A-Z Index


Program(s) Available: M.S.

The Master of Science in Biology is a two-year, 32-credit hour program to strengthen students’ content knowledge, problem-solving skills and research capabilities. Students will gain an increased specialization in a biological discipline, an enhanced ability to perform independent research, and be trained in scientific study design and concept application pertinent to their discipline of focus.

*Enrollment Open to Students on F-1 Visas

Why Study Biology at Northwest

Through tailoring coursework to meet students’ interests, specially-selected faculty mentors ensure students can demonstrate their ability to interpret and report data in written and oral formats. Graduates are prepared for employment in their focus area of biology and to be successful in subsequent professional or doctoral studies.

In addition to the two different areas of concentration, this program also offers three options for completion.

  • Option 1 (Thesis)
  • Option 2 (Non-Thesis, Scholarly Paper)
  • Option 3 (Non-Thesis, Professional Development Experience)

Pick your path

Biomedical / Molecular

Students in this area of concentration will study molecular biology, immunology and readings in molecular biology and more.

Environmental / Organismal Biology

Students in this area of concentration will study plant physiology, herpetology and aquatic and soil environmental chemistry, just to name a few courses.

Career opportunities

  • Postsecondary biological science teacher
  • Research scientist
  • Molecular biologist
  • Biomedical engineer

More details

Admissions requirements

Admissions requirements

Candidates for admission to the graduate program should meet the following requirements and submit the following materials:

  • Meet the requirements of the Graduate School as outlined in the graduate catalog and acceptance to graduate study by the dean of the Graduate School.
  • A condition of acceptance to the Biology Graduate program is that applicants must contact and secure in writing the mentoring consent of an appropriately qualified graduate faculty advisor. This advisor must have a terminal degree (Ph.D.) in a field suitable to advise the applicant’s intended area of concentration. If an advisor match cannot be made, the applicant cannot be accepted to the program. 
  • Completing a four-year undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university with an undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 2.75 (4.00 scale). Submit a complete set of undergraduate transcripts from all institutions attended.
  • An applicant with a GPA of 2.50 to 2.74 may apply to be accepted conditionally. If accepted, the student would complete the first eight graduate hours with a 3.00 GPA or be subject to suspension for one calendar year.

Applications to the Biology graduate program are evaluated holistically and on a rotating admissions basis by the Biology Graduate Committee.  Students may submit their complete application at any time during the academic year. A student who does not meet the GPA or other criteria could apply to the university as a non-degree-seeking student and seek full admission later.  Applicants may also be accepted on a provisional basis to the graduate program, depending on the quality of their application portfolio as a whole. 

If the student achieves a 3.00 in his/her first eight hours of graduate study, the provisional status may be lifted depending on accompanying evidence of appropriate progress. Admission to the program is not guaranteed.  The application approval date will dictate the matriculation term(s) for which an applicant is eligible.

It is advisable for applicants to the MS Biology program to have earned an undergraduate degree with coursework experience in life science, physics, chemistry, and mathematics.  It is not necessary for an applicant’s undergraduate degree emphasis to precisely match the area of concentration declared in their MS application. However, undergraduate transcripts will be evaluated for each applicant as part of the admissions process to determine whether their undergraduate program has properly prepared them for academic success in Natural Sciences graduate coursework.

Students may be accepted into the program with coursework deficiencies in these areas, but these deficiencies must be corrected in addition to the regular coursework associated with the program.  Deficiency requirements will be determined by the primary degree advisor and verified by the Graduate Coordinator and Graduate Committee.

Additional Application Materials

In addition to a complete set of undergraduate and graduate transcripts, applying students are required to submit the following materials:

  • GRE requirements
    • Composite score of a minimum of 286 (800 old version);
    • the analytical writing section must be submitted; and
    • a student who does not meet the required GRE score may be accepted to the program on the basis of the strength of their overall portfolio. The accepted student may be asked to retake the exam later to achieve the minimum score.
    • GRE Accessibility Mitigation: Due to recent complications with GRE testing site access, admissions understand that applying students may have difficulty completing the GRE requirement for application. Initial applications may therefore be considered without a GRE score, but applicants may be asked to complete the exam later. Do not delay the completion of your application due to GRE access; communicate with Graduate Admissions about your circumstance if flexibility is needed.
  • Two letters of recommendation describing the suitability of the applicant for graduate study.
  • A statement of purpose including:
    • a description of why the applicant wishes to pursue a Master of Science in biology and how they wish to professionally apply their training after graduation;
    • the area of concentration for the specific research project, scholarly paper, or professional capstone experience the applicant intends to conduct (organismal biology, micro/molecular biology, environmental biology, etc.)
      • Applicants are encouraged to review the research interests and areas of expertise of faculty within the department and contact them about potential projects within their laboratory. Priority is given to applicants who have identified an advisor willing to guide them through the completion of their thesis or scholarly paper research or mentor their professional capstone.
      • Applicants must arrange for written confirmation of their advisor’s consent to be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator.
Submit official documents by mail to:

Graduate School
Northwest Missouri State University
800 University Drive
Maryville, MO 64468-6001

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