Learn from and work with world-class faculty

The M.S.A. Thesis Track is an exciting opportunity for students to work closely with members of one of the Midwest’s largest faculty in anatomy, biological anthropology, paleontology, and evolutionary biology. These experts have made groundbreaking discoveries in anatomy around the world. They organize and lead forensic investigations and paleontological digs, publish renowned research articles and textbooks and present at national conferences.

Students in the Thesis Track learn from all of these experts, but they select one faculty member as a primary mentor/adviser and principal investigator. The interests and investigations of DMU’s anatomy faculty are diverse yet also often cross over, creating a rich and stimulating environment for collaboration and scholarship.

Applicants are highly encouraged to contact the specific faculty member they are interested in working with prior to applying.

A path with purpose

The M.S.A. Thesis Track is designed to prepare students for a research-based career in comparative and evolutionary anatomy. Students in the track complete courses to train in anatomical sciences and scientific writing, to research scientific topics and to become proficient scholars in their respective fields. This track is specifically geared toward individuals wanting to matriculate into Ph.D. programs, such as those related to paleontology, biological anthropology, or evolutionary biology.

The Thesis Track is not recommended for individuals wanting to pursue a clinical or anatomical-education degree, nor is this track available as a dual-degree program for current DMU osteopathic or podiatric medical students.


Engaging and in-depth: M.S.A. Track curriculum

In the Thesis Track, the student must successfully complete 20 credit hours of required course work, one credit hour of elective course work, 14 credit hours of research and nine hours of thesis work. This curriculum is designed to immerse students in independent study of evolutionary and comparative anatomy, while honing their research and presentation skills.

Des Moines University Master of Anatomy Program - Thesis Track | 2020-22 Curriculum Strip Chart

Application process

Applicants are highly encouraged to contact the specific faculty member they are interested in working with prior to applying. Applications to the Master of Science in Anatomy Thesis Track program are only accepted through the DMU website.

M.S.A. Thesis Track admission requirements

Students applying to the Thesis Track program must have a strong background in science, with experience in evolution, biology, paleontology, and/or biological anthropology. Specific preferred courses largely depend on the faculty mentor the applicant wants to work with and the mentor’s research program, but courses could include evolutionary biology, genetics, human osteology, comparative anatomy, chemistry, physics, sedimentary geology, statistics, etc.

Other admission requirements:

  • Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university
  • Optional: Official GRE, MCAT or DAT scores
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts of all universities and colleges attended

Competitive candidates for admission will be invited to DMU to tour the facilities, meet faculty and graduate students and have a formal interview. Zoom/Skype interviews are also available.


Meet DMU’s M.S.A. Thesis Track faculty

Lauren Butaric, Des Moines University Master of Science in AnatomyLauren Butaric, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Rachel Dunn, Des Moines University Master of Science in AnatomyRachel Dunn, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Heather Garvin-Elling, Des Moines University Master of Science in AnatomyHeather Garvin-Elling, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Julie Meachen, Des Moines University Master of Science in AnatomyJulie Meachen, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Muhammad Spocter, Des Moines University Master of Science in AnatomyMuhammad Spocter, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Sarah Werning, Des Moines University Master of Science in AnatomySarah Werning, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
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