Dorcas Nsumbu.

You can train in a collaborative environment. Biological sciences master’s student Dorcas Nsumbu conducts her research alongside physiology students. An aspiring physician, she is broadening her biomedical science knowledge.

Our master’s program in physiology is tailored to the goals of admission to medical and dental schools, careers in the biomedical industry and advancement to doctoral programs.

The program couples fundamental courses on organ systems, pathophysiology, and translational medicine with research approaches in molecular and cellular physiology. Importantly, it offers students the opportunity to link academic science with laboratory applications. The result is that students should complete the program with an understanding of the importance of physiology in the world of modern biomedicine. The underlying principle is that physiology is at the core of all aspects of the biomedical enterprise and that our students should be well prepared to participate fully in that venture.

The program emphasizes both extensive training in molecular, cellular, and systems physiology and intensive training in current topics in physiological research. Students can pursue research in the following areas: neurobiology, cardiovascular, cellular, gastrointestinal, and renal physiology. Students also have the opportunity to pursue collaborative research in other related departments or areas of the university.

Our students typically come directly from a four-year college program and usually have majored in biology, chemistry, physics or engineering, although some matriculate after having worked in industry or had other non-academic experiences. Many enter the program to train for a career in research and teaching at a college or university, but graduates also find employment in government or industrial laboratories. The program also is very well suited for students requiring postgraduate studies prior to application to a doctoral program or professional school (medical or dental).

Treefa Shwani.

Master’s student Treefa Shwani, who investigates circuitry and synaptic function in disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, notes: “My mentor gives me the freedom to explore different projects and learn advanced techniques.”

Program Objectives

The goal of the MS program is to produce graduates who are well founded in the principles of organ system and cellular physiology, and are able to perform research in specialized areas of physiology.


Objectives of the curriculum are to provide a general education in the principles of physiology: instruction in research methodology including experimental design, instrumentation, and analysis; and instruction in the basic sciences relevant to the understanding of physiological principles. A minimum of 30 credit hours of graduate study is required; 24 of these must be completed at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Continuous registration for a minimum of one semester hour each Fall and Spring term is required until all requirements for the degree are completed. Usually, tuition is reduced after 2 semesters with completion of the program course requirements. The following course of study is required of all students entering the program unless they have completed equivalent graduate-level courses elsewhere:

Year 1 Fall

  • PGY 505 Cellular and Molecular Physiology, 4 credits
  • PGY 507 Laboratory Exercises in Physiology (Research), 4 credits
  • * Electives, 4 credits

Year 1 Spring

  • PGY 607 Cellular and Molecular Basis of Disease, 4 credits
  • PGY 508 Laboratory Exercises in Physiology (Research), 4 credits
  • * Electives, 4 credits

Year 2 Fall

  • PGY 701 Thesis Research, 1-12 credits


  • PGY 950 Research in Physiology, 1-12 credits

Year 2 Spring

  • PGY 702 Thesis Research, 1-12 credits


  • PGY 950 Research in Physiology, 1-12 credits
*Elective courses

Elective courses are taken to provide opportunities for advanced education in specialized areas relevant to the student's research and advanced general education. Courses may be elected by the student in consultation with the student’s thesis/project adviser.  Some suggested elective courses include:

  • PGY 551 Human Physiology I, 3 credits
  • PGY 552 Human Physiology II, 3 credits
  • PGY 555 Neuroimmunology, 3 credits
  • BCH 503 Biochemical Principles, 3 credits
  • NRS 520 Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience, 4 credits
  • BMS 501 Cell Biology, 4 credits
  • BCH 507 Protein Structure and Function, 2 credits
  • BCH 508 Gene Expression, 2 credits

Grading and Promotion Standards

The department requires a grade of at least 'B' in all course work in physiology. Failure to meet this requirement in a single course results in a probationary period; multiple failures to meet the "B" requirement may lead to dismissal from the program. A grade of 'C' in courses outside the department is acceptable provided that it represents passing performance in the view of the department concerned. The Graduate School also requires that the student's overall average be maintained at least at the 'B' level. The department does not accept the grade of Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory and discourages the use of "Incomplete" for graduate courses.

