Skip to main content

Master of Science in Biology

Format: In person on the Statesboro Campus or the Armstrong Campus in Savannah
Thesis Credit Hours: 30
Non-Thesis Credit Hours: 36
Entry Terms: Fall and Spring

No matter what career in biology you aspire to, our masters degree program has the path to suit your needs.

Georgia Southern University’s Department of Biology is the largest center for biology research and education in southern Georgia. The Master of Science in Biology degree provides access to cutting-edge, hands-on training that will prepare you for doctoral work or a successful career in the biological sciences.

Ready to Apply?


Or, you can:

Master of Science in Biology
Thesis Option

The thesis option is the traditional, and preferred, option for earning the MS in biology degree in our department. This option is highly recommended for any student planning to continue work toward a higher degree (e.g., PhD) or contemplating a career that involves any aspect of research (i.e., collecting, analyzing, or interpreting biological data; e.g., government agencies, lab technicians, environmental consulting, etc.)

Thesis Curriculum at a Glance

Students in the thesis option must complete 30 hours of coursework. These courses are organized as follows:

Required Core (8 credits)

  • Biometry (3 credits)
  • Research Methods (3 credits)
  • 2 Graduate Seminars (1 credit each)

Specialty Course (3 credits)

  • Evolutionary Ecology (3 credits)
  • Cell/Molecular Biology (3 credits)
  • Applied Biology (3 credits)

Research Courses (6 credits)

  • Research (3 credits)
  • Thesis (3 credits)

Electives (13 credits)

  • Courses at the 5000G or 7000 level

In addition to 30 hours of coursework, a student in the thesis option completes a written thesis describing and interpreting the results of an independent research project. Each thesis student is advised by a committee of at least three graduate faculty members, one of whom is the major advisor or committee chair. At the end of the student’s course of study, a public exit seminar describing the thesis must be presented before the Department of Biology and then defended before the thesis committee.

Master of Science in Biology
Non-thesis Option

Non-Thesis Credit Hours: 36

The non-thesis option is designed for individuals who wish to expand their biological knowledge via coursework. This option is appropriate for individuals already in a professional setting, such as teachers or people in industry. (Note: Teaching assistantships are awarded to students in the thesis track. If all slots cannot be filled by thesis degree seeking students first, then a non-thesis student could receive a teaching assistantship.)

Non-Thesis Curriculum at a Glance

Students in the non-thesis option must complete 36 hours of coursework. These courses are organized as follows:

Required Core (8 credits)

  • BIOL 5000G (4 credits)
  • BIOL 5000G process course (4 credits)

Specialty Courses (6 credits)

  • Evolutionary Ecology (3 credits)
  • Molecular Biology (3 credits)
  • Applied Biology (3 credits)

Other Requirements (5 credits)

  • 2 Graduate Seminars (1 credit each)
  • Directed Individual Study (3 credits)

Electives (17 credits)

  • Courses at the 5000G or 7000 level

Non-thesis students do not write a thesis. However, they are required to complete a directed individual study course in which the student completes an independent project and writes a report on this project. Non-thesis student are not required to have an advisory committee, but they must select a faculty advisor upon admission to the program.

Welcome to the graduate program in Biology at Georgia Southern University

Our Master of Science degree is designed to provide cutting-edge training in biology that will prepare students for challenging professional careers or entry into competitive PhD programs. Over 92% of our alumni are working in the biological, environmental, or health sciences; one out of every three graduates goes on to receive a terminal degree (e.g., PhD, MD). Our graduates work in 32 states and 10 countries.

Our masters program offers a number of unique advantages for students considering graduate training in biology:

  1. The Department of Biology at Georgia Southern is a “full-service” department. The broad expertise of our faculty provides the opportunity to train in areas ranging from molecular biology to ecosystems. This diversity of expertise means that graduate students can work creatively across subdiscipline boundaries.
  2. You will not get lost in the crowd. Our master’s program comprises approximately 50 graduate students and 39 faculty. You can expect close interaction with peers and mentors. Graduate students in our program get a level of personal attention that is rare or nonexistent in larger graduate programs.
  3. Georgia Southern’s location provides easy access to the amazing biodiversity of the southeastern United States. We are a 1-hour drive from coastal beaches and estuaries. Major rivers and bottomland forests are minutes from campus. The southern Appalachians are only 3 hours away.
  4. For research opportunities based regionally, nationally, and internationally, students in our program are able to take advantage of our department’s many affiliations. In the recent past our graduate students have worked closely with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S. Army (Fort Stewart), Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, Sapelo Island Estuarine Research Reserve, National Park Service, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, The Nature Conservancy, and many more agencies abroad.

