Master of Science Degree in Biology

Schedule for Program Completion

The work for the MS degree must be completed within 10 consecutive years.  No course work over 10 years old at the completion of the degree may be used.  The first day of class of the earliest course taken as a part of the student's program is the beginning of the student's graduate education.

Prepare the Program of Study

Fill out the Program of Study form before 12 credit hours have been completed; incompletes count as completed courses.  Email the completed form to

See Course Schedule or Program Requirements to view required courses and elective course options.

Paperwork must be signed by the Director of the Distance M.S. Program and placed in the student’s file.

Apply for Candidacy

Students must apply for candidacy after the successful completion of half (18) of their program hours.

Fill out the Application for Candidacy form, and email it to

Paperwork must be signed by the Director of the Distance M.S. Program, the Graduate Program Chair, Biology Department Chair and Dean of Graduate Studies & Research.  The signed form will be placed in the student’s file.

Complete Biological Research (BIOL 831A-F)

This is a course during which students develop, conduct, and write up a research project of their own design. The 6 total credit hours correspond to 1) development of testable hypotheses and justification of the project, 2) methodology, 3) annotated bibliography, 4) data collection, 5) data analysis, and 6) manuscript preparation. Students are paired with a faculty mentor whose research interests are similar to the student’s research topic. Students are required to take BIOL 820 as a prerequisite for BIOL 831A. More information will become available once the student has registered for the class.

See Course Descriptions for sample syllabus.

Apply for Graduation

During your final semester, you should apply for graduation. The application is available on MyBlue. This is handled through the Graduate Office. Deadlines for filing for graduation are:

September 15 for December graduation

February 1 for May graduation

June 15 for July graduation

For more information regarding graduation see the Registrar's Office webpage.

Pass the Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam consists of multiple choice, short answer and essay questions covering topics from all coursework within the student’s program of study. The student has 2 hours to complete the exam and it is closed book, closed note, closed electronic device.  The exam is typically taken at the end of the student's program and the student must identify a proctor for the exam. Students must earn a score of 70% or higher in order to pass the comprehensive exam. If a student does not earn a score of 70% on his or her first attempt, the student is allowed a second attempt. The second attempt must be at least 1 month after the first attempt. If the student does not earn a score of 70% on the second attempt, the student is dismissed from the program.

The comprehensive exam must be completed at least 5 weeks prior to graduation.