Master of Arts in Biological and Environmental Sciences

Dr. Thomas Philbrick, Graduate Coordinator
(203) 837-8773

Lisa Taylor, Dept. Secretary
Phone: (203) 837-8791
Fax: (203) 837-8769


Biological and Environmental Sciences Overview

The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Biological and Environmental Sciences degree program provides an opportunity for advanced study through intensive classroom presentations, seminars, laboratory and field experiences.

The M.A. program enables students to: (1) pursue industrial, public service, or technical careers in the biological and environmental sciences; (2) upgrade their knowledge in support of secondary school teaching; (3) prepare for further studies leading to the Ph.D. in biology.

Program Mission, Goals, and Objectives

A student completing an M.A. in Biological and Environmental Sciences should:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the scientific process and be able to apply it to designing and analyzing biological experiments.
  2. Demonstrate an in-depth understanding of the factual and theoretical bases of one or more areas of biology.
  3. Be able to communicate effectively in both oral and written presentations.
  4. Acquire the specific knowledge and understanding needed to further his or her professional career.
  5. Possess the computer and library skills necessary to continue learning beyond the M.A. degree, as well as information relevant to his or her specific interests and needs.

Admission Requirements

A student seeking admission to the M.A. in Biological and Environmental Sciences program must meet the following requirements in addition to the general requirements described in this graduate catalog:

  1. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree in the biological sciences with a GPA of at least 2.70, or equivalent background. Applicants with an undergraduate GPA of less than 2.70, or with an undergraduate degree in a field other than biology, may be required to submit scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) in biology in support of their application. Both the undergraduate record and GRE scores will then be considered.
  2. A narrative statement describing the student’s career goals and an explantion as to why they would like to pursue a graduate degree; in particular, students should cite why they are seeking admission to Western Connecticut State University.

Final admission requires approval by the program coordinator, and the dean of graduate studies.

Degree Requirements

Advising Committee

Each student will choose an adviser based on his or her interests. After the student completes six credits with a GPA of 3.0 or higher, the student and adviser will then choose two other faculty members to comprise the student’s committee. A committee member from outside the department of biological and environmental sciences must be approved by the department.

Course Work and Related Requirements

Students must complete 24-30 semester hours of course work, depending upon choice of the thesis or nonthesis option, and must pass a final examination. A cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 is required for graduation.

Master of Arts in Biological and Environmental Sciences

  1. Required Course: BIO 500 Graduate Seminar 3 SH
  2. Additional Course Requirements: 21 - 27 SH to be chosen from the following list:

    BIO 504 Limnology
    BIO 510 Current Topics in Biology
    BIO 516 Current Techniques in Cell and Molecular Biology
    BIO 530 Population Genetics
    BIO 535 Advanced Molecular Biology
    BIO 536 Molecular Oncology
    BIO 537 Molecular Endocrinology
    BIO 538 Molecular Mechanisms of Animal Development
    BIO 539 Molecular Biology of Prokaryotes
    BIO 540 Aquatic Vascular Plants
    BIO 543 Stream Ecology
    BIO 545 Advanced Systematic Biology
    BIO 551 Soil Ecology
    BIO 555 Environmental Physiology
    BIO 556 Herpetology
    BIO 560 Behavioral Ecology
    BIO 565 Topics in Animal Behavior
    BIO 592 Independent Thesis Research
    BIO 598 Faculty Developed Study
    BIO 599 Student Developed Study

    Other 500 level BIO courses may be added to this list. A student should see the program coordinator before
    taking a BIO course not on this list. A maximum of six semester hours in 400 level courses may be applied to the degree. Some 400 or 500 level courses from other departments may be approved by the student’s committee. A student should obtain committee approval before taking a course in another department.

  3. Thesis or non-thesis option. Students will choose from the following:
    1. Thesis. A minimum of 24 semester hours of course work, plus a thesis. All courses must be approved by the student’s committee. The thesis proposal must be approved by the student’s committee, the program coordinator, and the director of university admissions. Thesis students will be required to present their research in a department seminar.
    2. Non-Thesis. A minimum of 30 semester hours in a planned program of courses. All courses must be approved by the student’s committee.
  4. Final Examination
    Thesis students must pass a thesis defense. Non-thesis students must pass a comprehensive examination.
    The examination or thesis defense will be administered by the student’s committee during the student’s
    final semester. The student’s GPA must be at least 3.0 at the time of the thesis defense or comprehensive
  5. Grade Point Average
    A student’s cumulative GPA must be at least 3.0 to be eligible for graduation.

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