Graduate Courses & Dissertation Research (GS1-GS5)


All of the Joint Health Sciences Departments and Interdisciplinary Themes that offer PhD programs within the UAB Graduate School can serve as a degree program for MSTP students in the PhD-phase of the program.  In addition, departments in the UAB School of Public Health and UAB School of Engineering may sponsor MSTP students and should provide financial support for the program on a pro-rated basis.

Once a Thesis Mentor has been selected, the student officially takes a Leave of Absence (LOA) from the UAB Heersink SOM and transfers to the UAB Graduate School and remains in the PhD-phase of the MSTP until the PhD dissertation is complete. The MSTP Directors' expectation is that students will complete their research and dissertation defense within 3.5-4 years. In general, the MSTP policies and requirements may exceed the requirements of a particular Graduate Program and/or Theme; in these instances, the MSTP will not set a lower minimum set of requirements than the Graduate Program/Theme. 

In many cases, graduate courses and medical school courses taken in the preclincal phase of the program will satisfy the requirements for formal courses in the Department/Theme; however, graduate departments/themes may require advanced courses, in addition to a required Journal Club course each term.  MSTP students are not allowed to take any additional coursework that is not germane to their PhD pathway. All courses outside of the standard curriculum require prior approval from the MSTP Director and PhD Theme/Department.

The requirements for the PhD degree are established by each of the Graduate Departments/Themes and are the same for all PhD students, with two exceptions for MSTP graduate students: 1) each student’s MSTP Advisor serves as a full member of the Dissertation Committee; 2) each student must have a dissertation committee meeting at least once every 6 months from the date that the student begins with a research mentor and starts full-time dissertation research in the PhD phase of the program. If some Graduate Programs/Themes require specific milestones, such as completion of a preliminary examination, admission to candidacy, or a formal written proposal for their project prior to a meeting of the Dissertation Committee, then an MSTP-specific meeting of the same group of faculty must be held to maintain the schedule of a meeting every 6 months.  Specfific to the GBS Themes, the GBS Theme Director must be notified of your intent to have a qualify exam and defense. The Theme Director must be included on all correspondences between you and your committee concerning the scheduling of said meetings. 

If needed, students can conduct committee meetings with people not on site at UAB. This can be done through an approved UAB virtual platform.  

Registering for Classes

To register for courses, please sign in to BlazerNET

  • Once logged in to BlazerNET, click on the "Registration" link on the green ribbon.
  • On the Registration menu, click the "Add, Drop, or Withdraw from Classes" link.

To look up the Course Reference Number

  • Click on the “Look Up Classes” link to search the available courses for the term. You may search for classes with several different criteria, but the only block that must be utilized is the Subjectblock.
  • Once the classes are visible, register for the course(s) by clicking on the empty checkbox to the left of the CRN and clicking on the Register button at the bottom of the screen.

If you already know the CRN

  • Click on the “Add/Drop Classes” link in the “Registration Tools” channel.
  • The Add/Drop worksheet will appear. There will be a row of empty blocks. Type in the 5-digit CRN for your course in any of the blocks. If you are registering for more than one course, tab over to another block and enter in all of the courses at one time. (You do not need to type in the subject or number for the course, only the CRN is required!)
  • Click on the Registerbutton at the bottom of the screen when complete.

MSTP Graduate School Class Requirements

You are required to be registered for 9 semester hours (adjusted with MSTP non-dissertation hours). This includes MSTP 794, MSTP 795 (Fall/Spring), and MSTP 798/MSTP 799 during your tenure as a graduate student. Additional MSTP-specific courses may be required based on your current rank in the PhD-phase of the program (e.g., PSDO 700: Grant Writing Course; Spring Term GS1 yr).  If you suspect you will go over a maximum of 12 semester hours, please let the MSTP  know as soon as possible. MSTP deadlines for fall/spring/summer registration will be sent prior to the start of the term

Adding/dropping classes after tuition has been paid may hold you financially responsible for the balance on your student account or may require that you pay back any refund generated. Specifically, dropping classes after the add/drop deadline may result in not meeting the minimum hour requirements for each semester, which may affect appointment status and stipend. 

  • Non Dissertation Hours vs. Dissertation Hours (only register for one, NOT both courses)
    • MSTP 798 is only open to those who have not been admitted to candidacy
    • MSTP 799 is only open to those who have been admitted to candidacy prior to the term

MSTP 794: A seminar course focused on Translational Research (MSTP 794, “CAMS”) is required throughout the tenure in the program.  Students must register for this course in their PhD years, depending on the school they are registered in for that semester.  This seminar-based course is held in the evening on the second Wednesday of each month (except during summer and in December).  These meetings will include various announcements concerning MSTP activities, seminars on Translational Research delivered by invited Faculty members, and yearly required RCR refresher. 

Attendance at this course is required for a least 90% of the classes scheduled each year. Should a student have a conflict due to clinical rotations or another scheduled course, they should contact the MSTP Director. In exceptional circumstances beyond the control of the student, an excused absence for the monthly Translational Research Seminar may be granted by the MSTP Director. Prior notification of an absence does not guarantee that absence will be excused.

