Students who begin work in biology for the degree of Master of Science must have completed a minimum of 25 hours of acceptable undergraduate courses in biology. These should include fundamental courses in botany, ecology, zoology, genetics, microbiology, and physiology. A cumulative total of 13 hours of chemistry, including organic chemistry is required. However, a student may apply certain senior-graduate or graduate level chemistry on the degree requirements upon the recommendation of the advisor. In addition, it is advisable that a student have work in physics and geology. While a knowledge of a foreign language and of computing is not required, it is strongly advised.
Admission to the department is contingent upon: (1) admission to the PSU Graduate School and (2) admission to the department. Admission to the department requires an advisor’s acceptance of a prospective master’s student. Students must contact individual faculty to discuss degree programs and admission. Avoid generic correspondence to all faculty – focus on those whose research area is one in which you are interested and be clear about your experience and interest in that area. Take some time to learn about the faculty member’s work. Obtain admission information and application forms from the PSU Office of Continuing and Graduate Studies and the Department of Biology.
Three options are available in biology:
Option I: Thesis. A minimum of 30 hours including BIOL 801 Introduction to Research, at least one hour in BIOL 800 Seminar and BIOL 890 Research and Thesis (4‑6 hours) is required. All full-time graduate students are required to attend seminar. With the approval of the advisor and chairman, up to nine hours may be taken outside the Department of Biology.
Option II: Problem. A minimum of 32 hours including BIOL 801 Introduction to Research, at least one hour of BIOL 800 Seminar and BIOL 891 Research Problems (3 hours) is required. All full-time graduate students are required to attend seminar. With the approval of the advisor and chairman, up to 15 hours may be taken outside the Department of Biology. This option is primarily recommended for science teachers at the secondary school level.
Option III: Professional. A minimum of 36 hours is required. This option is intended for science professionals (e.g. those entering or currently serving as in-service teachers, and those in environmental/ecological/biotechnological careers) who need more experience in their areas of biological science and more focused preparation for work outside of their academic advancement. A minimum of 36 hours. BIOL 800 Seminar (1 hour), BIOL 801 Introduction to Research (3 hours) with a grade of B or better, BIOL 803 Biometry (3 hours) is required. With the approval of the advisor and chairperson, up to nine hours may be taken outside the Department of Biology. Only six of the 36 hours can be numbered below 700, and 21 of the 36 hours must be numbered 800-899.
Professional Experience: The experience will be arranged by the student, and may be voluntary or a paid position, as long as it is deemed “professional” by the student’s committee. Examples of professional experience might include (1) for a classroom teacher, developing, and/or implementing a curriculum, (2) for an environmental scientist, designing and/or implementing an environmental mitigation project, (3) for a biotechnologist, developing and or implementing a new process or product.
Final Presentation: Each graduate student in this option will provide a capstone report which synthesizes their professional experiences with their academic work. For example, the student should be able to explain and illustrate the way that the academic coursework and the experience complement each other. The end result should be a cohesive body of work that clearly states to the committee, departmental faculty and students how this work (1) addressed the goals and objectives, and (2) will enhance the professional life. The final professional presentation will be viewed by the student’s committee and open to the public, with a written manuscript offered for perusal at least two weeks prior to the presentation date.