This program provides advanced training for college graduates or professionals seeking careers in the biomedical research, biotechnology, neuroscience or biodefense, as well as evolutionary and animal biology, animal biology and biology teaching. Master's level concentrations are available in microbiology and infectious disease, molecular biology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and translational and clinical research. Alternatively, students may choose the program in general biological sciences, which allows flexibility to build a degree program tailored to a specific research or career interest. 

Admissions

University-wide admissions policies can be found in the Graduate Admissions Policies section of this catalog.

To apply for this program, please complete the George Mason University Admissions Application.

While each applicant's qualifications are reviewed as a whole, the following are provided: Applicants to the program must have a bachelor's degree in biology or its equivalent. Additionally, all MS concentrations require a GPA of 3.00 in biology coursework or in the last 60 credits of undergraduate study. Students must also submit three letters of recommendation and scores on the GRE general exam. Exam scores should be in the 45th percentile or above. Admission is contingent on acceptance by a faculty research advisor.

Microbiology and Infectious Disease (MID) Concentration

Students who choose the Microbiology and Infectious Disease Concentration (MID) must have a lecture and lab course in microbiology and a lecture course in biochemistry.

Translational and Clinical Research (TCR) Concentration

Students who choose the Translational and Clinical Research Concentration may submit MCAT scores in place of GRE general exam scores.

Evolutionary Biology (EB) Concentration

Students who choose the Evolutionary Biology Concentration must also submit a personal statement/statement of interest consistent with at least one faculty member's research program. GRE score should be approximately 303.

Policies

For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Banner Code: SC-MS-BIOL

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

Students should refer to the Admissions & Policies tab for specific policies related to this program.

Program of Study

The faculty advisor and the student work together to develop a program of study that best fits the student's background and interests. The student must submit a program of study to the program director for approval within the first 12 credits of coursework. By the end of the second semester of coursework, students will form a graduate committee made up of three faculty members. At least two committee members must be faculty in the School of Systems Biology.

Concentration Options

Candidates for the Biology, MS focus their study in one of five approved concentrations below, or by completing coursework for the program in biological sciences in an area of study chosen in consultation with the student's advisor and program director.

Research Options

Students have the option to complete a 3-6 credit master's thesis (BIOL 799 Thesis) or a 1-3 credit research project (BIOL 798 Master's Research Project). In accordance with AP.6 Graduate Policies, the same quality of work is expected of students regardless of which option they choose.

  • Thesis: In general, the MS thesis is most appropriate for students planning or considering a research career. Students pursuing the thesis option must write a formal thesis that meets the requirements of the school and must defend their thesis and present their results in a public seminar.
  • Research Project: The MS project is most appropriate for students who have scheduling commitments, such as a full-time job, that may preclude performing a complete series of laboratory experiments. Students pursuing the project option must successfully complete written and oral comprehensive exams.
Select a Master's Thesis or Research Project
BIOL 799Thesis3-6
BIOL 798Master's Research Project1-3

MS without Concentration

Program in Biological Sciences

Research Methodology1-3
Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology
Research Methods
Seminar2
Seminar in Biology
Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology
Research1-6
Select one from the following:
Master's Research Project
Thesis (3-6 credits)
Electives 119-26
Select 19–26 credits of electives in BIOL, BIOS, or related areas as approved by the student's advisor and the program director.
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Selected Topics in Genetics
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
General Biochemistry
Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Research in Biology
Laboratory Methods in Functional Genomics and Biotechnology
Genomics
Biotechnology
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Molecular Genetics
Molecular Evolution
Total Credits:30
1

These courses are provided as suggestions only; this is not intended to be a comprehensive list of elective options. Note that two courses covering substantially similar topics may not both be counted in the student’s program of study. Students should consult their faculty research advisor or the graduate program coordinator when preparing a program of study.

