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Department of Biological Sciences College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics

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Professional Science Master’s in Stem Cell Research

Notice for Applicants

Applications for the entering class of 2022 are now closed. We will open our next round of applications in the Fall, which will have an application deadline of February 15, 2023.

About the Sac State Stem Cell Program

Students in our Professional Science Master's (PSM) Stem Cell Program will earn a Master of Arts (MA) degree in Biological Sciences from California State University, Sacramento. The goal of our MA Stem Cell Program is to provide advanced coursework and a cutting edge research experience to prepare graduates for success in the stem cell workforce.

Our graduate program is in partnership with the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Stem Cell Program. Students take three semesters of graduate level coursework at Sacramento State and conduct 8-months of research at UC Davis. In addition to conducting research at UC Davis, students also take courses on stem cell laboratory techniques and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) at UC Davis.

Academic Program Overview

  • 20-month Master's Program, spanning 5 semesters total (including one summer).
  • 3 semesters of graduate-level classes at Sacramento State.
  • Stem Cell Research Techniques Training & Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Courses at UC Davis, which are both certificate granting-courses.
  • 8-month research internship at UC Davis

To read about the research students in our program can participate in, click UCD Stem Cell Research below. To read more about CIRM, the agency that supports this graduate program, click California Institute for Regernative Medicine below.

Program Structure

This is a CIRM Bridges program

California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) Bridges programs are designed to prepare students for highly productive careers in stem cell research and therapy development. In our Bridges program, student research takes place at the UC Davis Institute for Regenerative Cures (IRC) and affiliated institutions, located within a few miles of the CSUS campus. Stem cell-related translational research is conducted with participating disease teams, including: heart disease, traumatic brain injury, Huntington's disease, swallowing and airway disorders, chronic diabetic wounds, cancer, HIV, and more.

Program Highlights & Benefits

  • 8-month paid research internship at the UC Davis Stem Cell Program supported by CIRM:
    • $3,000/month stipend for the 8-month internship, totalling $24,000.
    • 2 semesters of paid tuition during the 8-month internship (please note: tuition is not supported outside of the 8-month research internship period—thus, students are responsible for three-semesters of tuition).
  • Research advising from faculty at UC Davis & mentoring from faculty at Sacramento State.
  • Opportunity to contribute to the development of treatments or cures for debilitating conditions.

Culminating Research

Click below to read about research conducted by previous students in our program:

General Program Schedule

In the first year of the program, students take graduate level coursework at Sac State in the fall and spring. In the following June, students begin their 8-month research internship, which continues through January. Afterward, students return to classes for their final spring semester, and are eligible to graduate at the end of the semester (May).

By the end of the first semester (fall) students will have identified and interviewed in research labs of interest within the UC Davis Stem Cell Program (although limited to a list of participating research investigators, students get to choose which research labs to interview and, ultimately, conduct research in). Students will devise a research plan with their UC Davis mentor, and then write a research proposal during the first spring semester, as well as present an “advancement seminar” to a mixed committee of Sac State and UC Davis faculty who determine if the student is qualified to advance into the research internship based on the quality of their work.

After advancement, students begin the summer with a week of intensive training on stem cell research techniques at UC Davis. Students begin their research internships in June at their UC Davis labs, as well as participate in a GMP course. During the research internship, students are expected to work 40 hours per week in their host lab (during this period students receive a monthly stipend of $3,000). The research internship ends eight months later in January. Students resume coursework at Sac State in their final spring semester. They will also write their final project report and put together an exit seminar, which is presented to a mixed committee of Sac State and UC Davis faculty during the spring semester.

Students are expected to participate in all scheduled components of the program, including: Sac State coursework, the UC Davis research internship, the STEM regenerative medicine lecture series, and professional development programs. Students must also maintain a GPA of 3.0 in all coursework.

Applying to the Program

Who Should Apply?

  • Highly motivated students interested in:
    • Stem cell-related translational research.
    • Gaining the skills necessary for a job as a senior research associate in an academic laboratory or biotech company.
    • Working in other areas related to stem cell-based research or therapies (MS, PhD, or MD).
  • Students with a baccalaureate degree in biology (or closely related field) with 24 units of upper division biological science courses with a grade of C- or better. Students must have earned a minimum GPA of
    • 3.0 in upper division biology coursework
    • 2.75 in all biology coursework
    • 2.5 overall

Application Package Requirements

  1. General Application: submit online through calstate.edu/apply.
  2. One set of official transcripts: Have all official transcripts sent directly to your home address. If you keep the transcript sealed it is still considered official.
  3. Cover sheet: Include your full name, contact information and explains in which semester and to which degree program you are applying.

Mail the cover letter and sealed transcripts from all the universities you attended in an envelope and mail to:
Office of Graduate Studies (OGS)
River Front Center, Room 206
CSU, Sacramento
6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6112

The GRE is not required for this program. Even if you have taken the exam, please do not submit GRE scores. This is a new change to our program—the campus catalog may not yet reflect this change. We apologize for any confusion.

Submitting Supplementary Application Materials

  1. Complete and submit the Supplementary Application.
    • Under "Degree Objective" select "MA Program" and "Stem Cell Track"
    • PLEASE NOTE: For potential advisors, you only need to list the Program Director, Prof. Kimberly Mulligan. Stem Cell Program students do not conduct research with Sacramento State faculty, so you there is no need to list three Sac State faculty here. Students will be matched with research advisors at UC Davis after the program begins. You do not need to identify research advisors at UC Davis for the application.
  2. Statement of Purpose: Describe your interest in stem cell research, our program, your career goals, and any barriers you have faced in 1-2 single-spaced pages.
  3. Two letters of recommendation

To submit supplementary materials described you must:

  1. Submit an application at Cal State Apply.
  2. Wait for an email from Office of Graduate Studies providing you with a Sac State ID.
  3. Create a SacLink Account.
  4. Load supplementary documents using your new SacLink account.

Timeline for Applicants

Dates Period
Oct 1 – Feb 15, 5pm Applications accepted.
Feb/March Application review.
March/April Applicants will be intermittently notified if they will be invited to a Zoom interview.

Commitment to Educational Equity & Diversity in Science

At Sacramento State we embrace diversity and understand that bringing people of diverse backgrounds together can improve scientific innovation. A prominent goal of the Stem Cell Program is to promote diversity within our program and the broader scientific community. To that end, students who are from underserved and/or underrepresented minority groups or economically disadvantaged backgrounds should feel encouraged to apply.

Sacramento State Stem Cell Program Academic Committee

The Stem Cell Program Academic Committee provides continued support for the duration of the program.

  • Kimberly Mulligan, PhD (Program Director, Stem Cell Program Advisor, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences)
  • Robin Altman, PhD (Committee Chair, Stem Cell Program Advisor, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences)
  • Robert Crawford, PhD (Stem Cell Program Advisor, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences)
  • Erin Olsan, PhD (Stem Cell Program Advisor, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences)