Jul 19, 2024  
University Catalog 2023-2024 
University Catalog 2023-2024 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology, M.S.

Location(s): Main Campus

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Program Indices, Directories, and Rosters

Information about Master of Science Degree in Biology

The Master of Science degree in Biology is designed to prepare students for biological research, doctoral study, technical positions in university, hospital and public health laboratories, the biotechnology industry or other industry settings, government agencies, and community college teaching. Graduate students may focus their studies in any of the following areas: animal biology, applied microbiology, biotechnology, cell biology, developmental biology, ecology, environmental biology, environmental microbiology, evolution, genetics, immunology, marine biology, molecular phylogenetics, mycology, neurobiology, physiological ecology, plant biology, population genetics, virology, or zoology.

Requirements for the Degree Program

A minimum of 30 units is required, with at least 21 units in 5000-level courses. A thesis is required. All students must complete BIOL 5000  Graduate Orientation during the first semester of attendance,  BIOL 5100  (Seminar: Biology) twice during their first year in classified graduate standing, and BIOL 5200  Professional Writing in the Life Sciences, within the first two semesters after joining a research laboratory. Students also must fulfill all University requirements including the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement   (GWAR). All students must present their thesis research in a department seminar before being awarded the M.S. degree.

The M.S. degree requires a minimum of 9 units of 4000 or 5000 level elective courses in biology or related fields. These courses are selected in consultation with an advisor and should provide the student with the necessary background for thesis research.

The M.S. degree also requires a minimum of two graduate seminar courses (3 units each) in addition to BIOL 5000  (1), BIOL 5100  (1,1), BIOL 5200   (2) BIOL 5970  (complete 4 units) and BIOL 5990  (complete 6 units) 

Admission to the Program

  • Application to the University through CSU apply is required.
  • Application to the Department of Biological Sciences and the following components must be received by the department prior to the deadlines posted by the Department:
    • completed departmental application
    • statement of purpose
    • transcripts of all previous college work
    • general Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores (no minimum score requirement)
    • three letters of recommendation
  • Applicants are required to identify three possible research advisors on the departmental application. 
    • Applicants should visit the Faculty Research Interest website at http://www.calstatela.edu/academic/biol/facresearch.php to become familiar with the Biological Sciences faculty and their research.  Applicants will need to contact three faculty members via email, appointment, or phone to discuss research opportunities under their mentorship. The applicant will need to list the names of any faculty members they have contacted regarding research opportunities on the application form.  If the applicant has already identified a research mentor who is committed to sponsor his/her MS thesis project, that applicant does not need to contact additional faculty members.   An applicant can also have an off campus research advisor, pending departmental approval.

Applications will be reviewed by the Department and assessed based on the completed application form and supporting materials. Applicants are expected to:

  • possess a baccalaureate in a biological science, such as biochemistry, biology, medical technology, or microbiology, equivalent to the Bachelor of Science degree offered at Cal State L. A.
  • be admitted to the degree program in classified or conditionally classified standing.
    • Classified standing is granted to those accepted applicants who have a minimum 2.75 grade point average in their last 60 semester units attempted.
    • Conditionally classified standing is granted to those accepted applicants whose grade point average in their last 60 semester units attempted is between 2.5 and 2.74.
      • Conditionally classified students must achieve a B (3.0) grade point average in four qualifying courses (to be approved in advance by the graduate adviser) that should be completed by the end of their second semester of graduate study and must be among the first six courses completed.

Program Prerequisite

Applicants who wish to enter the program from outside the biological science area must complete the following courses (or equivalents) to be eligible for graduate status in the Biological Sciences Department:


LightbulbLearning outcomes CheckpointRoadmap (2022)   

Requirements for the Degree (30 units)

Electives (15 units)

Directed Electives (9 units)

Graduate Research (4 units)

Thesis (6 units)

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Program Indices, Directories, and Rosters