The Department of Biology offers two ways of achieving the Master of Science degree. The first is a non-thesis option suitable for those who may already have extensive research experience, for educators who seek to upgrade their academic skills but do not require research experience, or for those who need to broaden their biological background. The second is a traditional apprenticeship in research leading to a written thesis. All students admitted to the graduate program are considered to be in the non-thesis program unless they have been accepted into an individual faculty lab. Starting with a common core, both the non-thesis or thesis option may be developed into a final degree program in either of two broad areas in biology: 1) Cell and Molecular Biology or 2) Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics.

M.S. Admission Requirements
Applicants to the M.S. program must submit completed application and personal data forms, three letters of recommendation from undergraduate faculty, and transcripts of all previous work. Submission of Graduate Record Examination scores, although not required, is highly recommended and will be helpful for positive consideration of admittance. Admission as a regular graduate student requires graduation from an accredited college with a minimum grade point average overall and in biology courses of 3.0 (where A = 4.0).

All foreign applicants, except those from countries where English is the primary language, must take the TOEFL. Ordinarily, a score of 213 on the computer-based exam (550 on the paper-based exam) or better is required.

In addition to the Graduate School admission requirements, applicants should have completed advanced undergraduate biology courses including genetics, biochemistry, and evolution. Courses in organic chemistry, college physics, and calculus are also expected, and a course in statistics is highly recommended. Students admitted to the degree program who have not met some of the prerequisites may be asked to pass appropriate courses before graduating. These courses will be agreed upon by the student's adviser, the student, and the Director of Graduate Studies during the first semester of enrollment. In particular, undergraduate deficiencies in genetics and either biochemistry or evolution shall be made up by taking the appropriate course(s).

Three credits of Biol 4920 Selected Topics can be given to graduate students for Biology 2012 or Biology 3302, if they receive a grade of B or better for all undergraduate course work and complete a graduate level paper assigned by the instructor. Instructor consent is required.

M.S. Degree Requirements

Advisers
All incoming thesis and non-thesis students will be assigned an academic adviser by the Director of Graduate Studies upon admission to the graduate program.

In the event that a student's interest changes or the faculty adviser feels the student's direction no longer falls within his/her area of expertise, the student and adviser should discuss whether a change of adviser is warranted. The graduate director must be notified in writing of any change in advisers. If a student or adviser is uncomfortable discussing the issue directly with each other, he/she is encouraged to meet with the director or associate director of the graduate program.

General Requirements
All students are required to take at least 4 but not more than 8 hours of Biology 6889, Graduate Seminar.

Non-thesis Option
Including the general requirements, students must take at least 30 graduate credit hours, of which at least half must be at the 5000 or 6000-level. Students are encouraged to take a laboratory course (4000 level or higher) or 2 credit hours of Biology 6905, Graduate Research. A maximum of 5 credit hours of Biology 6905, will be counted toward the 30 credit hour total. This research may be conducted in the laboratory or the field.

Thesis Option
Including the general requirement, students must take at least 30 graduate credit hours, of which at least half must be at the 5000 or 6000 level. No more than 13 hours of Biology 6905, Graduate Research, may be counted toward the degree. A one credit hour course, Ethics in Biology, will be required of all students.

The student and adviser work together to develop a research plan. The thesis proposal must be approved by the student's adviser and advisory committee before the student enrolls in more than 4 credit hours of Biology 6905, Graduate Research, and before the student has completed 15 credit hours in the master's program. A thesis embodying results of original research shall be submitted to and approved by the Department of Biology and the Graduate School. This approval requires both a written thesis and oral presentation and defense.