Biology MS

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College : Sciences Degree :MS
Department : Biology Option : Thesis, Nonthesis
Program Websites :


The Master of Science in Biology program offers a broad range of training opportunities ranging from the sub-cellular to entire ecosystems.


The Master of Science in Biology program offers a thesis and nonthesis option for students. The thesis option requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, 15 of which must be at the 6000 level. Students choosing the thesis option must receive a commitment from a faculty adviser for admission into the program. The nonthesis option requires a minimum of 40 credit hours, 20 of which must be at the 6000 level. Students interested in the nonthesis option should contact the program graduate coordinator before applying. Both options must contain a minimum of 24 credit hours of formal course work excluding research. 
Total Credit Hours Required:
30-40 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor's Degree

Most graduate courses require reading and critical analysis of the primary literature in biology, and students are required to make presentations of their analysis or present proposals outlining a series of integrated experiments that would further knowledge in the field. Thesis students work with a faculty adviser and advisory committee members throughout the planning and conduct of their research. They submit a thesis proposal to the committee for approval prior to conducting the research and present a thesis defense and examination upon completion of that work. All nonthesis students are required to take a research report course (BSC 6909), where they are paired with individual faculty and organize and summarize knowledge in a research report.

Required Courses—7 Credit Hours

  • BSC 6935 Seminar in Biology (2 credit hours; 1 credit hour each of two semesters)
  • PCB 6095 Professional Development in Biology I (1 credit hour)
  • PCB 6096 Professional Development in Biology II (1 credit hour)
  • PCB 6466 Methods in Experimental Ecology (3 credit hours)

Thesis Option—23 Credit Hours

  • BSC 6971 Thesis (a minimum of 6 credit hours)
  • Electives (17 credit hours), selected with the faculty adviser and advisory committee and approved by the program graduate coordinator


A thesis proposal defense is required. The purpose of the proposal defense is to present the planned research and its foundations as a seminar to an interested audience of peers and the advisory committee. The proposal should be distributed to advisory committee members two weeks in advance of the defense, and the defense should be advertised (contact the graduate program administrator two weeks in advance). Public attendees typically have an opportunity to ask questions and comment following the seminar, after which the committee meets with the student to further discuss the proposal. The advisory committee must then vote to accept or reject the proposal. The thesis proposal defense must be passed a minimum of one semester preceding the oral thesis defense (i.e., the proposal defense and thesis defense cannot occur in the same semester). When the research is completed, the final oral thesis defense is conducted similar to the proposal defense.

Nonthesis Option—33 Credit Hours

In addition to the 7 credit hours of required courses listed above, nonthesis students must complete 12 credit hours of restricted electives, 19 credit hours of unrestricted electives, and a research report. Students interested in the nonthesis option should contact the program graduate coordinator before applying.

Restricted Electives—12 Credit Hours 

Students take 12 credit hours of courses in at least three of the five areas below.

  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics
  • Physiology
  • Cell and Developmental Biology 

Unrestricted Electives—19 Credit Hours

Students take 19 credit hours of unrestricted electives that must be approved by the program graduate coordinator.

Research Report—2 Credit Hours

  • BSC 6909 Research Report (2 credit hours)


Nonthesis students must take the comprehensive exam no later than the semester preceding that of graduation. If a student fails the comprehensive examination, a minimum of four weeks must elapse before reexamination. The comprehensive exam may be taken a maximum of two times.

Independent Learning

Nonthesis students are required to complete a research report as their independent learning experience.

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements, applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript (in a sealed envelope) from each college/university attended
  • Official, competitive GRE score taken within the last five years
  • Three letters of recommendation that address the applicant's capabilities and likelihood of success as an M.S. student.
  • Résumé
  • A written statement of past experience and research, area of interest, and immediate and long-range goals
  • A computer-based score of 230 (or 89 internet-based score) on the Test of English as a Foreign language (TOEFL) if an applicant is from a country where English is not the official language, or if an applicant's degree is not from an accredited U.S. institution, or if an applicant did not earn a degree in a country where English is the only official language or a university where English is the only official language of instruction. Although we prefer the TOEFL, we will accept IELTS scores of 7.0.

Applicants do not need to have an undergraduate degree in a biological science, but are expected to have 18 hours of biological sciences, including ecology and genetics. Courses in organic chemistry, calculus, and statistics are also recommended. After acceptance, minor deficiencies must be remedied by enrollment in the appropriate course at the first opportunity.

Applicants to the thesis option should first identify faculty who match their own research interests, and then contact faculty in advance to inquire about research opportunities in faculty labs and to solicit agreement that a faculty member is interested in serving as the student's dissertation advisor. Applicants to the thesis option who do not have a consenting thesis advisor within the department faculty will not be accepted into the program.  Applicants to the non-thesis option or the Conservation Biology PSM need not seek a thesis advisor.

Applicants who do not have a competitive GPA or GRE may occasionally be accepted if there is other convincing evidence of potential for high achievement and success. For U.S. applicants, GRE scores can be self reported prior by the submission deadline if the official score cannot be received in time. Admission will be conditional upon receipt of the official score. Applicants failing to satisfy minimum program criteria should submit a GRE Subject (Advanced) Biology Test score at or above the 50th percentile.

Application Deadlines

Students applying for summer or spring admission will be considered on an ad hoc basis but must complete their applications by December 1.

Biology MS *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



International Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



International Transfer Applicants Jan 15Jan 15



*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.