College of Science and Mathematics

M.S., Biology

Requirements for the Master of Science Degree

A. For Admission to the Department

Students may be admitted as either Classified or Conditionally Classified Graduate students. In addition to University requirements, the Biology Department requires:

  • 1. Submission of a Biology Department Graduate Program application. This is a separate application in addition to the University application and is available at

Departmental Application Deadlines:

Fall semester: March 15 preceding entry into program.

Spring semester: October 15 preceding entry into program.

  • 2. Consent of a faculty member to serve as research advisor.
  • 3. Demonstrated proficiency in basic biology.*
  • 4. General Graduate Record Examination (GRE), scoring at or above the 50th percentile on at least one section of the general test.
  • 5. TOEFL and TWE (foreign students only): Minimum score acceptable by the University.

* Requirement 3 can be met in the following ways:

For students whose undergraduate degree is in Biology, either:

a. An undergraduate Biology GPA at or above 3.0; or,

b. A subject GRE score at or above the 50th percentile.

For students whose undergraduate degree is not in Biology:

c. a subject GRE score is required at or above the 50th percentile.

B. For Classified Status

The requirements for admission to Classified Status in Biology are the following:

  • 1. General University requirements for Classified Status, which include passing the University Upper Division Writing Proficiency Exam.
  • 2. Completion of any prerequisite coursework specified by Biology Graduate Committee upon admission (often the equivalent of BIOL 322, 360, 380, CHEM 235, etc.)

C. Conditionally Classified Status:

If a student meets the Department admission requirements but does not meet the requirements for Cassified status, Conditional Classification is given. Students accepted to the program with deficiencies in Biology core courses are expected to complete those courses before proceeding with 600-level courses. No more than 12 units of graduate work prior to attaining fully classified status will be applied to a master’s program.

D. For the Degree:

First semester graduate students in Biology must meet with the graduate coordinator during their first semester in the program. In addition, every graduate student must present and defend a formal proposal of their thesis research by the end of their second semester.

  • 1. Completion of a minimum of 30 units of grade A, A-, B+ or B work in all approved courses applied towards the Master’s degree:
  • a. Seminars (12 units):
  • BIOL 691 Graduate Proseminar (3 units) and 600-level seminar or lecture courses (9 units).
  • b. BIOL 502/L Biometry or BIOL 503/L Bioinformatics (an equivalent 3-unit Upper Division course may be substituted) (4 units).
  • c. Additional courses: Any 400-, 500- or 600-level biology courses
  • except BIOL 490, 495, 497EE, 499, 692, 696, 698 and 699. A
  • maximum of 9 units of 400-level courses may be applied toward
  • the degree. No more than 6 units from other disciplines such as Chemistry, Psychology, etc., may be counted.

d. Thesis courses:

BIOL 696 Directed Graduate Research (0-6 units)

BIOL 698 Thesis (3-6 units)

  • 2. Enrollment and attendance in at least 1 semester of Biology Colloquium, BIOL 692 (1) (Credit/No Credit only)
  • 3. Completion and successful oral defense of a thesis.
  • 4. Formal approval by the Thesis Committee.
Unit Totals
Program Component Units
Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree 31