The Combined BS/MS Degree Program in Biology allows students to complete both the B.S. and M.S. degrees in Biology in five years. The hallmark of the program is the focus on research; students initially will be exposed to research by way of lab rotations as soon as they arrive, and will join a lab for their thesis by the beginning of their third year. In addition to the courses in biology required for the two degrees, students will also complete all of the Core Curriculum requirements and courses in other sciences as well. Thus, students will be well prepared to enter a graduate or professional (e.g., medical, dental, etc) program for further study or a technical job after graduating.

Some highlights of requirements:

  • Total credits. Students will complete a total of at least 166 credits, including General Biology I and II which is typically completed with AP credit before matriculation. The minimum of 166 credits includes 136 for the undergraduate BS degree and 30 (20 course and 10 research) for the graduate MS degree. These credit totals are the same as those of students not in the program.
    Students will typically begin taking graduate courses (BIO 7000+) in their junior year, achieving the goal of getting involved in graduate level work early in the program.
  • Double-counted Biology courses. Students can count a maximum of 9 credits toward both the BS and MS degrees. These “double-counted” courses are always at the graduate level (BIO 7000 and above). The two credit course BIO 8910 will always be counted for both degrees, but several possible combinations exist for the remaining 7 credits; students typically will assign the remaining 7 credits as one 4 cr graduate lab course and one 3 cr graduate “topics” course.
  • Distributional requirements within the major. All students will take at least one lab course in each of three areas – Cell and Molecular Biology, Organismal Biology, and Ecology and Population Biology, as is the case for all B.S. students in Biology. A graduate lab course can be used for the distribution requirement for the BS degree (with approval).
  • Lab rotations. Students are scheduled for a 1 cr lab rotation in each of their first four semesters (BIO 6401-6404). Transfer students typically take only one year (2 semesters) of rotations (BIO 6403 and BIO 6404).
  • Core Curriculum. Students will complete all requirements of the Core Curriculum, as other students in the College of Arts & Sciences. For students who entered before Fall 2011, some Core requirements may be fulfilled by using AP credit; for students entering in Fall 2011 or afterward, AP credit can only be used for placement; however, these students do not have as many Core requirements. 
  • Grade point average.  Students must maintain a grade point average of 3.0 or better for their undergraduate degree to be able to continue in the Master's program.
  • Thesis Proposal. Students will work on their thesis proposal in their third and fourth years, and are expected to complete their written and oral thesis proposal by no later than the end of their 8th semester.
  • Forms to submit and suggested schedule
    • Designation of Thesis Mentor - Submit before or during the third year.
    • Establishment of Advisory Committee - Submit after designating your thesis mentor and before presenting your thesis proposal.
    • Program of Study - Submit after establishing Advisory Committee. Outlines requirements for BS and MS degrees, and includes plan for taking graduate Biology courses in the 3rd-5th years.
    • Approval of Written Thesis Proposal - Submit at least one week before the oral presentation of the thesis research.
    • BSMS Program Information Form - Submit to the Graduate Office by the end of the Drop/Add period of your last semester.


Refer to the following resources for useful information:

* BSMS_Program_of_Study-revJune2018.docx
The Program of Study form provides a list of science and math courses required for the BS and MS degrees

The Sample Schedule provides an example of how to schedule courses to complete the BS degree in four years and MS degree in the fifth year without having any more than 9 credits in the last year.

* BSMS Requirements Advising Worksheet-revJune2018.docx
The Requirements for BS/MS Degrees in Biology New Core handout lists all requirements for both degrees for students.