Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences

BMS Independent Project Experience

Starting your Independent Project can be daunting but also rewarding. From selecting a project, identifying a mentor, and whether your Concentration choice has implications for one’s long-term career plans, we have provided the following guidance to help you determine your path. In August, admitted students will receive the Independent Project Intake Form, which jumpstarts the process of mentor-mentee matching.

To identify a successful independent project, is it important to consider…


BMS students create project reports that are in line with their chosen concentration and career aspirations. These reports showcase the knowledge and skills they have gained, which are customized to fit their concentration, interests, and career objectives. The formats for these reports may encompass research theses and applied projects involving survey analysis.



Before you complete your project intake form, we recommend taking this preliminary step. Given the one-year degree timeline, it’s highly advisable for students to first consider their broad areas of interest where they seek growth. Once you’ve delineated the scope of your interests, proceed to fill out the project intake form, sharing details about your skills, background, and interests. It’s important to remember that when describing your research interests, your MS project doesn’t have to represent your life’s work. Instead, explore project possibilities that allow you to enhance your existing skill sets, techniques, and experiences. Our aim is to ensure that your year at the University of Chicago serves as an effective stepping stone for your future career endeavors!



To initiate the independent project experience, students will fill out the Project Intake Form. Faculty leads will then review these forms and recommend a suitable mentor who aligns well with the student’s background, skills, and research interests.



Once students have been matched with a mentor, they will initiate contact. If a mentor’s interests align with theirs, students are encouraged to reach out to them, ensuring that all communication adheres to professional standards. We recommend consulting the program leadership at, as they can provide email templates for contacting prospective mentors.

Students can access faculty email addresses and other contact details through the University of Chicago Online Directory. Please anticipate a minimum of two weeks before the first meeting takes place, considering the demanding schedules of our faculty members.



When meeting with a potential mentor, the student’s aim is to determine whether the faculty member will be a good fit. We encourage all students to meet with program leadership to gather best practices and strategies when meeting prospective mentors.

I have secured an independent project mentor, what are my next steps?

1. Complete follow-up intake form

Find the intake form here.


2. Initial meeting

Meeting with your mentor soon after you have established the relationship will establish momentum and ensure shared goals. This meeting is integral to deciding specifically on what you will be working, any training or prerequisite skills needed, and the timeline over which these activities are expected to occur.


3. Program requirements and deadlines

Please refer to information shared at the start of the academic year regarding requirements and deadlines about the independent project. Students are responsible for staying on top of their independent project progress, and working closely with their mentor throughout the year  to ensure program requirements and deadlines are met.

Other important factors to consider…


Considering the limited amount of time that you have, is it possible and practical to complete the project? Will this project require funds in excess of those already obtained by you or your mentor?  Due to these logistical limitations, it is often best to join an ongoing project or consider undertaking a smaller component of a larger project. Jumpstarting a Do It Yourself (DIY) project is not very easy and should be pursued with caution.


Back-Up Plan

Some projects may be very high risk. If so, it is best to discuss the “backup plan” with a mentor just in the case the project is never fully initiated or completed within a year. Successful mentors often have many projects on which students can work, ensuring that a plan B is in place from the outset.

Information for Mentors

We hope to provide you with details about the Independent Project, along with the necessary information to help guide the MS Biomedical Sciences students. Your commitment to our students is critical to the success of this initiative – we wish to recognize the time and energy that you devote to shepherding a student through this process!

Below, we have compiled the most Frequently Asked Questions that we receive from mentors. This information will help you to understand the milestones expected to be reached during the academic year, as well as to plan your schedule when mentoring a student

As developing and improving this program is an iterative process, please let us know if you have any questions, concerns, or suggestions by emailing We look forward to hearing from you!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does it mean if a student asks me to be their Independent Project mentor?

If you are contacted, that means you have shared with BMS program leadership available projects that can be reasonably completed within the one-year timeline. If you agree to be an independent project mentor, you will be advising student(s) on their project throughout the academic year. There are two formal requirements that require your written feedback and sign-off: 1) proposal write-up (due end of Fall quarter); and 2) the final write-up (due either end of Spring or Summer quarter, depending on student’s graduation plan). 

What happens if the project that I am mentoring a student on is not successful?

We understand that, for several reasons, certain projects may be unsuccessful. For the MS Biomedical Sciences program, the results are not as important as the effort invested in producing the results. Depending on where the student is in their progress, program leadership can work with you to develop an appropriate plan, which may include working on a related project with you or a faculty colleague.

Is the student required to publish?

Students are not required to produce a publication. Given the one-year timeline, it is highly possible many students will be interested in continuing their progress on the project past graduation, depending on fit. Program leadership hopes and anticipates that many students will eventually participate in the scholarly process of dissemination, whether through participating at conferences, contributing to or authoring publications. 

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