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Biological Sciences Department

MA - Biological Sciences

The MA in Biological Sciences offers students broad training in areas of science that may include general biology, plant biology, cell biology, ecology, entomology, genetics, microbiology, immunology, systems physiology, toxicology, zoology, or, under special circumstances, marine biology. The MA Biological Sciences program is a non-thesis master's degree with two possible options for a culminating experience.

Students complete 30 units of coursework, then take both a written and oral exam as the culminating experience. Successful completion of the exams is required for attainment of the MA Biological Sciences degree. Students not successful in the first attempt will have one opportunity to retake the exams.

For more information visit: http://www.sjsu.edu/biology/.

Admissions Requirements

Candidates must meet all the university admission requirements.

In addition, applicants must submit to the Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Biological Sciences, a description of a potential research project, and two letters of recommendation. Applicants must also be accepted by a tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the Department of Biological Sciences prior to acceptance by the program. Applicants must contact tenured or tenure-track faculty members to ensure acceptance.

Students can be admitted in either classified or conditionally classified standing Conditional acceptance means that the candidate must fulfill specific requirements in order to be eligible to apply for advancement to candidacy. These conditions will be stipulated as part of the acceptance agreement between the faculty adviser and the applicant.

Applicants from countries in which the native language is not English must achieve a minimum English-language proficiency test score as indicated on the Graduate Program Test Requirement webpage at GAPE.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy

Each semester, students should consult with their graduate advisor as to develop a schedule of courses. Students admitted as conditionally classified must satisfy the requirements listed in their acceptance agreement before advancement to candidacy. Students who have completed matriculation and achieved classified standing in the master's degree curriculum must next advance to candidacy for the degree. A student may advance to candidacy after completing a minimum of 9 units of graded work as a graduate student in letter-graded 100- or 200- level courses acceptable to the AE Department as well as fulfilling the other university requirements for advancement to candidacy, as detailed in the Graduate Policies and Procedures section of this catalog. Candidacy includes successful completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR), which is satisfied in this degree by completion of Biol 202 with a "B" or higher.

Requirements for Graduation

University Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all residency, curriculum, unit, GPA, and culminating experience requirements as outlined in the Graduation Requirements section of the Graduate Policies and Procedures.

MA - Biological Sciences

As shown below, the program consists of 30 semester units of approved work. The student consults with his or her advisor to select coursework.


Course Requirements

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement
At SJSU, students must pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). For information on the GWAR, please see http://info.sjsu.edu/gcw.html.
Requirements of the Masters30
Core Courses4
BIOL 201. Graduate Seminar in Biological Sciences1
BIOL 202. Graduate Studies in BiologyGWAR3
Electives24-25
BIOL 255E. Advanced Topics: Ecology and Evolution3
BIOL 255L. Advanced Biology Laboratory3
BIOL 255M. Advanced Topics:Molecular & Microbiology3
BIOL 255P. Seminar in Advanced Biology: Physiology3
100- or 200-level courses chosen with advisor consent
Culminating Experience1-2
BIOL 284. Master's Directed Reading1-3
Comprehensive Written Examination0
Comprehensive Oral Examination0

Total Units:30

Elective courses must be planned in consultation with the Graduate Advisor.

The maximum number of upper-division undergraduate units that can be applied toward the master's degree is 15.

Upon completion of the degree requirements, the student must have achieved minimum candidacy and SJSU Cumulative grade point averages of 3.0 in order to graduate.

Culminating Experience Requirements

Plan B (MA Students)

There are two options available for the MA Culminating Experience.

Option 1: The student must complete 30 units of coursework (see MA Biological Sciences course requirements), and then take both a written and oral exam as the culminating experience. The format of the written exam is up to the advising committee. Once the written portion of the exam is passed, a two-to-three hour oral examination is taken. Successful completion of the exams is required for attainment of the MA Biological Sciences degree. Students not successful in the first attempt will have one opportunity to retake the exams. Students must take at least 1 unit of BIOL 284 in the semester in which all coursework is completed.

Option 2: The student must complete a project that is approved by their advising committee and enroll in at least 3 units of BIOL 280 supervised by their major advisor As the culminating experience, the student must complete a written report in the style of a manuscript for publication that describes the project and to make an oral presentation describing the project to the advising committee. Students in this option need to complete 30 units of coursework (see MA Biological Sciences course requirements), which includes at least 3 units of BIOL 280 along with at least 1 unit of BIOL 284 taken in the semester in which all coursework was completed.