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California State University, Long Beach
2012-2013 CSULB University Catalog


Graduate Programs

Master of Science in Biology

This degree requires a thesis based on original scientific research; a list of research areas with the names of faculty specializing in these areas can be obtained from the department's graduate office.

Admission to the Department


In addition to the prerequisites for entrance into CSULB as a graduate student, stated previously in this catalog under Graduate Degrees and Post Baccalaureate Studies, the Department of Biological Sciences requires:

  • 1. The student is to find a faculty member in the department who agrees to serve as the thesis advisor of the student prior to her/his acceptance into the M.S. program;
  • 2. A bachelor's degree in the biological or related sciences from an accredited institution. Students with alternative undergraduate degrees will be considered, but they will likely be assigned deficiency courses by the Thesis Advisor in consultation with the Graduate Advisor;
  • 3. An undergraduate GPA in all completed science and mathematics courses of at least 2.70 OR a GPA of at least 3.00 in the last 40 semester (or 60 quarter) units of science and mathematics courses completed;
  • 4. The GRE General Test (and, if required, the GRE Subject Test in Biology or in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology) must have been taken prior to applying to the Department. Scores are utilized as indicators for accrued knowledge and potential success in the M.S. program in Biology. The GREs must have been taken within five years prior to the intended admission date. Applicants without a degree in biological sciences must take the GRE Biology or Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology Subject Test.

Students who do not meet the minimum required criteria for acceptance are encouraged to take post-baccalaureate courses to bring up their GPA or GRE scores.


Prospective graduate students in M.S. in Biology, including CSULB graduates, must formally apply for admission to CSULB as described previously in this catalog and must also apply directly to the Department of Biological Sciences. All applicants must submit the following documents directly to the Department no later than 1 February for the fall semester to receive consideration for admission:

  • 1. Departmental Application Form (PDF), also available from the Department's Graduate Office;
  • 2. A one page essay describing why the applicant wishes to obtain an M.S. degree in Biology at CSULB and how this relates to her/his career objectives;
  • 3. Unofficial transcripts of all college level academic work, including those completed at CSULB (these are in addition to those transcripts required for general graduate admission to CSULB);
  • 4. Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's academic performance and research potential (if also applying for a Teaching Associate position, the letters must refer to the applicant's potential to teach laboratory sections in the biological sciences); and
  • 5. Official report of the GRE General Test scores. The applicant should have taken this examination prior to applying to the Department, because the official scores must reach the Department by the deadline above.

These materials must be submitted to the Graduate Office, Department of Biological Sciences, California State University, Long Beach, 1250 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA 90840-9502.     

Review by the Graduate Studies Committee

The Graduate Studies Committee will review all completed applications received by the deadlines. Admission into the M.S. Program in Biology is competitive, with an applicant's college GPA, GRE Test scores, one-page essay, and letters of recommendation weighed in the decision to accept or decline. Applicants who are admitted into the program will enter as either a Classified or Conditionally Classified Graduate Student, as described below. All admitted students must contact the Graduate Advisor prior to their first semester for counsel and orientation.

Admission to the Department of Biological Sciences as a Classified Graduate Student

The Department of Biological Sciences may admit as a Classified Graduate Student applicant who:

  • 1. has met all prerequisites,
  • 2. has a complete application folder, and
  • 3. has obtained acceptance by a faculty member to serve as her/his Thesis Advisor.

Admission to the Department as a Conditionally Classified Graduate Student

An applicant who fails to meet the above criteria for Classified Graduate Student may be considered by the Graduate Studies Committee for admission as Conditionally Classified Graduate Student:

An applicant with course deficiencies: The Graduate Advisor and student's Thesis Advisor will determine whether academic deficiencies exist for the particular field of study to be undertaken. The courses to be taken to make up deficiencies will be indicated on the back of the department application form. Such courses are in addition to the minimum 30 units on the student's Program of Study (see below). The applicant must make up all deficiencies before attaining Classified status.

