Biological Sciences

Master's Programs in Biology

The Department of Biological Sciences offers two major tracks to a Master's degree.

The Master of Science in Biological Sciences, and the Master of Science in Biological Sciences - Biotechnology Option provide the advanced study and training necessary to conduct independent research at a professional level and to be successful in today's competitive academic and industrial research markets. Students in the program will be encouraged to explore quantitative approaches to the solution of problems in the basic and applied biological sciences. Depending on their career goals, students may choose either research or course work options within the Department, or from the interdisciplinary Biotechnology option. All candidates for the master's degree are expected to demonstrate sufficient knowledge and skills to pursue independent and creative research activities.

The Professional Science Master's Program (PSM) combines traditional training in biological sciences with additional preparation in areas outside of biology, such as project management and discipline-specific courses, to provide studentswith a broader expertise useful for attaining positions in private-sector companies.  A thesis is not required, but each student must participate in a professional internship.

Four Professional Science Master's options are available:

Entrance Requirements and Procedures

Applications for the Master of Science, including the Biotechnology Option, are considered twice per year, with deadlines for receipt of applications of October 15 and January 10 for the following Spring and Fall semesters, respectively. 

Entering graduate students are expected to have a sound preparation in the biological sciences, chemistry, physics, calculus, and statistics. A student found deficient in any of these areas may be required, during the first year, to take appropriate courses to eliminate the deficiencies. If the student has not had a biochemistry course, 81.519 should be taken for graduate credit. The departmental Graduate Coordinator helps plan the entering students programs of study, acquaints them with research opportunities in the department, and assists in selecting research advisors.

Applications for the Professional Science Master's program (PSM) are accepted year round, but it is recommended that complete applications be submitted several months before expected matriculation.  Similarly to the MS degree described above, applicants are expected to have a strong background in biological science.

Applications and information for admission to the MS and PSM programs can be found at the Graduate Admissions website.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate level work is required for the Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences (Note: the PSM options in Biological Sciences require 37 credits.  See the Professional Science Master's section for details). The student has a choice of three options: thesis, project, or non-thesis. Minimal core requirements for all options include 1 semester (3 credits) of Professional Communication in Science and Technology 81.604, completion of Biochemistry 81.519 or an approved equivalent and 12 credits of formal course work selected from departmental electives (exclusive of thesis, project, problems, or other directed studies). The remaining 16 credits may be satisfied by additional electives within the department (thesis, project, problems, or more course work), by transfer credit for approved graduate level biological sciences courses taken at other accredited institutions (9 credit maximum), or by graduate courses taken in related disciplines within the University (e.g., bioinformatics, chemistry, environmental sciences, chemical engineering, radiological sciences; 8 credit maximum). There is no formal language requirement. Students whose professional goals are to continue on for the Ph.D. degree, or who plan to seek employment in academic or industrial research laboratories as technicians or junior scientists are strongly advised to choose the thesis or project option in order to successfully compete for such positions. Students in the non-thesis option should endeavor to select courses with accompanying laboratories whenever possible.

Thesis Option

In choosing this option, the student concentrates on an in-depth, independent, scholarly investigation of a contemporary biological problem. Credit is allowed for 6-12 semester hours of M.S. Thesis Research. After consulting with the research advisor, the student selects two additional faculty members (one of whom must be from within the Department) to serve as members of the Thesis Committee. The student presents to the Committee a proposal of intended research and obtains the Committee's approval of the research topic. After completing the written thesis, the student gives an oral presentation of his results to the Thesis Committee.

Project Option

The project option is designed for independent laboratory investigations of a more limited nature than the thesis option. Generally, a project is completed in one or two semesters and credit is given for 3 or 6 semester hours of M.S. Project (no more than 6 credits will be allowed).

Non-Thesis Option

This option offers course work in breadth and depth, and may be of special interest to secondary school science teachers and individuals already employed in academic, hospital, or industrial laboratories. The non-thesis option may be completed during the day on a full-time basis or in late-afternoon or evening sessions on a part-time basis. However, since not all day courses are available in the evening sessions, a part-time student's progress toward the M.S. degree will depend not only on his/her available time and abilities, but also on the scheduling of electives. In some instances, with the consent of a faculty member, an evening student may elect the thesis or project option.

Professional Experience

Credit (81-500; 3cr) may be requested by individuals who present satisfactory evidence (in the form of a written statement from their current supervisor) of engaging in at least one year of full-time experience in secondary school science teaching, or in an academic, hospital, or industrial laboratory setting.

Professional Communication in Science and Technology 

Each student is required to complete one semester of Professional Communication in Science and Technology (81.604; 3 credits) in Biology.  

Master of Science in Biological Sciences - Biotechnology Option 

This option is more structured than the M.S. in Biological Sciences program described above. The core curriculum offers extensive hands-on experience in current techniques and instrumentation. Field trips and seminars afford students an opportunity for interaction with the biotechnology industry. Students are encouraged to conduct research in one of the recognized areas of biotechnology or to present an innovative application of technology or engineering principles to a biological problem of economic interest. The nature and extent of the investigation will determine its degree credit value. Those who enter the program having already completed some of the core courses, or who already have extensive laboratory experience, may consult with an advisor to design a course of study appropriate to their needs. A variety of biotechnology-related electives are available.

