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Biology, M.A.

Saint Louis University's Master of Arts in Biology is designed to prepare graduates for further training or for careers in academic, private or government sectors.

Program Highlights

  • The SLU program emphasizes coursework and does not require a thesis.
  • Students applying generally desire to broaden their knowledge or become more competitive in seeking employment or gaining admission into a health science program (medical school, dentistry school, etc.).
  • In addition to the M.A. in Biology, SLU also offers an M.S. in Biology that offers experience in laboratory research, including experimental design, interpretation of data and scientific writing. For those who want to continue their studies after completing the M.A., Saint Louis University's Department of Biology also offers a Ph.D. in Biology
  • Biology students at Saint Louis University have access to excellent facilities on campus and at the University's Reis Biological Station. Collaborations with neighboring institutions such as Washington University in St. Louis, University of Missouri-St. Louis, Missouri Botanical Garden, Saint Louis Zoo and Danforth Plant Science Center further expand possibilities for research and learning.

Curriculum Overview

The M.A. in Biology requires at least 30 post-baccalaureate credits. Coursework may be chosen from a wide variety of fields, including cell and molecular biology, biochemistry, microbiology, physiology, geographic information systems, ecology, evolution and botany.


Past students have gone on to further study in medical or law school, or to careers as research scientists, teachers and in various capacities in pharmaceutical companies and government agencies.

Admission Requirements

Applicants should possess adequate undergraduate preparation in biology with a minimum 3.0 GPA in science and math courses.

Suggested courses include biology (a minimum of 18 upper-division credits); chemistry (a minimum of eight, upper-division credits, including two semesters of organic chemistry or one semester of organic chemistry and the other of biochemistry); physics (two semesters); mathematics (through a course in calculus). A formal minor is not permitted.

Application Requirements

  • Application form and fee
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • Transcript(s)
  • Résumé
  • Goal statement
  • Interview (desired)

Requirements for International Students

All admission policies and requirements for domestic students apply to international students. International students must also meet the following additional requirements:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include:
    • Courses taken and/or lectures attended
    • Practical laboratory work
    • The maximum and minimum grades attainable
    • The grades earned or the results of all end-of-term examinations
    • Any honors or degrees received.
  • WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.
  • In order to be issued an I-20 for your F-1 visa application, students must submit financial documents. Proof of financial support that must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the student's time at Saint Louis University
    • A letter from the sponsor's bank verifying that the funds are available and will be so for the duration of the student's study at the University

Review Process

Faculty committee members examine each applicant's materials and make recommendations.


Tuition Cost Per Credit
Graduate Tuition $1,370

Additional charges may apply. Other resources are listed below:

Net Price Calculator

Information on Tuition and Fees

Miscellaneous Fees

Information on Summer Tuition

Scholarships and Financial Aid

For more information about Saint Louis University scholarships and financial aid, please visit the Office of Student Financial Services online at  

  1. Graduates will be able to critically analyze primary literature articles by evaluating the scientific contributions of peer-reviewed publications in biology.
  2. Graduates will be able to effectively communicate scientific ideas.
  3. Graduates will be able to demonstrate professional integrity.

SLU's M.A. in biology degree requires a minimum of 30 credits of post-baccalaureate coursework but does not require a thesis. The expectation of the biology department is that students will complete the degree in two years, though up to five years are allowed by the Office of Graduate Education. The following requirements govern which courses may be counted toward a degree:

  • At least 20 credits of structured courses (does not include reading courses or problems courses).
  • At least 24 credits must be 5000- and 6000- level courses.
  • At least 12 credits of the total program must be from the biology department and 15 credits must be directly related to biology.
  • At least 24 credits must be completed in residence (i.e. no more than six transfer credits).
  • No more than six credits of BIOL 5970 Research Topics (1-3 cr) and/or BIOL 5980 Graduate Reading Course (1-3 cr).
  • Graduate seminar course (BIOL 5820 Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation (1-2 cr) or BIOL 5840 Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics (2 cr)) for two semesters
  • Departmental seminar (BIOL 5810 Department Seminar (1 cr)), must be taken each semester enrolled).
  • Students must be enrolled in a course (even if it is for zero credits) every fall and spring semester to maintain standing in the program; students on 11-month assistantships must also enroll in the summer.
BIOL 5810Department Seminar (every semester)0
BIOL 5820Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation (at least one semester)1-2
or BIOL 5840 Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
Elective Courses28-26
Elective courses
Total Credits27-30

