Master of Science Biology

Accelerated Non-thesis BS/MS Program in Biology

Program Goals

The Accelerated Non-thesis BS/MS program is designed for talented undergraduate Biology majors who would benefit from having the Masters of Science degree in Biology when they enter the job market, graduate school, or professional school.  Graduates from this program will be well prepared for employment in health professions, technology based industries, education, and government positions. Successful students will be able to earn the M.S. degree in a fifth year in two long semesters and up to three summer semesters beyond the completion of the B.S. degree. This program allows undergraduates simultaneously to receive up to 12 credits toward their undergraduate and graduate degrees by taking cross-listed courses. Cross-listed courses that offered at both the undergraduate and graduate level. Cross-listed courses taken at the graduate level have addition learning requirements over and above those at the undergraduate level.  Students who successfully complete the graduate version of cross-listed courses during their senior year will receive both graduate and institutionally awarded undergraduate credit for the course.


120 credits for the BS biology degree

36 Credits for the MS biology non-thesis option

12 dual listed credits for cross-listed courses

Program Requirements and Restrictions

  1. Candidates should apply for admission to the Accelerated Program during their junior year.
  2. A student admitted into the program will maintain an undergraduate classification until he or she reaches 108 credit hours. At this point the Graduate Admissions office will create a degree-seeking Master's record to run concurrently with the student's undergraduate record.  This typically occurs during the last semester of the student's undergraduate degree. For the switch in status to occur, the student must maintain a 3.3 GPA in all Biology courses and satisfy all departmental and university requirements for the Master of Science Non-Thesis option as dictated by the catalog. In addition:
    1. GRE scores submitted prior to the completion of 108 hours. The minimum score for entrance into the program will be calculated as: (GPA * 50) + verbal GRE + quantitative GRE = 431.
    2. Three letters of recommendation submitted from Biology professors
  3. Students entering the program are required to:
    1. Complete BIOL 1406,1407, 2420, and five of the following biology courses (invertebrate, vertebrate course, Botany, Genetics, a biology elective, or a sub-cellular course), in addition, CHEM 1411, 1412, 3411, 3412 prior to the conclusion of the junior year and PHYS 1401 and 1402 by the end of their fourth year.
    2. Complete at least six hours of graduate courses in the senior year.
    3. Be University core complete by the end of their fourth year.
    4. Complete a total of 36 hours of graduate credit.
  4. A student may not receive credit for both the undergraduate and the graduate version of a cross-listed dual course. Students must perform the graduate level assignments for all dual credit courses. Only a grade of 'A' or 'B' will be accepted for graduate credit on a dual credit course.
  5. Students who have been admitted to the program, but subsequently fail to achieve a 3.3 GPA in the last 19 hours of their B.S. degree, or who do not complete at least 30 of their last 60 hours at Lamar, will be dismissed from the program.
  6. No more than four credit hours may be Undergraduate Problems (BIOL 4300) as an undergraduate or Special Topics (BIOL 5301 and 5401) as a graduate student.
  7. Further requirements for the B.S. in Biology are listed above under the Bachelor of Science - Biology subheading and below under the Graduate Program and Non-Thesis option subheadings below.
  8. A student participating in the accelerated MS program may seek approval from the graduate faculty to enter the Thesis MS program.  Once accepted, the requirements for graduation will be those outlined in the Thesis Program subheading below.  The student will not have to forfeit duel credits earned in the accelerated program in order to move into the thesis track.

Graduate Program

The Department of Biology offers a program of study leading to the Master of Science in Biology degree with either a thesis or non-thesis option. It is designed to enhance the professional competence of graduates in biology or closely related disciplines who are interested in pursuing academic careers, employment in private industry or governmental agencies in biologically oriented fields, entrance to professional schools, or who are presently engaged in or planning to enter secondary school teaching. Students interested in these programs should contact  Ana B. Christensen for detailed advising (Hayes 205-02, (409) 880-8260).

Applicants must:

1. Have a BS or BA degree in biology from an accredited institution or complete a minimum of 24 semester hours in the biological sciences including eight hours of general biology (BIOL 1406 & 1407 or the equivalent) and a course in genetics. Excluded from the 24 hours is Anatomy & Physiology (BIOL 2401 & 2402).

2. Completed a minimum of one semester of Organic Chemistry and one semester of statistics.

3. Remove any deficiencies as provided in the section on admission.

4. Meet the admission standards of the College of Graduate Studies.

5.All students wishing to enter the M.S. program in Biology must take the GRE General Test.

