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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences

Overview of Graduate Program

Students achieving M.S. degrees typically continue on as Ph.D. students here or elsewhere, or find appropriate positions in education, business, or government. We offer three non-research Professional Masters degrees. The Professional Science Masters Degrees in Bioinformatics and in Biotechnology are both aimed at training students to work with businesses in the scientific contexts of the disciplines. The Professional Masters degree in Teaching (the MAT) is aimed at developing high quality science teachers in secondary education. A research experience is a critical component of all three Professional degrees.  For information on the application process click here

M.S. and Ph.D.

The Department has research strengths in within the areas of Ecology, Evolution and Physiology (Integrative Biology) including ecology, evolutionary biology, environmental microbiology, physiology, and computational biology (modeling and bioinformatics); Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCDB) including genetics, cancer biology, cell biology and developmental biology; Plant Sciences including molecular biology and genetics, developmental biology, cellular/physiological/ecological responses to the environment. The links above provide more information about these areas. Students working within these areas become trained for careers in research, teaching, and scientific leadership. Within these programs, students conduct original research under the direction of a research mentor, and are expected to publish their results in scientific journals and to present their research accomplishments at scientific meetings. Students are strongly encouraged to broaden their experience by attending our frequent seminars given by visiting scientists, by attending national and international meetings, and by participating in workshops and/or visiting laboratories at other universities or research sites.

We are committed to the goal that our students become excellent scientists and scientific educators. On entry into the program, students embark on an educational experience, developing a basic knowledge intended to empower each to develop a strong, inquiry based research program. Each student is guided in this journey by a research mentor, a dissertation committee and the department at large to ensure their success. The Department represents many disciplines, and to accommodate this diversity, the respective graduate training programs are designed to tailor each student's educational experience. Each program has its own educational guide; the choice of program is up to each student, with input provided from their research mentor and dissertation committee.  For more information contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, Patricia Earley ( or Graduate Director, Jerry Hilbish (  Prospective students are encouraged to contact faculty with whom they might be interested in studying.

Non-Research Programs: Professional Science Master / Master in Teaching.

Master of Arts in Teaching (MAT) (Non-Research Based)

This program is administered through the Dept. of Instruction and Teacher Education in the College of Education, and is coordinated with specific disciplines through Department contacts. Dr. Bert Ely is the Program Area Advisor for the M.A.T. Biology program. Dr. Ely can be contacted at 803-777 -2768, or via email at The M.A.T. degree program is an interdisciplinary program and students in the program have two advisors - a program area advisor and an education advisor. Dr. Ely and Dr. Christine Lotter, the College of Education faculty advisor for M.A.T. biology students will review your file, conduct an interview, and then forward their recommendation to the graduate school. You may reach Dr. Lotter at 803/777-6593 or Additional information can be found at