If this sounds like a graduate experience that you want to be a part of, then explore this webpage in more detail. We are also happy to hear from you or arrange a visit.

John Carroll

Graduate Admissions

Are you ready to join the faculty and students at the graduate program in biology at Georgia Southern? Below, get all of the admissions information you need to apply to the program.

Where do I start?

Visit the College of Graduate Studies to get more information about the program. Complete the form to request information, and you will be asked to create a login name and password.

What are the requirements for admission?
  • A preferred cumulative GPA of at least 2.8 on your undergraduate work.
  • Typically 24 credit hours of biology, 9 hours of mathematics, 16 hours of chemistry, and 8 hours of physics or geology courses.
  • Preferred identification of your adviser prior to the application deadline

For more detailed information on graduate admissions at Georgia Southern, visit the College of Graduate Studies.

How do I apply?

You can apply to Georgia Southern through the graduate application. The cost for the application is $50. Be prepared to submit your transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a statement of your biology career goals and research interests. International students should submit scores from the TOEFL exam (Test of English as a Foreign Language), and have transcripts evaluated by World Education Services (WES).

We strongly recommend that you correspond with the graduate program director early in the application process. The graduate program director can give you useful tips and answer any questions. Although your online application will trigger steady correspondence from the University, the graduate program director in biology can give you the most personalized attention and accurate information regarding a final decision on your application.

Have I missed any steps?

Here’s a checklist to ensure you complete all the steps in the application process.

1. Contact potential advisers and the graduate program director in biology.

2. Apply by 1 March for full consideration for fall admission (priority deadline); April 1 is the final deadline.

3. Apply by 1 October for full consideration for spring admission (priority deadline).

4. Submit online application to Office of Graduate Admissions.

5. Pay $50 application fee.

6. Have official transcripts forwarded to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

7. Submit 2 letters of recommendation to the Office of Graduate Admissions.

8. Submit a statement of career goals to the Office of Graduate Admissions. Describe why you want to go to graduate school and what you intend to do afterwards.

9. Submit an on-line application for a graduate assistantship (optional) by the priority deadline

Do you have any questions or just want to talk to a real person?

If you have any questions about the admissions process do not hesitate to contact the graduate program director:

Dr. John Carroll
Department of Biology
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, GA 30460
912-478-0845 (fax)

Other useful contacts include:

College of Graduate Studies
P.O. Box 8008
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, GA 30460
912 478-2647
Coordinator of Graduate Admissions
P.O. Box 8113
Georgia Southern University
Statesboro, GA 30460
912 478-5384
Graduate Assistantships

The Department of Biology supports graduate students via a limited number of teaching assistantships and research assistantships.

Teaching Assistantships

Teaching assistantships are offered on a competitive basis to any qualified full-time graduate student in the Department of Biology. Teaching assistantships are awarded to students in the thesis track. If all slots cannot be filled by thesis degree seeking students first, then a non-thesis student could receive a teaching assistantship. These assistantships include a stipend and a tuition waiver (all but $25 of in-state or out-of-state tuition is waived).  As a teaching assistant you are responsible only for student fees and health insurance.

Teaching assistants in our department teach laboratory sections for non-majors in General Biology and/or Environmental Biology.  A typical workload is four 2-hour labs each week, plus a prep meeting and grading of assignments.  Assuming satisfactory performance as a teaching assistant, assistantships are typically guaranteed for five semesters.  This includes a very limited number of summer assistantships should you request summer support.

To be considered for a teaching assistantship you must apply online directly to the Graduate College.  This application should be completed by the same deadline as a graduate application  (We recommend 1 March for fall admission and 1 October for spring admission.).  Follow the link for more information on assistantships and to find the online application.

Research Assistantships

Research assistantships are grant-funded and offered on an unpredictable basis by individual faculty members.  Research assistants carry out research-related duties in return for a stipend, and their tuition and fees are typically covered by the grant.  However, each research assistantship is unique and depends on the particular grant providing the funding.

To be considered for a research assistantship you should inquire directly with potential faculty advisors.  You also can ask the graduate program director about possible research assistantships in the department.

Other Support

In addition to assistantships, the department and university offer a limited number of competitive research grants and scholarships.  These grants and scholarships generally cover the direct costs of research or classes (e.g., books, supplies); they do not provide a stipend or cover tuition.


Even after reading this website, we would be surprised if you did not still have a few questions. Here are some of the most common ones. If you have additional questions, feel free to contact the program director or the appropriate campus office.

Who do I contact for more information? Contact the graduate program director: Dr. John Carroll, 912-478-4587; Fax 912-478-0845;

What degrees does the graduate program in biology offer? The Department of Biology at Georgia Southern University offers the Master of Science (MS) degree in biology. We do not have a PhD program.

