Master of Science in Biological Sciences

The Master of Science (M.S.) in Biological Sciences is a research-centered degree program that includes an intensive curriculum of core and elected courses. During the first year, students are trained through formal coursework relevant to their chosen areas of interest. Two laboratory rotations during the first semester culminate in the selection of a host lab and completion of a thesis project.

Research undertaken for an M.S. in Biology is less extensive than that necessary for a Ph.D., enabling completion of an M.S. in two years. An M.S. in biology is a qualification for many positions in industry, research or education. The M.S. in Biology is also excellent preparation for advanced graduate programs.



Gradually the emphasis as measured by time and effort shifts from formal class work to active laboratory research. By the end of the second semester or during the first summer, master's students will have defined a research project. To recognize this transition and to provide early research mentorship, the following procedures will be followed:

  1. M.S. biological sciences students will form their committee by the end of the first summer. The committee will minimally be composed of the graduate mentor and two graduate faculty from the department.
  2. The M.S. student will hold committee meetings beginning in the first summer or before, and then minimally on an annual basis.
  3. The graduate mentor will write an annual report, similar to the present Ph.D. student annual report, and submit the report to the department (through the graduate officer) by the end of the first summer, and then annually after.
  4. The M.S. student will submit a plan of work after completing 12 credits. The plan of work will include courses already completed and those that are proposed to be taken. The choice of the courses must follow departmental requirements and must be selected in consultation with the advisor. The form must be approved by the departmental graduate officer.
  5. The M.S. student will fill out a form by the end of the first summer that describes the projected thesis project. This form will have a title for the project, the objective and importance, and the outline of the experimental procedure. The form will follow the college Thesis Outline and Record of Approval Form. The purpose of the form is analogous to that of the Ph.D. prospectus, although it will not be as detailed or necessarily have preliminary data. It is a statement of the research plan at or near the beginning of the project. It is not a contract and does not restrict changes in research directions as the project progresses.


See biological sciences graduate admissions for more information.

Career insights

This tool provides a broad overview of how major selection can lead to careers and is provided without any implied promise of employment. Some careers will require further education, skills, or competencies. Actual salaries may vary significantly between similar employers and could change by graduation, as could employment opportunities and job titles.