The Biology major provides students with a breadth of understanding across the full range of biological disciplines as well as an opportunity to explore one of several specialized areas in greater depth. Required coursework for the major and different specializations establishes a core of fundamental knowledge in biology and related sciences. Students build on this foundation through a variety of lecture, laboratory, field, and seminar courses that offer them the opportunity to focus on specific disciplines. The development of laboratory and field skills is encouraged through elective participation in the cutting-edge research of the department’s faculty and engagement in the extensive biological resources in the Boston area.
Combining the BA with the MS provides students with additional skills and expertise to enhance their opportunities for employment in the growing life sciences job market or for further education, including both graduate programs and professional schools.
Eligible Biology majors may apply for this combined program starting their 4th semester and no later than their 6th semester of academic enrollment at BU. The combined BA/MS is intended to be completed in 5 years, but this is not a requirement and students can complete the program in less than 5 years. Students receive both a Bachelor’s of Arts and a Master’s of Science degree in Biology upon graduation.
- The BA/MS program requires a total of 152 credits to be completed. At least 32 of these credits (equivalent to eight 4-credit Biology courses) must be completed at the graduate level (500 or higher) with a grade of B– or better and a GPA of 3.0 in these graduate courses.
- BA Portion: Students must complete the 128 credits required for the BA in Biology or any of the Specializations in Biology.
- MS Portion: Students must complete 32 credits of 500-level and above coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Up to 8 of the credits used to fulfill the MS can also be used to fulfill requirements for the BA. Students will follow one of three tracks:
- MS with Coursework: Students must complete 32 credits of 500-level and above coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. All courses must be lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses selected under the mentorship of the student’s faculty advisor.
- MS with Scholarly Paper: Students must complete 32 credits of 500-level and above coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. At least 28 credits must be lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. Up to 4 credits can be Readings in Biology (BI701/702) or Research (BI 595). Courses will be selected under the mentorship of the student’s faculty advisor. In addition to the course requirements, the student must complete a scholarly literature-based paper that is approved by a committee of two faculty members from the Biology Department.
- MS with Research Thesis: Students must complete 32 credits of 500-level and above coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. At least 24 credits must be lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. Up to 8 credits can be Research (BI 595). Courses will be selected under the mentorship of the student’s faculty advisor. In addition to the course requirements, the student must complete a program of research acceptable to their Master’s committee that leads to the preparation of a research thesis. This research thesis must be approved by a committee of two faculty members from the Biology Department.
- Bulletin info on the BA/MS in Biology can be found here.
- Interested students must apply for admission to the BA/MS program by mid-April of their junior year (for exact deadline, visit the application website).
- Students must be in good standing and have an overall GPA of 3.0 or higher at the time of application.
- Students must submit the online application; a plan of study form approved and signed by their faculty advisor or a staff advisor; two recommendations from faculty within the field of proposed study; and an unofficial transcript. Instructions for these components, including required forms, can be found on the application website.
- The application website notes that some programs may require additional documents, like a personal statement. There are no additional required documents for the BA/MS in Biology.
- For the Research Thesis track, we recommend interested students find a research mentor before applying. If you have not found a research mentor prior to applying, you should begin looking for one as soon as you are accepted.
- Please note that some forms of financial aid and scholarships will not extend to a student’s fifth year of study in the program. If you wish to discuss this possibility, please contact the Financial Assistance Office and/or scholarship-granting organization. Additionally, you may work with your academic advisor on how you can complete the program in less than five years.
- Read through the BA/MS Application Guide for more detailed information about how to apply.