Does Georgia Southern offer a graduate degree in….? Many prospective students ask whether we offer a MS degree in botany, zoology, animal behavior, or other specialized field of biology. Although we offer only the MS in biology, students are free to specialize in the area of concentration of their choice. The broad research interests of our faculty provide the opportunity to work in almost any area of biology.

Should I contact individual faculty members directly? Yes. We strongly recommend that prospective students contact potential advisors before or during the application process. This early contact is informal and does not commit you to an advisor, but it helps insure that you will be able to work in the area best suited to your interest.

What materials constitute a completed application? Applicants to the biology program must submit a completed online application, an application fee, transcripts, two letters of recommendations, and a statement of career goals.

When is the deadline to apply? For Fall semester admissions, the Department of Biology has a priority deadline of 1 March for all students interested in being considered for an assistantship. The final deadline for receipt of all materials is 1 April; the application system is closed after this date. Admissions and funding decisions are made in early April. For Spring semester admissions, the Department of Biology has a priority deadline of 1 October. The final deadline is 15 November. International students should apply by the priority deadlines.

Where do I send my application materials? All applications and supporting materials are submitted online to the Office of Graduate Admissions, P.O. Box 8113, Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, GA 30460. Once in this office, your application will be placed in an electronic file and made available to the graduate program director in biology. Use the following link for the online process.

Do I have to take the GRE general test or the subject test in biology? No, applicants do not have to take the GRE general or subject tests.

How do I apply for an assistantship? To be considered for a teaching assistantship, submit a graduate assistantship application online to the graduate college. In addition, we strongly recommend that you contact the graduate program director directly and indicate your interest in an assistantship. Research assistantships are arranged, when available, through individual faculty members. Visit the following link for more information.

What are the duties and compensation for a graduate assistantship? Teaching assistants typically teach four 2-hour labs for non majors each week. Assistants are responsible for preparing labs and grading assignments. Teaching assistants receive stipends plus a tuition waiver. Research assistantships are offered, subject to grant funding, by individual faculty members. Duties of research assistants vary, but they typically involve research-related activity such as data collection or analysis. Stipends for research assistants vary.

Is an assistantship guaranteed for as long as I am at Georgia Southern? Given satisfactory performance, teaching assistants can expect five semesters of funding. This is typically sufficient time to complete the MS degree. Duration of research assistantships varies depending on the nature of the funding.

How much will it cost? Tuition rates can be found here.  Tuition is waived for teaching assistants, but University fees currently are not. Tuition and fees are usually, but not always, covered by a grant for research assistants. The cost of living in Statesboro is relatively low.

Are graduate students provided health insurance? All graduate students in Georgia who hold a research or teaching assistantship, as well as international students, are required to have health insurance. A policy is available through the university, or you may hold a policy of your own. The cost of this insurance is not covered by the department or university, but grant-funded assistantships sometimes cover insurance costs. The most up to date information on insurance can be found here.

Are graduates of Georgia Southern’s biology graduate program successful? Our graduates are highly successful in their chosen fields. A recent assessment revealed that about 92% of our over 250 alumni are employed in the biological, health, or environmental sciences. One-third of our graduates go on to receive terminal degrees such as the PhD or MD.

Does the university provide graduate or married-student housing? Yes, Georgia Southern University has a limited number of housing units for graduate students. Please contact University Housing for more information on this option (912-478-5406).

Where is Statesboro? Statesboro is located on the coastal plain of southeast Georgia, approximately 50 miles west of the coastal city of Savannah. Access is by car (we are located 12 miles off Interstate 16), bus (Greyhound), or air (to Savannah International Airport).

Graduate Courses

Course work for the Master of Science degree is varied. We offer many graduate only courses (7000 level) and a very wide range of cross listed courses (5000G level) so that students can tailor their program to meet their career goals.

To degree paths exist: a traditional thesis option and a non- thesis option. The thesis option is by far the most common route in biology.  Here students conduct original work under the direction of a specific faculty member (advisor) and produce a thesis.  The non-thesis option is designed for individuals who desire to expand their biological knowledge via coursework alone. This option is well suited for those that are already in a professional setting such as teachers or persons in industry.


The Thesis option in the Master of Science in Biology program requires 30 hours of course work. Required course work includes Biometry & Research Methods. Students have the option of taking one or more of the following specialty courses: Evolutionary Ecology, Molecular Biology, or Applied Biology. Other requirements include 2 hours of graduate seminar (BIOL 7610), 3 hours of research (BIOL 7895), and 3 hours of thesis (BIOL 7999). At least 15 hours must be at the 7000 level.

