Graduate Program

Bucknell University's master of science in biology is designed to provide students with a solid foundation in their subfield of biology and to prepare them to either pursue an advanced degree at another institution or obtain employment in industry, government or education. Graduate-level courses are offered in cell and molecular biology, organismal biology, and ecology and evolution.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have completed at least eight undergraduate courses in biology or supporting disciplines (chemistry, physics, mathematics, etc.) with a grade point average of at least 3.0 in these courses. Exceptions may be made for applicants showing marked improvement during their undergraduate program or demonstrating exceptional aptitude or achievement in other ways.

Applicants may submit both general and subject test scores for the GRE graduate school entry exam. The biology department has moved to test-optional admissions for its graduate program and does not require GRE general test or subject test score submission.

The biology department expects applicants to submit a personal statement via the online application describing why they are pursuing graduate studies and indicating which faculty members they see as potential mentors for their thesis research projects. We also encourage applicants to our graduate program to contact prospective faculty research advisers to determine if that mentor is interested in and available to mentor a new graduate student.

Program Overview

The program requires two years of full-time work including coursework in biology and research. Eight courses (two per semester) are required for the master of science degree.

At least five of the eight courses must be in biology, and all must be at the 600 level. BIOL 660 (Graduate Research) and BIOL 680 (Thesis) cannot account for more than three of the eight required courses. Applicants whose undergraduate program is too narrow or limited may be required to take additional courses. In such cases, the student must achieve the equivalent of a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree in biology from Bucknell.

Candidates for the master of science degree are required to pass a course in statistics or biostatistics unless they have already passed such a course as an undergraduate.

By the end of the first semester, candidates must identify a research adviser. By the end of the second semester, they must form a graduate committee consisting of their research adviser and two other professors (one can be from outside of the department), develop a detailed program of study (approved by the graduate committee), and pass an oral defense of a written thesis research proposal.

By the end of their second year, each candidate must present a formal departmental seminar and have a written research thesis completed and approved by the candidate’s graduate committee.

Facilities & Resources

The biology department is housed in a modern building with spacious labs and state-of-the-art facilities for graduate research in several areas of biology. Students conduct research in the following disciplines: cell biology, molecular biology, ecology, evolution, biochemistry, physiology, genetics, animal behavior, plant-animal interactions, conservation biology, regulation of gene expression, ecological genetics, plant physiology, plant development and invertebrate zoology. Students specifically interested in studying animal behavior should apply to the animal behavior graduate program.

Thinking about applying?