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Division of Natural Sciences & MathematicsDepartment of Biological Sciences

Graduate Admissions & Financial Aid

Master of Science (MS)


The Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences involves course work and original research. A major strength of the MS program is the emphasis on research. Nearly all students publish their work in a scientific journal. Thus, students completing the MS degree are in a strong position to pursue a range of postgraduate opportunities, including careers in biotech and academic labs, government labs or agencies, or continued studies in professional or PhD programs.

The MS degree requires two years of research and course work. Students begin their research with a faculty advisor upon entrance into the program. In consultation with the advisor and Thesis Committee, the student develops a plan for an independent research project that culminates with a written thesis, public seminar and oral thesis defense.

Financial support

Typically, MS students are provided full tuition waiver and nine-month stipend via graduate teaching assistant (GTA) or graduate research assistant (GRA) positions for their two years. Most students work extensively on their thesis research in the summer between the first and second year with support from their faculty advisor's research grants.

Requirements for completion of the MS degree

The major requirements for completion of the master's degree are 45 quarter hours of graduate course work and successful defense of the MS thesis.

Course work

For the MS degree 45 quarter hours are required. Up to 15 quarter hours of graduate course work may be accepted as transfer credit with approval of the Departmental Graduate Committee and the Office of Graduate Studies. The 45 quarter hours include a combination of course work and research credit.

Research & thesis

A research project is designed in consultation with the major advisor and Thesis Committee. The degree requires a written thesis, public seminar and oral defense. The expectation is that the research be novel and appropriate for publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal.

General expectations

Graduate students must maintain a minimum GPA of 3.0 and make adequate progress on research as assessed by the advisor and Thesis Committee. All graduate students are required to attend all departmental seminars. Attendance at seminars is only excused for teaching conflicts. In addition, students supported by a GTA position are expected to fulfill all obligations required of the GTA appointment.