M.S. Biology

Quick Facts
  • Masters with Thesis offers research without full commitment to PhD program.
  • Masters non-thesis can be completed in 1 - 1.5 years.
  • Masters students do not receive stipends or tuition waivers.
General Inquiries

The School of Biological Sciences offers two distinct programs leading to the M.S. in Biology degree. The M.S. in Biology (non-thesis) is intended for students who need advanced training in some aspect of modern biology but do not intend to pursue a career in research. The M.S. in Biology (with thesis) is intended for students wishing to obtain a strong background in modern biology and independent research experience in preparation for a technician-level job or further training leading to the PhD in biology.

Areas of concentration:



  • Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior including population and evolutionary ecology; community ecology; aquatic chemical ecology; ecological genomics; sensory ecology; evolution of development, behavior, and sociality; biological oceanography; environmental microbiology; theoretical ecology.
  • Molecular and Cell Biology including eukaryotic and prokaryotic cell biology; molecular physiology; molecular biophysics and structural biology; animal, plant, and microbial molecular genetics; human genomics; molecular evolution.
  • Computational Biology and Bioinformatics (with available M.S. and interdepartmental PhD programs in Bioinformatics) focusing on DNA and protein sequence analysis; comparative genomic analysis; macromolecular structure modeling including protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid, and protein-small molecule interactions; molecular evolution.


Masters (non-thesis) Program Overview:
Plan of Study
Yearly Tuitions+Fees
Coursework - 15 Credit hours
~ $ 17,000 in-state
~ $ 43,000 out-of-state
Coursework - 15 Credit hours
Coursework - 6 Credit hours


Students in the M.S. (non-thesis) program in Biology take coursework full or part-time over 3-5 semesters (example shown above). Up to 6 credit hours of graduate coursework can be transferred from another institution, by negotiation upon entrance to the program. It is possible to be employed elsewhere while pursuing the M.S. (non-thesis) degree, although it should be noted that we offer very few evening or summer graduate courses.

Masters with Thesis Program Overview:
Yearly Tuitions+Fees
Coursework / Research
~ $ 17,000 in-state
~ $ 43,000 out-of-state
Coursework / Thesis Research, Writing and Defense


The Masters with Thesis in Biology requires 30 credit hours consisting of 12 hours of graduate-level coursework and thesis research hours performed under the mentorship of a faculty advisor and thesis committee. Up to 6 credit hours of coursework can be transferred from another institution, by negotiation upon entrance to the program. In order to be accepted into this program, a student must have the prior agreement of a faculty member in the School of Biological Sciences who will act as thesis advisor. Students who enter the M.S. (non-thesis) in Biology program can transfer to the M.S. with thesis program upon agreement from such an advisor and the graduate committee. It is possible, although challenging, to maintain part-time employment elsewhere while pursuing the M.S. with thesis degree in Biology.

Choosing between the Ph.D. and Masters Programs

Our graduate program is primarily focused on the PhD which prepares students for careers in scientific research and employment in academia, industry, or government. Students who are not yet sure of their interest in scientific research or are interested in other kinds of professional development should consider the M.S. degree in Biology or Bioinformatics. However, we accept only a small number of M.S. Biology students each year - typically those in special career circumstances with a prior relationship to our program and faculty.