Biological Sciences (M.A.)

Progress Toward Degree

Program of Study and Forming a Graduate Committee 

During your first semester of graduate school you should declare your program of study (Biological Sciences M.A.) and form a graduate committee that is composed of your faculty advisor, a second faculty member from biology, and an outside faculty member from a department other than biology. Additional faculty members or external scientists/faculty can be added as approved by the faculty advisor. You must submit a form indicating the composition of your committee. Work with your advisor and committee to identify the electives that are relevant for your career goals and degree.

Necessary forms are completed digitally and must be initated by the student. For directions on how to complete the various forms please follow the link below.

Culminating Comprehensive Exam

The M.A. Comprehensive Exam is a written examination designed to demonstrate understanding and integration of learning in the program. All M.A. students will take the comprehensive exam as the final culminating project of the degree. Following the completion of the exam your committee will grade it and you will need to submit a Final Evaluation Committee form indicating the result of the exam. The format of the exam is outlined below.

  • On-campus, closed-book exam 
  • Exam consists of 10 core concept questions (i.e., Evolution; Structure and Function; Information Flow Exchange and Storage; Pathways and Transformation of Energy and Matter; Systems) and 10 coursework- based exam questions from 500 and 600 level graduate courses taken by the student.
  • Graduate Director chooses core concepts and coursework-based questions from a question bank provided by the graduate faculty and maintained by the Graduate Committee.
  • Each question is graded individually as pass/fail.
  • A student passes the exam with 75 percent passed answers (i.e., 15 of 20 answers are graded “pass”). A student who received a pass grade on 10-14 questions (50-70 percent) will be given one chance to retake the exam within six months of receiving the grades for the first MA exam. A student who received a pass on 0-9 exam questions will be considered failed and will not be given an opportunity for a retake of the exam.
  • Students retaking the exam will receive 10 new core concepts and 10 new course-work based questions from the question bank.
  • Only one retake of the MA exam is permitted.
  • Necessary forms are completed digitally and must be initated by the student. For directions on how to complete the various forms please follow this link: Graduate Studies Forms

Timeline of your Final Semester 

The final semester of your graduate program includes numerous forms and deadlines (discussed above). Keep track of when all the relevant dates these forms and milestones must be completed by checking this calendar of the current academic years deadlines.

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