Jun 13, 2024  
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog 
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biological Science, M.S.

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Biological Science, M.S. Program

Program Description

The Master of Science degree in Biological Science offers students the opportunity to obtain advanced academic and research experience in specialized areas.  Biological science is an exciting field offering students numerous options for rewarding careers and scientific advancement. The M.S. in Biological Science is a research-based thesis program that provides students with opportunities to develop and complete research projects to enhance advancement and career opportunities in biology.  It requires 30 semester units of coursework.

Career Opportunities

Students interested in careers that involve research or interested in pursuing a Ph.D. should consider the M.S. degree in Biological Science. Examples of M.S. study areas in the department are environmental biology, ecology, population biology, marine biology, mycology, physiology, neurobiology, cell and molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, and virology. 

Admission Requirements

The M.S. degree program in the Department of Biological Sciences is open to graduates of accredited institutions who have a four-year baccalaureate degree in any field of the biological sciences and who have achieved a GPA of at least 2.75 in all undergraduate work and an average of 3.00 in all biological science courses taken as an upper division student. Normally, all applicants should have completed undergraduate courses equivalent to those required of all biological science majors at Cal State East Bay. Applicants must have taken basic courses in biological and physical sciences and mathematics/statistics; areas omitted, if any, will be treated as course deficiencies and must be completed by the time of classification (see below).

  1. In addition to filing the university application and fee, students must apply via the on-line application to the Department of Biological Sciences for admission to graduate standing in the M.S. degree program. ​
  2. Applicants must complete the general GRE test. A print screen including the applicant’s scores can be uploaded to the departmental application (see below). Generally, target scores should be in the upper 30th percentile; significant deviation from target scores may be grounds for denial of admission.
  3. Applicants must write a statement of purpose explaining their reasons for wanting to obtain the master of science degree. This statement of purpose should also outline previous research experience.

Applicant files will not be reviewed or processed until the application file is complete; this is the applicant’s responsibility. During the admission process, students interested in the M.S. program are encouraged to obtain information about research interests of the faculty and to contact faculty members who could potentially serve as thesis advisors.

Student Standing and Progress Toward the Degree

Conditionally Classified Graduate Status and the Degree Process

All students admitted to the Master of Science program in Biological Sciences will be admitted as “Conditionally Classified Graduate” students.  Thesis research is the only allowable capstone experience for this program. There are generally five areas of research specialization as supported by individual faculty members: Cell & Molecular Biology, Ecology & Evolution, Microbiology, Physiology, and Science Education. Upon acceptance into the program the student must arrange with a faculty member to discuss and agree upon an intended thesis research plan. This includes formulation of a thesis committee of a minimum of three members (that may include one individual outside the Department of Biological Sciences), and chaired by the thesis advisor. The thesis committee will monitor the student’s progress through the degree program by periodic review. The thesis committee will design a customized curriculum of coursework for the individual student and will by a thesis defense examination and evaluation of the written thesis decide whether the student meets the departmental standards for conferral of the M.S. in Biological Science. Completion of the thesis research off-site is allowable, upon review of the department and provisional thesis committee; a scenario follows. The individual student may be currently employed by a biotechnology company. By careful arrangement with the employer and CSU East Bay, thesis research may be conducted at the place of employment as supervised by the work supervisor (who will also be a member of the thesis committee). The student should resolve any question about the degree process with the departmental Graduate Program Coordinator.

Advancement to Candidacy

The student must have attained (a) “Classified Graduate” standing; (b) completed at least six units of satisfactory work beyond the baccalaureate degree suitable for inclusion in an M.S. program in Biological Science as approved by the student’s thesis committee; (c) received approval from the thesis committee of a thesis research plan.  This plan must be formally submitted prior to enrollment in BIOL 691 thesis units.

Related Programs

The Biotechnology Certificate Program within the department is a post-baccalaureate program emphasizing molecular and cellular techniques. For more information about the Biotechnology Certificate Program refer to the Certificate in Biotechnology section of this chapter. The M.S. degree in Marine Science is offered at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML), located on Monterey Bay, for students from Cal State East Bay and seven other California State University consortium schools. Graduate students from Cal State East Bay majoring in other areas of study may also take such courses at Moss Landing as are appropriate for their degree objectives. Contact the Biological Sciences Department for application forms and deadlines for this program. For more information on the M.S. in Marine Sciences refer to the Marine Science chapter in the graduate section of this catalog.

Research Facilities

Department facilities for student research and study include invertebrate, vertebrate, and entomology museums; greenhouse; microbiology facilities; cell culture facilities; animal rooms; molecular biology labs; microscope facilities including phase, differential interference contrast, fluorescence and confocal microscopy; and DNA sequencing and cell storage facilities. Local field opportunities may be found at a wetlands field station at the San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the brackish and salt water marshes of the Hayward Regional Shoreline of San Francisco Bay, and a 35-acre oak-grassland preserve located immediately adjacent to the Hayward Hills campus and contiguous with Garin Regional Park (one of the East Bay Regional Parks).

Research and Financial Support

Research space is available to all “Classified Graduate” students in the M.S. in Biological Science program, usually in the thesis advisor’s research lab. Limited funds for graduate research supplies are available each year from the department budget. Graduate research grants are available annually on a competitive basis through the Center for Student Research and can be used to purchase supplies or pay travel expenses for graduate research. In addition, research assistantships are available for some students through faculty research grants. Teaching assistantships may become available for a given semester. As financial aid within the department is limited, you may want to contact the Financial Aid Office regarding other assistance from the University Work-Study Program, loans, scholarships, etc. 

Program Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.S. in Biological Science from Cal State East Bay will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a broad and sophisticated understanding that contributes to biological concepts and principles across all levels of biological organization, from ions to ecosystems.
  2. Demonstrate expertise in a specific area of biological science.
  3. Independently apply the scientific method to formulate testable biological hypotheses, analyze empirical data, and synthesize the results of the analysis.
  4. Clearly communicate the design and results of an observational or experimental analysis in a variety of formats, including the graduate thesis, scientific paper, scientific poster, and oral presentation.
  5. Gather and evaluate primary scientific literature and judge the value of the information presented in relation to particular biological questions.

Biological Sciences Degree Requirements (30 units)

Biological Science Core Requirements

The following 2 units are required.  Enrollment in both courses during the first year of the M.S. program is required.

Research Specialization

Choose two (2) courses for 6 units from the following (requires approval of the Thesis Advisor and Thesis Committee):

Communicating the Research Specialization

Choose one (1) course for 2 units from the following courses:

Elective Courses

A minimum of 15 units are required from the following list as approved by the Thesis Advisor and Thesis Committee:

Capstone Requirement

University thesis and an oral defense for 5 units is required to complete the program.

Other Graduate & Post-Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the University requirements for graduation as described throughout this catalog. These include the 70% unit residence requirement; the five-year rule on currency of subject matter; the minimum number of units in 600-level courses; the “C” minimum grade for each graduate course; and the 3.00 cumulative grade point average.

Department Courses Listed by Course Type

Biological Sciences Courses

Department of Biological Sciences

Go to information for this department.


Biological Sciences

Biological Sciences: Graduate

Marine Science (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories)

Marine Science: Graduate (Moss Landing Marine Laboratories)


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