Feb 28, 2024  
2016-2017 CSU East Bay Catalog 
2016-2017 CSU East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biological Science, M.S.

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Biological Science, M.A. and M.S.

The Master of Science and Master of Arts degrees in Biological Science offers students the opportunity to obtain advanced academic and research experience in specialized areas of biological science. The program prepares students for careers or further education in the biological sciences.

Biological science is a fast-changing, 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 and experiences to enhance advancement and career opportunities in biology. The M.A. in Biological Science is a coursework (nonthesis) program with a comprehensive examination as the culminating experience. Both the M.S. and the M.A. programs require 45 quarter units of coursework.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students graduating with an M.S. or M.A. 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.

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, physiology, neurobiology, cell and molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, and virology. Students interested in career advancement in fields that do not involve research, such as teaching, management, or health professions (including dental, medical, pharmacy, or veterinary practice) should consider the M.A. degree in Biological Science.


The Biological Science faculty is comprised of 14 full-time professors at Cal State East Bay. The faculty are committed to excellence in teaching and research, and many of the faculty have federal, state, and private research grant support.

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; herbarium; greenhouse; insectary; radiation hot lab; microbiology facilities; cell culture facilities; animal rooms; molecular biology labs; microscope facilities including phase, differential interference contrast and fluorescence 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 major 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 Academic Programs and Graduate Studies 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 quarter. 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.

Admission Requirements

  1. The M.S. and M.A. degree programs 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).
  2. In addition to filing the university application and fee, students must apply to the Department of Biological Sciences for admission to graduate standing in the M.S. or M.A. degree program. Application forms are available through the department office or by accessing the Biology Department website. In addition to the GPA requirements for admission mentioned in #1, the department requires that the following be sent directly to the Department of Biological Sciences:
    • departmental application
    • GRE General Test Scores (target scores are in the upper 30th percentile; significant deviation from target scores may be grounds for
    • denial of admission)
    • three letters of reference
    • statement of purpose

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.

  1. All students admitted to the program will be admitted as “Conditionally Classified Graduate” students.
  2. Those students applying for admission to the program with the intent of obtaining an M.S. degree in Marine Sciences from work done at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories must gain admission into “Conditionally Classified Graduate” status as stated above. However, the classification procedures as stated below WILL NOT apply for these students; instead, once admitted to the program as “Conditionally Classified Graduate” students, they will follow MLML’s classification procedures (see the Marine Science chapter in the graduate section of this catalog).
  3. Any student not admitted to the program because of incomplete application, deficiency, or failure to meet deadlines is urged to enroll in the university as an “Unclassified Post-baccalaureate” student pending completion and/or reconsideration of the application for classification.
  4. No more than 13 quarter units of courses applicable toward the master’s degree completed before admission to the program may be counted toward the degree.

Note: Although not an admission requirement, satisfaction of the University Writing Skills Requirement (UWSR) must begin during the first quarter of admission to the program and must be completed before a student can become a fully “Classified Graduate” student.

M.S. Requirements

A “Conditionally Classified Graduate” student must become a fully “Classified Graduate” student in the program as set forth in 1, 2, 3, and 4 below, if applicable, within four quarters of acceptance into the Master’s program or the “Conditional Classification” will expire and the student will be placed in “Unclassified Post-baccalaureate” status. It is the responsibility of the student to make sure these requirements are met within the specified time limits.

  1. Establish a three-person graduate advisory committee. At least two faculty members from the Department of Biological Sciences will serve as members of the graduate advisory committee. One faculty member from the department will normally be the major advisor in guiding the student in graduate training. Other members of the committee will be chosen in consultation with the major advisor. The committee will advise on and approve the student’s final program including any work and research units counted toward the degree. This advisory committee will also administer the oral examination at the completion of the thesis.
  2. Complete basic course deficiencies. If the student lacks basic courses in biological or physical sciences, or mathematics/statistics, these courses must be completed by the end of the fourth quarter following admission to the program. In addition, the student’s advisory committee may also determine that there are other course deficiencies that need to be satisfied.
  3. Research proposal. The student must submit a formal research proposal to the departmental Graduate Committee. The department office or Graduate Coordinator has examples of these proposals and their format. The proposal must be approved by the student’s advisory committee (item 1 above) and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator by the first day of the quarter in which the student wants to begin taking thesis units. If the work is to be done in an off-campus location, a letter of agreement must be included that indicates a mutual understanding and responsibility between the off-campus supervisor, Cal State East Bay, and the student.
  4. University Writing Skills Requirement. The University Writing Skills Requirement must be satisfied.

Advanced to Candidacy

The student must have:

  1. attained “Classified Graduate” standing
  2. completed at least 12 quarter 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 graduate advisory committee. At least 3 quarter units of graduate level coursework in residence at Cal State East Bay must be included. (You must maintain a 3.00 GPA in your degree coursework to remain in good standing.)
  3. received approval from his or her advisory committee for an individual research program.

M.S. Curricular Requirements (45 units)

A total of 45 quarter units is required beyond the baccalaureate with a GPA of 3.0 or above and no grade lower than “C” in courses included in the program, and with specific requirements as follows:

1. University Thesis (9 units)

Complete copies of the University Thesis must be submitted, in accordance with the rules set forth by the Thesis Editor in the Office of the Associate Vice President, Academic Programs and Graduate Studies, to the chair of the candidate’s advisory committee by the sixth week of the quarter at the end of which the degree is desired.

2. Graduate courses in Biology (14-36 units)

In area of specialization or in areas related to it as approved by the student’s advisory committee; included must be at least one, but not more than two, graduate seminars in the area of special concentration. (May include a maximum of 4 units of Independent Study (BIOL 6900 ); in certain circumstances exceptions may be granted by the departmental Graduate Committee.)

3. Upper division undergraduate Biology Majors courses (0-22 units)

Taken as a graduate student and approved by the advisory committee as appropriate to the student’s objective. No courses that are required for B.A. or B.S. Biological Sciences students, or those that are designated for non-majors, may be counted toward the M.S. degree.

4. An oral examination

An oral examination administered by the advisory committee covering the candidate’s area of specialization and thesis research. This examination will be publicized and open to all faculty.

Granting the Degree

Upon successful completion of the above requirements, the department will recommend that the candidate be granted the M.S. degree.

Other Graduate & Post-Baccalaureate Degree Requirements

In addition to departmental requirements, every student must also satisfy the university requirements for graduation as described in the Graduate/Post-Baccalaureate Admission and Degree Information  chapter in this catalog. These include the 32-unit residence requirement, the five year rule on currency of subject matter, the minimum number of units of 6000-level courses, the 3.00 grade point average, and the University Writing Skills Requirement. For information on meeting the University Writing Skills Requirement, see the Testing Office website at www.csueastbay.edu/testing or call 510.885.3661.

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