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Division of Biology

Graduate Degrees Offered

The Division of Biology offers 4 graduate degree programs, all of which are research-based and culminate in the defense of a dissertation or thesis. Research in the Division spans the full range of biological organization from biochemistry to ecology. Prospective applicants are encouraged to view our faculty research interests to identify potential mentors.

All graduate students accepted by the Division are guaranteed full financial support for the duration of their degree, contingent on satisfactory progress. The approximately $27,300 stipend is the same for all Biology graduate students regardless of degree program and domestic/international status.

Biology M.S. Program

The M.S. program in Biology provides advanced training in numerous biological subdisciplines including ecology, evolution, physiology, genetics, genomics, microbiology, molecular biology, developmental biology and cell biology. This is a research-based program in which all students conduct research and/or fieldwork that forms the basis of an M.S. thesis. The M.S. in Biology prepares students for private and public sector employment as well as for further graduate study.

The MS in Biology requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, including at least 22 credit hours of graded coursework and 6-8 hours of research credit. At least 18 hours of the graded coursework must be at the 700 level or above. Specific courses are selected with the guidance of the student’s major professor and supervisory committee. The only required course is BIOL 863 (Professional Skills and Ethics, 3 credits). Most Biology MS students will graduate in 2-3 years and publish 1-2 papers.

Biology Ph.D. Program

The PhD in Biology requires a minimum of 90 credit hours, including at least 24 credit hours of graded coursework and at least 30 hours of research credit. 15 credit hours of the graded coursework must be at the 800 level or higher. Specific courses are selected with the guidance of the student’s major professor and supervisory committee. The only required course is BIOL 863 (Professional Skills and Ethics). Most Biology PhD students will graduate in about 5 years and publish 2-5 papers.

Microbiology Ph.D. Program

The PhD in Microbiology requires a minimum of 90 credit hours, including at least 24 credit hours of graded coursework and at least 30 hours of research credit. 15 credit hours of the graded coursework must be at the 800 level or higher. Specific courses are selected with the guidance of the student’s major professor and supervisory committee. The only required courses are BIOL 863 (Professional Skills and Ethics), BIOCH 755 (Biochemistry I) and BIOCH 765 (Biochemistry II). Most Microbiology PhD students will graduate in about 5 years and publish 2-5 papers

Concurrent B.S. & M.S. Degree Program

The combined BS/MS program in Biology provides exceptional undergraduates with the opportunity to obtain both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in only 5 years. The curriculum includes both course work and research experience. Degree requirements for the joint MS are similar to the standard Biology MS, with the exception that up to 9 credit hours can be used towards both the BS and MS degrees. Applicants must have substantial undergraduate research experience and can apply to the program at any time from the second semester of the sophomore year through the second semester of the junior year. They should have completed 45-90 credit hours toward the BS degree including BIOL 201 or BIOL455 and BIOL 450 or BIOL529, the math requirement, and at least two semesters of chemistry. A student may be nominated during the senior year with special permission from the Graduate Program Director. Admission and retention in the program require a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and a GPA of 3.5 in the required math and science courses. The application must be accompanied by a recommendation from the Biology faculty member who will serve as the student's major professor and who agrees to support the student as a graduate research assistant (GRA) during the 5th and final year. This would normally will be the student’s current undergraduate research mentor.

Initial graduate admission is provisional, pending the award of the BS degree. The BS degree may be awarded at any time following the completion of the undergraduate degree requirements. The BS and MS degrees may also be awarded concurrently. The student will work closely with the major professor to form a supervisory committee and file a program of study by the end of the second semester of the junior year. The undergraduate academic advisor will continue to advise the student in academic progress toward the BS degree, and the major professor will supervise the student's progress towards the MS degree. Research toward the MS thesis will begin as soon as possible, typically during the junior year. A maximum of 9 credit hours at the 600-700 level can count toward both the BS and MS degrees. The dual counting of 9 credit hours will allow dedicated students to finish the dual degrees within 5 years. A student accepted into the dual degree program will be expected to teach (with responsibilities similar to those of a regularly-admitted graduate student) in his/her fifth year to develop teaching skills, and will be supported as a GRA by his/her major professor.