The M.S. in Biology degree program is designed for students who desire to pursue advanced studies in professional and graduate schools or various vocational opportunities in biology and related areas (see biologicalsciences.uncc.edu). The program provides the opportunity for broad training in a variety of biological areas as well as specialization in areas of particular interest through (1) the Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B) concentration and (2) the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCB) concentration. Selection of either concentration is optional.
The Department of Biological Sciences offers the thesis and non-thesis track within the M.S. degree. The thesis track is designed for students whose career goals include formal research training. The non-thesis track is designed for students whose career goals include graduate education, but not formal research experience. Students may switch between the thesis and non-thesis tracks with written approval from their major advisor and the Graduate Program Director.
In addition to the general requirements for admission to the Graduate School, the following requirements are specific to the Department of Biological Sciences:
- A B.S. or B.A. degree from an accredited university.
- Evidence of undergraduate preparation in biology with a minimum 24 credit hours in biology and 24 credit hours of cognate study.
- An overall grade point average of at least 3.0 out of 4.0. Additionally, applicants must have a grade point average of at least 3.0 in biology.
- A score on the Graduate Record Examination General Test in at least the 50th percentile (average for the verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing sections).
- A score of at least 100 on the Internet-based, 220 on the computer-based, or 557 on the paper based Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or a minimum overall band score of 6.5 on the IELTS, for applicants whose native language is not English. Students who do not pass this examination must pass ENGL 1100 (English as a Foreign Language) with a grade of C or above. In addition, these students who will be involved in any instructional activity (e.g., teaching assistants) will be required to be evaluated by the English Language Training Institute at UNC Charlotte prior to the beginning of the first semester of study.
- Three letters of reference, at least two of which must be from faculty members.
Early Entry Program
Exceptional undergraduate students at UNC Charlotte may apply for the Early Entry Program and begin work toward the graduate degree before completion of the baccalaureate degree. See the Undergraduate Catalog for details and requirements. Also see the Degree Requirements and Academic Policies section of the Graduate Catalog for more information about Early Entry Programs.
All M.S. students must complete 30 credit hours of coursework approved by a Supervisory Committee, including the following courses:
Research and Ethics Course
Select one of the following:
Concentration Elective Courses
Students may choose the Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B) concentration or the Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCD) concentration when selecting elective courses, although selection of a concentration is not required. Elective courses outside the concentration may be substituted upon approval from the Supervisory Committee and Graduate Program Director. In addition to coursework, each degree candidate must pass an oral candidacy examination administered by the Supervisory Committee.
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology (E3B) Concentration Elective Courses
Select from the following:
Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCD) Concentration Elective Courses
M.S. Degree: Thesis Track
At least 16 of the 30 credit hours required for the degree, including no more than eight hours of thesis research, must be in courses at the 6000-level. The candidate must prepare a written thesis based upon original research acceptable to the Supervisory Committee and the Dean of the Graduate School. Students have the opportunity to conduct their thesis research under the co-direction of a Biology faculty member and select faculty at the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. The student must orally present and successfully defend the thesis to the student’s Supervisory Committee in a defense open to the public.
M.S. Degree: Non-Thesis Track
At least 12 of the 30 credit hours required for the degree must be in courses at the 6000-level, including two credit hours of BIOL 6800 culminating in a written assignment developed in consultation with the major advisor. A maximum of two credit hours of non-thesis research (BIOL 6901 ) may be taken as an elective, and students are encouraged to gain research experience. No written thesis or oral thesis defense is required for the non-thesis track.
Proportion of Courses Open Only to Graduate Students
At least 16 of the 30 required hours, including no more than eight hours of thesis research, must be in courses open to graduate students only.
Students must maintain a cumulative average of 3.0 in all coursework taken for graduate credit. An accumulation of two C grades results in suspension from the Master’s program. An accumulation of more than two C grades results in termination of enrollment in the Master’s program. If students make a grade of U in any course, enrollment in the program is terminated.
Up to 6 hours of transfer credit may be applied to the Master’s degree. Only courses with grades of A or B may be accepted for transfer credit. Courses taken to satisfy the requirements of a previously completed degree cannot be counted toward the Master’s degree. All transfer credit must be approved by the student’s Thesis Committee and the Graduate Program Director.
Graduate students are expected to attend all seminars sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences.
Every student must teach at least once. This requirement is satisfied by being a Graduate Teaching Assistant for one course for one semester.
- All M.S. students must establish their Supervisory Committee by the end of the 2nd semester. The Committee must be established before approving the Curriculum Contract and taking the Oral Candidacy exam. For thesis-track students, the Supervisory Committee must also be established before approving the Thesis Proposal.
- The Curriculum Contract must be approved no later than the end of the 2nd semester and preferably by the end of the 1st semester.
- The Oral Candidacy exam must be approved before the beginning of the 3rd semester. All required coursework for the degree, with the exception of the Tutorial requirement for non-thesis track students and Research and Thesis for thesis-track students, must be completed before taking the Candidacy Examination. For thesis-track students, completion of the Candidacy exam must precede approval of the Thesis Proposal.
- For thesis-track students, the Thesis Proposal must be approved before the beginning of the 3rd semester.
- The student is required to meet with their Supervisory Committee at least once a year.
Admission to Candidacy
General academic regulations will apply to admission to candidacy. In addition to these the applicant should have:
- Removed any identified entrance deficiencies by the time of application.
- Successfully completed the Qualifying Examination, which can be taken only after the completion of all required coursework for the degree, with the exception of the Tutorial requirement for the non-thesis track, and Research and Thesis for the thesis-track.
- Taken at least 15 credit hours of graduate work with a GPA of 3.0 or above.
- Satisfied the Supervisory Committee that he/she is qualified to become a candidate, i.e., can fulfill the requirements successfully.
Teaching and research assistantships are available on a competitive basis for qualified students. A limited number of tuition grants are also competitively awarded. Typically, thesis-track M.S. students are prioritized above non-thesis track students for funding awards.
Degree Total = 30 Credit Hours