6. The minimum composite score for entrance into the Non-Thesis program is 431 = (GPA * 50) + verbal GRE + quantitative GRE. The minimum composite score for entrance into the Thesis program is 445 = (GPA * 50) + verbal GRE + quantitative GRE. The GPA used in the calculation is based on a 4.0 grade scale.

7. All students with degrees from a country other than the U.S.A. must have their transcripts evaluated, course by course, at their own expense by a company approved by the Biology Department or University (

8. All students entering the Thesis Program in biology must have a member of the Biology Faculty willing to serve as supervisor of the student's graduate studies. Applicants should explore the interests and research background of members of the faculty, including directly contacting faculty with common interests. Information on the Biology Faculty can be found at Applicants should include with their application materials a letter of intent addressed to the faculty that explains the following: a) their career goal(s) giving reasons for pursuing an MS degree in Biology; b) their areas of interest in biology; and c) preferences to be supervised by specific faculty members.

Degree Requirements

The candidate for the M.S. in Biology must meet all the College of Graduate Studies general requirements as listed in this catalog. For their professional development, students must enroll in BIOL 5110 Graduate Seminar. They must take the course two times; any subsequent enrollments will not count toward the degree.

Thesis option

This option is strongly recommended for those who plan to continue graduate work beyond the Master's level or to be employed in a research position by private industry or governmental agency. Students are expected to:

1. Take Graduate Seminar (BIOL 5110) at least two times. Any subsequent enrollments will not count toward the degree.

2. Choose a supervising professor as an advisor with expertise in the discipline in which the student intends to work. With the help of the supervising professor choose at least two other graduate faculty to serve on a graduate committee. These faulty should be chosen on the basis of their professional expertise in biology and the specific contributions that can be made to the student's intended research project.

3. Determine the student's program of study with the aid of the supervising professor and graduate committee. Student must complete a minimum of 32 hours of graduate credit. All course work will be in Biology. Exceptions must be approved by the major advisor and Department Chair. A maximum of six hours of Thesis (BIOL 5390-5391) can be used toward the degree.

4. Submit the G2 form to the biology department by the end of the first year of graduate work.

5. Perform a comprehensive literature review on the thesis topic and submit a written proposal for the thesis to the graduate committee.

6. Perform an oral presentation of the proposal and answer questions by the graduate faculty of the Biology Department. In addition, pass an oral examination before the student's graduate committee on the experimental design of the proposed thesis.

7. File for candidacy after 18 hours and before beginning the final 9 hours by submitting the G3 form to the Graduate College.

8. Perform the proposed research.

9. Be registered for thesis (5391) at the time of graduation.

10. Present and defend the graduate thesis before the graduate faculty.

11. Follow the guidelines prepared by the Graduate College on the format of the written thesis and the time line for submitting the thesis.

Non-Thesis option

This option is intended for those not seeking a higher degree in Biology. Students are expected to:

1. Take Graduate Seminar (BIOL 5110) at least two times. Any subsequent enrollments will not count toward the degree.

2. Choose a major advisor and graduate committee of at least two other graduate faculty during the first year of the program. The student must take at least one class from each of the committee members.

3. Determine a program of study with the aid of the advisor and graduate committee. Student must complete a minimum of 38 hours of graduate credit. All course work will be in Biology. Exceptions must be approved by the major advisor and Department Chair.

4. Submit the G2 form to the Biology Department.

5. File for candidacy after 18 hours and before beginning the final 9 hours by submitting the G3 form.

6. Pass an exit exam covering the course work taken during the program. The Biology non-thesis comprehensive examination will be made by the three members of the student's graduate committee and may encompass any and all topics in biology. A minimum score of 70% must be obtained on each of the three subsections of the final exam. The comprehensive examination will be essay, closed book, and on the premises. Students will not be given any prior knowledge of the specific questions. Two questions will be submitted by each of the three committee members. One hour will be given for each question. Three questions will be given before 12:00 pm and three after 1:00 pm on the day of the comprehensive examination.

7. The exit exam may be repeated once if failure occurs. Students will only retake the sections of the exam on which that they did not obtain a 70%. Different questions will be asked in those same sections for the second exam. Failure to pass all sections of the comprehensive examination in two attempts will result in a student's being permanently suspended from the degree program.

8. The Biology non-thesis written comprehensive examination will be administered in accordance with the following schedule:

Fall Term: Beginning the last Thursday in October and ending on the first Thursday of November, exclusive of the weekend.

Spring Term: Beginning the last Thursday in March and ending on the first Thursday of April, exclusive of the weekend.

Summer: The Monday prior to the last Monday of the first summer term, exclusive of the weekend.