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College of Natural and Health Sciences

Graduate Program

A Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Biology will prepare you for teaching and research in state, federal, and private institutions, including colleges, universities, and research laboratories.

After obtaining your graduate degree, you might also choose to continue your studies in a doctoral program. Graduate study is characterized by smaller, more focused classes, closer interactions with qualified faculty, and opportunities for independent research. The low student-faculty ratio in the Department creates a dynamic, supportive atmosphere and allows greater access to the facilities and expertise that will make your education a success.

Students with undergraduate majors in other science areas are encouraged to pursue graduate work in Biology. The Department’s Graduate Committee will review your background in Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, and Physics, and will determine what additional coursework (if any) you may need.

Please contact the department for information about research and other departmental activities related to the graduate program.

The Department of Biology also offers graduate programs leading to the Master's degree in biology. For courses open to graduate students, see the course listing link. 

Admissions Requirements

For admission, the student must have the appropriate GRE Score as determined by the University and recommended minimum GPA of 2.75. All applicants must have in their undergraduate program a minimum of thirty two (32) semester hours of biology. Additionally, a minimum of eight semester hours of general chemistry and four semester hours of organic chemistry is required for this program. Six semester hours of mathematics is also required. Applicants not possessing the above requirements may be admitted to the program upon the review and approval of the department chair or graduate coordinator. The graduate student is expected to make up deficiencies that are identified.

Program Requirements

Virginia State University offers a thesis and non-thesis option for the Master's Degree. Selection of thesis or non-thesis option should be completed by the end of the first semester under the guidance of your faculty advisor.

Thesis option

The thesis option allows students to increase their knowledge of biology and become involved with graduate-level research in biology with an eye on research careers or preparation for further graduate or professional school work. To complete the program, a minimum of 30 semester hours, including all core courses and the thesis, is required for the M.S. degree. Each student, with a faculty advisor, plans a tentative graduate program early in the first semester. Students are encouraged to begin their independent research in the second semester of their first year. The student’s committee should be formed no later than one semester after admission to candidacy and should meet each semester thereafter to monitor the student’s progress (in both research and coursework). Every effort is made to plan the graduate program around the needs and interests of the students.

Non Thesis option

The non-thesis degree is designed for students who must take additional course work to raise their academic credentials for application to medical, dental, or other professional schools, or are employed full time. Each student enrolled in the non-thesis option must complete a minimum of 36 semester hours, including all required Core courses. While these courses include Investigations and Research, in which students complete an independent research project, it should be noted that the research experience is not as extensive as in the thesis option, and therefore limits the marketability of students pursuing this option. In order to complete the degree, students must pass a written and/or oral comprehensive examination.

Core courses (required)

BIOL513 Seminar (1 semester hour) – all students are expected to register for this class each semester for three semesters

BIOL522 Investigations in Biology (3 semester hours) – all students are required to take this class for credit

BIOL524 Research and Thesis (3 semester hours) –students admitted to candidacy must enroll in this course each semester; however, the student can receive credit for this course only once.

BIOL525 Leading a Biology Lab Course (3 semester hours) – all students are required to take this class once (thesis option) and it may be taken twice for credit (in the non-thesis option).

BIOL542– Advanced Biochemistry (3 semester hours)

Statistics Course 500 level (or above) (3 semester hours) – decided upon with the help of your advisor (e.g. STAT511 Biometry or equivalent)

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