Doctoral students must submit a Plan of Study (D1 form), put together a dissertation committee (D2 form), pass the comprehensive examination (D3 form) and complete a dissertation defense (D4 form).

The PhD requires satisfactory completion of at least 72 hours of coursework and defense of dissertation. Included in course requirements is a minimum of 15 hours of 8000-9000 level courses. This does not include research (8090 or 9090).

Laboratory Rotations

PhD students are required to do three four-week laboratory rotations before the end of the first semester.

Rotations will not be given a written grade, but the mentor will provide a brief written evaluation at the end of the rotation. Students are to select a laboratory in which to study at the end of the first semester.


Required Courses

  • STAT 7070 or 7530 or 7510
  • MPP 8415 Responsible Conduct of Research through Engagement, Enactment and Empowerment NIH and other Federal Age
  • MPP 8420 Skills in Biomedical Research
  • MPP 9422 Journal Club - each semester
  • BIOCHM 7270
  • BIOCHM 7272
  • MPP 7422 Medical Physiology 
  • MPP 7424 Pharmacology and Translational Medicine
  • MPP 9426 Transmembrane Signaling
  • MPP 8412 Seminar - each semester

Electives (Must choose at least two)

  • MPP 9437 Neural Cardiorespiratory Control
  • MPP 9430 Cardiovascular Physiology
  • MPP 9431 Control of Energy Metabolism
  • MPP 9432 Mammalian Membrane Physiology
  • MPP 9434 Microvascular Circulatory Function
  • MPP 9435 Molecular Exercise Biology
  • V BSCI 8420 Veterinary Physiology
  • V BSCI 5100 Veterinary Neuroscience

Review the official course listings provided by the registrar.

Dissertation Committee

The doctoral program committee shall be composed of a minimum of four members of the MU graduate faculty and will include at least three members from the student’s doctoral degree program and an outside member from a different program.

Qualifying Process

The qualifying examination will consist of successful completion (B or better) of coursework in the first year. The D1 form, approved by the dissertation committee, should be submitted in the summer/fall of the second year.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination consists of the student writing a grant application and defending it orally with his/her committee. The student’s committee provides a broad topic or an idea for the grant, often with student input. The topic may not be the dissertation project, but the topic may be associated with the dissertation, a potential postdoctoral project, a seminar topic or be completely unrelated. AHA fellowship grant guidelines are to be followed. The grant proposal idea or topic is given to the student approximately three to four weeks before the submission of the grant to the committee. The committee is then given at least a week to read and critique the grant proposal in preparation for the oral defense before the entire committee. The two parts of the examination are to be completed within one month while the university is officially in session.

Dissertation Proposal

Within six months of passing the comprehensive examination, students should submit their dissertation proposal. The dissertation proposal should include a statement of the hypothesis; aims/objectives; background; innovation; preliminary data; experimental design; literature cited; following AHA fellowship guidelines.

Teaching Assistantship

PhD students must serve as a teaching assistant for at least two semesters.

Graduation Requirements


Students will present a minimum of three departmental seminars. Two of the seminars are full-length regularly scheduled departmental seminars. It is suggested that these be the proposal and dissertation defense. In addition, students are required to present at the annual departmental student research update day in each year that they are enrolled in the program. This this will count as the third seminar.


Students are expected to present annually at Cardiovascular Day or another MU research forum and to present their research at least once at a national meeting.


Students will have at least one first-author paper submitted for publication to a high-quality, peer-reviewed journal at the time of dissertation defense.