The MS and PhD degree programs in Biological Sciences encompass a wide variety of disciplines in both plant and animal biology with three major emphasis areas: Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cell and Developmental Biology, and Comparative Organismal Biology.
Applicants to the graduate degree programs in Biological Sciences must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree and a background of training in biology. All students are expected to have completed inorganic and organic chemistry, physics, calculus, biology, organismal diversity, genetics, and evolutionary biology. Deficiencies (less than 18 hours total) may be remedied through appropriate coursework completed during the graduate program. Graduate credit is not normally awarded for remedial coursework. Students with more than 18 hours of deficiencies, including those with degrees outside of biology, are encouraged to contact the Department of Biological Sciences to discuss options for fulfilling coursework requirements in preparation for application to the MS and PhD programs.
Candidates for the PhD degree must complete written and oral comprehensive examinations, 18 credits of dissertation research, an acceptable dissertation based on original research and satisfactory performance in a final oral examination. Although there is no required coursework for the doctorate beyond the 18 credits of dissertation research, some graduate coursework emphasizing breadth and depth of knowledge in the life sciences is expected of each candidate. A total of 30 credit hours beyond the master’s degree (or 60 hours beyond the bachelor’s degree) is required for the doctoral degree.
The non-thesis option of the MS is designed specifically for K-12 teachers and others interested in biological sciences education. Candidates must complete a total of 30 semester hours of graduate coursework. At least 18 of the 30 hours must be at the 8000-level. All courses are offered online. A research proposal and project whose results are presented in written format is also a requirement. The scope of the research project is not as extensive as the thesis required in the traditional MS program; however, it is expected that students will conduct original scientific research and write a document of the caliber of a manuscript suitable for submission to a peer-reviewed journal. The student and the student’s graduate committee will determine the subject of the research project.
Admission to the non-thesis option of the MS program requires a suitable undergraduate education, two letters of recommendation, a resume, and suitable GRE scores. (GRE scores are not required for teachers with one or more years of teaching experience.) Students do not need an undergraduate degree in biology to be considered for admission.