MS Program

Master of Science in Biology

A master's degree in biology expands your scientific skills and can open doors to new educational and job opportunities. Many students pursue a master's before continuing their education in medical or veterinary school, while others earn their advanced degree as part of their teaching career.

At the University of Rochester, the MS degree in biology is offered on a full- or part-time basis. Applicants to the program are expected to have a bachelor's degree in biology or a related field. Interested applicants should complete the standard online graduate student application and submit all supporting documents. The application deadline for fall admission is December 1 (we do not offer spring admission). Learn more about applying to graduate programs in the School of Arts & Sciences.

The department does not offer financial support to master's students. However, students may apply for financial aid through the University Financial Aid Office

Program Requirements

Biology master's students at Rochester choose either a research-based (Plan A) or course-based (Plan B) degree program. Both plans require 30 credit hours.

The Plan A (research-based) master’s degree requires an independent thesis based in part on original material. Students are not permitted to take fewer than six credits and more than 12 credits of research. Students must also pass an oral examination on the thesis. Plan A students can expect a close working relationship with biology faculty. The Department encourages students to pursue a research-based master's program. Please visit faculty web pages and feel free to contact faculty directly.

The Plan B (coursework-based) master’s degree allows students to tailor coursework to their specific interests. They may take a maximum of six credits of research and are required to take a minimum of six courses offered by the biology department. Plan B students are also required to take a comprehensive written exam.

View a list of graduate courses.

Note: MS students may apply for teaching assistantship (TA) positions by completing a TA application, but teaching is not required as part of the degree program.


For questions about the master's program in biology, contact the department's graduate course administrator, Patricia DiGiorgio, at or (585) 275-7991.