You are here

Graduate Programs

Two graduate degrees are offered by the Biological Sciences Department:

  • Biology, M.S.
  • Microbiology, M.S.

The available programs in these degrees cover a wide spectrum of biology and include both laboratory and field study. These degrees require completion of a thesis based on original scientific research; the list of research areas with the names of faculty specializing in these areas will help with selection of a faculty advisor.

The degrees are meant for qualified students preparing for professional careers in industry and government and for further studies at the doctoral level. In addition, an M.S. degree, combined with appropriate courses in education, can be used to obtain a community college teaching credential.

Application Process and Deadlines

Applicants must fill out separate applications to:

  1. the University through Cal State Apply, AND
  2. the Department of Biological Sciences (see links below).

Information about applying to the University can be viewed at CSULB Admissions or at International Admissions. Send the University application via Cal State Apply. The application fee and one set of official transcripts should be sent directly to the CSULB Office of Admissions.

March 15 is the deadline for both the Department of Biological Sciences application and the University application for the Fall semester immediately following.

February 15 is the date the Department must receive your complete Departmental application packet in order for you to have the best chance of receiving Departmental financial support and for consideration for certain scholarship applications. In addition, FAFSA forms should be submitted to the University at the same time in order to be competitive for any available scholarships or out of state tuition waivers. These may be offered on a first-come, first-served basis or have deadlines that precede the application deadline.

In order to pursue the Master of Science Degree in Biology or Microbiology, an applicant must be accepted by both the University and the Department of Biological Sciences.

Admission Policies

Prerequisites

In addition to the prerequisites for entrance into CSULB as a graduate student, stated in the University Catalog under Graduate Degree Information, the Department of Biological Sciences requires:

  1. A faculty member in the department who agrees to serve as the thesis advisor to the student prior to their acceptance into the M.S. program;
  2. A bachelor's degree in the biological or related sciences from an accredited institution. Students with alternative undergraduate degrees or minors in the Biological Sciences will be considered, but should email the Graduate Advisor and/or the Graduate Coordinator;
  3. An undergraduate GPA in all completed science and mathematics courses of at least 2.70 or a GPA of at least 3.00 in the last 40 semester (or 60 quarter) units of science and mathematics courses completed;
  4. Applicants without a degree within a field of the biological sciences must also take the GRE Biology Subject Test. A score in the 50th percentile or better on the GRE Subject Test in Biology must be achieved.
  5. International Students must provide official TOEFL scores. A minimum TOEFL iBT score of 90 is required.

Departmental Application

Prospective graduate students in the M.S. in Biology or the M.S. in Microbiology, including CSULB graduates, must formally apply for admission to the University as described above, and must also apply directly to the Department of Biological Sciences.

All applicants must submit the following documents directly to the Department no later than March 15 (for the fall semester immediately following) to receive consideration for admission; we recommend applying by February 15 for certain financial/award consideration:

  1. Completed Departmental Application Form (PDF).
  2. A one-page essay describing why the applicant wishes to obtain an M.S. degree in Biology or an M.S. degree in Microbiology at CSULB and how this relates to the applicant's career objectives.
  3. Curriculum Vitae.
  4. Unofficial transcripts from each university/college attended, including those completed at CSULB (these are in addition to the official transcripts required for general graduate admission to CSULB, which must be sent to CSULB Admissions).
  5. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's academic performance and research potential.
    • Please note that if you intend to apply for a Teaching Associate (TA) or Graduate Assistant (GA) position, your recommenders must complete the Recommendation Letter for Graduate Applicant (PDF). See below for more information about TA/GA positions. If you are not applying to a TA/GA position, the Recommendation Letter for Graduate Applicant form and/or a traditional letter of recommendation may be submitted.
  6. For international students only: Unofficial TOEFL score report. Please send the official TOEFL score report to International Admissions (Institutional Code #4389).

Send department application materials to either of the following:

  • Email:
    Christina Schneider, Graduate Services Coordinator
    Christina.Schneider@csulb.edu
  • Mail:
    Graduate Office, Department of Biological Sciences
    California State University, Long Beach
    1250 Bellflower Blvd
    Long Beach, CA 90840-9502.

Review by the Graduate Studies Committee

The Graduate Studies Committee will review all applications completed by the deadlines. Admission into the M.S. Program in Biology or Microbiology is competitive, with an applicant's college GPA, one-page essay, and letters of recommendation weighed in the decision to accept or decline.

Applicants who are admitted into the program will enter as a Classified Graduate Student, as described below. All admitted students must contact the Graduate Advisor prior to their first semester for counsel and orientation.

Admission to the Department as a Classified Graduate Student

The Department of Biological Sciences may admit as a Classified Graduate Student any applicant who:

  1. has met all prerequisites,
  2. has a complete application, and
  3. has obtained acceptance by a faculty member to serve as the Thesis Advisor

Resources

See the Graduate Student Handbook - 2018 (PDF) for more information about the graduate program in the Biological Sciences Department.

Teaching Associate and Graduate Assistant Positions

If you are interested in a Teaching Associate (TA) or Graduate Assistant (GA) position, please submit the TA/GA Application for Employment form and an SC1 form.

Both forms are due on May 1 of the year in which you are applying for admission.

  • TA/GA Application for Employment - Fall 2020 (not yet available)
  • SC1 Form (PDF)

Overview of the MS Degree Programs

Thesis Proposal and Program of Study

After admission to the Department as a Classified Graduate Student, the student, in consultation with the Thesis Advisor, must prepare the Thesis Proposal and establish a Program of Study, that includes all coursework to be taken. The Thesis Proposal must include a thorough review of relevant primary literature that demonstrates the context of the proposed research, it must clearly define the experiments proposed for the research to be undertaken, and should include preliminary data, if available.

