2003 - 2005 Site Archive



Graduate Bulletin

Physiology, Ph.D.


Admission Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadline:

Fall: January 15

Applications are evaluated as they are received up until the application deadline. It is advantageous to apply early.

Letters of Reference:

Number Required: 3

From Whom: Letters of recommendation should come from college/university faculty members familiar with the student's academic performance; employers and supervisors who can attest to an applicant's maturity and ability to do graduate school work.

Coursework Required for Admission Consideration:

Biology and Chemistry

Master's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:


Bachelor's Degree in Discipline/Related Discipline:

Yes. A degree in Biology, Zoology, Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biophysics, Physics, or Engineering is needed for admission to this program.

Statement of Goals:

The Statement of Goals should be approximately 500-1,000 words and should include the following elements: your interest in Temple's program; your research goals; your future career goals; and your academic and research achievements.

Standardized Test Scores:

The GRE is required. Typical applicants have verbal and quantitative scores greater than 600.

Minimum TOEFL score or range of scores needed to be accepted: 575 on the paper-based test or 230 on the computer-based test. Applicants who score below 600 on the paper-based test or 250 on the computer-based test will be required to take and pass a remedial English course during their first semester at Temple University.


The top 50% of the applicants will be invited to interview with the Admissions Committee. The Department will schedule individual interviews. Alternate arrangements can be made for extenuating circumstances which preclude on-site interviews.


A resume is required.

Advanced Standing:

Students who enter the Ph.D. program may be considered for advanced standing, based on relevant coursework. The admissions committee recommends the awarding of advanced standing on a case-by-case basis as applications are reviewed. The maximum number of advanced standing credits awarded is 36.

Test Waivers:

Test waivers are considered on an individual basis, but are typically granted when transferring from another graduate program or professional school.


Program Requirements

Campus Location:

Health Sciences

Full-Time/Part-Time Status:

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

General Program Requirements:

Number of Didactic Credits Required Beyond the Master's: 38

Required Courses:

Physiology 500, 501, 507, 509, 520, 522, 531, 537, and 545

Anatomy/Cell Biology 503 (Histology)

Medical Biochemistry, including the Molecular Biology and Endocrinology modules

Medical School Statistics course

Dissertation research (6 s.h.)

Internship: No internship is required.

Language Examination: No language examination is required.

Additional Requirements:

Oral Preliminary Examination:

While the written preliminary examination tests the student's mastery of formal coursework, the oral preliminary exam is designed to test the student's knowledge of the pertinent scientific literature in the area of the student's doctoral research. The oral preliminary exam can only be taken after the written preliminary examination is passed. The oral preliminary examination is designed for each student in the Ph.D. program by his or her DAC. The DAC is selected by the student in conjunction with his or her primary advisor within 3 months following the written examination. The point of the oral preliminary examination is to ensure that the student has a solid knowledge of the published research literature in his or her research area of Physiology and an understanding of the pertinent concepts. At the time of the examination it is expected that the student will have already selected a research area and have begun experiments, but that the final project would not have been completely delineated. Within one year of a DAC being formed, the committee will meet with the student to set up the examination. The student will meet with each member of the DAC and request a topic for the oral exam. The assigned topics will be issues, questions, or controversies in Physiology that directly bear on the area of the student's research. The DAC member shall identify specific published research articles that will serve as a starting point for the student's library research. It is the student's responsibility to read the assigned papers and related papers, seeking as much help from the DAC members as is needed to thoroughly understand them. A public oral examination will be scheduled by the student in conjunction with the DAC within 1 year following the written preliminary examination. At the examination the student makes a short (30- 40 minute) presentation on the assigned topics, followed by questions from the DAC and the audience. When the student has completed presentation of all the topics and answered all questions from the audience and the DAC, the student and the audience will leave and the DAC will confer privately to agree on whether the student has passed all portions of the examination. The student must demonstrate knowledge of facts and concepts and the ability to comprehend the research literature. If the student did not perform satisfactorily on a topic in the exam, the DAC may schedule a reexamination as necessary, until the DAC is satisfied.

Culminating Events:

Preliminary Examination:

The written comprehensive exam tests the retention and integration of Physiological facts and concepts obtained through the student's didactic course work. After the written exam is passed, an oral comprehensive exam is scheduled.


Subject Areas/Major Components of the Preliminary Examination The written comprehensive tests the material covered in Physiology courses. (Material from courses taken outside the department is not tested.) The exam is divided into four separate components. Four hours are allowed to complete each of the four components. Two of the components consist of multiple choice questions covering the formal course work. The other two components are comprised of essay-type questions including calculations and problem solving wherein the student is expected to explicitly describe the underlying logic of the answer.

At what point in the program is the student expected to take the preliminary examination The student takes the written exam in the Spring semester of the second year, after the required formal course work is completed.


Writing the Questions for the Preliminary Examination The Graduate Faculty of the Physiology Department write the questions.

Evaluating the Preliminary Examination In grading the exam, the evaluators look for an understanding of core concepts, adequate knowledge of facts, and the application of physiological principles and problem-solving skills.


Criterion for Passing the Preliminary Examination. Students must achieve a score of 80% on the written preliminary exam to pass.

Administering, Scheduling, and Proctoring the Preliminary Examination Comprehensive examinations are administered once a year in April. The examination runs two days, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon, and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. It is proctored by a faculty member.


