Feb 29, 2024  
2021-2022 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog 
2021-2022 Undergraduate and Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology, M.S.

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This degree is available to qualified students preparing for professional careers research, education, industry, consulting, government, and health professions. Our Biology M.S. degrees are appropriate choices for students seeking to increase their competitiveness for further studies at the doctoral level and professional schools. In addition, a master’s degree in biology, combined with appropriate courses in education, can be utilized for a teaching career. This degree requires a thesis based on original scientific research; a list of research areas with the names of faculty specializing in these areas can be obtained from the department’s website.

Admission to the Department


In addition to the CSULB prerequisites for entrance into a graduate program stated previously in this catalog under Graduate Degree Information, the Department of Biological Sciences requires the following:

  1. A faculty member in the department must agree to serve as the thesis advisor to the student prior to their acceptance into the M.S. program;
  2. A bachelor’s degree in the biological or related sciences from an accredited institution. Students with alternative undergraduate degrees will be considered (see below);
  3. An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 in all completed science and mathematics courses OR in the last 40 semester units (or 60 quarter units) of completed science and mathematics courses. Students with an overall math and science GPA of at least 2.7 will be considered with a mentorship plan developed with their confirmed faculty thesis advisor. Students who do not meet the minimum required criteria for acceptance are encouraged to take post-baccalaureate courses to bring up their GPA.
  4. Applicants without a degree within a field of the biological sciences must take the GRE Subject Test in Biology or the MCAT. A score of 50th percentile or better on the GRE Subject Test in Biology or MCAT must be achieved.
  5. International Students must provide official TOEFL scores. A minimum TOEFL iBT score of 90 is required. (No other test can be used to replace the TOEFL.)


Prospective graduate students for the M.S. in Biology, including CSULB graduates, must formally apply for admission to CSULB through Cal State Apply as described previously in this catalog. They must also apply directly to the Department of Biological Sciences. All applicants must submit the following documents directly to the Department no later than the deadline stated on the department’s website to receive consideration for admission for the fall semester:

  1. The Biological Sciences Departmental Application Form available from the department’s graduate webpage;
  2. A  one-page personal statement describing why the applicant wishes to obtain an M.S. degree in Biology at CSULB and how this relates to their career objectives;
  3. Unofficial transcripts of all college-level academic work from all colleges/universities attended;
  4. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant’s academic performance as well as their research and teaching potential; and
  5. A curriculum vitae (CV) outlining the applicant’s education, professional, and research experience.

These materials must be submitted to the Biology Graduate Services Coordinator by email (preferred) or by mail to the Graduate Office, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840-9502.

Review by the Graduate Studies Committee

The Graduate Studies Committee will review all completed applications received by the deadline. Admission into the M.S. Program in Biology is competitive. The applicant’s college GPA, one-page personal statement, letters of recommendation, CV, mentorship plan (if applicable), and a faculty member who agrees to serve as the thesis advisor will be considered in the decision to accept or decline the application. Applicants who are admitted into the program will enter as a Classified Graduate Student, as described below.

The Thesis Proposal

After admission to the Department as a Classified Graduate Student, the student, in consultation with the faculty thesis advisor, must prepare a thesis proposal and program of study, which includes all coursework to be taken. The thesis proposal must include a thorough review of relevant primary literature that demonstrates the context of the proposed research, it must clearly define the experiments proposed for the research to be undertaken, and should include preliminary data available. The student and the faculty thesis advisor will select at least two additional members to serve on the thesis committee. In most cases, the faculty thesis advisor will serve as chair of the thesis committee. However, if the faculty thesis advisor is not eligible, another member of the thesis committee will serve as thesis committee chair. The student will then have a formal meeting with the thesis committee, at which the student’s thesis proposal and program of study will be presented. At this meeting, the thesis committee will question and evaluate the materials presented by the student. At the completion of this meeting, the thesis committee will meet briefly, without the student present, to evaluate the thesis proposal. Approval is based on whether the student has demonstrated a solid understanding of their thesis project. The thesis proposal must be prepared, presented to, and approved by the thesis committee before the end of the second semester after admission to the Department. Failure to meet this requirement will result in the student being placed on academic probation and may result in dismissal from the M.S. in Biology program.

The Program of Study

The Program of Study must include the completion of 30 semester units, to be fulfilled by the required courses listed below combined with elective courses.

Six units of Thesis:

One to six units of Directed Research:

Three units of Experimental Research Design and Ethics:

Three units of Scientific Communication:

One unit of Seminar:


Of the minimum 30 units, a minimum of four, but no more than six, may come from  BIOL 661 - BIOL 666,  and no more than two may come from  CHEM 595A   ; no more than nine may come from transfer credit; and no more than one 300-level course may be included. Any 300-level course on a graduate program of study must be approved by the faculty thesis advisor, thesis committee, and the Graduate Advisor.  BIOL 696A    will be taken during the student’s initial fall semester; the course will cover experimental design, statistics, ethics, and literature research, and will help students in preparing their thesis proposal.  BIOL 696B   will be taken during the first  spring semester in the program and will cover both oral and written scientific presentation.  BIOL 696B    covers scientific communication to facilitate manuscript, grant, and thesis writing and to help students learn to communicate their findings for their thesis defense, scientific meetings, and public communication. 

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to the general university requirements stated previously in this catalog, the student must complete the following steps before receiving Candidate status in the Department of Biological Sciences:

  1. Admission to the Department of Biological Sciences’ Master’s Degree program as a Classified Graduate Student (see above);
  2. Acceptance of the thesis proposal and program of study by the thesis committee;
  3. Satisfactory academic progress;
  4. Satisfactory fulfillment of the Graduate Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).

The Thesis Committee will recommend the student for advancement to candidacy by forwarding its recommendation to the department Graduate Advisor. This  should occur at the end of the second semester after admission. Upon approval by the College’s Associate Dean or designee, the student will attain Master’s Candidate status.

Requirements for the Master of Science in Biology

In addition to the general University requirements stated previously in this catalog, the student must meet the following requirements before receiving the degree of Master of Science in Biology. The requirements are:

  1. Advancement to Master’s Candidate status (see above);
  2. Maintenance of a 3.00 (“B” average) overall GPA (includes all upper-division and graduate level courses taken since admission to this University and after completion of the baccalaureate degree) and graduate program GPA. If either GPA falls below 3.00, it must be elevated to a 3.00 by the end of the following semester or the student will be placed on probation and potentially dismissed from the M.S. program in Biology;
  3. Successful completion of the written thesis and public defense followed by a private defense with the thesis committee; and
  4. Service as a Teaching Assistant or Graduate Assistant. Under some circumstances, this requirement may be waived.

Requests to graduate must be received by Enrollment Services approximately six months in advance of the expected graduation date (check the Enrollment Services website for the deadline).

These degree requirements must be completed within seven years from when the first course on the program of study was completed, including academic leaves, or the student’s degree program will be terminated.

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