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 during the first semester in the program. Upon completion of the master’s program, students should be prepared for further graduate training or to eventually assume teaching and/or research positions in academia, industry, government, or nonprofit agencies. 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 though there are often Teaching Assistant positions available for MA students that provide $6,000 per semester. Students with prior graduate work may be able to transfer course credits. See the GRS Transfer of Credits policy for more details.
Fall 2019 Application Deadline:
Priority Deadline: January 15, 2019*
*Applications will also be accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis until July 1, 2019
Generally the department does not accept new students for the spring semester, although in special circumstances this may be arranged for students in Ecology, Behavior & Evolution.
Applicants to the MA program must have completed a bachelor’s degree in biology or a closely related field. While a degree in biology is not required, it is suggested that you at least have completed biology and chemistry courses before applying. Statistics would also be useful. Depending on your specific interests and the program to which you are applying, the most relevant courses will vary. Admission to graduate programs in the Department of Biology is competitive. We favor applicants with both strong academic records and a demonstrated aptitude for research.
- Three recommendations – We consider letters of recommendation, particularly those from individuals who can address your research experience and aptitude, a very important part of your application.
- Personal statement/statement of purpose – A thoughtful personal statement is important and should include information on your motivation for attending graduate school, any research interests you have, and your prior research experience.
- Curriculum Vitae
- Additional requirements for international students – Information for international students on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and other requirements is available on the International Student Applicant page.
Area of Interest and Faculty of Interest
Applicants should specify the research area(s) of interest on the application:
Applicants are encouraged to contact one or more faculty with whom they might wish to pursue their dissertation research. This is especially important for students interested in the Ecology, Behavior & Evolution and Marine Biology program areas, where applicants are typically admitted to work specifically with one or more faculty members. The Cell & Molecular Biology and Neurobiology program areas require laboratory rotations during which students can explore their interests, but it is often useful to contact a faculty member.
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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. Please refer to the Graduate Program Guide for more details.
MA in Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology coursework is highly variable. Students, in consultation with advisors, develop a plan of coursework and research.
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.
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.
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.