May 20, 2022  
2019 - 2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019 - 2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology, M.S.

In addition to Biology graduate requirements stated here, students must also satisfy all other Arts & Sciences Graduate Requirements  in order to earn the M.S. degree.

Each student must have a thesis committee consisting of a major advisor and at least two other faculty members from the department. This committee will be responsible for supervising the student’s research, advising the student regarding coursework and other aspects of the program, and administering a final oral exam at the time of the thesis defense.

Course Requirements

M.S. students must complete 30 credit hours of courses numbered in the 500s or 600s.

Required Courses

BIOL 601   - Introduction to Graduate Studies (3 credits, completed in the first year)
BIOL 682   - Research Seminar (at least 1 credit, with no more than 3 credits toward the 30 credit hours)
BIOL 695   - Graduate Research (at least 9 credits, with no more than 9 credits toward the 30 credit hours)
BIOL 700   - Thesis (6 credits, generally taken in the fourth semester)

With the approval of the thesis committee, an M.S. student may take courses in other departments or schools at William & Mary, but the credit hours may not total more than 6 of the 15 elective course credits required.

In addition, students must have at least one semester of organic chemistry and complete a balanced program of study consistent with the requirements we have established for W&M undergraduate biology majors. Most of our students fulfill this requirement as part of their undergraduate degree, but a graduate student may be required to take one or more undergraduate courses to fill in any gaps. Credits taken to fulfill this requirement cannot be applied toward credit hours of graduate courses required for the master’s degree.

Thesis Requirement

M.S. students must successfully complete and defend a thesis. Successful completion of a thesis will normally involve a two-year effort resulting in the production of a piece of original research that is of publishable quality and acceptable to the thesis committee. Each student must present this work in a seminar open to all members of the department; the seminar is followed by an oral examination administered by the committee.

Comprehensive Exam Requirement

Each student must pass a Graduate Student Comprehensive Examination covering basic and advanced principles of biology. The exam is given in the student’s second semester and must be passed or passed conditionally no later than May 30 of the first year of residency. Details of the examination and other procedures are provided in the Biology Department Graduate Handbook.

Foreign Language Requirement

There is no foreign language requirement.

Residence Requirement

A minimum residency period of one year is required.

Satisfactory Progress

Each student must achieve a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or better on a 4.0 scale in all courses undertaken for graduate credit at William and Mary after admission to the graduate program.  A student who receives a grade of C+ (2.3) or lower in a course may repeat that course one time for credit, upon approval of both the instructor of the course and the graduate director for the student’s program. When such a repeat attempt is approved, the grades for both attempts will count in the cumulative GPA, but only the most recent attempt will count toward the degree.  No credit toward a degree will be allowed for a course in which a student receives a grade below a C (grade point=2.0).

Regular students who drop below a 3.0 average will be given a one-semester probationary period to bring up their average. Failure to attain a 3.0 cumulative average, with a course load of at least 6 credits, by the end of the following semester will result in dismissal from the program.

To ensure timely completion of the M.S. degree, students matriculating in the fall must have their research advisor selected by Nov. 1 and a thesis committee selection form submitted to the Biology Office by November 15. The first committee meeting must be held no later than the first week of the spring semester. A comprehensive exam must be passed or passed conditionally no later than May 30 within the first year of residency.  It is recommended that the comprehensive exam be scheduled before April 1. Petitions to deviate from the above schedule must be approved by the Graduate Program Director and research advisor or the student risks being withdrawn from the program.

For students matriculating in a spring semester, a schedule for research advisor and thesis committee selection, committee meetings, and comprehensive exam dates must be developed by the student in consultation with her or his likely research advisor and approved by the Graduate Program Director.

For additional information regarding requirements, consult the Department of Biology Graduate Handbook.