MS in Biology

General

Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description

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The Department of Biology offers three tracks that lead to the MS: a coursework track, a scholarly paper track, and a research thesis track. The coursework track can be completed in one year and the scholarly paper track can be completed in a year and summer. The research thesis track typically requires two years to complete. In all three tracks, students are assigned faculty advisors in their subfield of interest during the first semester in the program.

Upon completion of the master’s program, students should be prepared for further graduate training or for eventual employment in teaching and/or research positions in academia, industry, government, or nonprofit agencies. The program accepts post-bachelor’s applicants with degrees in related disciplines where the focus has been on biology or a relevant field. Students with prior graduate work may be able to transfer course credits.

Learning Outcomes

  1. Demonstrate academic mastery in one of three areas of Biology: Ecology, Behavior, Evolution, & Marine Biology; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.
  2. Attain expertise in a specific field of study within one of three broad subject areas represented in the department: Ecology, Evolution, Behavior, & Marine Biology; Neurobiology; or Cellular & Molecular Biology.
  3. Attain skills and qualifications needed for employment in an academic, government, or private sector position related to the life sciences.

Coursework Track Requirements

Students must complete 32 credits of 500-level and above coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. All credits must be a lecture, laboratory, or seminar courses. These courses will be selected under the mentorship of the faculty member who is serving as the student’s primary advisor.

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Scholarly Paper Track Requirements

Course requirements

Students must complete 32 credits of 500-level and above coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. Ordinarily, these courses will be selected under the mentorship of the faculty member who is serving as the student’s primary scholarly literature-based paper reader (see below). At least 28 of these graduate-level credits must come from formal course work (i.e., cannot include credits from a research course). Up to 4 credits can be Readings in Biology (BI 701/702).

Scholarly paper

In addition to the course requirements listed above, the student must complete a scholarly literature-based paper, based on recent literature and with adequate bibliography. The scholarly paper will generally be approximately 30–80 pages on a selected research topic in current biology and will usually include several chapters and extensive literature references. This paper will be written in consultation with a faculty member from the Biology Department who will serve as the primary reader. The scholarly paper is presented for approval by the student’s faculty committee of two readers. A final copy must be given to all committee members, the Department, and one copy should be kept by the student. This paper is not submitted to GRS.

Research Thesis Track Requirements

Course requirements

Students must complete 32 credits of 500-level and above coursework with a minimum grade point average of 3.0. At least 20 of these credits must come from formal course work (i.e., cannot include credits from a research course). Up to 12 credits can be Readings in Biology (BI 701/702) or Master’s Research in Biology (BI 595). Courses will be selected under the mentorship of the student’s faculty advisor and will vary depending on program discipline. Please refer to the Graduate Program Guide for more details. The full list of Biology courses can be found here.

Cell & Molecular Biology

  1. CAS BI 552 Molecular Biology (4 credits)
  2. GRS BI 621 Biochemistry I (4 credits)
  3. One Cell Biology course (4 credits)
  4. Electives and Research (20 credits, 500-level and above)

Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology

MS in Ecology, Behavior, Evolution & Marine Biology coursework is highly variable. Students, in consultation with advisors, develop a plan of coursework and research.

Neurobiology

  1. GRS BI 755 Cellular and Systems Neuroscience (4 credits)
  2. GRS BI 756 Systems and Cognitive Neuroscience or BI 741 Neural Systems: Functional Circuit Analysis (4 credits)
  3. GRS NE 500 Frontiers of Neuroscience (2 credits)
  4. GRS NE 501 Frontiers of Neuroscience (2 credits)
  5. Electives and Research (20 credits, 500-level and above)

Thesis project

In addition to the requirements listed above, the student must complete a program of research acceptable to their thesis committee that leads to the preparation of a thesis. This thesis must be approved by a committee of three faculty members that includes at least two faculty members from the Biology Department. The final reader-approved thesis must be submitted to the Electronics Thesis and Dissertations (ETD) Administrator for final approval by the graduate school before the date posted on the GRS submission calendar.

Time Limits

Officially, the master’s degree requirements for all three tracks must be completed within three years from the date of first registration. However, students may apply to the Graduate School for extensions past the three-year deadline.

Funding

The Biology Department does not guarantee financial support for MS students, although limited partial scholarships are available, and there are often Teaching Assistant positions available for MS students that provide $6,000 per semester. If interested in these opportunities please indicate this in your application.

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

Welcome! Arts & Sciences is Boston University’s largest academic division, the heart of a world-class research university. Our faculty in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences are among the w ... Read More

Welcome! Arts & Sciences is Boston University’s largest academic division, the heart of a world-class research university. Our faculty in the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences are among the world’s most respected professors, researchers, and professionals in their disciplines. Our alumni are leading innovation and research and making an impact in their fields. Our campus is Boston, a city vibrant with history, culture, and diversity, and teeming with potential for connections and careers. Read less