MS with Concentration in Microbiology and Infectious Disease (MID)

Research Methodology1-3
Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology
Research Methods
Core Biology12
Select four courses from the following:
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Virology
Pathogenic Microbiology
Microbial Physiology
Techniques in Microbial Pathogenesis
Seminar2
Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology
Research1-6
Select one from the following:
Master's Research Project
Thesis (3-6 credits)
Electives7-14
Select 7-14 credits from the following:
Techniques in Virology
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Current Topics in Bioscience
Or relevant graduate level coursework selected in consultation with the advisor
Total Credits:30

MS with Concentration in Molecular Biology (MOB)

Research Methodology1-3
Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology
Research Methods
Core Biology13
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Molecular Genetics
General Biochemistry
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
Molecular Evolution
Bioinformatics3
Select one from the following:
Computer Applications for the Life Sciences
Bioinformatics Methods
Bioinformatics Programming
Molecular Techniques2-4
Select 2-4 credits from the following:
Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
Cell-Based Assays
Laboratory Methods in Functional Genomics and Biotechnology
Special topics courses, such as BIOL 575 or BIOL 691, may also be approved for this requirement by the program director, but only in semesters in which they are primarily a laboratory course of at least two credits with substantial content of techniques in molecular biology.
Seminar2
Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology
Research1-6
Select one from the following:
Master's Research Project
Thesis (3-6 credits)
Electives 10-8
Select 0-8 credits of electives in BIOL, BIOS, or related areas as approved by the student's advisor and the program director.
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Selected Topics in Genetics
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
General Biochemistry
Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Research in Biology
Laboratory Methods in Functional Genomics and Biotechnology
Genomics
Biotechnology
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Molecular Genetics
Molecular Evolution
Total Credits:30
1

These courses are provided as suggestions only; this is not intended to be a comprehensive list of elective options. Note that two courses covering substantially similar topics may not both be counted in the student’s program of study. Students should consult their faculty research advisor or the graduate program coordinator when preparing a program of study.

MS with Concentration in Neuroscience (NEUR)

Research Methodology1-3
Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology
Research Methods
Core Neuroscience12-13
Select 12-13 credits from the following:
Chemistry and the Brain
Developmental Neuroscience
Cellular Neuroscience
Mammalian Neuroanatomy
Ethics in Scientific Research
Research Ethics
Neurophysiology Laboratory
Seminar2
Select 2 credits from the following:
Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology
Topics in Biosciences
Neuroscience Seminars
Statistics3-4
Select 3-4 credits from the following:
Introduction to Random Processes in Electrical and Computer Engineering
Advanced Statistics
Analysis of Experimental Data
Applied Probability
Applied Statistics I
Research1-6
Select one from the following:
Master's Research Project
Thesis (3-6 credits)
Electives2-11
Select 2-11 credits, suggested electives include but are not limited to the following:
Cancer Genomics
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
General Biochemistry
Human Genetics Concepts for Health Care
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Bioinformatics Methods
Research Ethics
Genomics
Biotechnology
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Molecular Genetics
Topics in Neuroscience
Total Credits:30

MS with Concentration in Evolutionary Biology (EB)

Seminar3-4
Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology
Select 2 credits from the following:
Seminar in Biology
Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology
Seminar in Biology
and Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology
Core Courses6-9
Select at least two courses from the following:
Population Genetics
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
Population Ecology
Organismal Biology6-8
Select 6-8 credits from the following suggestions in consultation with an advisor and/or committee and the program director:
Microbial Diversity: An Organismal Approach
Selected Topics in Ecology
Selected Topics in Animal Biology
Conservation Biology
Animal Behavior
Selected Topics in Plant Biology
Ornithology
Mammalogy
Herpetology
Tropical Ecosystems
Fungi and Ecosystems
Cancer Genomics
Human Genetics
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Laboratory
Microbial Ecology
The Diversity of Fishes
Molecular Techniques4-7
Molecular Environmental Biology II
Molecular Environmental Biology I 1
Research1-6
Select one from the following:
Master's Research Project
Thesis (3-6 credits)
Electives0-10
Select 0-10 credits of suggested courses from the following, but other courses are allowed if approved by an advisor and/or committee and the program director
Selected Topics in Animal Biology
Conservation Biology
Ornithology
Mammalogy
Herpetology
Tropical Ecosystems
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Selected Topics in Genetics
Human Genetics
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology
and Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Laboratory
General Biochemistry
Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
Human Genetics Concepts for Health Care
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Research in Biology
Systems Biology
Laboratory Methods in Functional Genomics and Biotechnology
Genomics
Biotechnology
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Molecular Genetics
Phylogenetic Analysis
Molecular Systematics
Molecular Evolution
The Diversity of Fishes
Waterscape Ecology and Management
Fungi and Ecosystems
Lab in Waterscape Ecology
Microbial Ecology
Multivariate Data Analysis for Ecology and Environmental Science
Introduction to Bioinformatics
Total Credits:30
1

Only required if not previously completed; this course is a prerequisite to EVPP 615.

