Feb 28, 2024  
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog 
2017-2018 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology, M.S.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges

Admission Criteria

Prospective graduate students for the Master of Science degree should have completed an undergraduate major consisting of a minimum of 20 credit hours in biology, including courses covering the areas of organismal biology, cell and molecular biology, ecology, evolution and genetics. A student may be admitted with deficiencies in one or more of these areas but should be aware that the Graduate Advisory Committee may require the student to make up deficiencies with no credit toward the master’s degree. The applicant should have completed a minimum of a year (two semesters) of general chemistry and one semester of organic chemistry. A course in general physics is strongly recommended, especially for those students interested in physiology.

Certain areas of study may require additional background in biochemistry, statistics, calculus or computer programming.

After making contact with potential advisers, students are required to submit with their application the Graduate Record Examination General Test scores, three letters of recommendation from individuals who know the student’s scientific potential, and a statement of professional goals and interests.

Students typically matriculate only in the fall semester. Application deadline is February 1.


The Department of Biology Masters of Science Program is committed to providing a strong and unique training plan for advanced students of the discipline that will prepare them well for their future career goals. The program takes advantage of the current strengths of the department, basic scientific research and excellent biology pedagogy. Students will develop their intellectual potential by pursuing advanced course work in biology and by successfully completing a research thesis. They will have the option to develop their teaching skills by participating in mentored teaching.

Program Description

The biology graduate program is a thesis/research concentration for students who wish to continue the study of biology as a scholarly pursuit and who later continue work toward the Ph.D., work for industry or government, or wish to teach, primarily in two year colleges. The primary objective of the program is to enrich the student’s subject knowledge and give the student a rigorous experience in research and thesis-writing. Students can also acquire training and experience in teaching. Training in teaching is provided through courses and the mentored teaching of biology laboratories. Thus, students not only gain research experience, they also learn to be effective teachers and communicators.

Currently, the biology department has research strengths in the following areas:

  • Cell Biology and Genetics
  • Comparative and Functional Morphology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genomics
  • Microbiology
  • Neurobiology
  • Plant Biology

More information regarding faculty research can be found Department of Biology website at http://www.jmu.edu/biology/graduate/index.shtml.

Course Requirements

Minimum Requirements

  • 1.00 - 6.00 6 credit hours
  • Electives (15 credits must be at the 600- or 700-level, including BIO 700) 24 Credit Hours

Total: 30 Credit Hours

Additional Requirements

Students wishing to receive training and mentoring in teaching and who wish to teach biology laboratories are also required to take BIO 600. Effective Teaching I   (2 credits), BIO 601. Mentored Teaching   (1 credit) and BIO 602. Effective Scientific Communication   (2 credits). These courses are strongly recommended for all students. Exemptions require approval of the student’s advisory committee.

All students must have their individual program of study approved by the student’s Thesis Advisory Committee and the head of the academic unit.

Up to nine hours of graduate credit from accredited institutions may be accepted toward the Master of Science degree, subject to the general regulations and procedures of The Graduate School regarding transfer credit.

Full-time biology graduate students are required to attend and participate in the biology departmental seminars while in residence.

Note on Course Offerings

For a student to enroll in any biology graduate course the department assumes the student meets minimal course requirements for entrance into the Master of Science degree program in biology. Permission of the instructor is required if this is not the case.

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Colleges