Two graduate degrees are offered by the Biological Sciences Department:
- Biology, M.S.
- Microbiology, M.S.
The Biology and Microbiology M.S. degrees cover a wide spectrum of biology and include both laboratory and field study. Graduate students in our program work with a faculty advisor on original scientific research to complete and defend their thesis. We value faculty-student relationships as key determinants of graduate student success. As such, prior to admittance, prospective students should receive confirmation from a faculty advisor about acceptance into their laboratory. Please review our list of research faculty and contact faculty whose research aligns with your interests to inquire about space in their research laboratory.
For more information on our graduate degrees, please see the Biological Sciences entry under the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, in the University Catalog.
The department considers both undergraduate qualifications and relevant life and research experience to admit students to the Biology and Microbiology M.S. degree programs. The degree is a good fit for students looking to prepare for further studies at the doctoral level and for professional careers in education, industry, consulting, research, and government. Our Biology and Microbiology M.S. degrees are also appropriate choices for students seeking to increase their competitiveness for training in health professions (medicine, dentistry, veterinary medicine) and many specialized and competitive programs in allied health (Nurse Practitioner, Physician Assistant, etc.). In addition, an M.S. degree in either Biology or Microbiology, combined with appropriate courses in education, can be utilized for a career in teaching.
We are pleased that you are interested in applying to our program. If you have any questions about the application process, please contact the Graduate Services Coordinator. Other resources for prospective students include the Graduate Studies and the Graduate Student Biology Society that can offer advice for the application process and insight into the M.S. program in the Biological Sciences Department at CSULB.
Application Process and Deadlines
Applicants are required to submit application materials through Cal State Apply.
Please submit the University application and Departmental Application Materials via Cal State Apply by the January 15 deadline. The application fee must be submitted at the time of your completed Cal State Apply application.
Only one set of official transcripts is required, and they must be submitted to Enrollment Services. Official transcripts may be submitted electronically directly from a U.S. college or university to ES-IDPTrans@csulb.edu. Official transcripts may also be sent in a sealed envelope to the address below:
California State University, Long Beach
1250 Bellflower Blvd.
Long Beach, CA 90840
To be considered for financial aid and awards you are also required to submit FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) forms by the CSULB priority filing deadline (typically March 2). Please see CSULB Financial Aid for additional information.
For admission into either the Master of Science in Biology or Master of Science in Microbiology degree programs, an applicant must be accepted by both the University and the Biological Sciences Department.
In addition to the CSULB prerequisites for entrance into a graduate program stated in the University Catalog under Graduate Degree Information, the Biological Sciences Department requires the following:
- A faculty member in the department who agrees in writing to serve as the thesis advisor to the student prior to their acceptance into the M.S. program. Applicants are encouraged to contact Biology faculty members to inquire about being their thesis advisor and openings in their lab. It is beneficial to do this before submitting your departmental application (search the list of research faculty for potential advisors);
- 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 or the Graduate Services Coordinator;
- An undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0 in all completed science and mathematics courses OR a GPA of at least 3.00 in the last 40 semester (60 quarter) units of completed science and mathematics courses. Students with an overall math and science GPA of at least 2.7 will be considered with a mentorship plan developed with their confirmed faculty thesis advisor. Students who do not meet the minimum required criteria for acceptance are encouraged to take post-baccalaureate courses to bring up their GPA.
- Applicants with a bachelor's degree from an accredited university but not in a field of biological sciences may take the GRE Biology Subject Test or the MCAT. A score in the 50th percentile or higher on the GRE Subject Test in Biology or MCAT must be achieved.
- International Students must provide official TOEFL scores. A minimum TOEFL iBT score of 90 is required.
Departmental Application Materials
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 through Cal State Apply.
Please submit the documents listed below via Quadrant 4 of the Cal State Apply application no later than January 15 (for the fall semester immediately following) to receive consideration for admission.
- Completed Departmental Application Form (PDF).
- A one-page personal statement outlining the personal, educational, and research experiences that lead you to want to pursue an M.S. degree in Biology or an M.S. degree in Microbiology at CSULB and how this relates to your future career objectives.
- Curriculum Vitae (CV) outlining your education, professional experience, and research background and accomplishments. For suggestions on what information you should include on your CV, see CV Content Suggestions (PDF).
- Unofficial transcripts of all college-level academic work from all colleges/universities attended, including coursework completed at CSULB and any community college. These are in addition to the official transcripts required for general graduate admission to CSULB, which must be sent to the university.
- Three letters of recommendation from people familiar with your 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 should also briefly address your teaching potential in their recommendation letter. See below for more information about TA/GA positions.
- For applicants whose overall math and science GPA is 2.70 – 2.99: a mentorship plan developed with the selected faculty advisor in the Biological Sciences Department. The mentorship plan must be developed in collaboration with the faculty member who has agreed to serve as your thesis advisor. The mentorship plan should be submitted by the faculty advisor, and should only be submitted once the Department confirms receipt of a complete departmental application and the faculty mentor has confirmed their willingness to serve as your advisor. Applicants and their advisors will be notified if a mentorship plan is required.
- For international students: unofficial TOEFL score report. Please send the official TOEFL score report to International Admissions (Institutional Code #4389).
Scores from the GRE General Test are NOT required. Applicants do not need to submit GRE General Test scores to Biological Sciences and do not need to complete the GRE section on the Cal State Apply application.
Review by the Graduate Studies Committee
The Graduate Studies Committee will review all completed applications submitted by the January 15 deadline. Students will be considered for admission into the program using all application materials. This includes consideration of the applicant's college GPA, one-page personal statement, CV, letters of recommendation, a faculty member who agrees to serve as the thesis advisor, and mentorship plan (if required).