Non Thesis

The non-thesis program requires 36 hours of course work. Required course work includes two of the following specialty courses: Evolutionary Ecology, Molecular Biology, or Applied Biology. Other requirements include 2 hours of graduate seminar (BIOL 7610), 3 hours of directed individual study (BIOL 7890/7893), and elective courses at the 5000G level.

Graduate Resources
On-campus and off-campus resources that you may find useful as you consider joining the graduate program in biology

Biology Organization of Graduate Students. This club is Georgia Southern University’s biology graduate student organization. They are a social and service organization devoted to the graduate program in the Department of Biology. Check them out on Facebook!

Molecular Biology Initiative. The Molecular Biology Initiative, housed within the Department of Biology, is a 2-year program providing professional development opportunities, strong molecular biology training and funding for M.S. thesis students.

2020-21 Source Book for Biology Graduate Students. This 56-page handbook contains all the helpful information our grad students need to navigate through the graduate program.

Campus map. A map of our campus.

College of Graduate Studies. This is the college that oversees and sets policy for the graduate program. (912-478-0578)

College of Science and Mathematics. The college within which the Department of Biology is located. (912-478-5111)

Fact Book. How much do you really want to know? It’s probably in this fact book!

Financial Aid. See what sorts of financial aid options are available. (912-478-5413)

The University Store. Be the first on your block to get that Georgia Southern sweatshirt. They have textbooks, too. (912-478-5181)

Health Services. Provides campus health services. Check here for information on health insurance and immunization requirements. (912-478-5641)

Henderson Library. Link to our library and its many resources.  (912-478-5115)

Office of Admissions. The office that handles the admission process and graduate records. (912-478-5391)

Office of Research Services and Sponsored Programs. This office supports research on campus and insures that all research is compliant with federal regulations. (912-478-5465)

Registrar. This is the office that is in charge of registering you for class and maintaining permanent records. You can also download a copy of the university catalog here. (912-478-5152)

Savannah. Information about our neighbor to the east.

Statesboro. Information about the city and county from the chamber of commerce.

Student Conduct. A guide to policies and procedures for students.

University Housing. Information about campus housing; caters mainly to undergraduates, but some housing is reserved for graduate students. (912-478-5406)

Biology Organization of Graduate Students

What Does BOGS Do?

BOGS main goal is to bring the busy lives of the biology graduate students together. Once a year the graduate students identify a distinguished alumnus from the Department’s graduate
program. BOGS invites the distinguished alumnus to campus to present a seminar on their
current research. Also, current graduate students spend time with this individual to learn how
they too may develop a productive and distinguished career after leaving Georgia Southern.
BOGS participates in many local initiatives that are related to biology and/or the environment.
Often we work with other on campus organizations such as SAGE, Biology Club, or the Center
for Sustainability, as well as in the community (e.g. Great American Clean Up, River’s Alive, etc.)
Finally, BOGS also organizes many social events to give the hard working Biology graduates
students a short reprieve from their intense research and course schedules.

Can You Get Involved?

Any Georgia Southern Biology graduate student is welcome to join BOGS! All graduate
students are encouraged to come to social events and become part of the graduate student
community! We have our own Facebook page that announces our weekly outings – so follow
us and get involved!

Program Learning Outcomes

The Master of Science program within the Department of Biology is dedicated to the preparation of broadly trained, professional scientists. Students will achieve this preparation through the primary activities of coursework and research. The program offers a challenging, student‐centered curriculum that is research‐based, technology‐oriented, and that provides a foundation for life‐long learning. The program serves students interested in all areas of biology – from molecular or cellular biology to ecology and evolution. The program supports the broader University vision of national recognition via interdisciplinary, extramurally funded research and publication, and the College vision of research in Coastal Plain Science and Cancer Research.


Upon completion of the MS in Biology, majors will be able to:

PLO1. Demonstrate general knowledge of basic biological principles.

PLO2. Function as a researcher in laboratory and/or field settings using appropriate basic equipment.

PLO3. Conduct original research in a biological sub‐discipline, including the design of experiments with appropriate controls.

PLO4. Apply biometric principles to their experimental design, and to the analysis and interpretation of the data.

PLO5. Effectively communicate by defending original research in writing and in oral presentation.

PLO6. Judge the veracity and value of peer‐reviewed publications in biology.

PLO7. Practice professional ethics in the conduct of science.

Do You Have Questions? Contact Us!

Department of Biology


Georgia Southern University
4324 Old Register Road
Statesboro, GA 30460
Phone: 912-478-5487


Science Center 1505
11935 Abercorn Street
Savannah, GA 31419
Phone: 912-344-3330


175 West Memorial Drive
Hinesville, GA 31313
Phone: 912-877-1906

Related Programs

Last updated: 5/22/2023