2017-2018 Graduate Catalog

Biology M.S.

CIP: 260101

Option 1 (Thesis) and Option 2 (Scholarly Paper)

Completion of 32 hours of approved graduate credit (courses numbered at 500 or above) is required. Sixteen hours must be at the 600 level or above. A maximum of 16 approved hours may be taken outside of the department.

Option 1: Thesis

Required Courses

Approved Electives


BIOL 04680Graduate Seminar in Biology


BIOL 04698Thesis Research in Biology

1 to 5

BIOL 04699Thesis


Total Credit Hours: 32

Completion and Defense of an Approved Research Project and Thesis

The thesis project may involve a maximum of 11 hours (8 hours thesis research and 3 hours thesis) toward the 32-hour degree. No credit or grade will be issued for these courses until completion of the thesis and research, including the oral defense of the thesis.

Option 2: Scholarly Paper

Required Courses

Approved Electives


BIOL 04680Graduate Seminar in Biology


BIOL 04697Scholarly Paper in Biology

1 to 5

Total Credit Hours: 32

Completion and Presentation of the Scholarly Paper

The scholarly paper may involve a maximum of 5 hours toward the 32-hour degree. No credit or grade will be issued for these hours until completion of the project, paper, and a seminar (presentation).

Areas of Concentration

Although there are common courses for all biology graduate students, each individual student selects, in conjunction with his or her cooperating professor, his or her field of specialty and specific coursework. Students are expected to have a broad background in biology as well as the research concentration and/or the topic of the scholarly paper. Specific areas of study will depend upon the specialties of the biology faculty.

For each area of concentration, some specific coursework may be required. The Biology Graduate Committee, in consultation with the area specialist, will indicate specific coursework to an applying graduate student.

Program Admission Requirements

Admission to graduate study by the Graduate Office does not admit a student to candidacy for a degree in biology. The Department of Natural Sciences reserves the right of final decision in accepting graduate students to graduate degree candidacy in the department. Acceptance by the Department of Natural Sciences will be determined by the biology faculty via the Biology Graduate Committee (appointed by the department chairperson) according to the following requirements and policies.


  1. Compliance with all of the eligibility requirements of the Graduate School as set forth in this catalog.
  2. Acceptance to graduate study by the Dean of the Graduate School.
  3. Completion of a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with an undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 2.75 (4.00 scale). An applicant with a GPA of 2.50 to 2.74 can apply to be accepted conditionally. If accepted, the student would need to complete the first eight graduate hours with a 3.0 GPA or be subject to suspension for one calendar year. (A student who does not meet the GPA criteria could apply to the university as a non-degree seeking student. If the student achieves a 3.0 in his/her first eight hours of graduate study, the student may reapply but must undergo the full applications and admission review process. Admission to the department is not guaranteed.)
  4. Applicants must have completed at least 24 semester hours in acceptable undergraduate courses in biology; at least 13 semester hours in chemistry; at least precalculus mathematics; and at least 4 hours of physics. Additional courses (such as calculus, computer science and statistics) may be required depending upon the anticipated graduate program of the applicant. Acceptability of courses and additional requirements will be determined by the Biology Graduate Committee. Deficiencies must be corrected before official acceptance into degree candidacy in biology.
  5. A satisfactory score on the GRE general test. A quantitative (Q) plus verbal (V) score of at least 286 is considered minimal. The analytical writing section must also be submitted. A student who does not meet the required GRE score may be accepted conditionally to the program. However, a score of at least 286 must be attained during the first trimester of enrollment. In extenuating circumstances, the student may appeal to the Biology Graduate Committee.
  6. A writing sample is also to be evaluated by the graduate advisor and two other faculty members as required by this catalog during the initial trimester of enrollment. A student will be required to compose a handwritten, impromptu composition on a subject provided by the Department of Natural Sciences. An unacceptable ability to write will necessitate some remedial work and a subsequent writing sample.

