II. Program Requirements

VI. Academic Course Requirements


Typical Master’s Degree
    4 Formal Graded Courses
   *ANIMLSCI 792 Seminar series during each semester enrolled
    1 Journal Club during each semester enrolled
    10 Thesis/Independent Study credits

Typical Doctor of Philosophy Degree
5 Formal Graded Courses
Animl Sci 792 Seminar during each semester enrolled
1 Journal Club during each semester enrolled
18 Dissertation Research credits (minimum)
An example course of study can be viewed here.
Definition of courses that are in the ABBS Program

The “major courses” include courses outside of those taught by the ABBS faculty and listed in SPIRE. They include key courses essential to training in the general discipline of Animal Biology as Animal Science courses, with emphasis on Molecular and Cellular Biology. Several statistics courses have also been included since this is a requirement for ABBS Graduate Students. Students may apply credit earned from one, but not more, of the statistics courses listed towards their ABBS major course credits requirement.


With guidance from their Major Advisor, ABBS students may choose courses outside of the Animal Science Departmental offerings to fulfill their requirements, as listed below. Courses in other fields of study unrelated to the major can be taken at the 500 level (or greater) for graduate credit with the approval of the student’s Major Advisor and Graduate Program Director.


A specific set of courses is considered to be the ‘core courses’ for the ABBS Graduate Program. These courses are taught by members of the ABBS program’s faculty and offer advanced training to students. Master’s students must take one of these while PhD students must take two.
  • ANIMLSCI 697C - Carcinogenesis
  • ANIMLSCI 697J - Cells, Genes and Development
  • ANIMLSCI 697K - Advanced Immunology
  • MOLCLBIO 641 - Advanced Cellular Biology


All students are required to take an intermediate level biometry or statistics course unless they have passed a similar, approved course with a grade of B or better previously (such courses may include those with undergraduate designations). The Graduate Committee or Graduate Program Director will make the determination.


A maximum of 6 credits earned through Independent Study courses can be applied towards the major course credit requirements for the PhD Degree and Master’s Degree with thesis. Non-thesis Master’s students may take up to 10 credits of independent study. Independent Study levels 596, 696 and 796 all constitute graduate work.


All ABBS graduate students in the Department must attend the Departmental Seminars each semester during which they are a member of the ABBS Graduate Program unless there is a conflict with their TA assignment or a course being taken for credit. Students must officially register for the ABBS seminar for at least 1 credit for Master’s and 3 credits for PhD. It is mandatory for ABBS students to attend luncheons and receptions with seminar speakers; the luncheons and receptions provide students with an opportunity to interact with scientists in a social setting. Interactions with these scientists may provide future post-doctoral or other employment opportunities and thus these opportunities are important.

While students may feel that in some instances the seminar presentations do not appear to be relevant to their direct research interests, skilled and attentive students will often be able to abstract information from seemingly unrelated fields for application to their own projects. Moreover, seminars in a variety of areas dealing with eukaryotic biology will reinforce coursework and enhance the breadthof knowledge of the student. Finally, well-constructed seminars illustrate the scientific methodology for approaching and answering research questions - a skill essential for graduate students to obtain and the essence of graduate research training


Critical review of scientific literature is an integral part of scientific research – in fact it is the step prior to conducting any bench work. Thus it is required that graduate students within the Department attend a journal club each semester they are in the program. Students are required to present at least one paper per year unless they are granted a special waiver during their first one or two semesters due to a severe deficiency in English.

Attending journal clubs keeps students abreast of research in the field as well as broadens their knowledge base. Moreover, presentation of papers in this setting is an opportunity to learn to organize knowledge - a skill needed both for classroom teaching and for seminar presentation - and provides an opportunity for public speaking.

There are four ABBS journal clubs whose topics are “Cells, Genes and Development - ANIMLSCI 795A”, “Immunology- ANIMLSCI 794A” (this is the longest running journal club on campus, held at 12:20 on Fridays since 1983), “Toxicology- ANIMLSCI 697I” and “Cancer and Chemoprevention- ANIMLSCI 697G”. Students should register these to fulfill their credit requirements but subsequently may attend any journal club offered at UMass to fulfill the need to attend a journal club every semester. For credit, Master’s students are required to receive at least 1 credit whereas PhD students are required to receive at least 3 credits from the departmental journal clubs.



May be fulfilled by

30 credits total

Traditional lecture courses and labs, Seminar, Journal Club, Thesis & Independent Study

21 credits must be in the “major field”

See list below for those that have been listed with the Graduate School as ‘ABBS major courses’

Minimum of 6 cr.  600-800 level (thesis) 12 cr. (non-thesis)

Includes all graded courses as well as Independent Study, Journal Club and Seminar but NOT Thesis Research credits

15 credits must be graded course

 ‘Graded course’ refers to those receiving a letter grade (A, B etc.) not P/F pass/fail or S/U satisfactory/unsatisfactory courses

Up to 10 credits can be Thesis Research #699

This is for students writing a traditional Master’s thesis. Minimum: 1 credit but can take up to 10 credits.


Limit on Independent Studies

Not more than 6 credits from Independent Studies can be applied to degree requirements for a Master’s with Thesis; up to 10 credits may be taken by non-thesis Master’s students.

Journal Club

Attend all semesters, but register for >1 credit


Attend all semesters, but register for > 1 credit


If the student has not previously taken such a course, they must take one

ABBS core courses

Take at least one of the major core courses listed




May be fulfilled by

ABBS core course

Take at least 2 of the ABBS major core courses

ABBS major courses

Take an additional 3 major or core courses
(>9 credits)

> 18 Dissertation Credits

18 credits minimum needed; can register for any number of credits.

