Master of Science in Biology

Requirements (45 units)

Program Code: BIOM

The Master of Science in Biology is designed to provide the flexibility required to develop specific course programs and acceptable thesis research proposals based upon the individual graduate student's interests and background. The general goal of the program is to provide the student with opportunity for improvement of competence, development of the ability to continue self-directed study, and development of intellectual responsibility in preparation for professional leadership in biology.

The graduate program in biology provides training in various concentrations of current research interest in molecular and population genetics, physiology, immunology, molecular biology, population and systematic ecology, neurobiology, plant and animal developmental biology, cellular biology, vertebrate morphology and paleontology, microbiology, parasitology, cancer biology and science education.

Admission to the M.S. Program

In addition to the general requirements of the university, specific requirements for admission to classified graduate status are:

  1. A baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university;
  2. Completion of an undergraduate major in biology or associated fields (e.g., microbiology, botany, zoology or chemistry with at least 30 quarter units of upper-division biology course work);
  3. One year each of laboratory courses in: general biology, general chemistry, organic chemistry and physics;
  4. One full-term course in basic calculus or methods in calculus;
  5. Upper division courses in cellular or molecular biology, genetics, ecology, and organismal biology. Students lacking one of these courses may be admitted to the program, but must make up the deficiency in their first year. Students will not be permitted to enroll in 600-level biology courses without the appropriate prerequisite course. Graduate-level courses may have additional prerequisites;
  6. A cumulative undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 ("B") in all courses used for credit in the major;
  7. Completion of the graduate entrance writing requirement;
  8. Submission of scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) to the Department of Biology Graduate Committee;
  9. Submission to the Department of Biology Graduate Committee a one-page, typewritten statement of the student's preparation for graduate study, goals in the graduate training program, potential area of research and possible advisor (for thesis option) and professional goals following completion of the M.S.;
  10. Submission of three letters of recommendation from people who are in a position to make relevant comments on the student's intent and potential for success in the M.S. program. At least two of the letters should be from current or former college or university faculty familiar with the student's scholarship and related activities.

Application deadlines for fall, winter and spring quarter admission are May 1, October 1, and January 15, respectively.

Advancement to Candidacy

In order to be advanced to candidacy, the student must have:

  1. Achieved classified status;
  2. Been accepted by a major advisor from the Department of Biology;
  3. Completed at least 15 quarter units of work applicable to the degree program as a graduate student at this university with the approval of the Department of Biology Graduate Committee, and with a minimum grade point average of 3.0 ("B");
  4. Received recommendations for advancement to candidacy from the major advisor and from the Department of Biology Graduate Committee;
  5. Submitted a formal program of graduate course work prepared in consultation with and approved by the Department of Biology Graduate Committee;
  6. Gained final approval of the program and of the candidacy itself by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Requirements for Graduation

  1. A minimum of 45 quarter units of acceptable graduate-level work included in the formal program, with no less than 32 units completed in residence at this university and with at least 24 units gained from 600-level courses in biology;
  2. Advancement to candidacy for the degree and approval of the specific program of courses;
  3. A grade point average of 3.0 ("B") in all graduate course work fulfilling the requirements of the Master of Science in Biology and grades of "C" (2.0) or better in each course in the program;
  4. Completion of a final oral examination concluded by acceptance of the thesis;
  5. The graduation writing requirement is met upon successful completion of the thesis;
  6. Any additional general requirements not cited above and listed in Graduate Degree and Program Requirements.

Department Graduate Committee and Major Advisor

The Department of Biology Graduate Committee consists of the graduate program coordinator and two or more Biology faculty members. This committee has general supervision over the work of students progressing toward the Master's degree, and will determine whether students are adequately prepared for graduate study in biology.