Elective Courses

Electives can be selected from any 4000-level or higher courses in biology or related areas (subject to limits on 4000-level, 5970, and 5980 credit hours). Among the courses that can be taken as electives are:

BIOL 4090Plant Ecology3
BIOL 4100Natural History of Vertebrates4
BIOL 4120Field Botany5
BIOL 4130Field Mammalogy5
BIOL 4140Field Ornithology5
BIOL 4160Microbial Ecology and Molecular Evolution4
BIOL 4200Aquatic Ecology4
BIOL 4260Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles4
BIOL 4280Biology of Fishes4
BIOL 4320Cave Biology4
BIOL 4330Spring Flora of the Ozarks4
BIOL 4360Animal Behavior3
BIOL 4370Animal Behavior Lab1
BIOL 4410Comparative Animal Physiology3
BIOL 4440Vertebrate Histology: Structure and Function of Tissues4
BIOL 4480Conservation Biology3
BIOL 4510Behavioral Endocrinology3
BIOL 4540Human Systemic Physiology3
BIOL 4640General Microbiology3
BIOL 4650General Microbiology Laboratory2
BIOL 4720Cancer Biology3
BIOL 4910Internship in Conservation3
BIOL 4912Internship in Plant Science3
BIOL 5000Problems in Vertebrate Morphology2-3
BIOL 5030Genomics3
BIOL 5050Molecular Techniques Lab2
BIOL 5070Advanced Biological Chemistry3
BIOL 5080Advanced Cell Biology3
BIOL 5090Biometry4
BIOL 5190Geographic Information Systems in Biology3
BIOL 5350Current Topics in Cell Biology2
BIOL 5400Problems in Genetics1-4
BIOL 5480Conservation Biology3
BIOL 5550Advanced Ecology3
BIOL 5560Advanced Evolution3
BIOL 5610Principles of Develop Biology3
BIOL 5630Concepts of Immunobiology3
BIOL 5640Advanced Microbiology3
BIOL 5670Advanced Population Biology3
BIOL 5700Advanced Molecular Biology3
BIOL 5780Molecular Phylogenetic Analysis3
BIOL 5820Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation1-2
BIOL 5840Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics2
BIOL 6150Neural Basis of Behavior3

Continuation Standards

Students must maintain a cumulative grade point average (GPA) of 3.00 in all graduate/professional courses.

Roadmaps are recommended semester-by-semester plans of study for programs and assume full-time enrollment unless otherwise noted.  

Courses and milestones designated as critical (marked with !) must be completed in the semester listed to ensure a timely graduation. Transfer credit may change the roadmap.

This roadmap should not be used in the place of regular academic advising appointments. All students are encouraged to meet with their advisor/mentor each semester. Requirements, course availability and sequencing are subject to change.

General Schedule 

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
4000/5000 level electives 1 6
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
4000/5000 level electives 6
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 5820
or BIOL 5840
Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation
or Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
BIOL 5980 Graduate Reading Course (Optional) 1
Year Two
4000/5000 level electives 6
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 5820
or BIOL 5840
Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation
or Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
4000/5000 level electives 7
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Total Credits30

A maximum of 10 hours of 4000-level courses can counted toward the MA; please see program notes for detailed requirements and a sample schedule of electives.

Sample Schedule

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
BIOL 5030 Genomics 3
BIOL 5700 Advanced Molecular Biology 3
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 4250 Neurobiology of Disease 3
BIOL 5070 Advanced Biological Chemistry 3
BIOL 5820 Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation 2
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 5980 Graduate Reading Course 1
Year Two
BIOL 5190 Geographic Information Systems in Biology 3
BIOL 5640 Advanced Microbiology 3
BIOL 5840 Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 5630 Concepts of Immunobiology 3
BIOL 5090 Biometry 4
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Total Credits30

For additional information about our program, please contact:

Robert Wood, Ph.D.