Initial Acceptance Procedures and Policies

  1. When applying for admission, the following information should be sent to the Graduate Office: 1) official copies of all the applicant’s undergraduate and any graduate transcripts; 2) copy of the applicant’s score on the Graduate Record Exam. Acceptable performance on this examination as judged by the Biology Graduate Committee is required. (See “Eligibility” above); and 3) two letters of recommendation from individuals who can attest to the applicant’s ability to do graduate work; and 4) a one or two page (typed) statement of purpose describing the area of biology the applicant is interested in and why, along with the applicant’s goals.
  2. The applicant’s academic file will be forwarded to the department and will be assessed by the Biology Graduate Committee. The committee will notify the Graduate Office of its decision and of any academic deficiencies an accepted applicant may have. The successful applicant who has any deficiencies will be accepted on a provisional status until the deficiencies are corrected. The Graduate Office will notify the student of the Biology Graduate Committee’s decision.
  3. Upon acceptance, the applicant, in consultation with the graduate advisor and other faculty members as needed, should declare an area of concentration available within the scope of the Biological Sciences area. A student whose area of interest is undecided is encouraged to tour the department and talk with faculty.
  4. After declaring his or her area of concentration, the applicant should contact the faculty specialist in that area to be his or her major and thesis advisor. The faculty specialist will determine if the interests of the applicant are compatible with his or her expertise and if he or she is able to act as the applicant’s advisor. The biology faculty reserves the right to determine which students and how many they are able to advise. Upon mutual agreement between applicant and faculty specialist, the faculty specialist would then function as the thesis and major advisor of the graduate student. The graduate advisor shall, however, maintain a file on each graduate student for record-keeping purposes.
  5. A Degree Audit Form must be filed with the Graduate Office during the first trimester of enrollment.
  6. Upon completion of all the above requirements and upon formal application to the graduate advisor, the applicant will be notified of acceptance to degree candidacy by the Department of Natural Sciences. It should be noted that character weaknesses, incompatible research interests, lack of facilities, as well as academic inadequacies such as judged by the biology faculty via the Graduate Committee are sufficient reasons for non-acceptance to degree candidacy.
  7. The Graduate Office will review the student for candidacy when at least 8 semester hours of graduate credit in residence have been completed.

General Requirements and Policies

  1. All requirements of the Graduate School must be met.
  2. A grade point average of 3.00 in all graduate work is required for graduation.
  3. Not more than six semester hours of “C” grades may be applied toward the master’s degree.
  4. A graduate student may take more than 8 hours of current topics (CT) and advanced current topics (ADV CT) courses, but only 8 total hours (of combined CT and ADV CT courses) will count toward the student’s program of study. Exceptions to this policy can be made upon petition to the Biology Graduate Committee.
  5. A maximum of nine semester hours of transfer credit, as approved by the Biology Graduate Committee, may be applied toward the master’s degree.
  6. For Option 1: A thesis defense and/or seminar covering the thesis or research paper (as applicable) must be given in the trimester of graduation. For Option 2: A seminar covering the scholarly paper must be given during a trimester prior to graduation or in the trimester of graduation.
  7. If an advisor is unsatisfied with the progress of the student or if personality conflicts arise, the advisor may request that the student be removed from the project or area of specialization, or removed from the Biology program with the approval of the Biology Graduate Committee.
  8. A written comprehensive examination is required for all students receiving the M.S. degree. The examination will consist of timed, sit-down essays or take-home essays or a combination of the two. Students must achieve the minimum of an overall “B” grade in order to pass. The assessment may be repeated up to three times according to existing graduate policy.

Research, Scholarly Paper and Comprehensive Examination Committee Formation and Responsibilities

Upon acceptance by a major advisor, the graduate student in consultation with his or her major advisor should select a committee to evaluate the student’s comprehensive examination and for Option 1, to evaluate the student’s research/thesis. For Option 2, the committee will also evaluate the student’s scholarly paper and presentation.