Biological Sciences Department

MS - Biological Sciences, Concentration in Molecular Biology and Microbiology

The master's program in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Molecular Biology and Microbiology offers students training in the pursuit of rigorous scientific investigation with an emphasis on discovering the molecular mechanisms that underlie biological processes such as behavior, cell biology, immunology, microbial diversity, microbial engineering, pathogenesis, and neural development. During their research experience, students acquire the skills necessary to successfully address a variety of research questions under the guidance of faculty.

In addition, students with our degree will have gained experience in critical thinking, problem solving, research methodology (e.g., experimental design, sampling techniques and analysis), and both written and oral communication. Our alumni are successful applicants for doctoral degree programs and generally attain high level academic and non-academic positions in both the private and public sectors.

For more information visit

Admissions Requirements

Candidates must meet all the university admissions 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 Requirements webpage at GAPE.

Requirements for Advancement to Graduate Candidacy

Each semester, students should consult with their graduate advisor to develop a schedule of courses. Students admitted as conditionally classified must satisfy the requirements listed in their acceptance agreement before advancing to candidacy. Students who have 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 letter-graded work as a graduate student in 100 or 200-level courses acceptable to the 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 grade of "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.

MS Biological Sciences, Concentration in Molecular Biology and Microbiology- Graduation Requirements

As shown below, the program consists of 30 semester units of approved work, including a minimum of 4 units devoted to thesis or project research. The student consults with his or her advisor to select a thesis or project topic.

Course Requirements

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement
At SJSU, students must pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). For information on the GWAR, please see
A grade of "B" or better in BIOL 202 will satisfy the graduate competency in writing requirement
Requirements of the Masters30
Core Courses15
BIOL 201. Graduate Seminar in Biological Sciences1
BIOL 202. Graduate Studies in BiologyGWAR3
BIOL 220. Science Communication3
BIOL 297. Graduate Research8
Students take a total of 8 core units of this course.
Concentration Courses9
BIOL 205. Advanced Molecular Techniques4
BIOL 215. Seminar in Advanced Genetics3
BIOL 255M. Advanced Topics:Molecular & Microbiology1-4
Students take at least 2 units of this class
Elective courses must be planned in consultation with the Graduate Advisor
BIOL 233. Immunological Techniques3
BIOL 255L. Advanced Biology Laboratory1-4
BIOL 255M. Advanced Topics:Molecular & Microbiology3
other 100- or 200-level courses chosen with advisor consent
Culminating Experience1
Complete one option (Plan A or Plan B):
Plan A (Thesis)
BIOL 299. Master's Thesis1
Seminar - Thesis Defense
Plan B (Project)
BIOL 298. MS Project Culminating Experience1
Seminar - Project Defense

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.

A public seminar on the thesis or project must be given.

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.