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 required: Applicants to the program must have a bachelor's degree in biology or other relevant fields from an institution of higher education accredited by a Mason-recognized U.S. institutional accrediting agency or international 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. GRE is waived for those with previous MS degree in any field, with graduate-level certificate or at least 9 credits of relevant non-degree studies. Previous research experience or relevant employment is a plus. Admission is contingent on acceptance by a faculty research advisor.

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. 

Microbiology and Infectious Disease (MID) Concentration

Students who choose the Microbiology and Infectious Disease concentration 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.

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.

Candidates for the Biology, MS must complete the Core Courses and may choose one concentration or the MS without concentration requirements, detailed below, for a total of 30 credits (minimum).

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.

Students must complete all core courses and choose one concentration option:

Core Courses

Cell and Molecular Requirement3
Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology
Molecular Genetics
Professional Methods Requirement4
Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology
Choose one from the following:
Interdisciplinary Tools in the Biosciences
Current Topics in Biology 1
Research Methods
Research Methods
Seminar Requirement3
Select a total of 3 credits from the following courses:
Seminar in Biology
Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology 2
Systems Biology/Evolution Requirement3
Adaptation in Biosystems
Research Requirement2-6
Students have the option to complete a 2-3 credit research project (BIOL 798 Master's Research Project) or a 3-5 credit master's thesis (BIOL 799 Thesis). In accordance with AP.6 Graduate Policies, the same quality of work is expected of students regardless of which option they choose.
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. Additionally, students should present their research orally or as a poster to a community outside of the classroom, at Mason conferences or at external conferences.
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.
Select a Research Project or a Master's Thesis
Master's Research Project (2-3 credits)
Thesis (3-5 credits)
Total Credits15-19

MS without Concentration

General Coursework12
In consultation with an advisor, select at least 12 credits of graduate coursework from BIOL, BIOS, BMED, or NEUR-prefixed courses. Suggestions include:
Selected Topics in Animal Biology 1
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Cancer Genomics
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Selected Topics in Genetics
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
General Biochemistry
Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
Directed Studies in Biology 2
Bioinformatics Internship
Research in Biology
Laboratory Methods in Functional Genomics and Biotechnology
Genomics
Biotechnology
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Molecular Genetics
Molecular Evolution
Total Credits:30

Concentration in Evolutionary Biology (EB)

Populations and Species3-6
Select 3-6 credits from the following:
Population Genetics
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
Molecular Evolution
Population Ecology
Organismal Biology3-6
Select 3-6 credits from the following:
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
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology
Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Laboratory
Microbial Ecology
The Diversity of Fishes
Molecular Techniques3-4
Select 3-4 credits from the following:
Directed Studies in Biology 1
Bioinformatics Internship
Methods in Evolutionary Biology
Molecular Environmental Biology I
Molecular Environmental Biology II
Electives2-6
If needed in order to reach a total of 30 credits, select from the following courses: 2
General Biochemistry
Directed Studies in Biology 1
Bioinformatics Internship
Genomics
Any additional course listed in the Core Courses section
Total Credits:30

Concentration in Microbiology and Infectious Disease (MID)

Microbiology and Infectious Diseases12
In consultation with an advisor, select 12 credits from the following:
Topics in Bioinformatics 1
Advanced Topics in Immunology
Virology
Emerging Infectious Diseases
Directed Studies in Biology 2
Pathogenic Microbiology
Microbial Physiology
Electives0-3
If needed to reach a total of 30 credits, select from the following courses:
Infectious Diseases of Wildlife
Techniques in Virology
General Biochemistry
Techniques in Microbial Pathogenesis
Biotechnology
Any additional course listed in the Core Courses section
Total Credits:30

Concentration in Molecular Biology (MOB)

Molecular Biology12
In consultation with an advisor, select 12 credits from the following:
Selected Topics in Animal Biology 1
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
Molecular Evolution and Conservation Genetics
Molecular Evolution
Computer Applications for the Life Sciences
Bioinformatics Methods
General Biochemistry
Eukaryotic Cell Biology Laboratory
Cell-Based Assays
Directed Studies in Biology 2
Bioinformatics Internship
Methods in Evolutionary Biology
Biotechnology
Molecular Biotechnology
Molecular Neuropharmacology
Electives0-3
If needed to reach a total of 30 credits, select from the following courses:
Biomolecular Modeling
Directed Studies in Biology 2
Bioinformatics Internship
Genomics
Special Topics in Neuroscience 3
Topics in Neuroscience
General Biochemistry II
Protein Biochemistry
Any additional course listed in the Core Courses section
Total Credits:30

Concentration in Neuroscience (NEUR)

