Graduate Program

The Department of Biological Sciences offers graduate study leading to a Master of Science degree. The selection of specialties, called tracks, available in the program provides an opportunity for continuing education in biology beyond the bachelor's degree for teachers, technicians, future Ph.D. candidates, and persons in the allied health professions, medical and other related fields.

Departmental Requirements for Admission 

Fulfillment of the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School. Completion of a minimum of fifteen hours in the biological sciences with a minimum average of B (3.0). Applicants with less than a B average may be considered for conditional admission on a three-course basis.

General Requirements

See Graduate Student Handbook for more information.

Completion of 30 semester hours of approved graduate courses in the biological sciences, including: BIOL 5090, 5015, 5100, 5040, 5700; and at least six additional semester hours of 5000-level courses.

Completion of a written thesis based on laboratory/field studies or library research. Requirements for the thesis must be completed in the following order:

  • Completion of BIOL 5090 and BIOL 5015.
  • Selection of thesis advisor.
  • Completion of BIOL 5100 and BIOL 5040.
  • Selection of a thesis committee composed of a thesis advisor and two additional faculty members.
  • Submission of thesis proposal.
  • Approval of thesis proposal by thesis committee.
  • Registration in BIOL 5700.
  • Successful oral defense of the thesis within two attempts.

A maximum of six semester hours for the thesis course (BIOL 5700) will be applied toward the master's degree for a laboratory/field based thesis. The student must declare and adhere to a curriculum specified by one of the following tracks of study: Microbial/Molecular Biology; Applied Physiology; Environmental Biology, Chemical Biology. A student who is currently active as a secondary school teacher may design a curriculum of courses from each of these four tracks only after consultation with the graduate advisor and approval of the curriculum by the graduate faculty.

Tracks of Study

Students may choose from one of four tracks of study for the Master's Degree in Biological Sciences. Each track consists of a defined set of lecture and laboratory courses that will enable the student to receive a structured graduate-level education by focusing on a particular area of biology. The courses for the tracks listed below are taken in addition to the five courses required for all biology graduates students (BIOL 5090, 5015, 5100, 5040, 5700) for a total of 30 credit hours, 18 of which must be at the 5000 level.

Microbial/Molecular Track

BIOL 5510, 5280, and two of the following courses: BIOL 5520, 5900, 5730, or 5450

Applied Physiology Track

PSLY 5210, 5330, 5200, 5035.

Environmental Biology Track

Fifteen credit hours of biological sciences, six of which must be at the 5000-level selected from the following: BIOL5070, 5730, 5550, 5190. Other courses may be substituted only with the prior written approval of the department.

Chemical Biology Track

CHEM 5000, 5302, BIOL 5500, 5510, and Psly 5700. Depending on the number of thesis credit hours, the remaining electives should be at the 5000 level. Electives can come from either biology or chemistry electives. Elective credits may range from 4-6 credits depending on the number of 5700 credits requested. CHEM 3650, BIOL 5520, CHEM 5313, CHEM 5000 and Medicinal Chemistry.

Biology (BIOL) Course Offerings

Prerequisite: BIOL 1710, 2550 and four additional biology courses and MATH 1200.

Statistics and related mathematics as currently applied in the biological and health sciences. Includes graphs and tables; descriptive statistics; populations, samples, and inference; hypothesis testing; demography and vital statistics.

Prerequisite:16 credit hours in physical or biological sciences, successful completion of the English Qualifying Examination, and consent of the instructor.

Instruction in critical reading and understanding of current research literature in the chemical and biological sciences. Utilization of current literature to prepare and carry out a scientifically accurate presentation (publication or meeting talk) of data and results from research endeavors.

Prerequisite: CHEM 1550, one semester of biology, and consent of the instructor.

Practical field and laboratory-based skills for assessing environmental impact in an urban setting using EPA protocols. Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement for a local project selected in consultation with local environmental professionals and citizen groups. Experienced professionals will speak on legal, ecological, consulting and other aspects of environmental impact analysis. Lab fee.

Prerequisite: BIOL 3050, CHEM 2510.

Chemistry of major cellular macromolecules and their role in the structure and function of the cell. Emphasis on the nucleic acids, protein synthesis and molecular genetics, including genetic bioengineering.

Prerequisite: BIOL 3050.

Application of modern techniques to the study of cell biology, with emphasis on methods for isolation and analysis of cellular organelles and macromolecules.

Prerequisite: BIOL 3055 and CHEM 2500.

The biological consequences of overpopulation, depletion of natural resources, pollution, and environmental degradation to plants and animals, including humans. Discussion of both the theoretical and practical aspects of conservation of plants and animals. Combining theoretical concepts from ecology, genetics, evolution, and chemistry to evaluate the possible solutions to these problems.

Prerequisite: Admission to the Master's degree program or consent of the instructor.

