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Master of Science Programs

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The Master of Science program in Biology, which awards a Purdue University degree, requires 30 credit hours of study beyond the baccalaureate level.

Students graduating with M.S. Thesis degrees are highly successful in obtaining employment on campus or in local industry. Indianapolis is the major population center of Indiana and is home to several large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Eli Lilly & Co., Roche Diagnostics Corporation, and Dow AgroSciences. These companies have provided high-paying jobs for many of our graduates.

Students from non-thesis M.S. programs have been able to secure higher level positions within their current employment and have shown a high success rate in gaining admission to professional schools.

The M.S. degree can be earned through any of three different options:

Thesis Option

This degree option is a research degree leading to a formal thesis. Students take a minimum of 9 credit hours of graduate level course work. Students may be required to take more than 9 credit hours of course work if there is research area or undergraduate course work deficiencies. The remainder of the 30 credit hours of registration is taken as Thesis Research (BIOL 698) and Seminar (BIOL 696), a one credit hour registration during which the student presents the results of the research prior to the thesis defense.  This degree option is available primarily to full-time students and, in most cases, comes with a support package (see Financial Support).  Students should plan on spending two full years to complete this degree option.

Non-Thesis MS Option (Standard Non-Thesis)

The standard 30 hour non-thesis degree is comprised of 27 hours of course work and an independent project (BIOL 595, Special Assignments) and Seminar (BIOL 696), during which the project results are presented in a public forum. This option is most frequently chosen by students who hold full-time positions elsewhere.  This option can be pursued on a part-time or full-time basis, but requires enrollment in three or more semesters (e.g. Fall, Spring, and Summer).

Pre-Professional Non-Thesis (PPTN) MS Option

The PPNT masters program is designed for recent graduates or career changers seeking to pursue:

  • Allopathic Medicine
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Podiatry
  • Optometry
  • Physician’s Assistant Positions

Entry into a reputable medical, dental or veterinary program is a highly competitive process, one where good academic performance and experience may not be enough for admission into your first professional school of choice. If you are serious about a career in the life and health sciences and can benefit from a year of intensive coursework, this one-year program could be just what you need to make that challenging next step in your career. The full-time, non-thesis, biology M.S. program is designed to help you improve your chances at entry into professional programs by improving your qualifications and experience. The program provides excellent preparation and demonstrates your strong motivation toward success and ability to withstand the rigors associated with professional degree programs.

The 30-credit hour program (five courses each semester) includes exciting courses in modern biology such as stem cell biology, regenerative biology and medicine, developmental neurobiology, biotechnology and epigenetics. While not designed to mimic professional schools, the program allows you to demonstrate a firm commitment to success and opens your eyes to a variety of academic and professional options. The training we provide can make you much more marketable and desirable to future schools and employers. Enrolled students will be held to high standards and are expected to graduate well prepared to compete for admission into professional programs or career opportunities.

Applicants should have a minimum of 16 credit hours in coursework toward a Biology major plus Chemistry and Physics coursework expected by professional schools. Learn more about the admissions requirements.

Download the Pre-professional MS program brochure.

Application Outcomes for M.S. Programs

Students who meet the minimal expectations in all areas and are recommended for admission will be informed by email and letter.  For those admitted students who have an undergraduate GPA slightly below 3.0, admission will be conditional upon the earning minimal grades (e. g. no grade below B) or GPA (e. g. 3.0) during their first semester.  Admission to the M.S. programs with a GPA below 3.0 is rare, especially for those seeking admission to the one-year pre-professional option.  Students who are admitted with this background must have demonstrated significant improvement over their final undergraduate semesters, retaken key undergraduate science courses with strong grades, completed a graduate degree in a related area, or in other ways demonstrated that their potential exceeds their previous performance. For students who have taken the GRE exam prior to August 1, 2011 a GRE total of 1000 is required as well as a verbal GRE of 400. For students taking the GRE exam after this date, a verbal score of 146, a quantitative of 145, and a combined total of 295 will be considered as meeting the minimal requirements. The minimum score of 3.5 on the analytical writing section of the exam remains the same.  For those students who do not meet these minimal requirements a retake of the exam will be required in order to be reconsidered.

Learn more about the admissions requirements and application process.

Placement Success

Students graduating with M.S. Thesis degrees are highly successful in obtaining employment on campus or in local industry. Indianapolis is the major population center of Indiana and is home to several large pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, including Eli Lilly & Co., Roche Diagnostics Corporation, and Dow AgroSciences. These companies have provided high-paying jobs for many of our graduates.  Students from non-thesis M.S. programs have been able to secure higher level positions within their current employment and have shown a high success rate in gaining admission to professional schools.