Master of Science in Biological Sciences
The MS in Biological Sciences begins with a flexible core curriculum to provide a strong foundation in the fields of biochemistry, cell biology, genetics and molecular biology. In the second year, students can choose from a range of advanced and specialized elective courses.
The Master of Science in Biological Sciences requires 45 credits. This degree can be pursued either full-time or part-time. Soon after matriculation, the student completes a plan of study with the graduate adviser to outline his or her specific program. Both thesis and non-thesis with graduate co-op options are available.
Learn more about the degree in the Course Catalog
Master of Science Degree With Thesis Option
The Master’s in Biological Sciences with thesis option is for students interested in advanced graduate coursework and experience in completing an original research project. Students should choose a research adviser during their first quarter. During the first year, students will begin their original research project. The findings of this work should be publishable in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Progress towards these degree requirements is overseen and guided by the selected thesis adviser, the Thesis Research Committee, and the Graduate Program Committee.
This degree requires 45 credits beyond the bachelor's degree. A maximum of nice credits for research and the thesis may be counted as part of the total. Students must devise a plan of study with their graduate adviser by the end of their first term. The plan of study is submitted to the Thesis Committee for final approval.
Key Components and Milestones of the Master's Thesis Program
Research: Students are accepted into the laboratory of their thesis adviser by the end of the first quarter.
Research Committee: The Thesis Research Committee must be formed by the end of the second quarter.
Thesis Proposal: Thesis proposal acceptance by the Thesis Research Committee must be successfully completed by the end of the first year.
Coursework: Coursework should be completed in the first two years of study.
Thesis: Each master's student should complete his/her thesis defense within three years. Drexel University requires that the thesis be finished within five years.
These mileposts are explained in detail in the Department of Biology's Graduate Student Handbook [PDF].
Any student passing the master's thesis defense may apply to transfer to the department's PhD program through the Office of Research and Graduate Studies. The application will be forwarded to the Graduate Committee for their recommendation to the department head.
Learn more about the PhD in Biological Science
Master of Science Degree with Non-Thesis Option
The Master of Science in Biological Sciences non-thesis option is a coursework-based degree for those looking to advance in their field, but not desiring direct research experience.
This degree requires 45 credits beyond the bachelor's degree. A maximum of four credits for independent research (either library or laboratory work, under the direction of a faculty member from the department) may be counted toward the degree. Students will devise a plan of study suited to their individual needs in consultation with the graduate adviser. This is then submitted to the Graduate Program Committee. All courses must be approved by the biology graduate adviser. Annual meetings with the biology graduate adviser are required.
Master's Comprehensive Examination
In addition to the courses described in the Department of Biology graduate handbook, students are required to pass a “closed-book” written comprehensive examination, testing their understanding of basic concepts in the fields of biological sciences and biotechnology. There is no course credit associated with the examination. The exam is held twice a year: once in the Fall Quarter (usually November) and once in the Spring Quarter (usually April). A student must petition the department to take this exam at least one month before the scheduled date of the exam. Everyone electing to take the exam must take it at the same time; there will be no makeups. If the time of the exam conflicts with a student's class, the graduate adviser must be notified immediately.
The exam will consist of two 3-hour sessions. The morning session will consist of questions drawn from the required courses of the program. The afternoon session will consist of questions pertaining to the student's area of specialization and a critique of a published research paper or other question that tests the student’s ability to analyze data. Each question will be graded on a scale from 4(A) to 0(F). The student must average 3.0 or better to pass.
A student failing this exam may be reexamined once. The student may choose to take the next scheduled written exam. Alternatively, the student may choose to take an oral exam, but no sooner than four weeks after the original exam. The Oral Exam Committee will consist of at least three faculty members, chosen by the department head and the graduate adviser. A second failure will result in the termination of the student from the degree program.
Graduate Co-op for MS Students
Drexel’s strengths as a leader in experiential education are now enhancing graduate student training with the MS in Biological Sciences’ graduate co-op option. The graduate co-op program offers students a unique opportunity to earn valuable professional experience at top-rated companies that counts toward their master’s plan of study. The extensive networks developed by the Steinbright Career Development Center, Drexel Biology and area companies provide a wealth of opportunities for co-op employment both near and far.
Participation in the graduate co-op program is optional and open to all MS in Biology students who meet the eligibility requirements. Graduate co-op (GCP) is managed by the University’s Steinbright Career Development Center in partnership with the Graduate College. Please see the SCDC’s GCP webpage for a complete listing of requirements. Please note that the University does not guarantee co-op placement.
Co-op Course Registration
MS in Biology students interested in pursuing the co-op option will enroll in the COOP 500 course in the fall quarter of their first-year. COOP 500 is a 1-credit, pass/fail, non-billable course designed to help students with all aspects of career planning and the co-op job search.
While on co-op in the summer and fall terms, students are registered for 9 Drexel Co-op Units (DCUs). There is no cost to these credits aside from the full-time graduate activity fee each term. DCUs maintain a student’s full-time status, are not factored into GPA, and do not count towards the 45-credit minimum needed to earn the MS in Biological Sciences degree.
GCP participants may enroll in one additional course during each quarter of co-op participation, which is billed using normal graduate tuition billing rates and policies.
Learn More About Graduate Co-op
For information on course scheduling or waiving specific course requirements, please contact the graduate adviser:
Learn more about the degree in the Course Catalog