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Masters Degree in Biology

The Department of Biological Sciences offers graduate degree programs leading to either a Master of Science (MS) or Master of Arts (MA) degree in Biology. The department also offers a Master of Science Degree in Raptor Biology. Professional biologists, teachers in public and private schools, and others can use these programs to increase their knowledge base and to advance professionally. Completion of a degree program requires an average grade of B or better for all courses applied to the 30-33 credits required. All requirements for the degree and graduation must be completed within a period of seven years.

Master of Science (MS)

The M.S. is a research-based degree. The M.S. candidate will complete a thesis based on original research carried out by the student. Ideally, the thesis should make a significant contribution to the body of scientific knowledge and be of sufficient quality to warrant publication in a peer-reviewed journal. M.S. students are expected to produce a written thesis proposal and give an oral presentation of that proposal during their first year and, following completion of the thesis, give an oral defense of the thesis, and an exit seminar to present the results to the public.

Master of Science in Biology

Course Number and TitleCredits
BIOL 601 Biometry4
BIOL 598 Graduate Seminar OR
    BIOL 561-567 “Advanced Topics in” courses
2
BIOL 593 Thesis6
Electives from course offerings that follow:Electives may include a maximum of six credits of Directed Research, must be approved by the student’s thesis committee, and may not include workshop, pass/fail or practicum/internship credits.18
TOTAL30

Master of Arts (MA)

The M.A., Examination Option is a course work-based degree and is considered to be a terminal degree (except for students intending to attend professional school); students wishing to later pursue a Ph.D. should enroll in the M.S. program. The M.A. candidate will complete a wide range of relevant course work. At the end of course work, the candidate will be required to pass a comprehensive examination. The examination will be tailored by each candidate’s committee to emphasize the areas covered by course work. After the candidate has completed the written portion of the examination, the candidate will meet with the committee for an oral review prior to final approval or rejection of the written examination.

The M.A., Project Option is an application-based degree and is considered to be a terminal degree (except for students intending to attend professional school); students wishing to later pursue a Ph.D. should enroll in the M.S. program. In addition to completing substantial course work, the M.A. candidate will complete a project that may be an application or synthesis of original research carried out by others. Examples of such projects include development of biology-based curricula, compilation and analysis of studies on a range of species, review and the synthesis of a body of ideas or data, and development of a resource management plan based on relevant studies. Upon completion of the project the candidate will meet with the committee for an oral review and discussion about the project.

Master of Arts in Biology, Examination Option

Course Number and TitleCredits
BIOL 598 Graduate Seminar OR
    BIOL 561-567 “Advanced Topics in” courses
2
BIOL 579 Research in the Biological Sciences
(for two semesters)
2
Electives to be chosen in consultation with advisor and committee:Electives for the M.A. may include up to a combined total of 6 credits of workshop credits, practicum/internship credits, directed research credits. A combined total of 9 credits may include approved courses taken outside the biological sciences, workshops, practicum/internship, and directed research. Workshop, directed research, and practicum/internship credits are limited to a maximum of 3 credits each.28
BIOL 690 Master's Comprehensive Examination1
TOTAL33

Master of Arts in Biology, Project Option

Course Number and TitleCredits
BIOL 598 Graduate Seminar OR
    BIOL 561-567 “Advanced Topics in” courses
2
BIOL 579 Research in the Biological Sciences(for two semesters)2
BIOL 591 Project.  Students will be expected to develop a written project proposal and give an oral presentation of their project upon completion.6
Electives to be chosen in consultation with advisor and committee:Electives for the M.A. may include up to a combined total of 6 credits of workshop credits, practicum/internship credits, directed research credits. A combined total of 9 credits may include approved courses taken outside the biological sciences, workshops, practicum/internship, and directed research. Workshop, directed research, and practicum/internship credits are limited to a maximum of 3 credits each.23
TOTAL33

Admission Requirements

All individuals admitted to REGULAR STATUS as graduate students in biology must have:

  • An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.00 on a 4 point system
  • Results that average in the 50th or higher percentile in the verbal, quantitative, and analytical portions of the general GRE exam
  • An undergraduate degree in biology or a closely related field

PROVISIONAL STATUS may be granted to those otherwise promising applicants who do not meet GPA or GRE requirements or who have undergraduate coursework deficiencies.

Applicants are encouraged to correspond with faculty concerning openings and potential research opportunities in their laboratories for graduate students.

The Graduate Coordinating Committee evaluates applicants and makes decisions about who will be accepted into the graduate program. For those applicants admitted to the program, this committee also will, in cooperation with the student’s major professor and advisory committee, assess progress in thesis/project research, progress and performance in coursework, and performance as a teaching assistant (where applicable). Continuing enrollment in the program requires a 3.0 GPA and satisfactory progress toward completing the degree.

Each student will form a thesis/project advisory committee, which will consist of at least three members: the student’s major professor (a Boise State University faculty member) and two other members from the Boise State University faculty or other institutions. The committee will determine if academic deficiencies exist that must be remedied, help design thesis/project research, help choose appropriate graduate coursework, evaluate the thesis/project, and conduct the final defense.

Financial Aid

Teaching Assistantships that include a stipend, a tuition and fee waiver, and student health insurance may be available to M.S. students on a competitive basis. Additional support for master’s research projects may be available from faculty members in the form of research assistantships. Other forms of financial aid, such as loans or the College Work Study Program, are available to graduate students. Prospective students should contact the Financial Aid Office and consult the Boise State University catalog.

To Apply

For M.S./M.A Degree in Biology:

  1. Submit an on-line graduate application along with the application fee to the Graduate Admissions Office. The online application will require:
    • Contact information for three individuals who can supply academic or professional letters of recommendation.
    • A cover letter discussing your professional goals, research interests, and reasons for wishing to study biology at Boise State University
  2. Have the following sent to: Graduate Admissions Office, Boise State University, 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725.
    • Have the Registrars of ALL post-secondary institutions attended send official transcripts.
    • Have your GRE scores for the General Test forwarded
    Applications for fall admission are due the previous January 15th. Applications for spring admission are due the previous October 1st. Enrollment in all masters programs is competitive, and achievement of minimum admission requirements does not guarantee admission in the program.

For information, contact Dr. Ian Robertson, Interim Director of Graduate Studies