Applicants who are admitted into the program will enter as Classified Graduate Students, as described below. The Biological Sciences Department does not admit graduate applicants under Conditional status.
Admission to the Department as a Classified Graduate Student
The Department of Biological Sciences may admit as a Classified Graduate Student any applicant who:
- has met all prerequisites,
- has a complete application, and
- has obtained acceptance by a faculty member to serve as the Thesis Advisor (faculty mentor).
See the Graduate Student Handbook (PDF) for more information about the graduate program in the Biological Sciences Department.
We are committed to providing professional training to expand graduate student career opportunities post-graduation. The Department offers a number of Teaching Associate (TA) and Graduate Assistant (GA) positions as opportunities for financial support and for building important skills for future careers.
If you are interested in a TA or GA position, please submit the TA/GA Application for Employment form and an SC1 form. These forms are available on Jobs: Graduate Assistant and Teaching Associate.
Recommendation letters submitted as part of your admission application will be considered in the review of your TA/GA Application; there is no need to submit additional letters of recommendation, provided that your recommenders have addressed your teaching potential in their letter.
Both forms are due on April 15 of the year in which you are applying for admission.
Thesis Proposal and Program of Study
After admission to the Department as a Classified Graduate Student, the student, in consultation with the faculty thesis advisor, must prepare a thesis proposal and program of study, that includes all coursework to be taken. The thesis proposal is important for demonstrating a thorough understanding of the thesis project. It 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 available.
The student and the faculty thesis advisor will select at least two additional members to serve on the thesis committee. In most cases, the faculty thesis advisor will serve as chair of the thesis committee. However, if the faculty thesis advisor is not eligible, another member of the thesis committee will serve as thesis committee chair. 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 presented. At this meeting, the thesis committee will question and evaluate the materials presented by the student. At the completion of this meeting, the thesis committee will meet briefly, without the student present, to evaluate the thesis proposal. Approval is based on whether the student has demonstrated a solid understanding of their thesis project.
The thesis proposal 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 the student being placed on academic warning and may result in dismissal from the M.S. program.
Program of Study for the M.S. in Biology
The Program of Study must include the following:
- BIOL 698 (6 units)
- BIOL 697 (1-6 units)
- BIOL 696A (3 units)
- BIOL 696B (3 units)
- BIOL 580 (1 unit)
- 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, a minimum of four, but no more than six, may come from BIOL 661-666, and no more than two may come 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 faculty thesis advisor, thesis committee, and the Graduate Advisor.
BIOL 696A will be taken during the student's initial fall semester; the course will cover experimental design, ethics, statistics, and literature research, and will 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 covers scientific communication to facilitate manuscript, grant, and thesis writing and to help students learn to communicate their findings for their thesis defense, scientific meetings, and public communication.
Program of Study for the M.S. in Microbiology
If not taken previously, the following courses are required courses for your Program of Study:
- BIOL 371 (3 units) or an upper division/graduate course in genetics (if not take previously), and
- BIOL 471 or an upper division/graduate course in cell physiology.
The following courses are required:
- BIOL 698 (6 units)
- BIOL 697 (1-6 units)
- BIOL 696A (3 units)
- BIOL 696B (3 units)
- BIOL 580 (1 unit)
- Four units from
- BIOL 661 (2 units) - may be repeated with different topics, or
- BIOL 661 (2 units) and BIOL 663 (2 units)
Of the minimum 30 units, a minimum of four, but no more than six, may come from BIOL 661- BIOL 666, and no more than two may come 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 faculty thesis advisor, thesis committee, and the Graduate Advisor.
BIOL 696A will be taken during the student's initial fall semester; the course will cover experimental design, statistics, ethics, and literature research, and will 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 covers scientific communication to facilitate manuscript, grant and thesis writing and to help students learn to communicate their findings for their thesis defense, scientific meetings and public communication.
Advancement to Candidacy
In addition to the general university requirements stated previously in the University Catalog under Graduate Degree Information, the student must complete the following steps before receiving Candidate status in the Biological Sciences Department:
- Acceptance of the thesis proposal and program of study by the thesis committee
- Satisfactory academic progress
The Thesis Committee will recommend the student for advancement to candidacy by forwarding its recommendation to the department Graduate Advisor. This should occur at the end of the second semester after admission. Upon approval by the College's Associate Dean or designee, the student will attain Master's Candidate status.
Student Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete a Masters Degree in Biological Sciences or Microbiology will be able to:
- Critically review and summarize the primary literature relevant to their sub-discipline.
- Formulate hypotheses and predictions and design appropriate sampling and/or experimental protocols to evaluate them.
- Demonstrate proficiency in field, laboratory, and/or computational skills relevant to their sub-discipline.
- Visualize, model, and interpret data using statistical approaches relevant to their sub-discipline.
- Display effective oral and written scientific communication skills that include presenting and defending a research-based thesis.
In addition to the general University requirements stated previously in the catalog, the student must meet the following requirements before receiving the degree of Master of Science in Biology or the degree of Master of Science in Microbiology. The requirements are:
- Advancement to candidacy.
- Maintenance of at least a 3.00 ("B" average) overall GPA (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 placed on academic warning and potentially dismissed from the M.S. program.
- Successful completion of the written thesis and public defense, followed by a private defense with the thesis committee and a representative of the Graduate Studies Committee
- Service as a teaching associate or graduate assistant for one semester. 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 (see 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.