The Biology Department offers two programs of graduate study that lead to master of science degrees. Students in the master of science degree program in biology create individual programs of study that are designed to meet specific needs. The program may be broadly based and include course work in several areas of biology, or it may provide for concentration within a specific area of biology. The master of science degree program in biology with a biochemistry emphasis is designed to meet the needs of biochemically oriented students. Biochemical specialization can be focused toward molecular biology, cytology developmental biology, microbiology or physiology (animal or plant) at the discretion of the student and the student’s graduate advisory committee.
One of the strengths of the master’s degree program is that it provides the opportunity for students to participate in a graduate research project. Many of these projects utilize field-oriented research because of the unique geographical setting of the university. Laboratory research is also supported in such areas as genetics, virology, immunology and physiology. Department facilities include a green house, herbarium, Lake Superior research boat, the Longyear Forest, molecular biology labs, a small-animal colony, and a zoological collection. The members of the Biology Department faculty all have doctoral degrees, and most are actively involved in the department’s graduate program.
The Graduate Program in Biology provides quality graduate education through student-faculty collaboration in biological research and scholarly activity. Graduates will have a strong understanding of biology and the principles that guide the design and execution of high-quality research. Graduates will have substantial research experience and will be able to successfully communicate scientific information to the public and the scientific community.
Programs must include a minimum of 32 credit hours of graduate courses. A minimum of 16 credit hours must be 500-level courses in biology. A minimum of 20 credit hours of biology courses are required. Graduate students must carry out a plan of study which includes research and thesis. Candidates must perform original research under the direction of a research adviser and present a seminar and thesis based on the research at the conclusion of their program. The student's advisory committee must approve a formal research proposal providing a review of literature and clear explanation of methods prior to the start of data collection. The candidate will defend his or her thesis at an oral examination. The thesis must be be accepted by the Biology Department and the Office of Graduate Education.
Applicants are required to comply with the regular admission requirements of the Office of Graduate Education and Research, which includes an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0. In addition, students must have either: a) a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences, or b) a minimum of 24 credit hours in undergraduate Biology courses, or equivalents, with a minimum GPA in these courses of 3.0. Transcripts of applicants will be evaluated on an individual basis.
Applicants are also expected to have a background in other sciences, with a total of 16 credits of coursework from at least two of the following areas: chemistry (general chemistry, organic chemistry, or biochemistry), geography (geographic information systems), geology (physical geology, soils or hydrology), physics or statistics. At least 12 of these credits are expected to be accompanied by a lab. Other courses may be accepted with the approval of the department.
Applicants and/or their potential advisors may request special consideration for admission of students with backgrounds that do not meet these expectations. Written requests should be directed to the Biology Graduate Committee, which after consideration will make recommendations to the Department for final approval of admission recommendations. The Department may admit students with deficient backgrounds with conditions that need to be met in a defined period of time.
Applicants are required to comply with the regular admission requirements of the Office of Graduate Education. In addition:
- All applicants must submit scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) at the time of admission.
- Applicants must include an essay indicating their background, career goals and research interests.
- Student’s entering the biology/biochemistry degree must have completed CH 342 Physical Chemistry II or its equivalent with a grade of “B.” Credit for this course will not count for the degree.
- Applicants must submit three letters of recommendation.
- Students must have a thesis adviser prior to admission. Applicants are strongly encouraged to communicate with the thesis adviser early in the application process. To identify the adviser, students should contact a faculty member and establish the willingness of that person to serve as the adviser, as indicated by a memo from the faculty member to that effect.