Degree Requirements

The thesis-based M.S. in Biology degree program is designed for students whose career goals include formal research training.  The program provides the opportunity for broad training in a variety of biological areas, as well as specialization in areas of particular interest through the Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology (MCD) concentration and the Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology (E3B) concentration. 


1. Plan of Study and total hours required:

Thesis Track:  The program requires 30 total credit hours.
 All courses for graduate credit must be taken at the 5000-level or higher and at least 16 of the 30 hours must be in courses at the 6000-level including: 

  •       BIOL 6101 Hypothesis Testing
  •       BIOL 6102 Cellular and Molecular Biology
  •       BIOL 6140 Evolutionary Biology
  •       Either BIOL 6260 Professional Development and Responsible Conduct of Research or GRAD 6002 Responsible Conduct of Research
  •       Minimum of one Special Topics 6000 level course
  •       Maximum of 4 credit hours of Tutorial (BIOL 6800) 
  •       Minimum 1 credit hour and maximum of 8 credit hours Research and Thesis (BIOL 6900) 
  •       Students pursuing the thesis track ARE required to complete the oral candidacy exam (see #5 below).
  •       Students pursuing the thesis track ARE required to complete and defend a written research thesis (see #6 below).    

2. Grades Required.

A student must maintain a cumulative average of 3.0 in all course work taken for graduate credit. Two grades of C are acceptable, but a third C will lead to termination of the student's enrollment in the graduate program. A grade of U in any course will lead to termination of the student's enrollment in the graduate program.


3.  Amount of Transfer Credit Accepted.

All transfer credit must be approved by the Student's Supervisory Committee and the Graduate Coordinator. Only courses with grades of A or B may be accepted for transfer credit. Courses taken to satisfy the requirements of a previously completed degree cannot be counted toward the Masters degree. No more than 6 credit hours of transfer credit or 6 credit hours of postbacclaureate courses taken at UNC Charlotte may be applied toward the Masters degree. 

Non-Biology Courses Accepted while enrolled in the M.S. program: Up to 8 credit hours of coursework taught by non-Biology Graduate Faculty and Adjunct Graduate Faculty can be applied towards the M.S. degree with approval of the Supervisory Committee. More than 8 hours can be applied with approval of the Graduate Committee and Graduate Coordinator. 


4. Departmental Seminars: 

All M.S. students (both thesis track and non-thesis track) are required to attend all seminars sponsored by the Department of Biological Sciences.


4. Teaching:

Every student must act as a Teaching Assistant at least once while in the program. This requirement is satisfied by being a Teaching Assistant for one course. A GPA of 3.0 is required by the University to hold a Teaching Assistnatship.


5. Comprehensive Examination.

Thesis-based MS students are required to take an oral Comprehensive Exam which evaluates the student's knowledge in his/her specialty area, as well as general knowledge of basic biological concepts. Successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam is required for continuation in the program. In the event the student's performance is judged not satisfactory, the Supervisory Committee may recommend a retake. Failing the retake exam results in termination from the program.  Program policy states the Comprehensive Exam must be passed by the end of the 3rd semester of graduate study. Successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam is required for continuation in the program 

  • Results of the Oral Comprehensive Exam must be submitted using the  Exam Report. Check the box marked Comprehensive Examination. Additionally, each member of the student's Supervisory Committee must complete and return to the Graduate Coordinator a Student Learning Outcomes Assessment Form.

  • For thesis-based MS students, the Comprehensive Examination and approval of the Thesis Proposal and Thesis Topic can occur in combination, although the student must pass the Oral Comprehensive Exam for the Thesis Proposal to be approved. 

  • If the Comprehensive Exam and Thesis Proposal are Combined: A block of no less than 2 hours should be reserved for the examination in order to allow for adequate time for questions and answers (though the examination may last longer or shorter than this time).  The examination is not public. Students may give a brief PowerPoint presentation (no longer than 20 minutes) at the beginning of the oral exam that summarizes the Thesis Proposal.  Defense of the Thesis Proposal will then form a portion of the oral examination.  Supervisory Committee members should receive a copy of the Thesis Proposal at least two weeks before the scheduled oral exam date. 

6. Thesis Proposal, Thesis, Thesis Seminar and Defense.

Each thesis-based MS degree candidate must prepare and present a written proposal for thesis research that is acceptable to the Supervisory Committee. The thesis proposal must be accompanied by a Cover Sheet and a Proposal Defense Report both of which must be signed and dated by all Supervisory Committee members. The Proposal Defense and Thesis Proposal must be approved by a student’s Supervisory Committee by the 3rd semester of graduate study, and cannot be approved before the successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam. NOTE: University policy states that the Thesis Proposal must be passed no later than the stated date on the academic calendar if the student plans to graduate in the same semester. Upcoming dates are Feb 19 2020 and Sept 28 2020. 

A written thesis is required based upon original laboratory or field results. Given that the thesis-based MS degree is centered on original research, it is expected that a candidate will have a minimum of one peer-reviewed publication based on original research accepted, in press, or published at the time of the thesis defense. The individual Major Advisor or Supervisory Committee may require more publications as appropriate for the field of study.

Each candidate must present a seminar acceptable to the Supervisory Committee and the department in defense of the thesis work. The seminar will be open to the public followed by a closed thesis defense that includes the student and Supervisory Committee. Notice of each seminar must be publicized at least one week prior to the defense. Supervisory Committee members should receive a copy of the Thesis at least two weeks before the scheduled date. A block of no less than 2 hours should be reserved for the thesis defense in order to allow for adequate time for questions and answers. Results of the thesis defense must be submitted using Final Defense Report. Check the box marked Thesis.