2017-2018 Catalog

Master of Science in Biology

About the Master's Program

About the Master's Program
The Master's Program in Biology is a two-year program in which a student must complete a required core of courses and additional elective courses. The academic program is expected to culminate in a thesis. During the first semester of the program, the student should choose a major advisor who will assist him or her in the choice of elective courses. The major advisor will chair the student's advisory committee for the thesis. Two additional members of the student's graduate advisory committee will need to be selected.
The graduate program can provide a strong background for future study in a doctoral program. It also provides graduate training as preparation for professional studies in medicine, dentistry or other health science fields. Students with a master's degree in biology are also prepared for a career in teaching and/or research.
Many graduate classes are scheduled to accommodate late afternoon and evening students.

Admission Requirements

Requirements for admission as a classified graduate student are a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field with a minimum grade point average of 2.75 in the last 60 semester (90 quarter) units of upper division course work, completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) at the graduate level and completion of courses equivalent to the CSU Dominguez Hills' degree in biology. Specifically, a student must have completed an upper division course in each of the subject areas listed below with a grade of "B" or better.

Subject Area
Cell Biology
Experimental Laboratory
Animal, Human or Microbial Physiology
Evolution or Ecology

Students who do not satisfy all these requirements may be admitted as a second baccalaureate student while they complete the requirements. Students who meet all but one requirement may be admitted as a conditionally classified graduate student at the discretion of the Biology Graduate Committee. They must meet any conditions by the end of the first year in that status.
Final decision on admission to the graduate program is made by the Biology Graduate Committee.

Admission Procedures

Prospective graduate students must:

  1. Submit an application to the University for admission (or readmission) with graduate standing, and official transcripts of all previous college work following the procedures outlined in the Admissions section of the University Catalog.
  2. Submit to the Biology Graduate Program Coordinator, NSM A-143, CSU Dominguez Hills,1000 E. Victoria St., Carson, CA 90747.
    • a second set of official transcripts;
    • a letter describing interests, goals and expectations in pursuing the master's degree in biology;
    • three letters of recommendation sent directly from individuals who can evaluate potential for graduate study;
    • verification of completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR) either by passing the Graduation Writing Examination (GWE) with a grade of eight or better or passing an approved course with a grade of "B" or better, before the student has completed 9 semester units;
    • a departmental application.

Degree Requirements (30 units)

The Master of Science Degree in Biology requires completion of 30 units, at least 15 of which must be graduate (500-level) courses in biology.

A. Required Courses (19 units):

BIO 421Advanced Molecular Biology

3 units


BIO 440Molecular Genetics


BIO 501Biological Literature


BIO 502Biostatistics


BIO 504Research Techniques in Biology


BIO 520 Advances in Cell and Molecular Biology


BIO 590Graduate Seminar


B. Electives (11 units):

Select from the following:

Other graduate (500 level) courses in biology. A required course indicated as being repeatable may be used both as a required course and as an elective.

Upper division (400 level) courses in biology.

BIO 597Directed Reading


BIO 598Directed Research


BIO 599Thesis


NOTE: Students completing a thesis may count a maximum of nine units of BIO 597, BIO 598 and BIO 599 combined. However, no more than six units of BIO 599 may be applied to the degree.

Any of the following courses:

CHE 320Physical Chemistry I


CHE 450Biochemistry I


CHE 451Biochemistry I Lab


CHE 452Biochemistry II


CHE 453Biochemistry Laboratory II

2 units

Students must take all courses within five years of the date of graduation. If approved by the Graduate Committee and the Graduate Dean, a student may revalidate a limited number of courses. However, under no circumstances can a course taken more than seven years before graduation be revalidated and counted in the program.


An overall "B" average is required in courses in the student's program and all courses must be passed with a grade of "B-" or above.

C. Thesis

Each student should select a major advisor to guide them in their program. The student and the major advisor will select two more faculty to serve as the student's graduate committee. At least two of the committee, including the chair, must be faculty from the CSUDH biology department. When additional expertise is required, the third member may be a faculty member from another department, or other academic institution.

The thesis is appropriate for all students and a necessity for those who plan a career in research and plan to continue to a doctoral program. The student and his or her major advisor will prepare a one or two page hypothesis-based proposal of the thesis research along with the time line of no more than two years to completion. This proposal is also to be approved by the two other members of the student's thesis committee and submitted to the Biology Graduate Committee for review and approval.

Upon the completion and acceptance of the thesis, the student and his or her advisor will arrange for an oral defense of the thesis. This ordinarily takes the form of a seminar to which the faculty, students and public are invited to attend.

D. Continuing Student Status

Students must maintain continuous enrollment throughout their time in the graduate program. Students who miss a semester will have to reapply to the university and to the program.

Students who have completed their course work and are working on their thesis may enroll in BIO 600 Graduate Continuation Course (0 units) to maintain continuous attendance. Students must be enrolled the semester they graduate.

E. Biology Graduate Program Policy on Revalidation of Outdated Course Work

The Biology Department requires that all course work taken in the master's degree program be completed within the five years immediately preceding the date of graduation.

Revalidation of outdated course work may be requested from the University Graduate Studies Office through the Biology Graduate Coordinator. Outdated course work means courses that were completed earlier than five years, and no more than seven years, immediately preceding the date of graduation. The request must be accompanied by a petition from the Biology Graduate Committee that verifies that the student has done one of the following:

repeated the course and passed it with a grade of "B" or better;

taken the exams and completed the assignments of the course as it is currently offered and earned a grade of "B" or better;

taken and passed a special section of the written comprehensive which covers the course contents.

The choice of the revalidation method is at the discretion of the Biology Graduate Committee.

F. Classified Standing

If a student has been admitted as conditionally classified, he or she must fulfill the conditions for classified standing by the end of the first year after admission. The student must submit an application for classified standing to the Dean of Graduate Studies, who will forward the request to the Biology Graduate Coordinator. To receive classified standing, the student must have:

completed all prerequisite courses and requirements including the GWAR;

a grade point average of 3.0 or better in all courses taken at CSUDH and received a grade of B- or better in all courses.

G. Advancement to Candidacy

An application for advancement to candidacy is submitted when the student has completed most of the course work and is completing the thesis. Application is made through the Biology Graduate Coordinator and must be done before the student can complete the thesis. This application will list the student's program of courses and other requirements which must be completed for the degree.

The student should have:

classified standing;

completed all required courses;

taken the GRE by the semester he/she applies for graduation;

maintained a minimum grade point average of 3.0 and received a grade of B- or better in all courses taken in the graduate program;

approval of his or her thesis proposal by the graduate advisor and committee.

The Graduate Program Coordinator sends the advancement to candidacy form to the College Dean and Graduate Dean who forwards it to the graduation unit of the Registrar's Office. It is used for the degree check after the student has submitted an Application for Graduation form to the Office of the Registrar.

H. Master's Requirements

In addition to the program requirements, students must meet all university requirements for the master's degree. Students should consult the section of the catalog entitled "Requirements for the Master's Degree."