Program: M.S., Biology

Program Description

The Department of Biology offers one graduate program leading to the Master of Science degree in Biology. Graduate students in the program specialize in areas of interest, such as cell biology, ecology, evolutionary biology, genetics, marine biology, microbiology, molecular biology, physiology, and systematics and organismal biology. The program is research-oriented and requires the completion of a thesis along with required coursework. Students select from more than 80 courses to complete the 31 units of coursework required for the program. More than a third of the coursework (12 units) can be earned for thesis research. The rest of the courses are composed of lectures, lab courses, field courses, seminars and colloquia.

Program Requirements

A. Admission to the Program

Students may be admitted as either classified or conditionally classified graduate students. In addition to University requirements, the Department of Biology requires:

  1. Submission of a Department of Biology Graduate Program Application. This is a separate application in addition to the University application.
    1. Departmental Application Deadlines:
      1. Fall semester: February 15 preceding entry into program.
      2. Spring semester: September 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)—although the general GRE is not required, students who believe that their GRE scores will help their application are free to submit them, and a committee of faculty that considers admissions to the program will consider them along with other components of the application.
  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:
  1. A cumulative GPA at or above 3.0 in all undergraduate Biology courses, or
  2. A Biology subject GRE score at or above the 50th percentile.
For students whose undergraduate degree is not in Biology:
  1. A Biology subject GRE score is required at or above the 50th percentile.

B. Classified Status

Students must meet the general University requirements for classified status.

C. Conditionally Classified Status

If a student meets the department admission requirements but does not meet the requirements for classified status, conditional classification may be given. No more than 12 units of coursework prior to attaining fully classified status will be applied to a master’s program.

D. Degree Requirements

First-semester graduate students in Biology must meet with the graduate coordinator during their first semester in the program.

Completion of a minimum of 31 units of grade A, A-, B+ or B work in all approved courses applied toward the master’s degree:

1. Required Courses (17 units)

Graduate Statistics* (4 units)

BIOL 502/BIOL 502L Biometry (3/1)
or BIOL 503/L Bioinformatics (3/1)
or BIOL 551/L Computer Modeling in Biology (2/2)

*An equivalent 4-unit upper division course may be substituted.

Graduate Seminars (12 units)

BIOL 615B-G or BIOL 655A-H Graduate Seminars (9)
BIOL 691 Graduate Proseminar (3)

Colloquium (1 unit)

BIOL 692 Biology Colloquium (1)

2. Electives (8-11 units)

Any 400-, 500- or 600-level Biology courses except BIOL 490, BIOL 495, BIOL 497EE, BIOL 499, BIOL 692, BIOL 696, BIOL 698 and BIOL 699. A maximum of 6 units of BIOL 696 may be applied toward the degree. 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.

BIOL 403/L Plant Morphology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 404/L/BIOL 492Y Phycology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 406/L Flowering Plant Systematics and Lab (2/1)
BIOL 407/L Plant Ecology and Lab (2/1)
BIOL 408/L Applied Microbiology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 409/L Non-Flowering Plants and Lab (2/1)
BIOL 410/L Medical Microbiology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 411/L Animal Histology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 412/L/BIOL 492E Herpetology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 413/L/BIOL 492AA Entomology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 414/L/BIOL 492A Avian Ecology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 415/L/BIOL 492M Mammalogy and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 417/L Microbial Physiology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 418/L Bacterial Diversity and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 419/L Microbial Ecology and Lab (2/1)
BIOL 421/L/BIOL 492B Marine Biology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 422/L Physiological Ecology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 423/BIOL 492F Field Ecology/Field Studies (2/2)
BIOL 425/BIOL 492D Animal Behavior/Field Studies (3/1)
BIOL 426/L/BIOL 492P Biology of Deserts and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 427A/AL/BIOL 492L Biology of Pelagic Organisms and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 428/L/BIOL 492W Wildlife Ecology and Management and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 429/L/BIOL 492I Marine Ecology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 430/L/BIOL 492BB Ichthyology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 431/L Food Microbiology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 432/L Comparative Anatomy and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 433/L Biology of Marine Tetrapods and Lab (2/1)
BIOL 434/L/BIOL 492Q Ecology of Marine Fishes and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 435/L Parasitology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 438/L/BIOL 492R Tropical Botany and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/2)
BIOL 439/L/BIOL 492S Tropical Ecology and Conservation and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/2)
BIOL 441/L Embryology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 442/L Developmental Biology and Lab (3/1)
BIOL 444 Biology of Viruses (3)
BIOL 446/L/BIOL 492T Biology of Tropical Vertebrates and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/2)
BIOL 447/L Full Immersion Research Experience (FIRE) and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 448/BIOL 492U Tropical Biodiversity/Field Studies (2/1)
BIOL 451 Tropical Biology (3)
BIOL 452/L Molecular Markers in Evolutionary Studies and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 453/L/BIOL 492Z Behavioral Ecology and Lab/Field Studies (2/1/1)
BIOL 456/BIOL 492O Conservation Biology/Field Studies (3/1)
BIOL 461 The Molecular Genetics of Microorganisms (3)
BIOL 462 Molecular Genetics of Eukaryotic Organisms (3)
BIOL 464 Human Biochemical Genetics (3)
BIOL 466 Genetics of Bacteria and Their Viruses (3)
BIOL 468 Human Genetics (3)
BIOL 469 Molecular Diagnostics and Clinical Chemistry (3)
BIOL 470 Biotechnology (3)
BIOL 471A Molecular Diagnostics (3)
BIOL 472/L Recombinant DNA Techniques and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 473 Clinical Cytogenetics and Cancer Genetics (3)
BIOL 475/L Biological Imaging and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 476 Topics in Stem Cell Biology (3)
BIOL 477/L Cell and Tissue Culture and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 479 Endocrinology (3)
BIOL 480/L Cellular Physiology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 482/L Animal Physiology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 483/L Principles of Neurophysiology and Lab (3/1)
BIOL 485/L Immunology with Serology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 487/L Hematology and Lab (2/2)
BIOL 489 Cellular Immunology (3)
BIOL 493 Mechanisms of Bacterial Pathogenesis (3)
BIOL 526A-E Extended Field Study (3)
BIOL 532/L/BIOL 492BB Advanced Ichthyology and Lab/Field Studies (3/1/1)
BIOL 536 Medical Mycology (3)
BIOL 560 Advanced Topics in Evolution (3)
BIOL 563 Cytogenetics (3)
BIOL 641 Biochemistry of Animal Development (3)
BIOL 696A-E Directed Graduate Research (3)

3. Culminating Experience (3-6 units)

BIOL 698 Thesis (3-6)

  1. Oral presentation and defense of a formal proposal of thesis research by the end of the second semester.
  2. Completion and successful oral defense of a thesis.
  3. Formal approval by the thesis committee.

Total Units Required for the M.S. Degree: 31


Department of Biology
Chair: Cheryl Courtney-Hogue
Chaparral Hall (CR) 5101
(818) 677-3356

Graduate Coordinator: Tim Karels
(818) 677-2990

Program Learning Outcomes

Students receiving a Master of Science in Biology will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate specialized knowledge in one or more disciplines of biology.
  2. Be aware of and/or capable of using new and existing methods and technologies.
  3. Demonstrate facility in applying the methods of scientific inquiry, including observation, hypothesis testing, data collection and analysis.
  4. Demonstrate professional-level oral and written communication skills within a discipline of biology.