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Biology, M.S.

Saint Louis University's Master of Science in Biology offers students the chance to gain experience in laboratory research, including experimental design, interpretation of data and scientific writing. 

Program Highlights

  • SLU's Master of Science in Biology degree requires a formal research project and thesis and is excellent preparation for continued graduate studies at the doctoral level or for employment at environmental, industrial or research companies. It can also lay the groundwork for careers in academic, private or government sectors.
  • Biology students at Saint Louis University have access to outstanding facilities on campus and at the University's Reis Biological Station. Collaborations with neighboring institutions such as Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Missouri St. Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the Saint Louis Zoo and the Danforth Plant Science Center further expand possibilities for biological research and learning.
  • Students interested in the M.S. program in biology may also consider SLU's M.A. in biology program.

Curriculum Overview

The M.S. in biology requires at least 30 post-baccalaureate credits, six credits of which will be thesis research.

Careers

Past students in SLU's biology master's program have gone on to medical school or further study in doctoral programs and careers as research scientists, teachers, college faculty, 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 another of biochemistry); physics (two semesters); mathematics (such as a course in calculus). A formal minor is not permitted.

For students interested in ecology, evolution or systematics, additional coursework in some of the following areas is also recommended: genetics, general ecology, evolution, introductory statistics, general botany and a taxonomically oriented course. For students interested in cell or molecular biology, additional coursework in some of the following areas is recommended: genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, physiology, molecular biology, microbiology or immunology.

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 along with the following:

  • Demonstrate English Language Proficiency
  • Proof of financial support must include:
    • A letter of financial support from the person(s) or sponsoring agency funding the 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 study at the University
  • Academic records, in English translation, of students who have undertaken postsecondary studies outside the United States must include the 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, and any honors or degrees received. WES and ECE transcripts are accepted.

Assistantship Application Deadline

Students who want to be considered for an assistantship should submit their application by Dec. 15. Applications submitted after this deadline will be considered if assistantships are available.

Review Process

Faculty committee members examine each applicant's materials and make recommendations. Consideration is given for matching applicant interests with faculty research areas.

Applicants should outline their research goals in their professional goals statement and should identify and correspond with faculty members whose area of research matches their interests early in the application process.

Scholarships, Assistantships and Financial Aid

For priority consideration for a graduate assistantship, apply by the program admission deadlines listed. Fellowships and assistantships provide a stipend and may include health insurance and a tuition scholarship for the duration of the award. 

For more information, visit http://www.slu.edu/financial-aid.

  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.
  4. Graduates will be able to use appropriate instrumentation and analytical methods to collect data.
  5. Graduates will be able to draw statistically valid conclusions from quantitative data.

The Master of Science in Biology degree requires a minimum of 30 credits, including 24 credits of structured coursework and six credits of thesis research. Courses may be chosen from upper-level electives within SLU's Department of Biology or related departments; coursework may be tailored to the research interests in consultation with advisory committees of students.

The following requirements govern which courses may be counted toward a degree: 

  • At least 20 credits of structured courses (does not include BIOL 5970 Research Topics (1-3 cr) or BIOL 5980 Graduate Reading Course (1-3 cr) courses).
  • At least 14 credits (exclusive of thesis) must be 5000- and 6000- level courses.
  • At least 12 credits (exclusive of thesis) of the total program must be from the biology department.
  • No more than four credits of  BIOL 5970 Research Topics (1-3 cr) and/or BIOL 5980 Graduate Reading Course (1-3 cr).
  • Six credits of thesis research BIOL 5990 Thesis Research (0-6 cr).

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.

Required Courses
BIOL 5800Research Colloquium (taken twice for 1 credit hour each time)2
BIOL 5860Scientific Communication1
BIOL 5990Thesis Research (6 credits distributed over multiple semesters)6
Seminars
BIOL 5810Department Seminar (must be taken each semester enrolled)0
Take two semesters of the following:
BIOL 5820Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation (two semesters total; may be taken for 1-2 credits)2-4
or BIOL 5840 Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
Elective Courses17-19
Elective Courses (selected in consultation with the student’s mentoring committee)
Total Credits30

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 Conservation1-6
BIOL 4912Internship in Plant Science1-3
BIOL 5000Problems in Vertebrate Morphology2-5
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
FallCredits
4000/5000 level electives 1 5-6
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 5800 Research Colloquium 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
 Credits7-8
Spring
4000/5000 level electives 1 3
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
2
BIOL 5860 Scientific Communication 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
 Credits7
Summer
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 2
 Credits2
Year Two
Fall
4000/5000 level electives 1 6
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 5800 Research Colloquium 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
 Credits8
Spring
Completion of written Thesis and Presentation of Thesis Research  
4000/5000 level electives 1 3
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5820
or BIOL 5840
Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation
or Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics
2-1
 Credits6-5
 Total Credits30
1

A maximum of six hours of 4000-level courses can be counted toward the M.S.; please see detailed requirements and sample schedules in program notes.

Sample Schedule Cell/Molecular Biology Focus

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
BIOL 5050 Molecular Techniques Lab 2
BIOL 5700 Advanced Molecular Biology 3
BIOL 5800 Research Colloquium 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits7
Spring
BIOL 5070 Advanced Biological Chemistry 3
BIOL 5820 Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation 1
BIOL 5860 Scientific Communication 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits6
Summer
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 2
BIOL 5980 Graduate Reading Course 1
 Credits3
Year Two
Fall
BIOL 5030 Genomics 3
BIOL 5640 Advanced Microbiology 3
BIOL 5800 Research Colloquium 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits8
Spring
BIOL 5630 Concepts of Immunobiology 3
BIOL 5820 Graduate Seminar in Cell and Molecular Regulation 2
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits6
 Total Credits30

Sample Schedule for Ecology/Evolutionary Biology Focus

Plan of Study Grid
Year One
FallCredits
BIOL 5550 Advanced Ecology 3
BIOL 5030 Genomics 3
BIOL 5800 Research Colloquium 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits8
Spring
BIOL 5110 Advanced Sex, Evolution and Behavior 3
BIOL 5840 Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2
BIOL 5860 Scientific Communication 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits7
Summer
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 2
 Credits2
Year Two
Fall
BIOL 5480 Conservation Biology 3
BIOL 5560 Advanced Evolution 3
BIOL 5800 Research Colloquium 1
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits8
Spring
BIOL 5840 Graduate Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Systematics 2
BIOL 5###Ecology/Evolutionary Biology Elective 2
BIOL 5990 Thesis Research 1
BIOL 5810 Department Seminar 0
 Credits5
 Total Credits30

For additional information about our program, please contact:

Jon Fisher, Ph.D.
Biology Graduate Program Coordinator
jonathan.fisher@slu.edu