Degree – Master of Science in Biology, MS
Concentration: N/A

Description of Program

The Master of Science in Biology degree program is to equip students with advanced scientific knowledge and skills necessary to pursue doctoral programs and professional careers in biological sciences. The M.S. program in biology consists of classroom instruction at an advance level, along with mentored scholarly pursuit of new knowledge leading to the preparation of a thesis document or a special project paper. The graduate program intends to prepare creative scientists with a good theoretical background, training in research techniques, and communication skills required to disseminate the research results including the significance of such research work in relation to the human environment.

Learning Outcomes

  • Broaden students’ knowledge in a discipline related to his/her research
  • Be able to state clearly the research goals or objectives, hypothesis, and explain the significance of his/her planned thesis research
  • Organize and interpret the results generated from his/her research in a thesis or non-thesis consistent with the guidelines set by ASU’s Office of Graduate Studies
  • Communicate research findings and apply knowledge in biological science in his/her daily life
  • Gain an understanding of professional practices and responsibilities for the community at-large
  • Enhance students’ potential for employment

Admission Requirements:

Students applying for entrance to the Master of Science in Biology are required to submit an application for admission, Apply Online (

  • Two letters of recommendation (references should be professors who have taught the student)
  • Official transcript from an accredited school (if a student has attended more than one school, transcripts must be submitted from all schools attended). At least one transcript must document the student has a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative grade point average of 3.0. Some departments have additional requirements students must meet for admission
  • Immunization Record (submit for the traditional Biology program only)

Decisions are made only after receipt of all credentials by the department’s admission committee. Each department uses an admission formula to accept students. The entire application packet, including all supporting materials, must be submitted to the Graduate School. Official test scores must be submitted from Education Testing Service (ETS) and must not be older than five years, official transcripts from the sending school, and Credential Evaluations (International students) from an approved Credential Evaluation Service.

Standardized Test:

The Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test is the official standardized test required for admission to the Master of Science in Biology. WAIVED

Degree Requirements:

The curriculum for the Master of Science in Biology requires 33 credit hours of coursework and a thesis or non-thesis project for degree completion. An oral defense of the thesis is required for progression to degree completion. Students complete 12 hours of required core credits and 21 hours of general electives.

Graduation expectations require the following:

  • A minimum of 27 credit hours of graduate instruction must be completed in residence at Alcorn State University
  • Earn no more than two Cs in coursework
  • Write an acceptable thesis and defend it orally or complete an acceptable non-thesis project
  • Official transcripts on file for all transfer credits accepted by the University

Academic advisors are allowed to accept up to six semester credit hours earned at an accredited university with a grade of “B” or higher for graduate coursework completed. Substitutions of coursework are allowed with the approval of an advisor and department administrators up to nine hours if the substitution(s) meet curriculum requirements.

See Transfer of Credits Policy for additional information.
See the Substitution of Courses Policy for additional information.

Academic Track: Capstone Project

The Thesis or Non-Thesis is an exit requirement for the Master of Science in Biology. The department has specific expectations for selection of topics. Students pursue independent research on a question or problem of their choice in the relevant disciplines under the guidance of a graduate faculty to produce a paper that reflects understanding of the topic and in the respective discipline.

Master Degree Audit:

Before candidacy for graduation can be confirmed, each student progression to degree completion will be evaluated to determine if student has met all academic requirements for course work and other aspects of the student’s course of study and Graduate School requirements. When these requirements are met, the student is cleared for graduation.

Time to Degree Completion

Alcorn’s time to degree completion policy allows 6 years to complete the Master of Science in Biology. Degree completion depends on the pace a student completes the curriculum. If the time exceeds six years, the student must petition the Graduate School to consider an appeal for more time to degree completion.

See the Student Academic Appeals Policy for Expiration of Timeline for additional requirements

Degree Plan and Course Sequence

Thesis Plan
Core Courses (12 Hours)
BI 507 Advanced Cellular and Molecular Biology
BI 523 Advanced Biostatistics
BI 599 Thesis I
BI 600 Thesis II

Non-Thesis Plan
Core Courses (12 Hours)
BI 507 Advanced Cellular and Molecular Biology
BI 523 Advanced Biostatistics
BI 540 Molecular Genetics
BI 597 Special Project

Biology Online Non-Thesis Plan

Core Courses (12 Hours)
BI 507 OL Advanced Cellular and Molecular Biology
BI 523 OL Advanced Biostatistics
BI 591 OL Advanced Anatomy and Physiology
BI 597 OL Special Project

General Electives (21 Hours)
BI 500 Advanced Parasitology
BI 501 Advanced Plant Physiology
BI 502 Advanced Plant Pathology
BI 503 Mycology
BI 509 Current Literature Topics in Biology
BI 515 Computer Application in Biology
BI 522 Natural History of the Animal Kingdom
BI 525 Advanced Immunology
BI 526 Advanced Pharmacology
BI 531 Advanced Invertebrate and Vertebrate Zoology
BI 536 Bioethics
BI 540 Molecular Genetics
BI 546 Advanced Histology
BI 547 Advanced Field Biology and Ecology
BI 550 Graduate Research Methods and Seminar
BI 560 Advanced Modern Problems in Biology
BI 581 Advanced Toxicology
BI 590 Advanced Environmental Biology
BI 591 Advanced Anatomy and Physiology
BI 598 Biology Research Instrumentation

For More Information Contact:
Dr. Marta Piva ▪ 601.877.6241▪
[email protected] (Department of Biological Sciences)