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Thesis Master's Program

Biology offers a research-focused Master's degree, which we call the thesis MS or Plan A MS. This program is designed for students who want to gain research experience but are not ready for or are not yet committed to the extended level of research required for a Ph.D. Biology takes relatively few thesis M.S. students into the program, but under special circumstances will do so. A key requirement is that a faculty member is interested and has a project in mind that fits the time scale of a Master's degree. 

Thesis M.S. students must meet some of the same requirements as Ph.D. students. They take the first-year seminar and should attend the Departmental seminar each week. 30 credit hours is required before a student can graduate, and a thesis document must be prepared and defended to the student's advisory committee. 

Graduates of the Biology thesis Master's program have gone on to enter Ph.D. programs either here or at other institutions, or have taken positions in government or in indiustry. Biology has also allowed existing MS students to upgrade to the Ph.D. program if they can convince their advisory committee that doing so is in their best interests.


Thesis MS students are supported on fellowship, teaching assistantship, or research assistantship, and we do not accept a student without also being able to offer them some type of support. Generally, this support lasts up to 3 years, and often students can get additional support after that time depending on their situation. Such support is conditional on a student making progress toward their degree. Support comes with a stipend, tuition, and health insurance.

The current stipend for Teaching Assistants is $28,520 for a 9-month appointment.