2021-2022 Graduate and Professional Program Catalog 
    Mar 25, 2023  
2021-2022 Graduate and Professional Program Catalog

Toxicology, Ph.D.

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Toxicology, M.S./Ph.D.

Objective of the Program

UMES offers graduate programs leading to the degrees of Master of Science (M.S.) and Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Toxicology. The mission of the Toxicology Program is to provide educational and professional training in mechanistic and applied fields of environmental and mammalian toxicology. Graduates of the Toxicology Program will conduct research, teach, and provide technical support to federal, state, and local governments, industry, and public interest groups in areas including: evaluation and testing of harmful effects of chemical, physical, and biological agents on living organisms, mechanisms of toxicity, prevention of chemical induced diseases, risk assessment, and environmental protection through governmental regulations for the control and monitoring of hazardous chemicals.

There are four formally defined Areas of Specialization (AOS), within the Toxicology Program from which a student may choose as follows:

  1. Chemical Carcinogenesis.
  2. Analytical Toxicology.
  3. Neurotoxicology.
  4. Molecular & Mechanistic Toxicology.

General Information and Program Overview

The UMES Toxicology Program is part of the University System of Maryland’s (USM) Program which encompasses faculty and resources on the campuses in Baltimore, College Park, Baltimore County, the Eastern Shore, and the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory of the USM Center for Environmental Science. Courses taught at USM campuses may be available to Toxicology Program students through inter‐institutional enrollment.

Applicants and enrollees into the program should consult the Toxicology Program website for additional information and details of the Toxicology Program which are not covered in this section of this Catalog, and for any updates to the program after the time of printing. The comprehensive website for the Toxicology program (all participating units) is: www.medschool.umaryland.edu/epidemiology


Beyond the Graduate School’s minimum admission requirements, applicants should have earned a B.S. or BA in Chemistry, Biology, Pharmacy, or a related field. Students are expected to have completed the following courses or equivalents:

  1. Cell and molecular biology;
  2. Organic chemistry;
  3. Physical chemistry;
  4. Quantitative analysis;
  5. Calculus;
  6. Two semesters of undergraduate or graduate level biochemistry; and
  7. One semester of undergraduate or graduate level physiology.

Specific requirements include a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, GRE scores should be at least at the 50th percentile for the verbal reasoning and quantitative reasoning, and at least a 4.0 in the analytical writing section and a minimum internet based TOEFL score of 55 or computer based TOEFL score of 213.

Applicants to the Toxicology Program will be considered at both the M.S. and Ph.D. levels. In the event an applicant to the Ph.D. track has only a BA or B.S. degree, admission may initially be to the M.S. track with the final acceptance to the Ph.D. track contingent on successful completion of a probationary period (usually one year) and on the recommendation of the student’s Research Advisory Committee.

An Admissions Committee has been established to evaluate the applications of prospective students based on the following criteria:

  1. Applicant’s research interests must be clearly stated and relevant to one or more of the Toxicology Program’s AOS.
  2. The academic preparation of the applicant must be consonant with stated interests and AOS requirements.
  3. The undergraduate cumulative GPA must be at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  4. Applicants must submit the following required documents as part of their application for graduate study in the Toxicology Program:
    1. GRE Scores (Only the General Test is required, although one of the Advanced Tests is strongly recommended).
    2. Official college transcripts.
    3. A brief essay clearly defining areas of research interest within the offered AOS. The essay will assist with identification of an Academic Advisor should the applicant be judged admissible.
    4. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the academic/research work of the applicant.

Receipt of the application will initiate the search for an appropriate faculty member to serve as the academic advisor for the student. No student will be admitted to the Toxicology Program for whom an advisor has not been identified. Hence, if prior discussions have taken place between an applicant and a member of the faculty regarding that faculty member’s service in an advisory capacity, that fact should be stated in the application and the faculty member should forward a letter of agreement to the Dean of Graduate Studies at UMES.

Application Deadlines


Fall Semester - February 1
Spring Semester - September 1


Fall Semester - December 1
Spring Semester - June 1

Advisors and Research Advisory Committees

Upon admission to the Toxicology Program, students will be assigned to an academic advisor. Any request for a change of advisor must be submitted to and approved by, the Toxicology Program Committee and the Toxicology Program Coordinator.

