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Columbus State University

Master of Science
Natural Sciences - Biology

College of Letters and Sciences

Program Description

The M.S. in Natural Sciences program develops a broad based scientific background in one of four tracks: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geosciences. The program also develops the research skills necessary to design and conduct original research.  

The opportunity to take graduate courses in a specific track or combine graduate courses from each of the tracks allows the student to design a graduate course of study to suit his or her own specific interests and goals. The two-year curriculum allows students to focus on required courses and complete research in a timely manner. Graduate assistantship employment opportunities provide tuition and competitive stipends.  

The Natural Sciences Program has...
• Broadly trained faculty with diverse areas of expertise with Southeastern, National and International research programs.
• Well-equipped, modern laboratories as well as access to protected natural areas.
• A wide variety of study abroad courses that allow students to conduct research projects abroad.

The Master of Science in Natural Sciences Biology Track emphasizes development of a broadly-based scientific background as well as research skills necessary to design and conduct original research. The opportunity to take graduate courses in Biology and focus in a specific sub-discipline of Biology or combine graduate courses from Geology and Environmental Sciences allows the student to design a graduate course of study to suit his or her own specific interests and goals.

In the first year, students take courses stressing communication skills necessary to present reports and research results, research design and data analyses as well as electives allowing specialization in particular areas of interest. Students select a three member faculty advisory committee to guide their course options. One faculty member from the advisory committee will serve as the faculty mentor.

Career Opportunities

Graduates of the program will be able to pursue a broad range of careers in the field of Natural Sciences. Common areas of employment include public agencies, non-profit organizations, government service, and private business. Students will also be prepared to move into a doctoral level degree program.

Admission Requirements

In addition to the Columbus State University Graduate School Admissions requirements, all interested applicants must submit the following materials to be considered for admission for all tracks in the Natural Sciences program.
• Baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university, demonstrated excellent preparation in the Biological, Chemical, Environmental and/or Geological Sciences or permission of the program director.
• Undergraduate grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
• A minimum combined score of 290 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the Graduate Record Exam. The GRE must have been taken in the last five years.
• A one page statement of experience and interests.
• Two letters of reference. References should come from persons familiar with the applicant's academic or professional experience.

Learning Outcomes

Graduates will be able to:
• Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key concepts, principles, theories, and methods with in the core discipline of the Natural Sciences: biology, chemistry, environmental science, and geosciences.
• Employ critical and analytical thinking in application of the scientific method, including formulating and testing hypotheses, designing experiments, analyzing data, interpreting results, and drawing conclusions.
• Report orally and in writing research results and conclusions according to accepted standards of the chosen area of core study.

Additional Program Requirements

The maximum course load for a graduate student in a given semester is 12 semester hours. The maximum course load for a student holding a graduate assistantship is 10 semester hours.

Program Of Study

Area 1 Program Core Required Hours: 3
ENGL 5149 Grant Writing

Area 2 Program Concentration Required Hours: 18 (Thesis Option), 27 hours (Non-Thesis Option)
Program Concentration Required Hours 9
BIOL 6215 Principles of Experimental Design and Applications in Biology
BIOL 6795 Biology Seminar Series (repeated for credit thee times)
STAT 5176 Statistical Design and Analysis of Experiments

Electives: 9 hours (Thesis Option), 18 hours (Non-Thesis Option)
Students must select at least two courses from the following area. (6-9 hours Thesis Option) (6-18 hours Non-Thesis Option)
BIOL 6515 Advanced Selected Topics in Cellular and Molecular Biology (course may be repeated for credit when topic differs)
BIOL 6516 Advanced Selected Topics in Organismic Biology (course may be repeated for credit when topic differs)
BIOL 6517 Advanced Selected Topics in Ecological and Evolutionary Biology (course may be repeated for credit when topic differs)

Student may select one or more courses from the following areas if not taken for undergraduate credit with the same title. (0-3 hours Thesis Option) (0-12 hours Non-Thesis Option)
BIOL 5515G Selected Topics in Cellular and Molecular Biology
BIOL 5525G Selected Topics in Organismic Biology
BIOL 5535G Selected Topics in Ecological and Evolutionary Biology

Students may take any 5000+ graduate CHEM, ENVS, GEOL, GEOG with advisor approval (0-3 hours Thesis option, 0-12 hours Non-Thesis option).


Area 3 Program Requirements

Thesis Required Hours:15
BIOL 6931 Master of Science Thesis Research Proposal
BIOL 6932 Master of Science Data Collection and Analyses
BIOL 6933 Master of Science Defense and Binding

 Non-Thesis Option Topic Paper Required Hours: 6
BIOL 6821 Master of Science Literature/Topic Paper Proposal
BIOL 6822 Master of Science Literature/Topic Paper
BIOL 6823 Master of Science Literature/Topic Paper Defense