Administered by Biological and Allied Health Sciences
Effective Fall, 2008
This page describes the general biology M.S. program. The department also offers a master's level Radiologist Assistant program.
Admission. In addition to the requirements of the graduate school, a Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in biology, or its equivalent, is required. Two letters of recommendation are also required (see below for details). Undergraduate deficiencies must be addressed prior to admission to the program or during the first semester in consultation with the program coordinator.
Deficiencies may be addressed by undergraduate course work without credit earned toward the degree, by graduate course work when suitable, or by outside readings. The method of satisfying deficiencies is decided by the student and graduate program coordinator in consultation with the departmental graduate committee.
Two letters of recommendation from previous science faculty are required. At least one letter should be from a faculty member who instructed the applicant in an upper-level (junior or senior) biology course. Applicants with research experience should submit at least one letter from a research adviser. Others may submit a letter from any professor with the ability to evaluate the applicant's laboratory research potential. A minimum of two weeks is required for review of a completed application by the department's graduate committee.
Candidacy. To be admitted to candidacy, every biology graduate student must pass an oral candidacy examination. The purpose of the examination is to assess the breadth of the student's background in biology. The examination will cover general principles and concepts of biology.
The oral candidacy examination must be scheduled before completing 6 credit hours of graduate coursework and be successfully completed before scheduling beyond 12 hours. Candidacy requires, in addition, that the student has a 3.0 or higher QPA. The examination will consist of six oral questions addressed to the student by the examination committee. Each question will be given 10 minutes of the examination.
The Examination Committee is composed of:
The outcome of the candidacy examination will be determined by a simple majority vote by the examination committee. Each graduate faculty member present, whether or not they posed a question, shall have one vote. One of three outcomes is possible:
Unconditional Pass - The student may proceed with the program. The application for candidacy and for transfer credit, if applicable, should be made immediately following successful completion of the oral candidacy exam.
Conditional Pass - The examination committee decides that the student has an adequate background in biology, except in one or two key areas. A consensus is reached (by simple majority vote) as to conditions. Conditions may include an oral retest of problem areas, a written test in problem areas, or remedial actions. Remedial actions may include taking a course or readings and study in a specified area, for example. The student will be informed of the conditions decided upon by the committee. If after completing or attempting to complete the conditions, the examination committee decides that the student has not met the conditions set forth by the committee, he or she will be required to retake the entire examination according to the stipulations outlined above under "fail." If the student fails the examination at this retake, the student will be dismissed from the program.
Fail - The student must retake the entire exam at a later date to continue with the master's program. The student has one more chance to pass. In order to continue with the program, the student must pass the examination unconditionally on the second attempt.
Graduation. A minimum of 30 semester hours of graduate-level courses is required.
A total of 30 credits is required for graduation. EITHER Biostatistics (53.546) OR Research Methods (80.525) is required. Master of Science Thesis (50.593) is required for students in the thesis option. All other courses are considered elective courses, but require the approval of the student's adviser and advisory committee.
50.411 Radiation Biology
50.455 Environmental Microbiology
50.472 Animal Cell Physiology
50.474 Vertebrate Systems Physiology
50.477 Plant Physiology
50.478 Microbial Physiology
50.479 Integrated Physiology Laboratory
50.531 Developmental Biology
50.532 Microbial and Molecular Genetics
50.535 Bioinformatics and Genomic Analysis
50.551 Conservation Biology
50.560 Population Biology
50.561 Animal Behavior
50.570 Medical Parasitology
50.575 Cell Physiology
50.580 Comparative Animal Physiology
50.589 Current Topics in Biology
50.591 Directed Study in Biology
50.593 Master of Science Thesis
Marine science courses offered at Wallops Island, Va.
55.431 Ecology of Marine Plankton
55.432 Marine Evolutionary Ecology
55.464 Biological Oceanography
55.490 Marine Aquaculture
55.491 Coral Reef Ecology
55.492 Marine Mammals
55.500 Problems in Marine Science
55.540 Environmental Science Education
55.541 Biology of Mollusca
55.570 Research Cruise-Biology
55.593 Behavioral Ecology
Thesis Option. This option is recommended for students planning to continue their graduate studies or professional training. A minimum of 18 semester hours must be taken from 500-level courses. 50.593 Master of Science Thesis accounts for six of these semester hours. An oral defense of the thesis is required.
Non-Thesis Option. This option is tailored for students interested in non-research-oriented careers. A minimum of 18 semester hours must be taken from 500-level courses. In addition, one of the following must be completed:
50.591 Directed Study in Biology for three semester hours, which must be defended orally.
A departmental research paper based on the literature must be submitted and defended orally. The departmental paper carries no semester hour credit.