that due to the intensive nature of the program, part-time attendance is not allowed.


To receive graduation credit in any course taken as part of the doctoral degree program, students must receive a “B-” grade of better. A grade of “C+” or lower is considered a failure. If there is a failure in one of the Basic Departmental Required Courses or Core Track Required Courses then this course will need to be remediated (refer to the Bulletin of the Division of Graduate Medical Sciences, under the Academic Policies and Procedures). If a grade of “C+” or lowers occurs in eight credit hours or more a student will be automatically terminated.

When the work of a course has not been completed within the semester of registration, the grade of “I” (incomplete) may be used. A grade of “I” can only be given if a student is doing passing work at the time they step out of the curriculum. This automatically becomes a permanent grade of “I” (unsatisfactory work) if the course work is not completed within the following academic year. Permanent grades of “I” are interpreted as failures.


Teaching is an essential part of our M.S. Degree program. M.S. candidates are required to complete 40 hours of teaching under the rubric of the Structured Practicum (AN805). This requirement is typically fulfilled during the first Spring or the second year of study. Each year the student will be given the opportunity to request his/her top teaching assignment choices. The GEC will then review all requests and, in consultation with Course Directors, will determine teaching assistant assignments based on student seniority, student choice and other matters that impact student course work/ thesis writing. The GEC will make every effort to match a student with his/her preferred teaching assignment. The GEC makes the final decision regarding teaching assignments. The following Departmental courses are commonly requested for graduate student teaching assignments. As shown, each course has a specific number of hours allocated to it.

Gross Anatomy 40 hours
Anatomy for Dental Students 40 hours (each section)

Students may opt to teach in other courses, and may express their preference to the GEC. Prior to this request, students should have spoken with the Course Director of their chosen course to assess availability/feasibility.

Learning Outcomes

The goals of the Masters in Anatomy & Neurobiology (Vesalius) Program are to provide trainees with the knowledge base and skills to become proficient in basic biomedical research and to develop outstanding pedagogic skills. Successful completion of these goals enables our students to pursue further studies in the biomedical sciences including teaching, research, and health care. At the conclusion of the program students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of Gross Anatomy, Neuroscience, Statistics, and other graduate level elective anatomical and neuroscience topics through successful completion of our core curriculum.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in pedagogical skills in the context of the Teaching in Biomedical Sciences course and through teaching fellowships in core medical and graduate student courses (as listed above).
  • Demonstrate an understanding of pedagogical theory through the development of a mentored Vesalius teaching practicum, which involves the development of a didactic lesson or exercise under the direct mentorship of department faculty.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in scientific data acquisition and analysis through mentored research in one of the department’s research labs.
  • Describe and interpret scientific findings of their laboratory research study through the development of a written, publication-quality thesis.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the professional skills (including an ability to read and interpret scientific literature) required of biomedical scientists and educators.