List of MS-level Courses
|Biology 4-credit courses||Marine Semester 4-credit courses||Approved Non-Departmental 4-credit courses|
|BI 500: Shark Biology & Conservation||MR 521: Quantitative Fisheries Analysis||AN 552: Primate Evolution and Ecology|
|BI 504: Advanced Evolutionary Analysis||BI 523: Marine Urban Ecology||AN 555: Evolutionary Medicine|
|BI 506: Phenotypic Plasticity||MR 529: Tropical Marine Fisheries||EE 504: Physical Climatology|
|BI 508: Behavioral Ecology||BI 531: Icthyology: Behavior, Ecology, and Evolution of Fish||EE 516: Multivariate Analysis for Geographers|
|BI 510: Institutional Racism in Health and Science||MR 533: Scientific Diving and Underwater Research Methods||EE 522: The Development of Sustainable Environmental Responsiblity|
|BI 513: Genetics Laboratory||BI 539: Coral Reef Dynamics: Shallow Waters, Deep Time||EE 525: Plant Physiological Ecology|
|BI 515: Population Genetics||BI 541: Coral Reef Resilience and Restoration||EE 585: Ecological Forecasting and Informatics|
|BI 519: Theoretical Evolutionary Ecology||EE 542: Coastal Ecosystems||MR 500: Coastal Sedimentology|
|BI 520: Sensory Neurobiology||EE 543: Estuaries and Nearshore Systems||NE 528: Human Brain Mapping|
|BB 522: Molecular Biology Laboratory||EE 544: Coastal Sedimentology||NE/PS 530: Neural Models of Memory Function|
|BI 525: Biology of Neurodegenerative Diseases||BI 546: Marine Megafaunal Ecology||NE/PS 531: Imaging and Manipulating Memories|
|BI 530: Forest Ecology||BI 550: Marine Genomics||NE/PS 532: Neurobiology of Motivation, Decision Making, and Learning|
|BI 535: Translational Research in Alzheimer’s Disease||EE 557: Oceanography of Stellwagen Bank||NE 544: Developmental Neuropsychology|
|BI 542: Neuroethology||BI 569: Tropical Marine Invertebrates||SPH BS 845: Applied Statistical Modeling with R|
|BI 545: Neurobiology of Motivated Behavior||BI 578: Marine Geographic Information Science||SPH BS 858: Statistical Genetics 1|
|BI 551: Biology of Stem Cells||BI 593: Marine Physiology||Biology 2-credit courses|
|BI 552: Molecular Biology 1||BI 527/528: Biochemistry Laboratory 1/2|
|BI 553: Molecular Biology 2||BI 579/580: Progress in Ecology, Behavior, Evolution, and Marine Biology 1/2|
|BI 559: Quantitative Microbiology||BI 581/582: Seminar in Biology|
|BI 560: Systems Biology||BI 583/584: Progress in Cell and Molecular Biology|
|BI 565: Functional Genomics||BI 671: Survey of Ecology, Behavior, Evolution, and Marine Biology|
|BI 566: DNA Dynamics in Disease||BI 701/702: Graduate Readings in Biology|
|BI 572: Advanced Genetics||Biology variable credit courses
|BI 576: Carcinogenesis||BI 595: Master’s Research in Biology|
|BI 577: Quantitative Approaches in Molecular Biology|
|BI 586: Ecological Genomics|
|BI 588: Project Design and Statistics in Biological Anthropology|
|BI 589: Neural Impacts on Tumorigenesis|
|BI 594: Topics in Biology|
|BI 598: Neural Circuits|
|BI 599: Physiology of the Synapse|
|BI 607: Animal Behavior|
|BI 610: Developmental Biology|
|BI 611: Microbiome: Our Intimate Relationship with Microorganisms|
|BI 613: Microbial Ecology|
|BI 614: Ornithology|
|BI 616: Herpetology|
|BI 621: Biochemistry 1|
|BI 621: Biochemistry 2|
|BI 623: Marine Biogeochemistry|
|BI 643: Terrestrial Biogeochemistry|
|BI 645: Cellular and Molecular Neurophysiology|
|BI 648: Biodiversity and Conservation Biology|
|BI 649: Neuroscience Design Lab|
|BI 655: Developmental Neurobiology|
|BI 681: Molecular Biology of the Neuron|
|MB 721: Graduate Biochemistry|
|BI 735: Advanced Cell Biology|
|BI 741: Neural Systems: Functional Circuit Analysis|
|BI 753: Advanced Molecular Biology|
|BI 755: Cellular and Systems Neuroscience|
Additional 500-level or higher courses not appearing on this list can be petitioned for acceptance towards the MS through our petition form.
MS Track Change
If you would like to change your MS track, fill out this form. Note that the research and scholarly paper tracks often take more time to complete than the coursework track.
BA/MS Student Learning Outcomes
- Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental principles spanning the breadth of biology.
- Demonstrate expertise in the scientific method, including experimental design, critical assessment of the scientific literature.
- Attain the qualifications and advanced technical and/or analytical skills required for post-graduate education in biology or health-related fields, or employment in an academic, government or private sector position related to the life sciences.