M.S. Program Requirements

Master of science

Master of science degree candidates are required to take a minimum of 30 semester credits, which should include the following specifications:

Required Credits:

  • Nineteen credits must be courses designated exclusively for graduate students - usually 600 level
  • A minimum of two and a maximum of seven credits must be BIOL 693 Current Topics in Biology
  • A minimum of six and a maximum of nine credits must be BIOL 698 Thesis
  • At the earliest possible opportunity, students must take STAT 543 or BIOS 543 or an equivalent statistics course approved by the Graduate Director. Students entering the program with a statistics background equivalent to STAT 543 may petition the Graduate Director to have this requirement waived
  • All graduate students are required to write a thesis proposal and a formal thesis following a prescribed format in the University Thesis and Dissertation Guidelines.  The thesis proposal must be approved by the student's thesis committee and the Director of Graduate Studies early in the student's second semester of enrollment

Optional Credits:

  • All Biology MS students are encouraged to enroll in Biology Seminar - BIOL 690, and students with a Graduate Teaching Assistantship are required to enroll in BIOL 690 each semester unless granted a waiver by the Director of Graduate Studies.  A maximum of 4 credits in BIOL 690 can count toward the degree.
  • 1-9 credits in BIOL 691 - Special Topics in Biology, and 1-4 credits of BIOL 692 - Independent Study (different from the thesis research) may count toward the degree.
  • Graduate students should consult with the thesis adviser to select 500 and 600 level courses in Biology or from other VCU departments, such as ENVS, or the biomedical sciences, that are appropriate for the biology sub-specialty.  A maximum of 6 credits in each of the 600 level courses in EDUS, GRAD, PSYC, MATH, CHEM, USRP, or PHYS may count toward the degree.

A maximum of six semester hour credits from graduate work taken at other institutions may be transferred if they meet approval of the department.

Courses with a grade of "C" or lower cannot be applied to satisfying the degree requirements.  Receipt of a grade of "C" or lower in two courses constitutes automatic dismissal from the graduate program in biology. 

Each student will be required to pass a final examination which will be primarily a defense of the thesis.

Continuous enrollment in the graduate program is required. Interruption in continuous enrollment for any reason will require that students reapply to the Department of Biology Graduate Committee, unless they receive approval for a leave of absence.