The student and her/his Thesis Advisor will select at least two additional members to serve on the Thesis Committee. In most cases, the Thesis Advisor will serve as Chair of the Thesis Committee. However, if the Thesis Advisor is not eligible, another member of the Thesis Committee will need to serve as Chair of the Thesis Committee.

The student will then have a formal meeting with the Thesis Committee, at which the student's Thesis Proposal and Program of Study will be evaluated. At this meeting, the student is expected to present the Thesis Proposal to the committee, and the committee will question the student. At the completion of this meeting, the Thesis Committee will meet briefly, without the student present, to approve the Thesis Proposal. Approval is based on whether the student has demonstrated a solid understanding of his/her thesis project.

Program of Study for the M.S. in Biology

The Program of Study for the M.S. in Biology includes completion of a minimum of 30 semester units. At least 21 of these units must be in the 500-600 level courses.

Required courses for the Program of Study include:

  • BIOL 698 (6 units)
  • BIOL 697 (1-6 units)
  • BIOL 696A (3 units)
  • BIOL 696B (3 units)
  • BIOL 580 (1 unit),
  • and four units from among the following:
    • BIOL 661*
    • BIOL 663
    • BIOL 664
    • BIOL 665
    • BIOL 666*
    • CHEM 595A.

*BIOL 661-666 topics must be different.

Of the minimum 30 units, no more than six may come from BIOL 661-666 and no more than two units from CHEM 595A; no more than nine may come from transfer credit; and no more than one 300-level course may be included. Any 300-level course on a graduate program of study must be approved by the Thesis Advisor and the Graduate Advisor.

BIOL 696A will be taken during the student's initial fall semester; the course will cover experimental design, statistics, and literature research, and help students in preparing their Thesis Proposal. BIOL 696B will be taken during the first spring semester in the program, and will cover both oral and written scientific presentation. BIOL 696B is intended to facilitate manuscript and thesis writing and to help students learn to articulate their findings for their thesis defense.

The Program of Study must be prepared, presented to, and approved by the Thesis Committee before the end of the second semester after admission to the Department. Failure to meet this requirement will result in dismissal from the M.S. in Biology program.

Program of Study for the M.S. in Microbiology

The Program of Study for the M.S. in Microbiology must include completion of a minimum of 30 semester units. At least 21 of these units must be in 500-600 level courses. If not taken previously, BIOL 371 or an upper division/graduate course in genetics, and BIOL 471 or an upper division/graduate course in cell physiology are required courses for the Program of Study.

The rest of the required courses for the Program of Study include:

  • BIOL 698 (6 units)
  • BIOL 697 (1-6 units)
  • BIOL 696A (3 units)
  • BIOL 696B (3 units)
  • BIOL 580 (1 unit)
  • BIOL 661 (two enrollments with different topics for a total of four units is required), or BIOL 661 and BIOL 663

Other elective units included in the graduate program must be 400-600 level courses acceptable to the University and microbiology degree program, and no more than nine may come from transfer credit. Up to five units of 300-level courses may be included with approval from the Thesis Chair and Graduate Advisor.

BIOL 696A will be taken during the student's initial fall semester; the course will cover experimental design, statistics, and literature research, and help students in preparing their Thesis Proposal. BIOL 696B will be taken during the first spring semester in the program, and will cover both oral and written scientific presentation. BIOL 696B is intended to facilitate manuscript and thesis writing and to help students learn to articulate their findings for their thesis defense.

The Program of Study must be prepared, presented to, and approved by the Thesis Committee before the end of the second semester after admission to the Department. Failure to meet this requirement will result in dismissal from the M.S. in Microbiology program.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to the general University requirements stated under Graduate Degree Information in the University Catalog, the student must complete the following steps before receiving Master's Candidate status in the Department of Biological Sciences:

  1. Admission to the Master's Degree program in Biology or Master's Degree program in Microbiology as a Classified graduate student (see above)
  2. Acceptance of the Thesis Proposal and Program of Study by the Thesis Committee
  3. Satisfactory academic progress
  4. Satisfactory fulfillment of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR)

The Thesis Committee will recommend the student for advancement to candidacy by forwarding its recommendation to the Department Graduate Advisor. This should occur at least one year before graduation. Upon approval by the Associate Dean, the student will attain Master's Candidate status.

Requirements of the MS Degree Programs

The regulations governing the Master's degree are those in effect at the time of advancement to candidacy. In addition to the general University requirements stated in the University Catalog, the student must meet the following requirements before receiving the degree of Master of Science in Biology or Master of Science in Microbiology. The requirements are the following:

  1. Advancement to candidacy.
  2. Maintenance of a 3.00 ("B" average), or better, overall graduate grade-point average (includes all upper-division and graduate level courses taken since admission to this University and after completion of the baccalaureate degree) and graduate program GPA. If either GPA falls below 3.00, it must be elevated to a 3.00 at the end of the following semester or the student will be dropped from the M.S. program.
  3. Completion of a written thesis and an oral defense of this thesis, followed by a public presentation of the thesis research. The members of the candidate's Thesis Committee must have approved the thesis and the defense before a student may schedule the public presentation. The student may not defend the thesis or give a public presentation during the summer session.
  4. Service as a teaching associate or graduate assistant. Under some circumstances, this requirement may be waived.

Requests to graduate must be received by Enrollment Services approximately six months in advance of the expected graduation date (Key Dates and Deadlines posted by Enrollment Services).

These degree requirements must be completed within seven years from when the first course on the Program of Study was completed, including academic leaves, or the student's degree program will be terminated.