Independent Studies 696 and 796

Can be used for Rotation credits; rarely used otherwise by PhD students.

Journal Club

Attend all semesters, but register for >3 credit of ABBS journal clubs; after this can attend any Journal Club on campus


Attend ABBS seminar each semester, but register for > 3 credit


If the student has not previously taken such a course one must be taken and will count towards the ABBS major course requirements above


2 contiguous semesters (Fall/Spring or Spring/Fall) registered for at least 9 credits each semester


Waivers or alternatives to ABBS program requirements are granted by the student’s Advisory Committee, in consultation with the Graduate Program Director. Course waivers will be extended based upon having recently completed the same or similar courses while pursuing a Master’s degree in the Department’s ABBS program or at another University, as an extramural Graduate Student or while in pursuit of a terminal professional degree (PhD in another field, MD, DVM, etc.).


Graduate students register using the UMass Spire http://spire.umass.edu system online. Graduate students usually register for Spring semester courses in November and Fall semester courses in April. Register as early as possible to not be shut out of the courses you need.

ABBS Core Courses
AnimlSci 697C Carcinogenesis (3 credits, Jerry, Pobezinsky)
AnimlSci 697J   Cells, Genes & Development (3 credits, Alfandari, Cousin, Fissore, Mager, Tremblay, Visconti)
AnimlSci 697K  Advanced Immunology (3 credits, Black, Baldwin, Osborne, Minter, Telfer, Pobezinskaya, Pobezinsky)
Molclbio 641 Advanced Cellular Biology (4 credits, Visconti)

Additional ABBS Major Courses  (3 credits unless indicated otherwise)
AnimlSci 521 - Physiology of Reproduction spring
AnimlSci 572 - Infection and Immunity spring 
AnimlSci 581H - Cancer BioIogy fall
AnimlSci 697S - The 10-Minute Talk: Putting on a Great Scientific Show  fall
AnimlSci 697W - Scientific Paper Writing spring
AnimlSci 797T - Frontiers in Biotechnology (meets with Chem 797T) fall
Biochem 523 - General Biochemistry I *
Biochem 524 - General Biochemistry II *
Biochem 623 - Advanced General Biochemistry
Biochem 642 - Advanced Molecular Biology fall & spring
Biology 559 - Cellular & Molecular  Biology II fall
Biology 568 -  Endocrinology spring
Biology 569 -  Experimental Endocrinology *
Biology 572 - Neurobiology fall & spring
Biology 580 - Developmental Biology fall & spring
Biology 583 - Advanced Genetics fall & spring
Biology 597GE - Evolutionary Genetics fall
Biology 791C - Writing for Graduate Students fall
Biostats 540 - Intro to Biostatistics fall & spring
Biostats 597D-Intro Stat Computing with R
Biostats 640 -  Intermediate Biostatistics spring
EHS 666 - Environmental and Occupational Toxicology I  fall
EHS 667 - Environmental and Occupational Toxicology II spring
Microbio 542 - Immunology Lab fall
Microbio 550 - Infection & Immunity
*Microbio 552 - Pathogenic Bacteriology lab spring
Microbio 565 - Lab in Molecular Genetics *
Microbio 570 - Animal Virology fall
Microbio 590L - Parasitology Lab *
Microbio 590S - Parasitology *
Microbio 597NST - Parasitology and Neglected Tropical Diseases *
Microbio 660 - Genomics & Bioinformatics *
Microbio 685 - Concepts in Molecular Genetics *
Molclbio 642 - Advanced Molecular Biology fall (4 credits)
Molclbio 657 - Drug Design *
Molclbio 691B - Signal Transduction & Development *
Sch-Mgmt - 797NST - Science-based Entrepreneurship and the Lean
                            Launchpad spring
Stat 501 - Methods of Applied Statistics fall
Stocksch 661 - Intermediate Biometry fall (4 credits includes lab and lecture)

 * Inquire with the department offering the course to learn when the course will be offered

AnSci 792 - ABBS seminar, 1 credit, letter graded, Wednesday 4 pm

                      Independent Study

                          Independent Study - (all Faculty) is taken for graded credits (ranging from
                          1 to 6 credits). Register with the interested faculty member.

AnSci 596 - Used for the first graduate level Independent Study taken or can be used by Undergraduates during their senior years with the intention to transfer these credits into the fast-track Master’s program.
AnSci 696 - Can be used by Master’s students to review literature in their chosen topic for the thesis introduction or for thesis research or other appropriate topics.
AnSci 796 - Used by PhD students as needed.

Journal Clubs
AnSci 794A -  Immunology (1 credit/semester) (Baldwin, Black, Minter, Osborne, Pobezinsky, Telfer, Pobezinskaya)
AnSci 795A  -  Cells, Genes and Development (1 credit/semester) (Alfandari, Cousin, Fissore, Jerry, Visconti, Mager, Tremblay)
AnSci 697I   - Toxicology (1 credit/semester) (Clark) every semester
AnSci 697G - Cancer and Chemoprevention (Schneider)

AnSci 699 - Thesis Research - Master’s with thesis only (1 to 10 credits).
                    Need at least one credit. Graded S/U at completion of Thesis
                     Defense by Graduate School
AnSci 899 -  Dissertation Research -  PhD Students (>18 credits).
                     Need at least 18 to graduate. Graded S/U at completion of
                     Dissertation Defense by Graduate School


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