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Biological Sciences

Description of Program

The M.S. in Biological Sciences will provide both a traditional biological curricula and innovative approaches to instruction. This rigorous curriculum will provide a practical foundation that can be applied as an entry point or a terminal degree for professional careers in biomedicine, biotechnology, and environmental biology.

The M.S. in Biological Sciences offers both thesis and capstone (non-thesis) tracks. All students enter into the capstone tract The thesis track will require 39 credit hours for completion  and also the approval of an OC faculty member to advise and support a specific research project.

One of the most innovative aspects of the curricula, is the possibility of working as an intern for course credit with one of our off-campus partners for expanded experience in various biological disciplines. These include the following:

The M.S. in Biological Sciences program plans to add greater focus on the growing field of genomics and molecular computational biological sciences. For example, the Ocean Center has recently launched a "Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance (GIGA)" consortium. 

A  four course certificate in computational molecular biology provides students a practical background in DNA sequence analysis and bioinformatics. The training can make them more competitive in industry job searches for this growing field. 

Degree Tracks

There are two tracks for completing an M.S. degree.


All entering M.S. students are accepted in the capstone track. Students take a minimum 13 regular courses in their selected degree for 39 credits. Students must take capstone courses totaling a minimum of 8 credits, which involves submitting and defending a capstone paper. This is typically done at or near the completion of formal coursework. The capstone is a scholarly review, based upon a comprehensive literature search, review, and synthesis of the chosen topic. Carrying out a capstone takes place with guidance from a major professor. Typically, capstone students find a major professor by approaching faculty in the student's area of interest. Prior to beginning a capstone and registering for capstone credits, the student must write a proposal, which must be approved by the student's major professor, committee, and the Chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, and be submitted to the Program Office.

Thesis (optional)

Some students desire the thesis track. The thesis track requires an extra step. A thesis is an original contribution to knowledge resulting from the systematic study of a significant problem or issue. A thesis track requires a minimum of 10 regular courses for 30 credits. In addition, a minimum of 12 thesis credits is required. To be allowed entry into the thesis track the student must secure agreement from a faculty member to be the student's major professor. There must be adequate funding to carry out the proposed research. Students are not provided with a thesis advisor. Prior to beginning thesis research and registering for thesis credits, the student must write a proposal, which must be approved by the student's major professor, committee, and the the Chair of the Deparment of Biological Sciences and the Program Office. The thesis option is typically a longer duration track and number of credit hours than the capstone track.

For further details, students are referred to section 3.8 of this catalog and to the online guidelines for the capstone or thesis track found on the Halmos College of Natural Sciences and Oceanography Student Information page.


Core Courses - 12 Credit Hours
  • BCOR 5570 Biostatistics (3 credits)
  • BCOR 5580 Scientific Method and Experimental Design (3 credits)
  • BCOR 5585 Genomics (3 credits)
  • BCOR 5000 Graduate Seminar (3 credits)
Biological Science Electives - 27 Credit Hours (Capstone Track) or 18 Credit Hours (Thesis Track)
  • BMME 6000 GIS and Environmental Remote Sensing
  • BMME 6001 Laboratory q-PCR and Culture Techniques
  • BMME 6600 External Biology / Biotechnology Internship
  • BMME 6750 External Biology / Biotechnology Internship II
  • BMME 6770 Bacterial Evolutionary Genetics
  • BMME 7020 Thesis Proposal Development - DIS thesis credits (3 credits)
  • BMME 8020 Marine Physiology
  • BMME 8040 Corals from the Inside Out: Comparative Histopathology
  • BMME 8050 Programming Data Structure/Algorithm
  • BMME 8053 Introduction to Bioinformatics
  • BMME 8058 Ichthyology
  • MSMS 5060 Scientific Communication
  • MSMS 6209 Biodiversity
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