The Department of Biology offers both research and non-research MA degree programs. The non-research MA can be completed in a year and a summer, whereas the research MA typically requires two years to complete a research project and thesis. In both programs, students are assigned to a faculty advisor in their area of interest at the time of acceptance. The program accepts post-bachelor’s applicants with degrees in related disciplines where the focus has been on biology or a relevant field. The Biology Department does not guarantee financial support for MA students. Students with prior graduate work may be able to transfer course credits. See the GRS Transfer of Credits policy for more details.

Please refer to the Graduate Program Guide for more details.

MA Learning Outcomes:
  • Demonstrate academic mastery in one of three areas of Biology: Ecology, Behavior and Evolution; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.
  • Attain expertise in a specific field of study within one of three broad subject areas represented in the department: Ecology, Evolution & Behavior; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology
  • Be prepared to enter the job market or further graduate training.
Course Requirements:

Research Track
Students must complete eight 500-level and above full-semester courses (32 credits) with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. At least five courses must be lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. Courses will vary depending on program discipline.

MA in Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology coursework is highly variable. Students, in consultation with advisors, develop a plan of coursework and research.

Non-Research Track
Students must complete eight 500-level and above full-semester courses (32 credits) with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. At least seven courses must be lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. Ordinarily, these courses will be selected under the mentorship of the faculty member who is serving as the student’s primary library research paper reader.

Thesis/Research Project:

Research Track
In addition to the requirements listed above, the student must complete a program of research acceptable to his or her thesis committee that leads to the preparation of a thesis. This thesis must be approved by a committee of three faculty members that includes at least two faculty members from the Biology Department.

Non-Research Track
In addition to the course requirements listed above, the student must prepare a major paper, based on recent literature and with adequate bibliography. This paper will generally be a document of approximately 30–80 pages on a selected research topic in current biology and will usually include several chapters and extensive literature references. This paper will be written in consultation with a faculty member from the Biology Department who will serve as the primary reader. This paper is presented for approval by the student’s faculty committee of two readers.