Ability to critically evaluate primary literature and present research papers in student area of interest.

Prerequisite: Admission to or pending application to Master's in Social Work program.

A self-guided study of human biology for graduate students in the social work program. Cannot be used for credit toward a master's degree in social work or biology.

Prerequisite: BIOL 5090

Investigation of the nature of scientific research through selected readings, bibliographic compilation and written literature reviews. Term paper required.

Prerequisite: BIOL 3040; CHEM 3020 or equivalent.

Molecular and cellular basis of human heredity.

Prerequisite: Admission to the Master's degree program or consent of the instructor.

Demonstrate content knowledge in evolutionary mechanisms with emphasis placed on applying the latest genomics technology in solving problems in the student area of specialization.

Prerequisite: Consent of the department.

Individualized program in advanced biology suited to the student's needs and past training. Summary paper required. (Hours to be arranged.)

Prerequisite: BIOL 3690 and CHEM 3020 or equivalent.

Basic immunological concepts and laboratory techniques with applications to biological research form the basis for discussion and independent study: chemistry of antigen-antibodies reactions cellular immunology including antibody formation, hypersensitivity, immunogenetics, autoimmunity and transplantation immunology; and immunity and immunopathology including the immunological mechanisms of disease. Credit will not be given for both BIOL 5170 and 4170.

Prerequisite: BIOL 3690 or equivalent.

The basic concepts and laboratory techniques in applied and environmental microbiology and their applications to biological research will be emphasized. The roles of microbes in environmental remediation; natural recycling of bio-elements.

Prerequisite: BIOL3690 and CHEM 2510 or equivalent.

Physical, chemical, and biological characterization of major cellular macromolecules of viruses and their role in the structure and viral functions with emphasis on bacteriophage. Clinical virology and plant viruses of significance to biological research. Application of modern techniques for isolation and biological characterization of bacteriophage. Credit will not be given for BIOL 4250.

Prerequisite: BIOL 3040 and 3690/269; CHEM 2510 or equivalent.

Molecular basis of inheritance in viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The role of microbes in understanding basic genetic principles and their roles in genetic engineering. Laboratory techniques with application to biological research. Credit will not be given for both 4280 and 5280.

Prerequisite: BIOL 2550 and either BIOL 3055 or 5550.

Theory and techniques used for protection of biological diversity. Emphasis on local environments and management practices. Preparation of management plans. Invited speakers include local conservation biologists. Field trips to local preservation and restoration sites.

Prerequisite: BIOL3050 and permission of instructor.

Instrument and specimen preparation theory for both transmission (TEM) and scanning (SEM) electron microscopy. Preparation of specimens for examination in both TEM and SEM. Fundamentals of X-ray microanalysis and basic darkroom and digital image presentation. Substantial work outside of class time is required. Credit will not be given for both BIOL 5450 and 4450

Theories and techniques used in the biochemical and biophysical analysis of macromolecule structure and function. Topics include protein chemistry, protein folding and thermodynamics, membrane chemistry, and biophysics. Biochemical and biophysical methods will include FRET, and FRET analysis, PRIM, mass spectrometry, fluorescent spectroscopy, and classical biochemical techniques to study protein-protein interactions.

Prerequisite: BIOL 3040; BOT 2050; or consent of the department.

Principles, facts, and the theories of organic evolution.

In-depth study of selected topics in the biological sciences. Subject matter for each selected topic will be determined by instructor and student interests. Course may be repeated under different topics.

Prerequisite: Permission of faculty sponsor and the graduate advisor; degree candidacy.

Investigation of a laboratory, field, or library research topic in biology in preparation of a master's thesis under the direction of a faculty member.

Prerequisite: BIOL 4510 and CHEM 3020

Application of modern techniques used in molecular biology and analysis of mammalian genomes using state-of-the-art methodologies such as PCR and DNA sequencing.

Prerequisites: BIOL 3040 or the consent of the department.

Integrated approach of biotechnology with emphasis on genetic engineering for practical applications: genetic engineering of microbes, agricultural plants, animals. Medical, environmental, and forensic biotechnology; socio-economic issues of biotechnology.

Note: All graduate students are eligible to enroll for 5000-level classes, except those designated as restricted to master's degree students or requiring departmental permission. Prior consultation with the department is recommended. Botany (BOT) Course Offerings

Prerequisite: One year of botany courses and CHEM 3020

Physiological processes of plants. Environmental influences.

Prerequisite:Consent of the department.

In-depth study of selected topics in Botany. Subject matter for each selected topic will be determined by instructor and student interests. Course may be repeated under different topics.

Zoology (ZOOL) Course Offerings

Prerequisite: Consent of the department.

In-depth study of selected topics in zoology. Subject matter for each selected topic will be determined by instructor and student interests. Course may be repeated under different topics.