Welcome to the Environmental Biology Program
The graduate major in Environmental Biology prepares students as professional biologists with a strong environmental emphasis. Required courses cover the spectrum of environmental biology from toxicology, microbial ecology, and environmental physiology to population biology and community ecology, emphasizing the applied aspects of these disciplines. Students are trained in the application of quantitative methods and in the design of field and laboratory studies.
Graduates obtain employment in biological and related fields or pursue advanced degrees. A number of graduates work as naturalists and natural resource managers at county, state, and national parks. Others are employed in the public or private sector as environmental consultants, habitat assessment experts, or laboratory scientists. The curriculum also serves certified secondary school biology teachers who wish to develop an environmental focus.
Faculty research interests range widely and include topics such as microbial ecology, resource partitioning in aquatic communities, forest and prairie ecology, rodent population dynamics, environmental toxicology and comparative physiology, plant adaptation in wetland habitats, animal behavior, and curriculum development in biology education.
In addition to meeting university admissions criteria, applicants must have completed a bachelor’s degree with a G.P.A. of 2.75 or higher and maintained a G.P.A. of 3.0 or higher for any graduate work attempted.
Applicants must complete the following course work with a grade of “C” or better in each course: eight hours of general biology with lab, eight hours of general chemistry with lab, three hours of statistical methods (STAT4219/6219), and four hours each of organic chemistry with lab, ecology with lab, microbiology with lab, animal physiology with lab, and plant physiology with lab. A student may be provisionally admitted to the program pending completion of this list of courses or the re-taking of courses for which the original grade was less than “C.” Students are expected to be proficient in a Windows environment with file management, word processing, spreadsheet, graphing, and Internet skills. Otherwise CPSC2005 or equivalent will be required with a grade of “C” or better. A second course in organic chemistry is strongly recommended.
As part of this degree program, students must choose between a thesis or project option.
In the thesis option, students develop a thesis proposal usually related to a faculty member’s research, carry out a formal research study under the supervision of the faculty member and a degree committee, prepare a final manuscript that includes a thorough literature review chapter followed by a traditional manuscript chapter suitable for publication consideration, and make a formal research presentation. The thesis option would be appropriate for students who have focused research interests or who intend to pursue doctoral study.
In the project option, students develop a master’s project proposal, complete the project in conjunction with a faculty member, and prepare a final technical report, and make a formal research presentation.
After admission as a degree-seeking student, a student also must be admitted to candidacy. To qualify for degree candidacy, an Environmental Biology student must accomplish the following within three years of admission to the program:
1. Required Preparation: Complete the required preparation course work listed above with a grade of “C” or better in each course.
2. Degree Plan: Meet during the first term of enrollment with the program academic advisor and faculty to complete a degree plan for the student’s course of study in Environmental Biology. The degree plan must be approved by at least three faculty, the program academic advisor, and the chair of the Science Division.
3. Research Proposal: Identify a research advisor from among the full-time Biology faculty and prepare a formal research proposal. This proposal should be a comprehensive statement of the student’s intended thesis/project research and must be approved by a committee of the research advisor and a minimum of two other faculty. Approved research proposals must be filed with the program academic advisor at least one year before the student’s expected date of graduation.
4. Grade Point Average: Maintain a G.P.A. of 3.0 or better to sustain candidacy.
More detailed candidacy information is available through the division office or from the student’s advisor.
To view the program fact sheet, please go to MS in Environmental Biology Fact Sheet