Program Requirements

Degree requirements  (32 hours total)

  1. Program of Study.  The program for each candidate will be structured by the candidate's committee in consultation with the student, and must include at least 32 semester hours of graduate credit.  Evaluation of previous training and academic objectives will be important factors in establishing this program.
  2. Biology Requirement (minimum 23 semester hours).  A minimum of 16 hours of biology from courses numbered 700-799 inclusive.
  3. Electives (maximum 9 semester hours).  Approved graduate courses may be selected from related fields to a maximum of 9 hours.  Any deviation from this maximum will require approval by department head.
  4. Research.  For both options, the student is required to give an oral presentation of his/her work to the Department.
    1. Thesis Option:  Completion of a satisfactory thesis in the candidate's discipline (maximum of 6 hours of BIO 798 and 6 hours of BIO 799).
    2. Non-thesis Option:  After an unsuccessful attempt at a thesis, and with the permission of the thesis committee and department head, a student may switch to a non-thesis option.  This requires the completion of a minimum of two degree papers, each of which shall require an extensive paper or major creative work.  Four hours of BIO 790 and four hours of BIO 798 may be counted toward this degree under this option.
  5. Comprehensive Examination.  Both a written and an oral comprehensive examination must be passed by the candidate before a degree will be granted. 

    The written examination is taken after most of the course work has been completed, and is written and evaluated by the student's thesis committee.  The examination can include comprehensive questions in biology and questions specific to the area of study chosen by the student.  The use of computers is encouraged, where appropriate, for the written examination.  The oral examination follows the presentation of the student's thesis research or degree paper to the faculty.  The examination tests the student's understanding of the research or degree paper.

Tips for success

  • This is a research-oriented degree. You should expect to spend more time on your thesis project research and writing than on all of your coursework combined. 
  • To complete the degree in two years, start your thesis work as early as possible. Identify a graduate advisor and a thesis project. Email faculty members individually and discuss the possibilities of working in their labs.