About the Biological Sciences Master’s and Doctoral Programs
The 36-hour non-thesis option may be elected by students working toward the M.S. degrees in biology, microbiology, and zoology. However, those students who expect to work beyond the M.S. degree and toward the Ph.D. degree are strongly encouraged to choose the 30-hour thesis option.
The Master of Science and doctoral programs include specializations in the areas of animal physiology, ecology, evolution and systematic biology, microbiology, plant physiology, plant biotechnology, and quantitative biology.
Once admitted to a master’s or doctoral degree program, students may be required by their advisory committee to take a preliminary, diagnostic examination that includes subject matter usually required of undergraduates. If the preliminary examination reveals serious weaknesses in the student’s subject-matter background, the student may be required to take remedial courses designated by the advisory committee.
Doctoral students must have five members on their advisory committee. Otherwise, the basic degree requirements of the Graduate School determine the policy of the department.
All graduate students in the Master of Science or Ph.D. programs are required to take BIOL 6202 during their first fall semester after acceptance in the graduate degree program. During their first year, teaching assistants are required to take a special topics course (BIOL 6301 ) that emphasizes development of teaching skills.
Professional Science Master’s Degree
The Professional Science Master’s (P.S.M.) degree is a two-year graduate degree designed to allow students to pursue advanced training and excel in science while simultaneously developing valued business skills. The PSM degree qualifies students for employment in the public or private sector and offers two tracks: (1) Ecology and Environmental Sustainability taught through the Department of Biological Sciences and (2) Natural Resource Management offered in the Department of Natural Resources Management within the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources Management.
The degree consists of 15 to 19 hours of required courses (including either a 6-hour internship or a 3-hour capstone course) plus 15 hours of elective courses. In addition, students will be required to complete a series of online workplace skills modules (e.g., economics, ethics, interviewing skills, human resource management, conflict management, team building). Students accepted to the program but found to be deficient in preparation for taking graduate courses will be required to take leveling courses. The P.S.M. degree differs from a conventional M.S. degree in requiring an internship or capstone experience in lieu of a research-based thesis. Capstone courses will be taken by those already employed.