MS with Concentration in Translational and Clinical Research (TCR)

Research Methodology1-3
Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology
Research Methods
Seminar2
Select 2 credits from the following:
Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology
Colloquium in Bioinformatics
Selected Topics in Animal Biology (when the topic is research and development related to biotechnology)
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology3
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Bioinformatics/Biostatistics3
Bioinformatics Methods
Analysis of Experimental Data
Human Genes, Cells and Tissues3
Select 3 credits from the following:
Human Genetics Concepts for Health Care
Human Genetics
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Biochemistry3-4
Select 3-4 credits from the following:
General Biochemistry
General Biochemistry I
Protein Biochemistry
Research1-6
Select one from the following:
Master's Research Project
Research Project
Thesis (3-6 credits)
Master's Thesis
Electives6-14
Select 6-14 credits from the following:
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Personalized Medicine
Virology
Cancer Genomics
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Pathogenic Microbiology
Microbial Physiology
Genomics
Biotechnology
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Molecular Genetics
The Chemistry of Enzyme-Catalyzed Reactions
Special Topics
Principles of Chemical Separation
Protein Biochemistry
Antibiotic Chemistry and Resistance
Modern Methods of Drug Discovery
Protein-Protein Interactions: Methods and Applications
Directed Reading and Research
Total Credits:30
Curriculum Notes
  • For students concurrently enrolled in the Advanced Biomedical Sciences Graduate Certificate, contact your advisor for details regarding:
    • BMED course credit that may be counted towards this concentration
    • Meeting requirements for graduate certificates and requirements for master's degrees

Biology, BS/Biology, Accelerated MS

Overview

Qualified undergraduates may be admitted into an accelerated master's program and to obtain both a Biology, BS and a Biology, MS within an accelerated time frame. Students admitted to this program may take graduate courses after completing 90 undergraduate credits, and up to 6 credits of graduate work may be used in partial satisfaction of the requirements for the undergraduate degree. If students earn at least a 3.00 in these classes, they are granted advanced standing in the master's program and must then complete an additional 24 credits to receive the master's degree. All other master's degree requirements must be met, including a minimum of 18 credits taken for the master's after the bachelor's degree is complete.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate programs, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Graduate Admission Policies section of this catalog. Application information for this accelerated master's program can be found on the School of Systems Biology's website.

Successful applicants will have an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.20. Additionally, they will have completed the following courses with a GPA of 3.00 or higher:

BIOL 213Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)4
BIOL 214Biostatistics for Biology Majors4
BIOL 308Foundations of Ecology and Evolution5
BIOL 310Biodiversity3
BIOL 311General Genetics4
CHEM 313Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 315Organic Chemistry Lab I2

Three letters of recommendation, including one from a prospective thesis or project advisor, are required.

Accelerated Option Requirements

At the beginning of the student's final undergraduate semester, students must submit a bachelor's/accelerated master's transition form (available from the Office of the University Registrar) to the College of Science's Office of Academic and Student Affairs. Students must begin their master's program in the semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree.

Students must maintain an overall GPA of 3.00 or higher in graduate coursework and should consult with their faculty advisor to coordinate their academic goals.

After completing 120 credits and all requirements for the bachelor's degree and filing the Graduation Intent Form, students are awarded a bachelor's degree. Accelerated master's students must then submit scores on the GRE to have the provisional qualifier removed. Ordinarily, students should receive a minimum combined score of 303 on the verbal and quantitative portions of the general test.

Reserve Graduate Credit

While still in undergraduate status, a maximum of 6 additional graduate credits may be taken as reserve graduate credit and applied to the master's program. Reserve graduate credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree.