Master of Science in Biology

The Master of Science degree in Biology offers students an opportunity to gain a level of knowledge and expertise in biology beyond the undergraduate level.

Graduate work within selected areas of botany, developmental biology, cancer biology, ecology, genetics, marine biology, non-mammals, microbiology, virology, anatomy, parasitology, physiology, immunology and photobiology is available. For further information concerning particular areas of advanced study, contact the Biology Department.

Program Prerequisites

The applicant's preliminary academic background should include a bachelor's degree in biology or its equivalent. Minor deficiencies may be corrected during the first year. To be considered for this program the applicant must submit the results of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), both the Aptitude and Advanced Biology (or Biochemistry and Cell and Molecular Biology) exams, and have at least a 3.2 grade point average in his or her undergraduate major and in all upper-division work in biology.

Degree Requirements

This is a program in which the student undertakes an active research project that culminates in a formal written thesis. A student who has successfully completed the program should be well prepared to enter into a technical position in a related research or industrial laboratory or to continue further postgraduate work. A total of 24 credits in Biology or Biochemistry (of which 16 must be graduate-level), including a thesis based on original research, is required. A maximum of six (6) credits of graduate research (BIOL 698), and four (4) credits of thesis writing (BIOL 699), and a maximum of six (6) credits of directed reading (BIOL 695) may be applied toward the degree. All graduate students are also required to act as a teaching assistant for a minimum of one semester during their two-year program.

The student is expected to meet sequentially the following conditions and requirements:

  1. The student and major professor will establish a plan of formal course work that will meet the needs of the student and complement the chosen research program.
  2. Under the guidance of the major professor, the student will select a Graduate Committee composed of the major professor and two additional scientists, one of whom may be from outside the Biology Department.
  3. The committee and student will define a specific biological problem or point of inquiry and formulate a research program that will be submitted to the Graduate Advisor on the Thesis Approval Form.
  4. At the end of each semester in the Graduate Program at USF, the student's academic and research progress will be evaluated by the biology Graduate Admissions Committee in consultation with the student's major professor. The results of this evaluation must be satisfactory in order for the student to continue in the Biology Master's Program.
  5. The student will file a form for Advancement to Candidacy with the Graduate Advisor after consultation with his or her major professor. This form should be filed in the same semester the student enrolls in the final courses for completion of the program credit requirements.
  6. In addition to the successful completion of the required formal course work, the student will conduct the approved research program and write a thesis based upon the findings.
  7. A final thesis outline is to be submitted to the committee at least one semester prior to submitting the completed thesis.
  8. During the final semester of the research program, the student will present a seminar to the Biology Department based upon the research conducted.
  9. The thesis must be approved by the student's Graduate Committee before its submission to the Dean for formal approval.

Learning Outcomes

The M.S. in Biology Program Goals are for students to:

  1. develop scientific literacy in the areas of biology relevant to selected research interests
  2. exhibit advanced technical, critical thinking, inquiry and analysis skills
  3. communicate clearly and persuasively to a variety of audiences.