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Michael Ludwig and Caitlin McMenamin, both students in the Anatomy Graduate Program at Penn State College of Medicine, are seen at work in a lab in the Department of Neural & Behavioral Sciences. The two are looking downward and framed at right by clean glassware hanging on a lab wall.

Anatomy MS

Anatomy MS Program Details

The goal of the Anatomy MS Program at Penn State College of Medicine is to educate and prepare individuals for advanced professional degrees in human structure, or for accelerated entry into professions related to medical science and biomedical research.

The Master of Science in Anatomy is an academic degree awarded for the satisfactory completion of a program of study that includes both didactic coursework and original research.

It is expected that a student will expend a minimum of two academic years of study in a full-time capacity to complete this degree.


The Master of Science in Anatomy is an academic degree and requires a minimum of 30 graduate credits with at least 18 credits at the 500-level or above. A GPA of 3.0 is required at the time of graduation.

Required Courses

  • ANAT 503 Human Gross Anatomy
  • ANAT 512 Human Embryology
  • ANAT 505 Microscopic Anatomy I
  • ANAT 506 Microscopic Anatomy II
  • Human Structure Cadaveric Laboratory
  • ANAT 590 Colloquium
  • ANAT 600 Laboratory Research (6 credits; normally taken during last semester)
  • Biomedical Ethics (1 credit)
  • Electives (3 to 6 credits)

The Anatomy MS Program must be completed in six semesters unless the student has received prior approval (due to extenuating circumstances) for an extended course of study. 


In the first semester, master's degree students begin selecting the laboratory in which they will complete their MS thesis projects.

In general, the MS degree is awarded in May of the second year, allowing approximately 15 months of research.

Thesis projects for MS students generally have faculty input in the design and implementation, and may be more descriptive in nature than a doctoral project.

Each student must successfully complete a laboratory-based, hypothesis-driven research project which includes a written thesis and successful presentation of the work to their committee. Presentation in an open, public form is strongly encouraged.

Academic Requirements

To be awarded an MS degree in Anatomy, the student must successfully:

  • Earn a total of 30 credit hours, of which at least 18 must be in 500- and 600-level courses. Students must maintain a B average (3.0) or better in academic courses to be retained in the program.
  • Complete the ethics course.
  • Obtain 6 credits for thesis research in year 2.
  • Complete an original research project, and orally defend a written thesis describing the experimental design, results, and significance of the work.

At the completion of the degree, the student will have satisfactorily:

  • Mastered knowledge that is unique to the field of human structure.
  • Mastered knowledge in human anatomy that is necessary to perform in a professional, academic or corporate setting.
  • Demonstrated competence in scientific research.
  • Demonstrated ability to read, write and evaluate scientific literature.
  • Demonstrated a work ethic that supports scholarship and promotes the highest standards of academic integrity.
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