The University of Maryland Eastern Shore (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 three formally defined Areas of Specialization (AOS), within the Toxicology Program from which a student may choose: chemical carcinogenesis, analytical toxicology, and aquatic toxicology.




                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 the catalog, and for any updates to the program after the time of the catalog printing. The comprehensive website for the  Toxicology program (all participating units) is:






                Beyond the Graduate School’s minimum admission requirements, applicants should have earned a B.S. or B.A. in chemistry, biology, pharmacy, or a related field. Students are expected to have completed the following courses or equivalents: cell and molecular biology, organic chemistry, physical chemistry, quantitative analysis, calculus, two semesters of undergraduate or graduate level biochemistry, and one semester of undergraduate or graduate level physiology. Specific requirements include a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.2, a combined verbal and quantitative GRE score of 1650, and a minimum internet based TOEFL score of 100 or computer based TOEFL score of 250.


                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 B.A. 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. The 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 3.2, although some students with a GPA below 3.2 may be provisionally accepted on the basis of related research or work experience.

    4. Applicants must submit the following required documents as part of their application for graduate study in the Toxicology Program:


         a. Graduate Record Examination Scores     (Only the General Test is required, although one of the Advanced Tests is strongly recommended)


         b. Official college transcript(s).


         c. 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.


         d. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the academic/research work of the applicant.


                The initial screening of an applicant's credentials is done by the Admissions Committee at UMES. Students missing prerequisite courses may be offered provisional admission.


                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 interests 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 (30 for M.S. and 36 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.

    Course Curriculum

    • 12 credits in Toxicology (including a Seminar in Toxicology, one semester per year of residence; two semesters of Methods in Toxicology; and thesis or dissertation credit if applicable)
    • 6 credits in two of the following three areas: pharmacology, pathology or analytical chemistry
    • 3 credits in statistics
    • 9 credits in elective courses

    Elective courses can be selected from other departments at UMES or from course offerings on other USM campuses.

    M.S., Toxicology (Thesis Option)

    • Minimum of 30 course credits including 6 credits of thesis research
    • Thesis defense

    M.S., Toxicology (Non-Thesis Option)

    • Minimum of 30 course credits
    • Written comprehensive examination
    • Scholarly paper (presented or peer reviewed publication)

    Ph.D., Toxicology

    • Minimum of 36 course credits including 12 credits of dissertation research
    • Written comprehensive examination
    • Oral defense of written research proposal
    • Final oral defense of research dissertation

    Other Requirements


    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 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.




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


    a. Comprehensive Examination


                The RAC is responsible for administering the 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 examination will include a combination of written and oral sections. 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 oral comprehensive examinations and dissertation proposal defenses but all committee members, the student and the Graduate Dean must agree to this use. Phone/conference calls are not acceptable alternatives.


    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 four 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 oral and 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).


    Dissertation Seminar and 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 Dean (this is usually the RAC plus a Graduate 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.

    CORE COURSES (credit hours are in parentheses)

    TOXI 601 & 602 Toxicology                    (3 +3)                

    A two-semester course covering basic principles of toxicology and mechanisms by which chemicals cause diseases and environmental damage. Topics include target organ toxicity, major classes of toxic agents, and mechanisms of cell injury and cell death. The course is offered in sequence in fall and spring semesters.


    CSDP 604 Computer Methods in   Statistics                                                        


    This course is an introduction to the principles and applications of probability and statistics needed in graduate studies in various academic areas and to the computer realization of these methods. The course begins with a brief intensive review of basic statistical principles. Prerequisites: One semester of calculus.


    CHEM 670 Advanced Biochemistry            (3)

    The course covers the classification, chemistry and metabolism of protein, amino acids, carbohydrates and lipids. Prerequisite: one semester of biochemistry.


    TOXI 604  Biochemical Pharmacology        (3) 

    This course covers biochemical and molecular mechanisms of drug, xenobiotic, and hormone action on cells and tissues. Emphasis will be on the  methodology used  in pharmacological research. Topics include mechanisms of drug metabolism, enzymes as targets of drug action, interactions of drugs with channels and carriers, and drugs that interact with nuclear receptors. Offered spring semester in even-numbered years.


    TOXI 609 Methods in Toxicology             (1-3)

    Students become familiar with laboratory methods used by faculty members to study the effect of toxins and environmental pollutants on living systems. The course is repeatable credit. Permission and credit are arranged individually.



    TOXI 618 Seminar in Toxicology                 (1)

    Students, guests, and faculty members review and discuss original works and recent advances in toxicology. The course is repeatable credit.


