MA, Biological Sciences

Description of the Program:


Plan B Master's (MA) Program in Biological Sciences

The general areas of study for the MA Biological Sciences might include general biology, plant biology, cell biology, ecology, entomology, genetics, microbiology, immunology, systems physiology, toxicology, zoology, or, under special circumstances, marine biology.  The MA Biological Sciences program is a non-thesis master's degree with two possible options for a culminating experience.  

  • Option 1: students would complete 30 units of coursework (see MA Biological Sciences course requirements), and then take both a written and oral exam as the culminating experience.  The format of the written exam is up to the committee.  Once the written portion of the exam is passed, a two-to-three hour oral is taken. Successful completion of the exams is required for attainment of the MA Biological Sciences degree.  Students not successful in the first attempt will have one opportunity to retake the exams.  Students must take at least 1 unit of BIOL 284 in the semester in which all coursework is completed.
  • Option 2: students would complete a project that is approved by their advising committee (see below) and for which they would enroll in at least 3 units of BIOL 280 supervised by their major advisor (see below). As the culminating experience, the students are required to complete a written report in the style of a manuscript for publication that describes the project and to make an oral presentation describing the project to the advising committee. Students in this option need to complete 30 units of coursework (see MA Biological Sciences course requirements), which includes at least 3 units of BIOL 280 along with at least 1 unit of BIOL 284 taken in the semester in which all coursework was completed.

Prospective students must be accepted into the program by a regular full-time faculty member from the Department of Biological Sciences (Faculty Acceptance Form Plan A or B).  The faculty member will be the major advisor for the program and, if students are using Option 2 (as described above), that faculty member will supervise the BIOL 280 units.

Students accepted into the program will be advised by an MA program-advising committee consisting of their major advisor and at least one other member, usually a faculty member at San Jose State University.  Within the first semester of entering the program, the major advisor will help the student select that additional committee member or members.  Students should work closely with their advising committee to insure a quality educational experience.  For students undertaking Option 1 (as described above), the committee will be responsible for developing and evaluating the written and oral exams.  For students undertaking Option 2 (as described above), the committee will be responsible for evaluating the written report and oral presentation.  It is strongly advised that students meet with their committee on a regular basis.  For those students undertaking Option 1, the committee will provide suggestions regarding courses to take, books to read, and material to study in preparation for master's exams.  Students should work with their advisory committee to ensure they are aware of important deadlines.

For other details of the graduate program, please contact the Department Graduate Coordinator.

Course Requirements:

MA, Biological Sciences course requirements

Two year plan:

MA, Biological Sciences general two year plan (PDF)