In certain situations, a student may request a second academic advisor. This might happen if, for instance, the professor most familiar with the student has only an Associate Graduate Faculty status. In this case, it is possible to set up a co‐advisor team of two professors who jointly serve in the role of advisor (the other having Regular Graduate Faculty status).

Due to the expected divergent interest and goals of students in the Toxicology Program, as well as the dispersion of campuses and laboratories, the early formation of a Research Advisory Committee (RAC) is mandatory. During the first semester of enrollment in the Toxicology Program, the student and the advisor must form this committee and submit its membership to the Toxicology Program Committee for approval. The RAC should meet during the first semester, and must make its written recommendations for a program of study before the end of the second semester.

A Master’s RAC will consist of three members, all of whom must be Regular or Associate members of a University System of Maryland (USM) campus Graduate Faculty. A Ph.D. RAC must have five members, three of whom must be Regular or Associate faculty. The Ph.D. RAC can consist of a minimum of three members who are USM graduate faculty until the Comprehensive Examinations, at which time it must have all five members. The student’s Advisor will serve as Chair of this Committee. The membership of the RAC should not be drawn entirely from a single laboratory or department. Replacement of Committee members is expected, as needed, based on the Advisor’s recommendation.

The program of study will be planned by the RAC in the first or second semester and will include any missing prerequisites (all prerequisites must be completed within the first year in the program), all required core courses, and any specialized courses the Committee thinks the student needs. Total required and suggested courses will often exceed the general credit minimum (36 for M.S. and 42 for Ph.D.). The program of study must then be approved by the Toxicology Program Committee.

The RAC is responsible for initial approval of the student’s area of research. Once the student has chosen an area of research, a proposal should be written and disseminated to the RAC. This preliminary research proposal should be brief, yet concisely state the student’s research interests. Students in the Ph.D. track will later develop a more comprehensive research proposal which they must defend before advancement to candidacy. Students in the M.S. track will develop a more complete thesis proposal to submit to their RAC as described below. The approved preliminary proposal should be filed with the Toxicology Program Coordinator by the end of the second semester following entry into the Toxicology Program.

An M.S. student’s RAC will approve the thesis proposal and the thesis defense. Master’s thesis students are not required to take comprehensive examinations. For Ph.D. students, the RAC will administer the defense of the dissertation proposal, oversee the student’s research, and administer the dissertation defense.

Annual progress reviews initiated by the advisor will be conducted through the Toxicology Program Committee and the Coordinator to ensure satisfactory progress of Toxicology students toward degree completion (coursework and research direction).

Toxicology Degree Requirements

The Toxicology Program course curriculum is designed to provide essential core knowledge in Toxicology, together with elective courses that offer students the opportunity to specialize in their area of interest.

Thesis Defense

An oral defense of the thesis, administered according to Graduate School procedures, will take place at the completion of the research project. This defense will be conducted by the RAC and will be administered once all other degree requirements have been fulfilled. The RAC also approves the thesis. It is the candidate’s obligation to see that each member of the Committee has at least two weeks in which to examine a copy of the thesis prior to the time of the defense. The RAC may conclude that the candidate has passed or failed. A student may be conditionally passed with the provision that minor changes in the thesis be made by the student and approved by the major advisor. A student who fails may, at the discretion of the Committee and the UMES Graduate Studies Dean, be permitted to stand a second defense after acting on suggestions for improvement of the thesis (e.g., collection of more data, use of different statistical analysis, rewriting of the discussion, etc.), at such time as the advisor considers appropriate. Once the thesis has been successfully defended, copies required by the Graduate School must be submitted.

Facilities, Instrumentation and Field Sites

State‐of‐the‐art research facilities and instrumentation are found in G.W. Carver Hall, Richard Hazel Hall and Trigg Hall on the UMES Campus.

External Support of Research Activities

UMES faculty have received funding for research from a number of federal and state agencies and private organizations including: National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, US Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Mid‐Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, US Forest Service, Agency for International Development and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.

Toxicology Program Time Limits

  • Full time Master’s students will be limited to four years in which to graduate.
  • Full time Doctoral students will be limited to 7 years in which to graduate. Students must be advanced to candidacy, i.e., taken and passed the written and oral comprehensive examination and the dissertation proposal defense within 6 semesters after initial enrollment.
  • Part‐time Doctoral and Master’s Toxicology students will follow the Graduate School’s time limits for Master’s degrees (5 years) and Doctoral degrees (5 + 4).
  • An extension of these time limits may be granted upon request of the student’s RAC, and with the approval of the Toxicology Program coordinator and the UMES Graduate Studies Dean.