Each new graduate student will consult with the graduate program coordinator for academic advising until the student has been accepted by a major advisor. Students are responsible
for contacting potential major advisors. Students may not advance to candidacy until they are accepted by a major advisor. The major advisor in consultation with the student will develop a program of specific courses and an acceptable thesis research proposal based on the student's interests, abilities and preparation. The major advisor will direct the thesis research. The program of courses and the thesis topic, as well as any subsequent modification of these, are subject to approval by the Department of Biology Graduate Committee and the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Students currently enrolled in the graduate program wishing to take courses off campus towards their graduate degree must petition the Department of Biology for approval through the graduate program coordinator and the Graduate Committee, otherwise the course may not be accepted as part of the program. 1000- to 9999-level extension courses are not applicable to the graduate program.

300-level courses taken will be accepted only by written approval of the department. 300-level courses are seen as support courses and therefore are not generally applicable to the graduate degree program.

Courses taken to satisfy quantitative or qualitative deficiencies cannot be applied toward a master's degree.

Repeat of courses require approval of the Department of Biology Graduate Committee and may be granted for serious and compelling reasons.

Proposing and Defending the Thesis

Students must conduct an original research study and from these efforts, write a thesis acceptable to the thesis committee, the department Graduate Committee, and the Dean of Graduate Studies. Early in their graduate studies, students in consultation with their major advisor, will select a thesis committee including the major advisor, and at least two other faculty from the Biology Department. The student is responsible for setting regular meetings with the thesis committee members. Once a research plan has been formed, the student will provide a formal written and oral proposal of their planned research to the thesis committee. Upon completion of the original research and the thesis, a final oral examination consisting primarily of  discussion of the thesis and the thesis research is required. Official examiners will include the thesis committee and other members of the academic community. Successful completion of the final oral examination includes acceptance of the thesis by the thesis committee.

The student should consult the Department of Biology for details on preparing the thesis manuscript.

Degree Requirements (45 units)

BIOL 601Teaching Assistant Training in Biology2
BIOL 690Graduate Seminar in Biology2
BIOL 692BGraduate Research Methods in Biology2
BIOL 699AThesis Research and Thesis I3
BIOL 699BThesis Research and Thesis II3
BIOL 699CThesis Research and Thesis III3
Five of the 600-level courses in Biology listed under "Course Categories" A, B, and C. At least one of these must be taken from each of the three categories (minimum of 10 units.) Course categories are:10
A. Cellular and Molecular Biology
B. Physiology and Organismal Biology
C. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Twenty units of electives to be chosen from biology or related courses at the 600-, 500- and 400-levels. A minimum of 7 units of electives must be taken at the 500-600 level (excluding BIOL 601). A maximum of 12 units from any combination of BIOL 596, BIOL 692, and BIOL 696 may be applied toward the student's degree. Courses taken outside the department to fulfill this requirement require prior approval of the Graduate Committee and thesis advisor.20
Total Units45

Course Categories

A. Cellular and Molecular Biology
Genetic Engineering
Concepts of Molecular Genetics
Senior Seminar: Molecular
Senior Seminar: Cellular
Senior Seminar: Microbiology
Recombinant DNA Techniques
Advanced Topics in Molecular Biology
Advanced Topics in Cell Biology
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Advanced Topics in Microbiology
B. Physiology and Organismal Biology
Comparative Animal Physiology
Comparative Plant Physiology
Principles of Development
Advanced Vertebrate Morphology
Senior Seminar: Physiology
Senior Seminar: Bioethics
Senior Seminar: Zoology
Senior Seminar: Botany
Advanced Topics in Plant Biology
Advanced Topics in Zoology
Advanced Topics in Physiology
Advanced Topics in Development
Advanced Topics in Parasitology
Advanced Topics in Immunology
C. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
Conservation Biology
Global Change Biology
Population Genetics
Physiological Ecology
Senior Seminar: Biosystematics
Senior Seminar: Ecology
Senior Seminar: Genetics
Senior Seminar: Evolution
Senior Seminar: Conservation Biology
Advanced Topics in Genetics
Advanced Topics in Ecology
Advanced Topics in Evolution