Students not meeting this attendance requirement will receive a warning after the sixth meeting of the year.  If a student ends the year and does not meet this attendance requirement, then they must submit a 2-page description of the topic(s) and the research of the presenting faculty member that they missed.  A report will be required for each meeting missed until a total of 90% (either attendance and/or reports) is met.  This report is to be turned in to the MSTP Director by the last day of November for students graduating in December or the last day of May for students graduating in June.  All other students must submit their reports by the last day of May. 

MSTP 795. All MSTP students are required to enroll in the Clinical Continuity Experience (MSTP 795) every Fall/Spring term during their dissertation years. Clinical contacts for each major specialty either have been or are in the process of being determined and required patient interactions will be arranged through the Department of Medicine.

    • Liability Coverage: The policy of the UAB Professional Liability Trust Fund (PLTF) is as follows: “Coverage applies to any UAB student named in a claim or lawsuit involving a patient as long as the student was acting within the course and scope of the assigned curriculum at the time of the alleged incident.”  Therefore, it is not necessary to notify the MSTP Office that you will be shadowing your mentor in the clinic.
    • CPR/BLS Class: The UAB MSTP requires all students to maintain their CPR/BLS Certification.  Each certification lasts for 2 years; therefore, a typical MSTP would take BLS training during UASOM Orientation immediately prior to entry to their GS-I year (during the transition to clinics week).  This would be required for students who opted to do their 1-month Family Medicine rotation prior to entry into their research lab during the transitions to clinic week (typically the last week of April), at the end of their GS2 year, and finally at the end of their GS4 year (with the expectation that they will return to clinics sometime between July and December of the GS4 year).

Requirements for MSTP 795:

    • Clinical encounters – Students can perform a history and physical exam on patients at UAB Hospital or at the student-run Equal Access Birmingham free clinic for course credit. Students also have access to one-on-one mentorship from clinical preceptors, who are recruited from the Internal Medicine and Pediatrics residency programs. Resident preceptors observe clinical encounters performed in the hospital and provide feedback on history and physical exam skills, patient notes, and oral presentations.
    • Shadowing experiences – Students can shadow medical students, residents, fellows, or attending physicians during clinics or wards. Shadowing experiences are intended to help students narrow the field of medical specialties they may be interested in pursuing, which aids in scheduling MS3 and MS4 clerkships. Students can also use shadowing experiences to prepare for MS3 year by observing the responsibilities of an MS3 student.
    • Clinical knowledge sessions – Students have a variety of opportunities to expand their clinical knowledge each semester. MSTP 795 includes monthly clinical case presentations, in which UAB faculty lead students through interactive clinical cases published online by the New England Journal of Medicine, as well as bimonthly simulation lab experiences. In addition, students may attend morning report for the Departments of Medicine and Pediatrics for course credit.
    • “Re-immersion” events - Conducted for those students graduating from the PhD phase and returning to MS3 clerkships. These include intensive shadowing experiences, clinical skills workshops, physical exam review sessions, and objective structured clinical exams. Returning students may request additional clerkship preparation activities if desired. 

MSTP Disciplinary Actions During Graduate School Phase

MSTP students will be evaluated in the same manner as other students participating in the same courses, clerkships, or other experiences. Students who fail to maintain an acceptable level of performance in graduate courses will be subject to review by the MSTP Directors. The MSTP Directors may recommend academic disciplinary measures, which can include (a) academic probation, which may include temporary suspension of student's stipend; (b) performance of additional or remedial work, if extenuating and other circumstances so warrant; or (c) involuntary leave of absence or dismissal from the program (see further provisions regarding dismissal below). These recommendations apply to the student’s current status with either the UAB Heersink SOM or their specific graduate programs if an acceptable level of performance and conduct is not maintained. 

If students demonstrate repeated episodes of unprofessional behavior or fail to maintain an appropriate level of academic performance based on specific graduate program standards, appropriate actions will be taken by the MSTP Directors in consultation with the MSTPAC. These actions may include (a) a letter in the student's academic file (available to residency programs and potential future employers) detailing the unprofessional behavior or academic probation, (b) temporary suspension of the student's stipend, or (c) dismissal from the program.

Graduate School Grading System

The UAB Graduate School defines good academic standing as a GPA of at least 3.0 (B average) and overall satisfactory performance of pass/not pass courses. MSTP policy states that students who receive a grade of ‘C’ in a required graduate school course must retake that course as soon as possible. Students who fail to meet MSTP requirements and/or expectations will be subject to any and all of the following actions: 

  • The Thesis Mentor will be placed on probation, during which time no additional MSTP students will be permitted to rotate or begin full time studies in their lab. In addition, the mentor will assume additional financial support for the student’s stipend, tuition, and fees
  • A letter describing the deficiency will be put into the student’s permanent record
  • The student will not be eligible to attend research conferences (e.g., APSA National Meeting, Keystone MD-PhD Student Conference, SAWSM Conference), which are supported by the program
  • The program will freeze the student’s enhancement fund account until he/she/they has met all requirements and expectations
  • If requirements continue to be unmet, the student’s enhancement fund can be permanently frozen and/or reduced.