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Description of M.S. Biology Plan 3: Thesis

Biology offers a research-focused Master’s degree, also called “Plan 3”. This track is designed for students who want to gain independent research experience and who wish to pursue careers that require such experience. For example, students often pursue this plan as a stepping stone to a Ph.D. or professional program, or careers that seek employees with skill sets developed through independent research. A key requirement for admission to this program is support of a faculty mentor to oversee the student’s thesis research. For information on how to apply and admission requirements click here.

Plan 3 Requirements:

Please check the bulletin for the most up-to-date requirements. 

Students selecting Plan 3 will demonstrate literacy in research, scientific writing, and oral communication by successfully completing 8 hours of core course requirements targeted at these goals. Additionally, students must submit a thesis based on an original, scientific investigation conducted under supervision of the student’s thesis committee chair and committee members. This research will refer specifically to that performed in connection with BIOL 5990. The graduate committee must approve the thesis prior to submission to the College of Graduate Studies. Students must demonstrate mastery of scientific and biological concepts by successfully completing 18 hours of elective courses, presenting and defending their thesis research in a public seminar, and passing an oral thesis defense exam administered by the thesis committee. All candidates must maintain a minimum scholastic average of “B” (3.0) on all graduate courses completed.

With approval of the thesis research mentor, students will develop a plan of study that outlines coursework and identifies two additional Biology Graduate Faculty to serve on the thesis committee by the end of their first semester. The committee will advise the student in research activities throughout their degree and administer the oral thesis defense upon approval of the thesis by the thesis committee chair.


BIOL 5000 - Methods of Biological Research 4

BIOL 5735 - Contemporary Issues in Biology 3

BIOL 5915 - Seminar in Biology 1

BIOL 5990 – Thesis 6


Required Core Total Hours:  14

18* (see list of elective courses below)


BIOL 5020/5021 - Biological Sciences and Geographic Information Systems (and lab) 4

BIOL 5030/5031 - Plant Taxonomy (and lab) 4

BIOL 5070/5071 - Animal Behavior (and lab) 4

BIOL 5100/5101 - Biostatistics (and lab) 4

BIOL 5200/5201 - Developmental Biology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5230/5231 - Advanced Topics in Genetics (and lab) 4

BIOL 5300/5301 - Bacteriology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5310/5311 - Advanced Microbiology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5315/5316 - Virology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5320/5321 - Plant Growth and Development (and lab) 4

BIOL 5325/5326 - Mycology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5330/5331 - Aquatic Biology and Water Quality Control (and lab) 4

BIOL 5335/5336 - Microbiology Pathogenesis (and lab) 4

BIOL 5340/5341 – Algal Ecology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5400/5401 - Advanced Topics in Physiology and Cell Biology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5410/5411 - Reproductive Physiology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5440/5441 - Cell and Molecular Biology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5450/5451 - Biotechnology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5500 - Special Problems (variable credit)

BIOL 5540/5541 - Plant Ecology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5550/5551 - Ichthyology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5560/5561 - Aquatic Macroinvertebrates (and lab) 4

BIOL 5600/5601 – Parasitology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5610/5611 - Herpetology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5620/5621 - Ornithology (and lab) 4

BIOL 5630/5631 - Mammalogy (and lab) 4

BIOL 5650 - Field Studies in Biogeography and Biodiversity 3

BIOL 5700 - Topics in Biology (variable credit)

BIOL 5910 - Seminar in Biology 1

BIOL 5925 - Topics in Health Science 3

BIOL 5950 – Research Paper 2

BIOL 5991 - Research Completion Requirement (variable credit)

*Up to 9 hours of graduate coursework may be transferred from other programs, at the discretion of the Biology Department Chair. A minimum of 75% of elective hours must come from Biology courses.

 M.S. students are typically supported through graduate teaching or research assistantships that include a tuition waiver and stipend.