The Thesis Proposal

After admission to the Department as a Classified or Conditionally Classified graduate student, the student in consultation with the Thesis Advisor, must prepare her/his Thesis Proposal and Program of Study, which includes all coursework to be taken. The Thesis Proposal must include a thorough review of relevant primary literature that demonstrates the context of the proposed research, it must clearly define the experiments proposed for the research to be undertaken, and should include preliminary data, if available. The student and her/his Thesis Advisor will select at least two additional members to serve on the Thesis Committee. In most cases, the Thesis Advisor will serve as Chair of the Thesis Committee. However, if the Thesis Advisor is not eligible, another member of the Thesis Committee will serve as Thesis Committee Chair. The student will then have a formal meeting with the Thesis Committee, at which the student's Thesis Proposal and Program of Study will be presented and evaluated. At this meeting, the Thesis Committee will question the student about her/his Thesis Proposal. At the completion of this meeting, the Thesis Committee will meet briefly, without the student present, to evaluate the Thesis Proposal. Approval is based on whether the student has demonstrated a solid understanding of her/his thesis project. The Thesis Proposal must be prepared, presented to, and approved by the Thesis Committee before the end of the second semester after admission to the Department. Failure to meet this requirement will result in dismissal from the M.S. in Biology program.

The Program of Study

The Program of Study must include six units of Thesis (BIOL 698), one to three units of Directed Research (BIOL 697), two units of Experimental Design (BIOL 696A), two units of Scientific Communication (BIOL 696B), one unit of Seminar (BIOL 580), and four units from: BIOL 663, 664, 665, 666; MICR 661; OR CHEM 595A; BIOL 663-666 and MICR 661 topics must be different. Of the minimum 30 units, no more than six may come from BIOL 663-666 and no more than two units of CHEM 595A; no more than six may come from transfer credit; and no more than one 300-level course may be included. Any 300-level course on a graduate program of study must be approved by the Thesis Advisor and the Graduate Advisor. BIOL 696A will be taken during the student's initial fall semester; the course will cover experimental design, statistics, and literature research, and help students in preparing their Thesis Proposal. BIOL 696B will be taken during the first spring semester in the program, and will cover both oral and written scientific presentation. BIOL 696B is intended to facilitate manuscript and thesis writing and to help students learn to articulate their findings for their thesis defense. The Program of Study must be prepared, presented to, and approved by the Thesis Committee before the end of the second semester after admission to the Department. Failure to meet this requirement will result in dismissal from the M.S. in Biology program.

Advancement to Candidacy

In addition to the general University requirements stated previously under Post-Baccalaureate and Graduate Degrees in this catalog, the student must complete the following steps before receiving Master's Candidate status in the Department of Biological Sciences:

  • 1. Admission to the Master's Degree program in Biology as a Classified graduate student (see above);
  • 2. Acceptance of the Thesis Proposal and Program of Study by the Thesis Committee;
  • 3. Satisfactory academic progress;
  • 4. Satisfactory fulfillment of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR).

The Thesis Committee will recommend the student for advancement to candidacy by forwarding its recommendation to the Department Graduate Advisor. This should occur at end of second semester after admission. Upon approval by the College's Associate Dean, the student will attain Master's Candidate status.

Requirements for the Master of Science in Biology

  • The regulations governing the master's degree are those in effect at the time of advancement to candidacy. In addition to the general University requirements stated previously in this catalog, the student must meet the following requirements before receiving the degree of Master of Science in Biology. The requirements are:
  • 1. Advancement to Master's Candidate status (see above);
  • 2. Maintenance of a 3.00 ("B" average) or better, overall GPA (includes all upper-division and graduate level courses taken since admission to this University and after completion of the baccalaureate degree) and graduate program GPA. If either GPA falls below 3.00, it must be elevated to a 3.00 by the end of the following semester or the student will be dismissed from the M.S. program in Biology;
  • 3. Successful completion of the following: written thesis and public defense followed by a private defense with the Thesis Committee; and
  • 4. Service as a Teaching Associate or Graduate Assistant.

Requests to graduate must be received by Enrollment Services approximately 6 months in advance of the expected graduation date (Check the Schedule of Classes for the date).

These degree requirements must be completed within 6 years from when the first course on the Program of Study was completed, including academic leaves, or the student's degree program will be terminated.

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