Biology M.S.

All students must meet the Requirements for the Master's Degree


The research of Biology faculty is grouped into two clusters: Cell and Molecular Biology and Ecology-Evolution-Animal Behavior. Students will have the opportunity to mention from the outset of the application process whose research they are interested in. While faculty research interests fall into these two broad groupings, students are encouraged to consider research projects that cross disciplines.

Learning goals for the MS degree students are:

  • Be able to execute scientific experiments, analyze and communicate experimental results orally and in writing.

  • Have a working knowledge of the fundamental literature, concepts and ideas of field of study.

  • Have a broad factual and conceptual knowledge and understanding of biology.

Specific Requirements

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Studies for the Degree of Master of Science

An undergraduate major in biology or its equivalent. Acceptability to the faculty member with whom the candidate wishes to do thesis research. Taking the Graduate Record Examination is not required.

Minimum Degree Requirements

A total of 30 credits, 15 of which must be graded course credits and 6 of which must be at the 6000-level are required. Students may take one 3-credit 3000- or 4000-level course for graduate credit with approval of the course instructor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Graduate College. Thesis research (up to 15 credits) and successful defense of thesis are required. Required courses are Scientific Survival Skills, Graduate Seminar, Graduate Colloquium, Proposal Writing, and Computational Biology.

Comprehensive Examination

Students take Proposal Writing the spring semester of their second semester during which they prepare a written research proposal. The comprehensive exam evaluates the written proposal and has two oral parts. The first oral part is a defense of the written proposal. The second oral part evaluates the student’s understanding of the broad range of concepts in the student's discipline. The comprehensive examination takes place before the end of May of their second semester.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Science

Successful completion of the comprehensive examination is required for advancement to candidacy.