    PHYT 600 Advanced Human Physiology    (3)

    This course focuses on the major physiological systems of the human body. Topics in this course will cover function of the cardiovascular, respiratory, musculoskeletal, renal, gastrointestinal, genitourinary, neurological, lymphatic, endocrine, and immune systems at the cellular, organ and systemic levels.

    TOXI 799 Thesis Credit                              (1-6)

    This is repeatable credit.

    TOXI 899 Dissertation Credit                  (1-12)

    This is repeatable credit.


    ENVS 603 & 605 Marine Ecotoxicology      (4)

    This course cuts across traditional subject boundaries by integrating different disciplines such as chemistry and biochemistry through ecology and statistics. It provides students with a distinct approach for solving marine environmental pollution issues stemming from stable pollutants and how they interact with biotic and abiotic components of the marine ecosystem. Prerequisites: CHEM 112, CHEM 211, BIOL 112, Math 210 and co-requisite laboratory ENVS 605.


    CHEM 621 Advanced Environmental Chemistry                                                       (4)

    The origin, transport, and effects of atmospheric and aquatic pollutants are studied, with emphasis on energy-related pollutants including coal, oil, and synfuels. Prerequisites: One year of general chemistry, one semester of organic chemistry and one semester of analytical chemistry or permission of the instructor.


    ENVS 622 Solid and Hazardous Waste Management                                                   (3)

    The course introduces fundamentals of solid and hazardous waste management that include their source, characterization, collection, transportation, storage and final disposal. It also deals with resource recovery and utilization, risk assessment, biological, physical and chemical waste treatment methods/technologies and various waste legislation and implementation. The course includes field trips to landfills, recycling facilities and waste-to-energy facilities. A project paper and oral presentation are required. Prerequisite: Graduate standing in the Science or Engineering.


    FDST 802 Advanced Food Toxicology         (3)

    This course emphasizes biological and chemical aspects of toxicology, microbial aspects of food borne infections and intoxications, food additives, toxic substances occurring in food, either naturally or formed during processing, and the toxic effects of these substances on the biological systems. Safety of genetically engineered foods, risk assessment and food safety policy will be discussed as general topics. Prerequisite: permission of instructor


    TOXI 607 Forensic Toxicology                     (3)

    Lectures include discussion of principles underlying forensic and clinical toxicology, mechanism of action of drugs and other poisons, methods of detection and quantitation of drugs and poisons in tissues and body fluids, and interpretation of analytical procedures for the detection and estimation of drugs and chemicals in biological samples. The course is offered fall semesters in even-numbered years.


    TOXI 611 Exposure, Risk and Public Health            


    This course is open to graduate students in toxicology, epidemiology, public health, nursing and related fields of interest.


    TOXI 615 Toxic Cell Injury                          (2)

    Lectures will concern the mechanisms of cell injury from toxic agents and the integration of ideas from TOXI 601 and 602 and use a cell biology approach to understanding how organic and inorganic toxicants produce cellular damage.


    TOXI 620 Joint Environmental Law-Toxicology Seminar Series on Special Topics                                                      


    This course examines real-world problems involving toxic chemicals from both the legal and scientific perspectives. Law and toxicology students work as teams to develop innovative approaches to solving complex problems of regional and national interest. Topics include the effects of toxic chemicals on the Chesapeake Bay and public health problems associated with lead exposure.


    TOXI 625 Principles of Aquatic Toxicology                                             


    The course covers toxicology testing methods, chemical disposition in aquatic species, metabolism, and biochemical effects at the subcellular level. Consideration will be given to the effects and mechanisms by which chemicals produce toxic effects in aquatic organisms. The course is offered spring semesters.


    TOXI 675 Reproductive and Developmental  Toxicology                                               (2)

    This course provides an overview of normal and abnormal male and female reproduction as well as embryo, fetal, and neonatal development. Regulatory toxicology issues, in particular the risk assessment process, are discussed.




                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.





                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, U. S. Department of Agriculture, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U. S. Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency, Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Development Foundation, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, U.S. Forest Service, Agency for International Development and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.




                Full time master’s students will be limited to four years in which to graduate.


                Full time doctoral students will be limited to seven 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 six 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 research advisory committee, and with the approval of the Toxicology Program coordinator and the UMES Graduate Dean.


    For additional information about the Toxicology program, please contact:


    Dr. Ali Ishaque, Toxicology Program Coordinator at UMES

    Carver Hall

    Department of Natural Sciences

    University of Maryland Eastern Shore

    Princess Anne, MD 21853