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Programmatic Components of Master of Science with Emphasis in Stem Cell Research

 Academic and Research Requirements for Master of Science
with Emphasis in Stem Cell Research

This is a 2-year Master of Science program with an emphasis in Stem Cell Research. This program is designed to provide students with an excellent foundation in stem cell biology. The goal of this program is prepare students to either continue their education at the PhD level or enter the stem cell workforce. Below are common courses taken by students in this program.

YEAR 1  

Master of Science (MS) Cell and Molecular Biology, Emphasis in Stem Cell Biology

Fall, Year 1

  • BIOL 861: Topics in Stem Cell Biology (2U)
  • BIOL 782: Developmental Biology (3U)
  • BIOL 793: Reproductive Technologies (2U)
  • BIOl 803: Core Concepts of Biotechnology (3U)
  • BIOL 849: Bioethics (3U)

Spring, Year 1

  • BIOL 716: Scientific Writing (3U)
  • BIOL 784: Cell Culture & Stem Cell Techniques (3U)
  • BIOL 804: Life Science Careers (2U)
  • BIOL 861: Topics in Dev Biology (2U)
  • BIOL 871: Colloquium in Cell and Molecular Biology (2U)
  • BIOL 897: Independent research (3U)

The first year involves academic preparation. You must successfully complete the following courses during the first year of the program to become eligible for a CIRM fellowship in Year 2.

BIOL 861: Topics in Stem Cell Biology: This course will introduce the field of stem cell biology through reading and analyzing the primary literature. Students will sharpen their critical thinking skills while discussing and presenting key papers in the field of stem cell biology.

BIOL 782: Developmental Biology: Students will learn the general process of embryogenesis with a particular focus on the molecular mechanisms underlying cell differentiation. Students will also read primary research articles with a special focus on the rapidly changing field of stem cell biology.

BIOL 784: Cell Culture and Stem Cell Techniques: Students will learn basic tissue culture techniques and practices in preparation of working with various cell lines including stem cell lines.

BIOL 793: Reproductive Strategies:  This course is focused on the modern techniques associated with fertility. In particular, students will learn about oocyte retrieval, in-vitro fertilization, and early human development.

BIOL 803: Core Concepts of Biotechnology: This course introduces current trends, biomedical applications and historical foundations of the biotechnology field. 

BIOL 804: Life Science Careers: Introduction to career opportunities for biology life science students after graduation, choosing a career, and necessary tools to pursue a chosen field. 

BIOL 849: Bioethics: This course will teach students about current ethical issues and how to identify, evaluate, and resolve ethical dilemmas in the stem cell field.

BIOL 716: Skills for Scientific Proposal Writing: This is a professional science writing course that is designed to develop the writing skills essential for communicating scientific results and in preparation for the master’s thesis written in Year 2 of the master’s program.

BIOL 861: Topics in Developmental Biology: This course involves reading, discussing, and presenting articles across the broad field of developmental biology.

BIOL 871: Colloquium in Cell and Molecular Biology: This is a seminar series in which scientists across the field of cell and molecular biology are invited to SFSU to share their research expertise with students and faculty.

BIOL 897: Independent Research: Students will begin their research project in a stem cell lab during the spring semester of Year 1. To receive university credit for this activity. students will enroll in this course. Grades for this course will be in consultation with the host research mentor. 


Upon successful completion of the academic and research activities in Year 1, students will be eligible for a $30K stipend in Year 2. During the second year of the program the student will devote most of their time to research activities at the host research institution (UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley, and The Buck Institute for Age Research). By the end of Year 2 students will submit a final report written in the form of a journal manuscript documenting their research project as well as participate in an oral thesis defense. The students will enroll in the following courses during their second year:

Summer, Year 1

  • UCSF: Stem Cell Technique Course (2U)

Fall, Year 2

  • BIOL 897: Independent research (6U)
  • BIOL 871: Colloquium (2U)

Spring, Year 2

  • BIOL 897: Independent research (5U)
  • BIOL 895: Final Report (3U)
  • Oral Thesis Defense

30 units total for the MS degree in Cell and Molecular Biology emphasis in Stem Cell Research

UCSF Stem Cell Techniques course: After completing their first year in the program, students will participate in a one-week intensive Shared Research Stem Cell Laboratory course taught by UCSF faculty. The core topics of the course are:

  • Day 1: Principles in basic human embryology, methods for preparing human fibroblasts used as hESC feeders, Fisher method of isolating, plating, and propagating mesenchymal cells derived from human placentas, and monitoring passages.
  • Day 2: hESC propagation, colony morphology, cryopreservation, and construction of cell banks.
  • Day 3: Evaluating markers of pluripotency, preparation and analysis of embryoid bodies.
  • Day 4: Karyotype analysis using FISH and pathogen testing using real time PCR.
  • Day 5: Genetic modification of hESC using lentiviral vectors and FACS analysis.

BIOL 897: Independent Research: Students will continue their independent stem cell research project during Year 2. To receive university credit for this activity. students will take this course. Grades for this course will be in consultation with the host research mentor.  

BIOL 871: Colloquium in Microbiology, Cell and Molecular Biology: Students will attend a research colloquium where guest speakers discuss their research. SFSU will host several stem cell biology researchers every year in this colloquium. Students will have the option to attend seminars at their host institution site in lieu of BIOL 871.  

BIOL 895: Final Report: During the final semester of the program, students will complete their research projects and will prepare a final report in the form of a manuscript. Students will present their research results to their thesis committee for final approval at the end of the spring semester or during the summer. Students are encouraged to prepare a presentation about their research for a more general audience at the annual SFSU Graduate Research and Creative Arts Showcase as well as for scientific conferences.

To be considered for this Master of Science in Cell and Molecular Biology with an emphasis in Stem Cell Biology program, you must follow the application proceedure here.

Application Deadline: February 1, 2017