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Master of Arts (MA)

Program Overview & Features

The MA program provides an alternative path to advanced graduate training in biology for students whose principal interests lie outside the typical laboratory research-focused graduate degree in biology. With its broad-based curriculum, the MA program is designed for those who are working towards or considering careers in the professional fields (such as MD, DDS, JD, MBA, etc.), in teaching, in governmental and non-governmental policy organizations, and in a variety of regulatory organizations whose tasks include oversight of biological resource issues. The program incorporates the flexibility to allow interdisciplinary training in fields such as law, management, engineering and education.The unique combination of flexible course selection and required courses in Biological Sciences ensures the extent of specialization appropriate to a graduate degree while establishing the broad contextual framework in which to place the newly gained scientific expertise.

  • Application to the Master of Arts Program in Biological Sciences is found here

MA Program Requirements:
MA candidates complete 18 credit hours of formal graduate coursework. Courses cover advanced topics in the biological sciences and teach critical thinking, analysis of primary scientific literature, and experimental design. Courses can be taken in other departments upon the advisement of a faculty member from the Department of Biological Sciences.

To develop oral presentation skills, MA candidates enroll in a seminar course each semester of their first year.  Each student presents one seminar outlining his or her scholarly project.  MA candidates also attend the departmental seminar series, featuring distinguished scientists from inside and outside the university.

MA candidates develop an original scholarly project under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

This project is tailored to the student’s interests and career goals.  Examples of projects include investigating a particular public health issue, analyzing a case study in environmental law, developing and evaluating curriculum for a biology course, or assessing a new application in biotechnology.  Project methodologies range from reviewing and evaluating scholarly literature, to analyzing existing data to answer a new question, to product development.

Students may also conduct experimental research for their project, although this type of project is only suggested for students who have previous laboratory experience.

MA projects may be supervised by a faculty member from the Biological Sciences department or another department at the university.  Upon the completion of the project, usually in the second or third semester of study, the MA candidate prepares a written report.