Program Overview

The thesis program in Biology may be broadly based and include course work in several areas of biology, or it may provide for concentration within a specific area of biology. One of the strengths of these master’s degree programs is that they provide the opportunity for students to participate in an in‐depth graduate research project. Many of these projects utilize field-oriented research because of the unique geographical setting of the university. Laboratory research is also supported in such areas as neurobiology, genetics, virology, immunology and physiology.

Thesis advisors for students in this program are drawn from the Biology Department faculty who maintain graduate faculty Level 3 status.

Fantastic Facilities & Faculty

Department facilities include a greenhouse, aquatics laboratory, herbarium, the Longyear Forest, confocal microscope, molecular biology labs, a small‐animal colony, and the Northern Museum of Zoology.

The Biology Department faculty maintain active research programs and are strongly invested in mentoring graduate students to help them grow into independent and productive scientists.

Program Curriculum

Programs must include a minimum of 32 credit hours of graduate courses. A minimum of 16 credit hours must be 500‐level courses in biology. A minimum of 20 credit hours of biology courses are required.

  • Graduate students must carry out a plan of study which includes research and thesis.
  • Candidates must perform original research under the direction of a research adviser from the Biology Department and present a seminar and thesis based on the research at the conclusion of their program.
  • The student's advisory committee must approve a formal research proposal providing a review of literature and clear explanation of methods prior to the start of data collection.
  • The candidate will defend his or her thesis at an oral examination.
  • The thesis must be accepted by the Biology Department and the Office of Graduate Education.

Additional guidelines and policies are available in the Master of Science in Biology Student Handbook.

Admission Requirements

Applicants are required to comply with the regular admission requirements of the College of Graduate Studies, which includes an undergraduate grade point average of 3.0. In addition, students must have either: a) a bachelor's degree in the biological sciences, or b) a minimum of 24 credit hours in undergraduate Biology courses, or equivalents, with a minimum GPA in these courses of 3.0. Transcripts of applicants will be evaluated on an individual basis.

Applicants are also expected to have a background in other sciences, with a total of 16 credits of coursework from at least two of the following areas: chemistry (general chemistry, organic chemistry, or biochemistry), geography (geographic information systems), geology (physical geology, soils or hydrology), physics or statistics. At least 12 of these credits are expected to be accompanied by a lab. Other courses may be accepted with the approval of the department.

Applicants and/or their potential advisors may request special consideration for admission of students with backgrounds that do not meet these expectations. Written requests should be directed to the Biology Graduate Committee, which after consideration will make recommendations to the Department for final approval of admission recommendations. The Department may admit students with deficient backgrounds with conditions that need to be met in a defined period of time.

Applicants are required to comply with the regular admission requirements of the College of Graduate Studies. Additional information regarding Biology graduate admissions can be found here.

Learn More

To learn more about pursuing your education at NMU, you can request additional information, schedule a visit, or apply online. 

sunrise over a northern lake

The Graduate Program in Biology provides quality graduate education through student-faculty collaboration in biological research and scholarly activity. Graduates will have a strong understanding of biology and the principles that guide the design and execution of high-quality research. Graduates will have substantial research experience and will be able to successfully communicate scientific information to the public and the scientific community.

MS Biology Program Mission