Master of Science Program

The Master of Science in Biology is designed to prepare students to pursue careers in research, science education, industry, and government. Courses are taught by award-winning, nationally recognized research and teaching faculty and cover a range of essential topics in contemporary biology. Our Biology department offers two distinct Masters of Science programs: the Master of Science with Thesis option (MST), and the Master of Science without a thesis, or “non-thesis,” option (MSNT). Both programs require 30 credit hours and are designed to offer flexibility to accommodate students who work, commute, have families, or other obligations.

“We are currently accepting applications for the Quantitative Biology Ph.D. and Masters non-thesis (MSNT) programs, but are not accepting applications for thesis-track Master’s students at this time. Email with any questions.”

Master of Science Thesis Option (MST)

The Master of Science with a major in Biology Thesis option is a research-focused degree, intended to prepare students for Ph.D. programs and careers in research and industry. MST students obtain skills such as the collection and analysis of data, evaluation of primary literature, and essential laboratory techniques. MST students have the option to conduct research leading to a thesis in a variety of specializations, including aquatic biology, ecology, genetics, evolutionary biology, genomics, microbiology, and cell biology. All MST students will complete a Master’s Thesis under the guidance of their faculty advisor, and complete at least 30 credit-hours of advanced Biology coursework as outlined below. Most MST students complete the program in three years. An example sequential degree plan can be downloaded here [PDF].

Master of Science Non-Thesis Option (MSNT)

The Master of Science with a major in Biology non-thesis option is our most flexible graduate degree program. This is not a research-focused degree, though students may take lab technique courses with consent of the instructor. The MSNT is intended to meet the needs of students looking to advance their careers, or those seeking additional preparation for professional or health science. This degree requires completion of 30 hours of advanced Biology coursework, as outlined below. There is no thesis requirement or final degree exam for the Biology MSNT degree. A full-time student can complete the MSNT program in two years.. An example sequential degree plan can be downloaded here [PDF].


  • BIOL 5314 Biometry (3 credits)
  • BIOL 5340 Bioinformatics (3 credits)
  • BIOL 5101 Current Topics in Biology (2 credits)*
  • BIOL 5391 Individual Problems in Biology (3 credits)**

*BIOL 5101: Seminar on significant biological research, generally has visiting speakers and meets once a week. Should be taken twice, for 1 credit hour each time.
** BIOL 5391: Master’s students should contact the professor they would like to enroll with for BIOL 5391. Once the student has permission to enroll, they should enroll in the faculty supervisor’s section of BIOL 5391, then schedule a time to meet with the faculty member to discuss expectations for the semester. Requirements vary but may include an extensive research project and/or a term paper based on scientific literature that the faculty member and student agree upon in advance.

Thesis-writing (MST) students will also be required to take:

  • BIOL 5698 Thesis (6 credits)

The remaining credit hours should be any Biology coursework at the 5000 level, including but not limited to the following:

  • BIOL 5302  Microbial Genetics
  • BIOL 5304 Virology
  • BIOL 5307  Neurobiology
  • BIOL 5309 Immunology
  • BIOL 5310 Selected Topics
  • BIOL 5311  Evolution
  • BIOL 5312 Advanced Genetics
  • BIOL 5317 Bacterial Pathogenesis
  • BIOL 5319  Human Genetics
  • BIOL 5335 Genomics
  • BIOL 5336 Molecular Evolution
  • BIOL 5349 Cooperative Program in Biology
  • BIOL 5354  Limnology
  • BIOL 5355 Toxicology
  • BIOL 5303  Microbiomes: Health and the Environment

Up to six hours of outside (non-Biology) coursework may be approved at the discretion of the Academic Advisor for Master’s students. Up to nine hours of courses at the 3000 or 4000 level, subject to approval by the Graduate Advisor and following the UTA catalog guidelines.

Master’s students can use this Degree Planning Worksheet for planning and/or meeting with advisors.


The following are minimal requirements for entrance into the graduate program in biology. However, satisfying or exceeding these requirements does not guarantee admission to the program. Admission to the program is determined solely by the Biology Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School and is based on an evaluation of all pertinent aspects of an applicant's record.

(see also The Department of Biology Graduate Catalog page)

  1. A Bachelor's degree in biology or a bachelor's degree in some other discipline with at least 12 hours of advanced level coursework (junior or senior level courses) in biology.
  2. A minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale, as calculated by the Graduate School. Applicants GPA in the Sciences will also be considered.
  3. Successful students in Biology generally have a minimum combined score of 296 (1000 on the old scoring system) on the verbal and quantitative sections of the exam, with a strong performance on the quantitative section.
  4. Favorable letters of recommendation from at least three individuals able to assess the applicant's potential for success in graduate school.
  5. Evidence of previous research experience may also be considered.
  6. International students whose native language is not English must provide a score on the Test of Spoken English (TSE) of at least 45, a minimum score of 23 on the Speaking portion of the TOEFL iBT exam or a minimum score of 7 on the Speaking portion of the IELTS exam. See the following website for complete details:

How To Apply

First, read the general instructions for applying to the graduate program and download the checklists available on the Office of Graduate Studies webpage:

The list below contains additional information requested by the Biology Department.

All applications are reviewed on the following schedule:

  • For entrance in the Fall semester:
    Completed applications will be under review starting January 10 (e.g., January 10, 2021 for Fall 2021 entry). Applicants are notified of admissions decision typically in the January through March time frame. 

  • For entrance in the Spring semester:
    Completed applications will be under review starting September 15 (e.g., September 15, 2021 for Spring 2022 entry). Applicants are notified of admissions decision typically in the September through November time frame.

Questions? Contact

  1.  Application, Scores, and Transcripts: Apply on-line through the UTA Office of Graduate Studies: As instructed, have your GRE scores and official transcripts sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies. If you are an international student, you will also need to have exam scores demonstrating English proficiency sent directly to the Office of Graduate Studies. See the webpage above for more information.

  2.  Letters of Recommendation: Three letters of recommendation are required for admission to the Biology MS Program. Ideally one or two letters should come from professors or instructors who can speak to your academic abilities, and the others may come from employers or other individuals who can comment on your work ethic and potential for graduate study. Recommenders should email letters directly Applicants are encouraged to ensure that all letters of recommendation are received prior to the application deadline. 

  3.  Letter of Intent: Please e-mail a Letter of Intent to the Graduate Program assistant ( and include the following information:

    • Indicate that you are seeking the M.S. degree, if you intend to pursue the thesis or non-thesis option, and if you intend to be a full-time student.

    • If thesis: tell us which research area you are interested in: Genomic Biology, Ecology and Evolution, or Microbiology and Molecular Biology; and indicate which faculty member(s) you hope will supervise your thesis research. Your letter will be forwarded to the faculty members you indicate, but you should also contact those individuals directly to determine if s/he is taking new students and has the resources to support your research. Please see who is research active for more information on individual faculty.

Check your application status: You can check your application and admissions status through the MyMav student portal, where you can also review if you have any missing items needed to complete your application.  CHECK YOUR STATUS IN MYMAV. To confirm receipt of letters of recommendation, first check with your recommenders before contacting the Graduate Program assistant at


 Email with any remaining questions you have about the MS program in Biology. Current UTA students should include their UTA Student ID # in the email.