MS in Biology Curriculum Requirements

The MS in Biology requires a minimum of 30 credits with the following framework for thesis and non-thesis options:

  • Thesis: 18-24 credits of coursework and 6-12 credits of thesis research
  • Non-Thesis: 28 credits of coursework and 2 credits of independent study

Students in the thesis track are expected to accomplish a body of work of publishable caliber within their field of expertise. Those in the non-thesis track must coordinate the design and completion of a 2 credit independent study and an accompanying literature review.

Use the Course Planning Matrix to see when Biology courses will be offered

Program of Study

  • Required Courses for Thesis Option – 8-15 credits
  • 1-2
    Course is comprised of lectures featuring prominent speakers from a variety of institutions. Pass/No Pass.
  • 1
    A course designed for graduate students interested in learning more about teaching biology effectively at the University level. The format of the course will primarily be discussion-oriented with contributions from faculty both in and outside off the Department of Biological Sciences. You should either be currently teaching or have taught at the college level. Topically the course will cover three areas: teaching and learning, the academic job market, and faculty life.
  • 6-12
    Supervised execution of thesis research. Prerequisite: permission of advisor after submission of a thesis proposal to committee. Repeatable up to 12 credits. Pass/No Pass.
  • Required Courses for Non-Thesis Option – 4-5 credits
  • 1-2
    Course is comprised of lectures featuring prominent speakers from a variety of institutions. Pass/No Pass.
  • 1
    A course designed for graduate students interested in learning more about teaching biology effectively at the University level. The format of the course will primarily be discussion-oriented with contributions from faculty both in and outside off the Department of Biological Sciences. You should either be currently teaching or have taught at the college level. Topically the course will cover three areas: teaching and learning, the academic job market, and faculty life.
  • 2
    Original research done in an area of the student's choosing in conjunction with a sponsoring faculty member. Results must be presented at a scientific conference.
  • Elective Courses – 15-24 credits
  • 3
    Addresses the diversity of form and function found in the basic units of life, the cells. The first segment centers on the various techniques, especially electron microscopy, which are used to study microscopic anatomy. The components, organelles, which comprise a "generalized cell" are examined and their functional relationships discussed. The second segment centers on the structural differences between tissues of the body (classical histology). Finally, this knowledge of cell and tissue structure will be employed to understand organs and organ systems. This course will not be purely morphological. The development and functional properties of these systems will be examined. There will be a laboratory component in this course. Falls.
  • 3
    BI 5130 Ecology
    Fundamental ecological concepts which illustrate the complex interrelationships of living organisms with each other and with the non-living environment will be the focus of the course. Laboratory time used for field work, experimentation and analysis of data will be incorporated. Graduate students will have additional coursework and/or projects equivalent to graduate level study. Falls.
  • 3
    The study of animal behavior offers a unique opportunity to understand the relationship between ecology, evolution, physiology, populations and individual organisms. Examines the influence of genetics and environment on animal behavior. Outdoor and laboratory investigations test specific student and/or instructor generated hypotheses concerning the causal mechanisms underlying behavior. Falls.
  • 3
    This course will examine the various systems of the body including the respiratory, cardiovascular, digestive and excretory systems using a comparative approach. Discusses the control of these systems and behavior by the nervous and endocrine systems. Inherent is an analysis of an interaction between the mechanisms of homeostatic regulation and the environment. Laboratory investigations using local animals illustrate some of the principles outlined in lecture through the use of student and/or instructor generated hypothesis testing and uses modern equipment including computers, Data Acquisition Units, amplifiers, transducers, stimulators and activity monitors. Spring of even years.
  • 3
    BI 5160 Neurobiology
    Examines the functioning of the nervous system in vertebrates and invertebrates. The fundamental principles underlying membrane potentials, action potentials and conduction are followed by mechanisms of communication between single cells and groups of cells. Different aspects of sensory, motor and integrative physiology are discussed and the role of specific parts of the brain is explored. The laboratory portion is used to demonstrate certain principles and phenomena discussed in lecture. The laboratory involves a series of student-driven mini-projects. Students use computers, Data Acquisition Units, oscilloscopes, manipulators, transducers and amplifiers to test student and/or instructor generated hypothesis. Spring of odd years.
  • 3
    This course will expose students to ecological developmental biology, an integrative field that concerns the impact of the environment and ecological factors on developmental processes. We will explore a suite of modern studies of developmental phenomena influenced by the environment and explore case studies in a wide range of vertebrates and invertebrates.
  • 3
    This course gives students and in-depth analysis of molecular concepts in biology. A seminar-style approach will be used to examine chromosome and protein structure/function, epigenetics, mechanisms, and regulation of DNA replication, repair, transcription, translation, cell signaling patterns, and the cell cycle. The laboratory component is project-based, and particularly addresses methods in DNA manipulation, quantitative PCR, and mammalian cell culture. Graduate students will pursue activity equivalent to graduate level study. Additional course fee required. Falls.
  • 3
    This course focuses on northeastern forest and aquatic ecosystem winter dynamics. We study plant, vertebrate, and microbial adaptations to winter and snowpack environments. We consider the direct and indirect effects of ice and snow cover in the biosphere on ?growing season? processes, landscape determination, and the consequent influence on conservation and management of natural resources of the New England forest.
  • 3
    Avian Ecology is a field-oriented course that focuses on bird interactions with each other and their environment as a medium for understanding field ecological research. Students become familiar with local bird identification, give presentations on selected topics, assist in banding birds, and carry out their own individual research projects under the guidance of a researching avian ecologist.
  • 1-3
    Lectures on special topics in selected areas of the Biological Sciences. May be repeated in the same or separate terms, as topics vary, to a maximum of 9 graduate hours.
  • 3
    In this course students and faculty examine the main issues that face ecologists, biologists and policy-makers regarding the health of the biosphere. The current state of understanding of such issues as global warming, ozone depletion, acid deposition, loss of biodiversity, pollution and desertification is elucidated through a combination of lectures, student presentations, seminars and discussions. Graduate students taking the course write an Environmental Master Plan for their home town and write an additional topical paper one the issue of their choice.
  • 3
    This course studies plant physiological adaptations to environmental conditions. We aim to understand the mechanisms by which plants sense and respond to environmental change; and integrate how these responses to such varied conditions are coordinated to influence growth and development. To this end, we will learn the basics of plant biochemistry and metabolism; growth and development; and water and solute transport.
  • 3
    This course will cover a broad range of topics in the field of modern and classic developmental biology. Importantly, we will learn how the scientific method is used within the context of developmental biology ? the scope, questions, methods and limits of those engaged in investigations of developmental phenomena. Thus, by the end of the semester, you will: possess knowledge of the history and nature of developmental biology as well as classic and modern approaches to studying development; understand the genetic, molecular and cellular context of developmental processes; examine case studies illuminating the patterns and processes of development in invertebrates and vertebrates; understand key questions in developmental biology and the descriptive and experimental toolkit available to address them; i.e. the scientific method at work in developmental biology; observe embryogenesis and post-embryonic development in several animal species in the lab.
  • 1
    Specific topics vary from year to year depending upon the interests of the faculty and the students enrolled.
  • 1-4
    Original research done in an area of the student's choosing in conjunction with a sponsoring faculty member. Results must be presented at a scientific conference.
  • Minimum Total for MS in Biology – 30 credits

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