The Master of Arts Program in Physiology is tailored to the needs of student goals for:

  • Admission to medical and dental schools
  • Careers in the biomedical industry
  • 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 a full 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.

Graduate 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, served in the Peace Corps, or had other non-academic experiences. Most 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 meets the needs of students seeking a career in a technical specialty or students requiring postgraduate studies prior to application to the doctoral program or professional school (medical or dental).

Program Objectives

The goal of the MA 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 an Application to Candidacy.  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

Year 1 Spring

Year 2 Fall

Year 2 Spring

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.

Thesis/Project Research

M.A. Thesis Research, Thesis Preparation, Thesis Reviews

The thesis research is conducted by the graduate student under the tutelage of his/her Major Professor and Thesis Advisory Committee.

A Major Professor and a minimum of two members of the Department's Graduate Faculty and a third member from outside of the Department shall form the Thesis Advisory Committee.  All should hold the rank of Assistant Professor or above in the University faculty.

The 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 Major Professor 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 and the Department have approved the thesis.  The thesis is presented to the Graduate Faculty in a seminar followed by an oral defense.

M.A. Project Research, Research Report Preparation, Research Report Reviews

Research conducted by a graduate student can result in a M.A. research project rather than a thesis. The project research is conducted by the graduate student under the tutelage of his/her Major Professor and Project Advisory Committee.

The focus of the research for a M.A. 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 M.A. project final paper must be approved by the graduate student’s Major Professor, 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, especially in mathematics, chemistry, physics and biology.

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

Applicants to the program are required to submit all college transcripts, Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores or equivalent (MCAT, etc), three (3) letters of recommendation, and a letter explaining their reasons for applying and special interest in science and physiology. Foreign applicants must also present financial data and the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) if English is not a native language. A TOEFL score of 79 (IBT) or 550 (PBT) or above is considered the minimum acceptable for admissions consideration. The Graduate Affairs Committee evaluates these credentials, conducts interviews with promising candidates, and will make an offer of admission to the program.


Director of Graduate Studies, Physiology

Duffey, Michael

Michael Duffey, PhD

Professor of Physiology and Biophysics; Professor of Medicine

224 Cary Hall Buffalo, NY 14214

Phone: (716) 829-3111


Assistant Director of Academic Administration

Kara Rickicki

Assistant Director of Academic Administration

Physiology and Biophysics

955 Main Street, Room 3102C, Buffalo, NY 14203

Phone: (716) 829-2417