Skip to main content

BIO-MS - Biology


Official Name of Program


Plan Code


Department(s) Sponsoring Program



Degree Designation

MS - Master of Science



NYSED Program Code

22284 - BIO-MS

CIP Code


The Master of Science degree program in Biology is designed to provide research training and experience in the discipline of biology and allow students to specialize in such areas as biotechnology, molecular/cellular biology and evolution, ecology, and behavior. The program is an appropriate foundation for students whose current goal is a terminal master’s degree as a credential for laboratory or field research and for students who intend to continue to study toward a doctorate program. The program prepares students for careers in the expanding fields of molecular biology, genetic engineering, conservation biology, and biotechnology. Graduates of the program will be prepared to conduct research, to evaluate the research of others, and to write and speak effectively in scientific fields. The program opens the door to careers in clinical and research laboratories, industry, teaching, science writing, and in governmental agencies in the fields of health, environment, and parks.

For the degree, students may choose between two tracks: the general biology track and the biotechnology track. Students in both tracks are required to conduct a research-based thesis. As soon as possible but before completion of 15 credits, all students will assemble their Master’s Committee. The student's committee will consist of at least three members, two of whom must be faculty in the Department of Biology, one of whom will be the student's primary advisor and be responsible for guiding the student through the program. Students may choose a primary advisor outside the Biology Department upon approval of the Program Coordinator. 

Student Responsibilities

The Biology Master’s Program requires maintenance of 3.0 GPA to remain in good academic standing and to be eligible to complete the graduate degree. Students must establish a committee of 3 full time faculty members with at least 2 from the Department of Biology. One of these faculty will serve as the student’s official advisor. This committee will serve as the student’s thesis committee. Students will meet with this committee at least once per year to assess progress. This committee will also serve as a thesis examination committee.

Faculty Responsibilities

The Program Coordinators are responsible for monitoring the academic performance of each graduate student each semester. These individuals would notify the student’s advisor and committee of any student who receives a grade below B. The Program Coordinators will inform the committee of the requirements for regaining good academic standing for any student placed on academic probation.  The faculty advisor will ensure that the student remains engaged in a productive research project for the student’s thesis. The committee will monitor the student’s progress in thesis research and suggest modifications to the proposed research if necessary. 

Thesis Project

Prior to beginning their research project the student must submit a one page description of the thesis project. This proposal must be approved by the committee before beginning research.  The student will then conduct original research in collaboration with their advisor with yearly committee meetings. Upon completion of the research project, the student must write a thesis detailing original research that was conducted under the sponsoring faculty member. The thesis will generally include the following sections: Abstract, Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results, Discussion, References, and figures and/or tables summarizing research. The thesis must be read and approved by the committee. Ordinarily the student will receive written comments from all committee members that she/he is required to incorporate into a final version of the thesis. Upon satisfactory completion of revisions, the readers must sign and approve the thesis/dissertation defense results form. The thesis title must be approved and a properly formatted draft of the thesis must be submitted to the library in accordance with their procedures. Additionally, a copy should be given to all committee members, the Department, and one copy should be kept by the student. 

Oral Thesis Defense
At least one month prior to completion of the thesis, students will consult with their committee and arrange a date for the oral defense. Students will prepare a 30-minute presentation outlining their thesis project with background, experimental design, results and conclusions. The defense may either be public or private with just the committee. Students will be prepared to address questions from their committee or the audience after their defense.  The student will bring the thesis/dissertation defense results form to be signed by their committee.

Transfer Credits

Acceptance of any graduate course taken elsewhere toward the requirements of a CSI degree is at the

discretion of the coordinator of the graduate program. A maximum of nine credits of courses taken elsewhere within The City University may be applied to the MS in Biology with approval of the program coordinator. Alternately, for courses taken outside of CUNY, a maximum of six credits may be accepted for transfer. A grade of 3.0 (B) is the minimum grade accepted for transfer credit.

Double Counting Policy

Undergraduate students who have accumulated minimum 75 credits with 3.0 GPA are eligible to apply for early admission to the Master's of Biology program.  If accepted, students will be eligible to enroll in graduate courses that will count toward both their undergraduate and graduate degree. Students will receive an admissions decision prior to selecting the last 30 credits toward their undergraduate degree program.

Once admitted to the master’s program, the student will register for the advised combination of graduate and undergraduate courses to complete the requisite number of credits to complete the undergraduate degree. If graduate courses substitute for specific undergraduate degree requirements, this should be noted. If graduate courses do not substitute for specific undergraduate degree requirements, students must complete their undergraduate degree requirements using the appropriate graduate and undergraduate courses. Once undergraduate requirements are completed, the undergraduate degree will be conferred. Up to 12 credits of approved graduate courses taken as an undergraduate will count toward the graduate degree. Graduate courses taken will appear simultaneously on both the undergraduate record and the graduate record as original coursework with grades calculated into the GPA. Double counting 12 credits is accepted. Students will pay the undergraduate tuition rates up to the number of credits required to earn their baccalaureate degree. Any credits taken after that number will be charged at the appropriate graduate program level.