Dissertation Advising Committee Information The Doctoral Advisory Committee (DAC) is formed to oversee the student's doctoral research and is comprised of at least three Graduate Faculty members. Two members, including the Chair, must be from the Physiology Department. The head of the DAC must have his/her primary academic appointment in the Physiology department. A member from outside the department is recommended. Committee compositions must be approved by the graduate committee. The Chair of the DAC is responsible for overseeing and guiding the student's progress, coordinating the responses of the Committee members, and informing the student of his or her academic progress.

Dissertation Examining Committee Information The Dissertation Examining Committee evaluates the student's dissertation and oral defense. This committee is comprised of the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one additional Graduate Faculty member from outside the Physiology Department. The Outside Examiner should be identified no later than the beginning of the semester in which the student will defend the dissertation.


Advisor/Committee Information Appeal in writing to the graduate committee detailing reasons for change and naming an alternate member.

Dissertation/Monograph Philosophy The dissertation presents original scientific research carried out by the student. The work should demonstrate knowledge of research methods and mastery of the student's primary area of interest. The dissertation should be a significant piece of research in Physiology, suitable, in the opinion of the student's doctoral advisory committee, for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Submission of some or all of the research to a peer-reviewed journal is required, although acceptance of the work for publication in the journal is not. It is expected that the results of the student's scientific research for the dissertation will have been presented at one or more national or international scientific meetings prior to the defense. Students are required to present publicly to the academic community in the form of an oral seminar and dissertation defense, and to answer all audience questions. The DAC determines acceptability of the dissertation, oral presentation, and its defense.


Philosophy of the Proposal The dissertation proposal should be 10 typed pages or less. It should provide sufficient background, specific hypotheses, objectives, an outline of experimental methods, and the anticipated analytical approach, including the anticipated statistical approach. The proposal will serve as a guideline and may be subject to modifications at the consensus of the Dissertation Advisory Committee.


Criterion for Passing the Dissertation and the Defense. It is the responsibility of the Dissertation Advisory Committee to decide if the quantity and quality of research, and the significance of the conclusions drawn from it, are adequate for a dissertation and defense. The Committee will vote to pass or fail the dissertation and the defense at the conclusion of the public presentation. In evaluating whether the dissertation and its defense is acceptable, the committee will take into account the following factors: the clarity of the student's presentation and speaking skills; the student's professionalism; the student's grasp of the significance of his/her work; the breadth and depth of the student's knowledge of his/her field and the relationship of his/her work to other work in the field; the adequacy of the student's answers to questions; and the student's maintenance of a respectful, professional tone in response to questions while defending the thesis.


Dissertation Defense Scheduling Students who are preparing to defend their dissertation should confirm a time and date with their Dissertation Advisory Committee and register with the Graduate Secretary at least 15 days before the defense is to be scheduled. The Graduate Secretary will arrange the time, date, and room within two working days, and forward to the student the appropriate forms.

Announcing the Dissertation Defense After the Graduate Secretary has arranged the time, date, and room for the defense, the student must send a completed "Announcement of Dissertation Defense" form to the Graduate School (501 Carnell Hall) at least 10 working days before the defense. The student/Department will post fliers announcing the defense.


Program Contact Information:


Department Information:

Dept. of Physiology
School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA 19140


Department Contacts:


Steven P. Driska, Ph.D.


Program Coordinator:

Steven P. Driska, Ph.D.


Graduate Chairperson:

Marla R. Wolfson, Ph.D.



Ronald F. Tuma, Ph.D.


About the Program

Graduate students may pursue their research interests in physiology using a wide variety of techniques from the molecular to the systemic level. The Physiology Department has faculty members conducting research and publishing in the areas of cardiac, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, smooth muscle, platelets, and pulmonary physiology. Graduate programs with an emphasis on exercise physiology are provided in collaboration with the research faculty of the Kinesiology Department. Generally 4 to 5 years are required for completion of the Ph.D. program. Graduates pursue research, corporate, or academic positions.

Time Limit for Degree Completion: 7 years

Campus Location:

Health Sciences

Students are required to complete the degree program through classes offered before 4:30 p.m.

Department Information:


Dept. of Physiology
School of Medicine
Philadelphia, PA 19140



Not applicable.


Not applicable.

Areas of Specialization:

Research specialties of the faculty include cardiac electrophysiology, heart failure, cardiovascular physiology, pulmonary physiology (including the use of perfluorochemicals for liquid breathing and cryoablation), neonatal development of the pulmonary system, airway and gastrointestinal smooth muscle physiology, inflammation, platelet physiology and G-protein coupled receptors.

Job Placement:

Graduates of the Ph.D. program typically obtain postdoctoral fellowships for further training before ultimately finding employment in academia, research institutions, the pharmaceutical industry, or the government. The Ph.D. program provides excellent preparation for all of these career options.


Not applicable.

Interdisciplinary Study:

Members of the department affiliated with the Sol Sherry Thrombosis Research Center provide opportunities for students to do interdisciplinary research in thrombosis. Likewise, members of the department affiliated with the Cardiovascular Research Center allow students to do interdisciplinary research in a broad range of cardiovascular basic and clinical areas.

Study Abroad:



Not applicable.

Non-Degree Student Policy:

The department allows non-matriculated students to take selected graduate courses (such as Principles of Physiology). If the student matriculates in a degree program, some of these credits may be transferred to meet program requirements, consistent with Graduate School guidelines and regulations.

Financing Opportunities

The department offers 12-month fellowships to students in the Ph.D. program. Assistantships provide a stipend and tuition remission. These fellowships are intended to support the student while he or she is completing the educational requirements of the Ph.D. program. No separate application for these fellowships is required.

Other Financial Opportunities