Masters in Medical Science: Degree Program Overviews

A master's degree in medical science is primarily for students applying to medical college or beginning a career in health care. Many programs are offered with a variety of specializations directly related to positions in the medical field, including anatomy, anesthesiology, pharmacology, public health and clinical investigation. Medical science master's degree programs require 1-2 years to complete.

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Master's Degrees in Medical Science

There are three different master's degrees in medical sciences: Master of Arts (M.A.) in Medical Sciences, Master of Science (M.S.) in Medical Sciences and Master of Medical Science (MMS). The difference in degree names is a university preference rather than a distinction between the types of information studied. Students can choose either a pre-professional track that prepares them to enter a health professional school, such as medical school, or a research track that provides them with knowledge and skills to pursue a career in medical research or continue on to a Ph.D. program.

Students seeking a master's degree in medical science can choose from a variety of specializations, such as women's health, molecular medicine, pharmacology, aging and neuroscience, medical nutrition science, behavioral medicine or clinical investigation; in some cases, this may require one to complete a dual degree. Some are 1-year programs; others add a second year of supervised research.

Educational Prerequisites

All programs require a bachelor's degree, which can be in any field of study as long as the applicant took enough undergraduate courses in science and math, like biology, chemistry and physics. Schools may require an overall GPA of at least 3.0 plus a grade of 3.0 for all science courses. For those students entering the pre-professional programs, admission requires the MCAT, and some schools require scores ranging from 24-27. Some schools may allow students entering the research track programs to take either the MCAT or GRE to satisfy admission criteria.

Program Coursework

The purpose of the program dictates the courses. However, all of these degrees are built around a core of science courses that include most, if not all, of the following classes on an advanced level:

  • Biochemistry and cell biology
  • Developmental biology
  • Neurobiology
  • Molecular biology
  • Biostatistics
  • Anatomy and physiology
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology

Popular Career Options

Master's programs in medical science typically do not prepare students to enter a career upon graduation; rather, they prepare them to enter professional health care programs or research-oriented doctoral programs. Some careers that graduates can attain once they complete further training at the doctoral level are:

  • Medical doctor
  • Pharmacologist
  • Medical research scientist
  • Dentist

Continuing Education

Graduates of master's degree programs in medical science can choose to continue their studies with specialized doctoral programs. For example, they may focus on cell biology and pathology, immunology or cardiovascular disease in a Ph.D. program. Aspiring doctors can enter medical school to earn an M.D. degree or enter a program that offers a combination of an M.D. with a specialized Ph.D. program. Graduates could also apply to dental, veterinary, physical therapy or pharmacology programs.

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