Biology, MSc


Master of Science

Program Delivery

On Campus, Online, Hybrid

Total Credits

30 Credits

About the Graduate Degree Program

The Department of Biology offers a program leading to the degree of Master of Sciences (MSc) with specialization options in Molecular & Cellular Biology and Ecology & Evolution. Designed for students intending to become professional biologists, the MSc degree plan requires a research-based thesis and is appropriate for those seeking advanced graduate work or those seeking employment in biology-related fields.

Focus of Study

This interdisciplinary program offers students a broad science education with fewer restrictive requirements than traditional graduate science programs. It allows for the development of a plan based on individual needs. Graduate students must take at least one course from another science discipline (e.g., physics, chemistry, mathematics, geography), providing students with a diverse curriculum and an understanding of how various science disciplines relate to each other.

Program Requirements for Admission

New students start the MSc program the fall semester of each academic year. Application materials are due by December 15th each year.

Applicants are evaluated based on their past achievements and statement of interests and future goals. An applicant will only be accepted into the program if a faculty member agrees to serve as the Faculty Advisor during the application review process. Applicants are strongly encouraged to review the research interests of Biology faculty and contact potential research advisors before beginning the application process.



Requirements for regular admission

  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited College or University
    • GPA of 3.0 or higher
  • Completion of at least 20 hours of coursework in Biology or a closely related discipline
    • Applicants not meeting this requirement may alternatively demonstrate proficiency in Biology by scoring >49th percentile on GRE Biology Subject Test
  • The GRE General Test and GRE Biology Subject Test are not required, but applicants may submit scores if they feel it strengthens their application
  • All applicants whose native language is not English must meet a minimum standard of English proficiency. It is expected that students understand to read, write and communicate effectively in English to be successful in the Graduate Biology Program
    • Applicants will be considered to have the required English language proficiency if they meet one of the following criteria:
      • Hold a post-secondary degree from a U.S. accredited institution or in a program where English is the language of instruction
      • Test of English Foreign Language (TOEFL) score that meets the minimum requirement of 85
      • International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score that meets the minimum requirement of 6.5
      • Successful Completion of an UCCS approved English language training program

Provisional Admission:

  • Under certain circumstances, applicants not meeting the criteria for admission as a regular degree student may be recommended by the faculty for admission as a 'provisional admission' student.  The department may assign course work and/or examinations that must be taken to make up deficiencies.  When the conditions for regular status are met, the Program Advisor will reclassify the student to regular status.

Transfer Credits:

  • University of Colorado System: Up to 12 credit hours of appropriate upper-level course work with a grade of B or better that are not counted toward a degree and earned at any CU campus may be requested for transfer into the MSc program. Double counting of undergraduate and graduate courses is not allowed. These credit hours are computed into the students' graduate GPA but the undergraduate transcripts remain unchanged (i.e., there is no physical movement of courses on the transcripts).
  • Outside Institutions: Up to 9 credit hours of appropriate upper-level course work with a grade of B or better that are not counted toward a degree and completed at an institution other than the University of Colorado may be requested for transfer into the MSc program. These credit hours are not computed into the students’ graduate GPA.

Required application materials

  • All applications should be submitted using the online graduate application:
  • The application requires:
    • Resume or curriculum vitae
    • One copy of official transcripts from all institutions of higher education attended.
    • Three letters of recommendation. The names of those recommending the applicant are included in the online application.  Once the application has been submitted, they will be contacted by UCCS for their recommendation letter.
    • Statement of past accomplishments and goals

Program Coursework

The graduate Biology degree program usually requires 2-3 years to complete but is dependent on student progress.

In addition to coursework, students must complete a research-based thesis to earn the MSc. degree. 

Research requires dedication, time, and flexibility. Students should be prepared to devote considerable time and effort to their research. This may involve working long hours in the lab or field, potentially including evenings and weekends in order to finish within the 2-3 year time frame.

It is important that students discuss research expectations with their Faculty Advisor before starting the program.

Students who plan on continuing their education by applying to a professional school (e.g., veterinary, medical, and dental school) or to graduate school (toward a PhD) should be aware that many of these schools do not accept students until they have completed the MSc.

For program coursework, please visit the Academic Catalog.

Program Timeline

Before the start of the first semester (or soon after), the student should meet with their Faculty Advisor to:

  • Plan a research project
  • Select a graduate committee to advise the student during his/her tenure as a graduate student
  • Determine the coursework appropriate for his/her plan of study, including plans for enrollment in Biol 5010
  • No later than the end of the second semester of enrollment in the program the student must give his/her thesis oral proposal presentation (see below)
  • In the final semester:
    • The student must enroll in Biol 9990, Candidate for Degree, the semester they defend the thesis or project if not enrolled in any other course.
      • If the student has previously defended the thesis or project, and all coursework has been completed, then enrollment in Biol 9990 is not required.
    • Complete all paperwork required by the graduate school. The Schedule of Deadlines can be found here:
    • Note, the online Admission to Candidacy form is completed by the student and emailed to the Biology MSc Advisor.  After approving the form, the MSc Advisor will submit it to the Graduate School for final approval.
    • Any problems found by the Graduate School must be addressed and corrected before the student can graduate.

For more information regarding topics such as Faculty Advisor, Graduate Committee, Course Requirements, Thesis, Safety & Compliance, and Leave of Absence please refer to the Graduate Biology Handbook.