California State University, Sacramento

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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

NOTE: We are not accepting applications this year. Thus, there will not be an entering class in Fall 2021. We hope to resume our program in 2022.

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.

Our graduate program is in partnership with the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) Stem Cell Program. 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.

This is a CIRM Bridges program; the research internship within the program is supported by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM). 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. Read more information about the research that UC Davis' Stem Cell Program is performing.

The majority of student coursework is taken at CSUS, while faculty from UC Davis teach the GMP course and a week-long intensive stem cell techniques training course.

Please visit our CSUS stem cell blog to read about research performed by previous CSUS stem cell students.

Program Highlights

  • 20-month Master of Arts Program, spanning 5 semesters total (including one summer)
  • 3 semesters of graduate-level classes at Sacramento State
  • 8-month paid research internship at the UC Davis Stem Cell Program supported by CIRM:
    • $2,500/month stipend for the 8-month internship, totalling $20,000
    • 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.)
  • Stem Cell Biology and Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) Course, which are both certificate granting-courses
  • 1-week intensive stem cell research techniques training course at UC Davis
  • Mentoring from research faculty at UC Davis, academic faculty at Sacramento State, and senior graduate students
  • Opportunity to contribute to the development of treatments or cures for debilitating conditions

Who Should Apply?

  • Highly motivated students interested in stem cell-related translational research
  • Students who want to gain skills necessary for a job as a senior research associate in an academic laboratory or biotech company (that performs cell-based studies)
  • Students who are interested in 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 who earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in upper division biology coursework
  • Students who earned a minimum GPA of 2.75 in all biology coursework
  • Students who earned a minimum GPA of 2.5 overall

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.

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 $2,500). 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

NOTE: We are not accepting applications this year. Thus, there will not be an entering class in Fall 2021. We hope to resume our program in 2022.

Application Package Requirements

  1. General Application: submit online through (click "Apply Today" and follow the step-by-step instructions)
  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. Please then write a cover sheet that includes your full name, contact information and explains in which semester and to which degree program you are applying. Put the cover letter and sealed transcripts from all the universities you attended in an envelope and mail one to each of the offices listed below:
    Office of Graduate Studies (OGS)
    River Front Center, Room 206 CSU, Sacramento
    6000 J Street Sacramento, CA 95819-6112
  3. Supplementary Application* (under 'Degree Objective' select 'MA Program' and 'Stem Cell Track')
  4. A statement of purpose describing your interest in stem cell research, our program, and career goals* (1-2 single-spaced pages)
  5. Two letters of recommendation*

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.

Process for Submitting the Supplementary Application Materials

To submit materials described in #3-5 (supplemental application, statement of purpose, and recommendation letters) 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

Please disregard the statement at the end of the Supplementary Application that indicates you should mail the materials to the Graduate Secretary, and instead follow the instructions listed above.

Timeline for Applicants

  • Oct 1 – Feb 1: Applications accepted
  • Feb – March: Application review
  • Late March – Early April: Applicants will be intermittently notified if they will be invited to a Skype interview

Sacramento State Stem Cell Program Academic Committee

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

  • Kelly McDonald, PhD (Program Coordinator, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences)
  • Lisa Hammersley, PhD (Program Director, Dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics)
  • Kimberly Mulligan, PhD (Committee Chair, Stem Cell Program Advisor, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences)
  • Robin Altman, PhD (Stem Cell Program Advisor, Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences)
  • Robert Crawford, PhD (Stem Cell Program Advisor, Associate Professor of Biological Sciences)