M.S. in Biology

If you're looking to advance your skills in a subdiscipline of biology, VCU's M.S. in Biology program is for you.

In the program, you will train and conduct research in your chosen discipline while also advancing your skills by publishing and presenting on topics relevant to your area of study. Areas of specialization include molecular and cellular biology, terrestrial and aquatic ecology, evolutionary biology, physiology and developmental biology.

Financial Support

Qualified applicants to the M.S. in Biology program may receive funding as teaching assistants or research assistants. Funds may also become available after the application deadline, so you are encouraged to contact the graduate program director to check availability.

Learning Outcomes

As a graduate, you'll be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of a chosen subfield, including the most recent advances in research
  • Apply appropriate research techniques (i.e., field or lab)
  • Effectively communicate research and findings in a professional context
  • Effectively write papers for publication

Application Overview

Application Deadline

Apply to the M.S. in Biology program by Jan. 15 to be considered for fall semester. You may also apply for admission to begin study in the spring or summer semester by special permission of the Department of Biology's graduate director.

Admission Details

Applicants must meet all requirements listed by the School of Graduate Studies and College of Humanities and Sciences, in addition to those listed below from the Department of Biology.

You must have:

  • A bachelor's degree in biological or related science or equivalent
  • An appropriate college-level background in mathematics, chemistry and physics
  • Three letters of recommendation pertaining to your potential ability as a graduate student in biology
  • A "Statement of Purpose" essay (see specific guidelines below)
  • Transcripts of all previous college work

Admission to the M.S. in Biology program is based on undergraduate performance, satisfactory scores on the GRE and letters of recommendation. Applicants typically have a 3.0 GPA or greater on undergraduate work, and competitive verbal and quantitative GRE scores.

Faculty Mentor Requirement

Completion of a research thesis is a major part of the M.S. in Biology program. Identifying a faculty mentor is an additional requirement for you to be accepted to the program.

You are strongly encouraged to begin this process before applying by reading through faculty directory profiles, identifying potential mentors that overlap with your research interests, and initiating a dialogue with them via email or phone about the likelihood of joining their lab.

If you already have support from specific faculty, you are more likely to be admitted and receive some financial support.

Statement of Purpose

Your graduate application requires a Statement of Purpose essay in which you review your research interests and describe what you want to do with your degree.

In addition to the general instructions from VCU's Graduate School, please also follow these departmental requirements for applicants to the M.S. in Biology program:

Essays should be one to two pages long, in 12 point font, single-spaced and should concisely address these six areas:

  • Your career goals
  • How the M.S. in Biology program will help you achieve these goals (i.e., why you chose to apply to the program)
  • What preparatory experiences you have had that will make you a successful graduate student and researcher
  • What kind of research you are interested in and why
  • What biology faculty research labs match your interests and goals
  • Whether or not you have contacted any faculty in our program and discussed joining their lab