Degree Requirements

The following information outlines the expectations that will be placed on a student in the Department of Biological Sciences Graduate Program. Much of this can also be found in the Graduate Catalog.

Requirement for All Degrees

A Plan of Study approved by the student’s advisor must be submitted for approval to the Graduate College Dean before the student registers for his or her 12th semester hour. The Plan of Study is a student’s “blueprint” for completing graduation requirements. Students must also have a thesis committee (M.S.) or advising committee (M.A.) consisting of no fewer than three faculty (including the student’s advisor) assembled by the end of their first year. Students must meet with their committees at least once within their first year and at least once per semester (excluding the defense) in subsequent years.

M.S. Degree Requirements

  • Students must complete at least 32 hours of graduate coursework, including the thesis. The maximum amount of credit that may be earned for the thesis (BSC 681) is 12 hours.
  • Candidates for the M.S. degree must register for and participate in three hours of graduate seminars (BSC 660) during their first semester and BSC 662 in what is expected to be their final semester and complete at least 18 hours in graded BSC electives at the graduate level (which may include BSC 660, 662, and 681).
  • Not more than 6 hours of seminar (BSC 660, 662) may be used to complete the 32-hour requirement.
  • Not more than 4 semester hours credit in Independent Study (BSC 585-588) or Special Problems (BSC 650-652) may be used to complete the 32 hour requirement, and these may only be applied beyond the 18 hours in BSC graduate credits.
  • Students may elect to take 6 hours of graduate work in a minor field.
  • Successful completion of the program in Biological Sciences requires a GPA of 3.0 or higher, and no more than 6 credit hours of “C” grades may be applied to the total hours for graduation. Upon completion of course requirements and the thesis, M.S. candidates must pass a comprehensive oral examination.

M.A. Degree Requirements

  • Students who select the M.A. option must complete a minimum of 36 hours of graduate coursework. At least 18 credits must be at the 600 level.
  • M.A. candidates do not conduct thesis research. The graduate seminars, BSC electives, Independent Study/Special Problems, GPA, “C” grades, and comprehensive oral exam requirements are as stated for the M.S. degree.

Graduate Certificate Program in Bioinformatics

The Marshall University bioinformatics certificate is designed to develop a working understanding of a variety of techniques and methods for analyzing vast amounts of biological data. The source of information may be associated with recent genomic research, but may also include data sets related to other complex biological problems involving such topics as structure modeling, database mining, and visualization.

The certificate is designed to complement existing degrees and to suit the needs of students and professionals who want to specialize in the fast-expanding field of bioinformatics. The certificate curriculum is interdisciplinary and includes courses from the College of Science, the College of Information Technology and Engineering, and the Joan C. Edwards School of Medicine. Through completion of the certificate, the student will have acquired the necessary skills to analyze and interpret the large data sets using various bioinformatics tools.

Students who should apply for the certificate program would be biology, mathematics, chemistry, physics, and medical/biomedical students or medical doctors who desire to acquire skills required to understand bioinformatics methods and technology; computer science students who wish to understand biological concepts that can be analyzed using their programming skills; or health care professionals (medical, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries) who desire to acquire bioinformatics knowledge relevant to their fields of expertise.

Students will earn the certificate by completing 15 credit hours, including 9 credit hours from 3 core courses, 3 credit hours from a first elective course, and another 3 credit hours from a second elective.