The Master of Science degree in Biology is offered primarily for those who wish to obtain a graduate degree before enrolling in a doctoral or professional program or who seek a terminal degree as preparation for a career in biology.
The Department of Biology offers the Master of Science with two tracks: the MS with thesis, and the MS without thesis. The MS degree is a general one in which breadth is emphasized, but the thesis candidate is expected to acquire depth in a particular area. Such depth is acquired primarily through the pursuit of thesis research and through mentoring from a major professor in that professor’s specialty.
 Program Admission Requirements
In addition to the university’s general requirements for admission to graduate study, a departmental application form and a score report on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Section must be submitted. Applicants, especially those seeking graduate assistantships, are also encouraged to submit scores for the GRE’s Biology Subject Test in addition to their General Section scores. Applicants with non-biology backgrounds can submit exam scores from another appropriate subject area. Each applicant should also submit two letters of recommendation. It is generally expected that applicants will have completed at least the equivalent of a minor in biology; however, we welcome applications from students with non-biology backgrounds. Deficiencies in previous training will be evaluated by the department’s Graduate Coordinator on a case-by-case basis. Students with deficiencies will be required to obtain at least a C grade in all courses taken to resolve the deficiencies.
All applicants are strongly encouraged to contact faculty in the department to identify a prospective advisor(s). Applicants who have not communicated with faculty regarding advising will have a lower priority for admission into the program and for receiving graduate assistantships.
Once a student is admitted to the program, the student’s initial advisor will review the student’s undergraduate record and recommend an initial program of study. Before the end of the second semester in which the student is officially enrolled in graduate school, the membership of the student’s Supervisory Committee must be selected. The Supervisory Committee will be chaired by a member of the Biology Department graduate faculty and must contain at least two other members of the Biology faculty. The Supervisory Committee may be expanded to include faculty from other departments or institutions in cases where additional expertise would be helpful in overseeing the project. Once approved, the Supervisory Committee will recommend subsequent courses to be taken by the student. For the thesis candidate, a proposal of thesis research must be approved by the Supervisory Committee.
 Program Requirements
Some requirements differ for the two tracks within the Master of Science in Biology degree program and these are listed separately below.
[4.1] MS with Thesis
[4.1.1] Course Requirements
Thirty (30) semester hours are required for this track. Up to six hours of thesis research may be included in this total. Students must take two hours of Graduate Seminar (BIOL 6102) during their degree program. At least 15 hours of graduate coursework must be at the 6000-course level, in which, at least two 6000-level courses must be taken independent of thesis research, Independent Study, and Graduate Seminar. Under exceptional circumstances a student may petition the Biology Graduate Committee to allow a 5000-level course to be substituted for one of the required 6000-level courses. No more than 6 semester hours of Independent Study credit for conducting research can be used to fulfill the credit hour requirements. With permission of the student’s committee, up to six semester hours may be taken outside the Department of Biology, if such work has a direct relationship to the student’s objectives in achieving the MS degree in biology.
[4.1.2] Other Requirements
Original laboratory or field research is required. At the end of the student’s program, the student will present the research to the Supervisory Committee along with a written thesis and a public seminar open to all Biology Department faculty and students. Before the candidate is recommended to the Dean of the Graduate School for graduation, the committee will meet with the candidate for an oral examination, which will consist principally of a defense of the thesis. A majority of the student’s committee must approve the thesis and its defense. If approval is denied, the candidate will not be recommended for graduation, but may be re-examined after at least one month.
[4.2] MS without Thesis
[4.2.1] Course Requirements
A minimum of thirty-four (34) semester hours are required for this track, including two semester hours of Graduate Seminar (BIOL 6102) and two semester hours of Biological Literature (BIOL 6290). At least 15 hours of graduate course work must be at the 6000-course level, in which, at least two 6000-level courses must be taken independent of thesis research, Independent Study, and Graduate Seminar. Under exceptional circumstances a student may petition the Biology Graduate Committee to allow a 5000-level course to be substituted for one of the required 6000-level courses. No more than 3 semester hours of Independent Study credit for conducting research can be used to fulfill the credit hour requirements. With permission of the student’s committee, up to six semester hours may be taken in a department other than the Department of Biology, if such work has a direct relationship to the student’s objectives in achieving the MS degree in biology. Certified biology teachers are encouraged to pursue a tailored program of study within the non-thesis track.
[4.2.2] Other Requirements
The topic reviewed in the Biological Literature course will be selected in consultation with the student’s advisory committee. The review is expected to be comprehensive and based on recent primary literature. Following evaluation by the student’s advisory committee, the student must present a seminar on the topic to the faculty of the Department of Biology. In the student’s final semester, the student’s advisory committee will conduct a comprehensive examination. A majority of the committee must vote to pass the student, or the candidate will not be recommended for graduation. The candidate may be re-examined after an interval of not less than one month.
 Graduate Course Links
[5.1] Courses in Biology (BIOL)
Follow this link for BIOL course descriptions: course link.
[5.2] Gulf Research Laboratory Courses
Follow this link for a list of graduate courses at the Gulf Research Laboratory that may be taken for credit in the UCA master’s program: course link.
[5.3] Courses in Science Education (SCI)
Follow this link for SCI course descriptions: course link.