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The Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine

Kenneth S. Polonsky, M.D.

  • Richard T. Crane Distinguished Service Professor
  • Dean of the Division of the Biological Sciences and the Pritzker School of Medicine
  • Executive Vice President of Medical Affairs

Victoria E. Prince, Ph.D.

  • Professor, Department of Organismal Biology & Anatomy
  • Dean of Graduate Affairs and Director, Office of Graduate and Postdoctoral Affairs

Holly J. Humphrey, M.D.

  • Ralph W. Gerard Professor in Medicine
  • Dean for Medical Education

The Division of the Biological Sciences is unique in encompassing both a medical school and graduate programs in biological sciences. Faculty in the division teach biology to undergraduate students, but the organization and administration of baccalaureate programs in the biological sciences is the responsibility of the College, through the office of the Master of the Biological Sciences Collegiate Division. The departments and faculty within the division are not separated by providing instruction to medical, graduate or college students, but rather all serve the entire curricular needs of the students in the university. This organizational structure makes possible a wide range of contacts and interactions among students and faculty in the basic and clinical science areas and affords singular study and research opportunities for students regardless of their program of study.

Degrees and Requirements

The Division of the Biological Sciences offers the degrees of Master of Science, Doctor of Philosophy, Doctor of Medicine, or Doctor of Medicine with Honors. Combined degrees (A.B./S.M. or M.D./Ph.D.) are available within certain special programs.

Recommendation for any of these degrees is conditional on the satisfactory completion of the academic requirements for the degree and the maintenance of proper conduct by the student while in the University.

Master of Science

The Master of Science degree is awarded by the Division of the Biological Sciences in very specific circumstances: the S.M in Public Health Sciences for Clinical Professionals; the S.M. in Translational Research for PhD students in select BSD graduate programs; or as below:

  • Those individuals not continuing in their Ph.D. program of study may be awarded a terminal masters degree.
  • Some students who are continuing their Ph.D. programs specify a desire to receive a transitional Master of Science degree.

Doctor of Philosophy

A general statement of the conditions under which this degree is awarded is presented here. The more specific program requirements are described in the sections outlining the offerings of each graduate program.

  • Bachelors degree from an accredited undergraduate institution.
  • A minimum of three years of graduate work beyond the level of the bachelors degree. Credit for graduate work completed at other institutions may be given if recommended by the graduate program concerned and approved by the Dean of Graduate Affairs.
  • Completion of nine, letter graded courses at the University of Chicago, with a B average in course grades. This is a minimum; individual units may have more stringent requirements.
  • Preliminary examination testing the candidate's general knowledge of their field of study.
  • Fulfillment of the divisional teaching requirement. Before the Ph.D. can be awarded, students are required to serve as a teaching assistant twice (two quarters) for credit in preapproved positions in the biological sciences.
  • Fulfillment of the divisional ethics requirement. All students receive training in scientific integrity and the ethical conduct of research.  The first course is completed in the first year of study and the second training is taken in the fifth year, if the PhD is not yet completed.
  • Formal admission to candidacy for the degree upon recommendation of the graduate program, after completion of all program-specific requirements, including course work and the preliminary examination if applicable.  Admission to candidacy is approved by the Dean of Graduate Affairs at least eight months before the degree is granted but generally occurs at the beginning of the third year of study.
  • Acceptance of a dissertation submitted by the student to the graduate program having jurisdiction over the student’s degree.
  • A successful final examination administered by the graduate program concerned.

Combined Bachelor’s/Master’s

Students who have completed at least three years of undergraduate study in the College of the University of Chicago but have not completed their bachelor’s degree may sometimes qualify for admission to a special A.B./S.M. program leading directly to the master’s degree. Acceptance into such a program depends on a student’s qualifications and on departmental policy. Only a few departments currently offer such a combined program. Inquiries should be made to the appropriate departments or the College office.

Doctor of Medicine

This degree is normally awarded after fourteen quarters of satisfactory full time work at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. To qualify for the M.D. degree, students must have completed at least the last eight academic quarters of medical studies in the School. Please see the Pritzker School of Medicine section for additional information on this degree.

Doctor of Medicine with Honors

Each year during the spring, the committee on honors and awards entertains nominations from individual departments of senior medical students to be awarded graduation with honors. It is the purpose of this committee to select those students who have demonstrated leadership qualities, outstanding scholastic performance, and significant research abilities and accomplishments. Membership in Alpha Omega Alpha is taken into consideration, but is not a prerequisite for the award. The names of students so honored appear in the convocation program followed by the notation with Honors. This notation also appears both on the official academic records and on the diplomas of such students.

M.D./Ph.D. Degrees

In addition to the regular degree programs in medicine (M.D.) and the basic sciences (Ph.D.), the Division of the Biological Sciences administers a few special joint degree programs, such as the Medical Scientist Training Program, Growth, Development and Disabilities Training Program and the MD-PhD program in Medicine, the Social Sciences and Humanities.