students at vernal pool

The Master of Science in Biological Sciences is a two-year program that emphasizes high level training in the biological sciences through coursework and the completion of an original research-based thesis project. The program offers students an opportunity to obtain advanced academic and research experience in specialized areas of biology and is suitable for students wishing to gain higher-level employment or continue to further academic pursuits. The faculty of the Department of Biological Sciences offers a diverse range of research interests, and students will work with a faculty advisor to design and complete their thesis project. The department maintains high expectations and standards for professional conduct and productivity, pushing students to meet their specific goals.


Students take core courses in writing for biological sciences, experimental design and analysis, and directed research, plus two seminar courses on a variety of topics, plus ten elective units in their specific interests. Students write and defend a thesis proposal during their first year and advance to candidacy by passing a comprehensive oral qualifying exam. The culminating experience for the program is the completion and successful defense of an original research-based thesis.

Program Prerequisites & Admission

The minimum requirements for non-provisional entry into the graduate program are:

  1. A Bachelor’s degree in the Biological Sciences or closely related field.
  2. Completion of at least 30 units of upper division course work in the Biological Sciences, or closely related field, with a GPA ≥ 3.0 in those courses.
  3. A letter of support from a faculty member willing to serve as an advisor.  All prospective students should contact potential faculty sponsors prior to sending application materials. 

For additional information, please see the Application Procedures page.

Updated: July 13, 2023