For additional information on the program, please contact

Ali Ishaque, Ph.D.,
Toxicology Program Coordinator at UMES
Carver Hall, Department of Natural Sciences
University of Maryland Eastern Shore
Princess Anne, MD 21853
Email: abishaque@umes.edu

Course Curriculum

All students must attain a grade B or better in all required courses. A student receiving a grade C or less in a required course must retake that course, or equivalent.

Course Requirements for Ph.D.

Biochemistry / Genetics: 6


(Choose from the following)

Statistics: 3

(Choose from the following)

Elective Courses: 6

(student’s choice - could be from “Suggested Electives” list below)

Thesis Research: 12

In addition to these courses, student will need 12 credits to graduate


Formal application for advancement to candidacy for the Doctoral degree requires successful completion of both a written comprehensive examination and an oral defense of the dissertation proposal. The written comprehensive examination must be passed before the student can defend the dissertation proposal.

  1. Comprehensive Examination
    The RAC is responsible for administering the written comprehensive examination. This examination must be successfully completed before the dissertation proposal can be defended. The exam must be taken by the end of the student’s fifth semester. This examination is intended to determine whether the student demonstrates sufficient evidence of scholastic and intellectual ability in major and related academic areas. The examination will not be a defense of the research proposal. The RAC will determine whether the student passes (a minimum of four affirmative votes is required), or fails. If failed, the examination may, at the recommendation of the RAC, be taken again. In this case, the examination should be repeated within one year, but no sooner than six months, after the initial examination. If the examination is failed a second time, admission will be cancelled. Any conditional passing of the examination must be satisfied before the examination can be rendered “successfully completed”.

    The USM interactive video network system may be used for dissertation proposal defenses but all Committee members, the student and the Graduate Studies Dean must agree to this use. Phone/conference calls are not acceptable alternatives.
  2. Dissertation Proposal Defense
    The proposal defense is an oral examination on the research proposal administered by the RAC. At least two weeks prior to the examination, the student must supply the Committee members with a formal research proposal which includes: background information, research progress to date (if any), specific objectives, and experimental design of the proposed research. The RAC is expected to examine the student on all aspects of the proposed research to determine whether the research plan is sound, whether the student has the proper motivation, intellectual capacity and curiosity, and has, or can develop, the technical skills necessary to successfully pursue the Ph.D. degree. The student passes if there are at least for affirmative votes. If failed, the student must re‐defend the proposal within one year; a second failure will result in cancellation of admission.

    The research proposal should be defended within one year of unconditionally passing the written comprehensive examination and at least one year before projected completion of the degree requirements.

    At the successful completion of this defense, the student officially applies for Advancement to Candidacy for the Ph.D. Degree and should submit the necessary form to the UMES Graduate School. Students must be admitted to candidacy at least six months prior to the defense of the dissertation (final oral defense).
  3. Dissertation Seminar & Defense of the Dissertation Research
    A candidate for the Ph.D. degree will present a public seminar on his/her dissertation research during the academic year in which the degree will be awarded. The seminar should, under normal circumstances, be given within five weeks in advance of the day of the oral final examination. The student and the advisor will be responsible for initiating arrangements for the date and advertisement of the seminar. The seminar will be open to faculty, students, and other interested parties.

    The final oral defense of the dissertation is conducted by a Committee of the graduate faculty appointed by the Graduate Studies Dean (this is usually the RAC plus a Graduate Studies Dean’s representative). Nominations for membership on this Committee are submitted on the designated form to the UMES Graduate School by the student’s advisor. This is done by the third week of the semester in which the student expects to complete all requirements, but no sooner than two months prior to the defense (see the UMES Graduate School’s calendar for commencement schedule). The time and place of the examination are established by the Chair of the Committee. The student is responsible for distributing a complete, final copy of the dissertation to each member of the Committee at least two weeks before the examination date. Announcement of the final examination will be made to all members of the Toxicology faculty at least two weeks prior to the examination. All final oral examinations are open to all members of the graduate faculty and students, although only members of the Examining Committee may question the candidate. After the examination, the Committee deliberates and votes in private. Two or more negative votes constitute failure. The student may be examined no more than twice. Following successful completion of the final examination, copies of the dissertation required by the Graduate School must be submitted.

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