MS in Biological Science (Non-Thesis Option)

The Master’s in Biological Science non-thesis option is a coursework-based degree for those looking to advance in their fields, but not desiring direct research experience.


This degree requires 45 credits beyond the BS degree. A maximum of 4 credits for independent research (either library or laboratory work, under the direction of a faculty member from the Department) may be counted toward the degree. Students will devise a plan of study suited to their individual needs in consultation with the Graduate Advisor. This is then submitted to the Graduate Program Committee. All courses must be approved by the Biology Graduate Advisor. Annual meetings with the Biology Graduate Advisor are required.

MS Comprehensive Examination

In addition to the courses described later in this handbook, students are required to pass a “closed-book” written comprehensive examination testing their understanding of basic concepts in the fields of biological science and biotechnology. There is no course credit associated with the examination. The exam is held twice a year: once in the Fall term (usually November) and once in the Spring term (usually April). A student must petition the Department to take this exam at least one month before the scheduled date of the exam. Everyone electing to take the exam must take it at the same time; there will be no "makeups." If the time of the exam conflicts with a student's class, the Graduate Advisor must be notified immediately.

The exam will consist of two 3-hour sessions. The morning session will consist of questions drawn from the required courses of the program. The afternoon session will consist of questions pertaining to the student's area of specialization and a critique of a published research paper or other question that tests the student’s ability to analyze data. Each question will be graded on a scale from 4(A) to 0(F). The student must average 3.0 or better to pass.

A student failing this exam may be reexamined once. The student may choose to take the next scheduled written exam. Alternatively, the student may choose to take an oral exam, but no sooner than four weeks after the original exam. The Oral Exam Committee will consist of at least three faculty members, chosen by the Department Head and the Graduate Advisor. A second failure will result in the termination of the student from the degree program.