Alexandra Wadhwani.

Conducting research in our department, biological sciences master’s student Alexandra Wadhwani has studied myocardial transcriptional response to acute and repetitive pressure overload. 

Thesis/Project Research

MS Thesis Research, Thesis Preparation, Thesis Reviews

The thesis research is conducted by the graduate student under the tutelage of his/her thesis adviser and thesis advisory committee. The student and his/her thesis adviser recommend three members of the graduate faculty (two from inside and one from outside the department) to serve on the thesis advisory committee.

Individuals who are neither members nor associate members of the UB graduate faculty may serve as additional committee members if their expertise would be of significant value to the student and the core members of the committee. The committee is appointed by the director of graduate studies and chaired by the thesis adviser.  The thesis research will culminate in a written thesis dissertation, which is an original contribution, written in English. Thesis preparation is critically monitored and supervised by the thesis adviser and the thesis advisory committee, both of whom must approve the thesis prior to the oral defense. 

The oral defense of thesis is scheduled after the candidate’s thesis advisory committee  has approved the thesis. The thesis is presented to the department in a seminar followed by an oral defense.

MS Project Research, Research Report Preparation, Research Report Reviews

Research conducted by a graduate student can result in a master’s research project rather than a thesis. The project research is conducted by the graduate student under the tutelage of his/her project adviser and project advisory committee. The project advisory committee will consist of the project adviser and two members of the department Faculty.

The focus of the research for a master’s project is generally more applied than that for a thesis, with the student often defining a problem and developing a solution for it. The project will be a scholarly undertaking that results in a tangible outcome (e.g., a technical report, a computer program, a manuscript), but that does not fit neatly within the framework of a traditional scholarly thesis paper.

The final project must be accompanied by a report written by the student that introduces, analyzes and contextualizes the project, and demonstrates the student's familiarity with the relevant literature of the field.

The master’s project final paper must be approved by the graduate student’s project adviser, project advisory committee, and the director of graduate studies for physiology.

Admission Requirements and Student Selection Procedures

The candidate should have demonstrated above-average academic performance. 

Entry into the program is contingent upon award of the baccalaureate degree.

The Graduate Affairs Committee evaluates these credentials, conducts interviews with promising candidates, and will make an offer of admission to the program.

How to Apply

You can apply online. You’ll need to submit scanned copies of all required supporting documents before your application will be reviewed. You may save and edit your application as you go.

Official documents will be required if you are offered admission.

Once your application is ready, you must formally submit it to upload your documents.

Check Your Status

You may log in at any time to check your status.

The online checklist is your best source about the status of your application during the review process; please check it frequently. 

You will receive an email when your admission decision is available in the portal.

Special Note for International Students

If you are applying from outside the United States, apply as early as possible to ensure time for application and visa processing.

Regardless of your program’s deadline, it is recommended that you apply at least 6-9 months prior to the term start date (depending on your country of origin). Check with your program’s application coordinator for specific guidelines.


The following credentials are required for application consideration:

  • transcript(s) from every institution you have previously attended
  • three letters of recommendation
  • a resume
  • a personal letter stating career objectives and research experience. Research experience is highly desirable.

English Proficiency Requirement

International applicants must present a valid English Language Proficiency test score. It is university policy that test dates be no older than two years when students enter a program. We recommend uploading scanned copies of your results at the time of application in order to expedite the review process.

  • Institution code: R2925 (SUNY-University at Buffalo)
  • Department Code: 36

The minimum score that we accept is:

Internet-based TOEFL Test (iBT) 79
Paper-based TOEFL Test (PBT) 550
Computer-based TOEFL Test (CBT) 213


Once you submit your application online for formal review, you will be provided with a link to our online payment system, where you can pay the application fee.


Director of Graduate Studies, Physiology

Duffey, Michael

Michael Duffey, PhD

SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor; Professor of Physiology and Biophysics; Professor of Medicine

4154 JSMBS 955 Main Street Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3111


Academic Coordinator

Molly Pratt-Cassidy

Academic Coordinator

Physiology and Biophysics

955 Main St., Room 3102B, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-3896