Core Requirements Biotechnology Option

81.519 Biochemistry I 
81.520 Biochemistry II 
81.521 Techniques in Biochemistry 
81.542 Cell Biology OR 81.560 Stem Cell Biology
81.567/569 Molecular Biology (lecture and lab) 
81.576 Cell Culture 
81.593/595 Immunology (lecture and lab) 
81.604 Professional Communication in Science and Technology

Recommended Electives Biotechnology Option

10.535 Cell and Microbe Cultivation 
10.545 Isolation and Purification 
10.555 Biopharmaceutical GMP and Licensing 
10.586 Biotechnology Processing Projects Laboratory
81.572 Virology 
81.733  Projects Laboratory 
81.733 M.S. Project in Biology

Up to 9 credits of coursework may be taken in other departments. The sum of core and elective courses must total at least 30 credits.

Professional Science Master's

The curriculum requires students to complete: 2 core courses (Biochemistry I and Professional Communication in Science and Technology) common to all options; 1-2 core courses specific to the option that allow for specialization; additional electives within and outside the Biology Department that permit flexibility in meeting the students’ employment needs and interests; 2 advanced courses specific to the option; and a 1 credit Professional Internship that can be completed during a summer session or either academic semesters.  The total minimum credit requirement for each option is 37.

Applied Biotechnology Professional Science Master's (PSM) Option

Core Biology Requirements - Applied Biotechnology PSM Option

66.635 Project Management (offered by the College of Management)
81.519 Biochemistry
81.521 Biochemical Techniques
81.542 Cell Biology or
81.560 Stem Cell Biology
81.576 Cell Culture
81.567/569 Molecular Biology/Laboratory
81.593/595 Immunology/Laboratory
81.604 Professional Communication in Science and Technology

Additional Biology Courses - Applied Biotechnology PSM Option (3 credits minimum)

81.541 Topics in Cell Biology
81.540 Advances in Plant Biology
81.582 Cancer Biology
81.542 Cell Biology
81.580 Developmental Biology
81.504 Environmental Microbiology
81.590 Human Neurobiology
81.560 Stem Cell Biology
81.572 Virology

Advanced Biotechnology/Interdisciplinary Courses - Applied Biotechnology PSM Option (6 credits minimum)

92.586 Applied Statistics or
19.575 Introduction to Biostatistics and Epidemiology
10.586 Biotechnology Processing Project Laboratory
10.555 Biopharmaceutical GMP and Licensing
10.535 Cell and Microbe Cultivation
10.545 Isolation and Purification of Biotechnology Products

Professional Internship Applied Biotechnology PSM Option (1 credit)

Biosafety Professional Science Master's (PSM) Option

Core Requirements - Biosafety PSM Option

19.525 Recognition of Work Environment Hazards:  Introduction to Occupational and Hygiene Ergonomics
19.573 Bioaerosals in Health and Biodefense
81.519 Biochemistry
81.604 Professional Communication in Science and Technology

Additional Biology Courses - Biosafety PSM Option (18 credits) 

(Graduate, 81.XXX)

Advanced Biosafety/Interdisciplinary Courses - Work Environment/Rad Science (choose 6 credits)

19.509 Hazardous Waste Site Worker and Emergency Training Response
19.503 Toxicology and Health
95.504 Introduction to Radiological Sciences
19.515 Principles and Practices of Biological Safety
19.516 Laboratory Environmental Health and Safety

Professional Internship Biosafety PSM Option (1 credit)

Environmental Biotechnology Professional Science Master's (PSM) Option

Core Requirements Environmental Biotechnology PSM Option

92.586 Applied Statistics or 
19.575 Introduction to Biostatistics and Epidemiology
81.504 Environmental Microbiology
81.519 Biochemistry
81.521 Biochemistry Techniques
81.567/569 Molecular Biology/Lab
81.604 Professional Communication in Science and Technology
66.635 Project Management (offered by the College of Management)

Advanced Environmental Biotechnology/Interdisciplinary Courses (choose 14 credits)

14.567 Environmental Aquatic Chemistry
14.568 Environmental Fate and Transport
14.578 Biological Wastewater Treatment
14.595 Hazardous Waste Site Remediation
81.505/507 Bioinformatics Lecture/Lab
81.523 Biology of Global Change
81.540 Advances in Plant Biology
81.542 Cell Biology
81.557/559 Advanced Invertebrate Zoology Lecture/Lab
81.560 Stem Cell Biology
19.573 Bioaerosals in Health and Biodefense
81.576 Cell Culture

Professional Internship Environmental Biotechnology PSM Option (1 credit)

Project Management for Life Sciences Professional Science Master's (PSM)Option

Core Requirements Project Management for Life Sciences PSM Option

66.635 Project Management (College of Management)
81.519 Biochemistry
81.604 Professional Communication in Science and Technology

Additional Biology Courses Project Management for Life Sciences PSM Option (choose 21 credits)

(Graduate, 81.XXX)

Advanced Management Courses Project Management for Life Sciences PSM Option (choose 6 credits)

26.590 Survey of Intellectual Property
61.640 Financing Innovation and Technology Ventures
62.630 Market Research for Entrepreneurs
64.650 Innovation and Emerging Technologies
64.655 Corporate Entrepreneurship
64.681 New Venture Implementation
66.630 New Product Development
66.640 Building and Managing Entrepreneurial Teams
64.680 New Venture Planning

Professional Internship Project Management for Life Sciences PSM Option (1 credit)