Skip to page content
Return to Top

Graduate Degree Programs

Useful Graduate Student Links

The following information is from the 2012-2013 University Catalog:


   The graduate degree offered in the Department of Biological Sciences is intended to enrich and
enhance education in biological sciences in order to prepare students for leadership roles in industrial,
educational and research-oriented careers. The Department of Biological Sciences offers the Master of
Science degree with thesis and non-thesis options. 

   Students should have an undergraduate major in biology in order to gain full admission to the
program. Those lacking the desired background will be required to complete appropriate leveling work.
The departmental graduate advisor will review the student’s transcript and determine the nature and
amount of leveling work, and will assist the student in establishing his or her advisory committee.
The committee chair, who will assume duties for the student through the remainder of their graduate
program, should be chosen by the end of the first semester of graduate work. The advisory committee
should consist of a minimum of three members. At least two members will be selected from Biological
Sciences graduate faculty. Remaining members may be selected from the Biological Sciences graduate
faculty or from graduate faculty outside the Biological Sciences that have expertise relevant to the
student’s area of interest. 

Thesis Option

   The thesis, consisting of the written report of the research, must be the student’s original work and
must reflect his or her ability to express thoughts accurately and clearly. Both the thesis proposal and
thesis must be written according to guidelines and deadlines established by the College of Graduate
Studies and the Department of Biological Sciences. Students should refer to the Graduate Handbook,
Thesis Manual, and the Biological Sciences Graduate Students Handbook for more detailed information.
Thesis students are encouraged to quickly establish and begin working with their advisory committee
on a research proposal. To continue matriculation in the thesis option, students are required to gain
approval of their research proposal from their advisory committee and submit the proposal to the College
of Graduate Studies by the end of their first year in the program. Students failing to meet this deadline
will be required to meet with their advisory committee to discuss a possible extension of the proposal
deadline or switching to the non-thesis option. Thesis hours (BIOL 588 Thesis) cannot be taken until
thesis proposal has been approved by the advisory committee and submitted to the College of Graduate
Studies. 

   Upon completion of the thesis and approval by the advisory committee and College of Graduate
Studies, the student is required to schedule a public, oral presentation of his or her research followed by
a comprehensive oral examination administered by the advisory committee. The oral examination will
emphasize topics related to the thesis and course work. Successful completion of the comprehensive
oral examination completes the program. If the attempt at the comprehensive oral examination is
unsuccessful, it is at the discretion of the advisory committee to dismiss the student from the program
or recommend to the student a plan of action to repeat the comprehensive oral examination. If a plan
to repeat the examination is recommended, the plan may include recommendations to repeat courses
in the weak areas, take additional course work, or spend more time in individual preparation prior to
rescheduling a second attempt at the exam. 

Non-Thesis Option

   The non-thesis Master’s candidate, during the final semester of course work, is required to
successfully complete a comprehensive written and oral examination. For the written exam, instructors
of degree plan courses are invited to submit questions over course material as the basis of the written
exam. After successful completion of the written exam, students are required to schedule an oral
examination with their advisory committee. Successful completion of the written and oral examination
completes the program. If an attempt at the written or oral exam proves unsuccessful, it is at the
discretion of the advisory committee to dismiss the student from the program or recommend a plan of
action to the student to repeat the written or oral comprehensive examination. If a plan to repeat the
examination is recommended, the plan may include recommendations to repeat courses in weak areas,
take additional course work, or spend more time in individual preparation prior to rescheduling a second
attempt at the exam.


Master of Science in Biology - Required Courses

A. Thesis Option
BIOL 588 Thesis 6hrs
BIOL 585 Seminar 2hrs
BIOL 598 Research Design and Analysis 3hrs
Additional BIOL course work 15hrs
Additional BIOL supporting area 6hrs


B. Non-Thesis Option
BIOL 585 Seminar 2hrs
BIOL 598 Research Design and Analysis 3hrs
Additional BIOL course work 21hrs
Additional BIOL supporting field 10hrs