Statistics3
Select 3 credits from the following:
Introduction to Bioinformatics Methods
Bioinformatics Methods
Biological Data Analysis
Current Topics in Biology 1
Analysis of Experimental Data
Applied Probability
Applied Statistics I
Neurobiology9
In consultation with an advisor, select 9 credits from the following, at least 6 of which must be in NEUR-prefixed courses:
Selected Topics in Animal Biology 2
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics 3
Directed Studies in Biology 4
Bioinformatics Internship
Special Topics in Neuroscience
Developmental Neuroscience
Cellular Neuroscience
Mammalian Neuroanatomy
Neuroethics
Synaptic Plasticity
Neural Modeling
Molecular Neuropharmacology
Topics in Neuroscience
Neuroscience Laboratory
Neuroscience Seminars
Special Topics in Neuroscience
Computational Neurobiology
Introduction to Neuroimaging
Electives0-3
If needed to reach a total of 30 credits, select from the following:
General Biochemistry
Current Topics in Biology 5
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Directed Studies in Biology 4
Bioinformatics Internship
Any additional NEUR-prefixed course at the 500-700 levels
Total Credits:30

Concentration in Nutrition Genetics and Nutraceuticals (NGN)

Nutrition6
In consultation with an advisor, choose 6 credits from the following:
Selected Topics in Animal Biology 1
Nutrition Across the Lifespan
Macronutrients
Nutrition Research Methods
Human Diseases6
In consultation with an advisor, choose 6 credits from the following:
Cancer Genomics
Human Genetics Concepts for Health Care
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Electives
If needed to reach a total of 30 credits, select from the following courses:
Selected Topics in Animal Biology 2
Personalized Medicine
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
General Biochemistry
Directed Studies in Biology 3
Bioinformatics Internship
General Biochemistry II
Any additional course listed in the Core Courses section
Total Credits30

Concentration in Translational and Clinical Research (TCR)

Translational and Clinical Research 112
In consultation with an advisor, select 12 credits from the following:
Selected Topics in Animal Biology 2
Personalized Medicine
Cancer Genomics
Human Genetics Concepts for Health Care
Signal Transduction in Cancer
Current Topics in Biology 3
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Directed Studies in Biology 4
Bioinformatics Internship
Cell Biology and Microscopic Anatomy 5
Fundamentals of Human Physiology 5
Introduction to Human Anatomy 5
Electives0-3
If needed to reach a total of 30 credits, select from the following courses:
Selected Topics in Animal Biology 6
Advanced Topics in Molecular Genetics
General Biochemistry
Directed Studies in Biology 4
Bioinformatics Internship
Genomics
Any additional course listed in the Core Courses section
Total Credits:30

Biology, BS/Biology, Accelerated MS

Overview

This bachelor's/accelerated master's degree program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to advance their education to obtain both the Biology, BS and the Biology, MS degrees within an accelerated timeframe. Upon completion of this 138 credit accelerated program, students will be exceptionally well prepared for entry into their careers or into a doctoral program in the field or in a related discipline.

Students are eligible to apply for this accelerated program once they have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and can enroll in up to 18 credits of graduate coursework after successfully completing 75 undergraduate credits. This flexibility makes it possible for students to complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For more information on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses, see AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

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.

Important application information and processes for this accelerated master's program can be found here.

Students should seek out the graduate program's advisor who will aid in choosing the appropriate graduate courses and help prepare the student for graduate studies.

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

GRE scores are not required for students in this accelerated program.

Successful applicants will have an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.10. Additionally, they will have completed the following courses with a GPA of 3.00 or higher2:

BIOL 213Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)4
BIOL 214Biostatistics for Biology Majors4
BIOL 300BioDiversity 14
or BIOL 311 General Genetics
CHEM 313
CHEM 315
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry Lab I 2
5

Accelerated Option Requirements

After the completion of 60 undergraduate credits, 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

At the completion of 75 undergraduate credits, students may begin completing up to 12 credits of graduate coursework that will count toward their bachelor's and master's.

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.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Accelerated master's students may also take up to 6 graduate credits as reserve graduate credits. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree, but will reduce the master's degree by up to 6 credits. With 12 graduate credits counted toward the undergraduate degree plus the maximum 6 reserve graduate credits, the credits necessary for the graduate degree can be reduced by up to 18.

Graduate Course Suggestions

The following list of suggested courses is provided for general reference. To ensure an efficient route to graduation and post-graduation readiness, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for graduate-level courses.

BIOL 508Selected Topics in Animal Biology (When the topic is "Research and Development in a Biotechnological Company")1-4
BIOL 682Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology3
BIOL 689Interdisciplinary Tools in the Biosciences3
BIOL 690Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology1-2
BIOL 695Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology1

Neuroscience, BS/Biology, Accelerated MS

Overview

This bachelor's/accelerated master's degree program allows academically strong undergraduates with a commitment to advance their education to obtain both the Neuroscience, BS and the Biology, MS degrees within an accelerated timeframe. Upon completion of this 138 credit accelerated program, students will be exceptionally well prepared for entry into their careers or into a doctoral program in the field or in a related discipline.

Students are eligible to apply for this accelerated program once they have earned at least 60 undergraduate credits and can enroll in up to 18 credits of graduate coursework after successfully completing 75 undergraduate credits. This flexibility makes it possible for students to complete a bachelor's and a master's in five years.

For more detailed information, see AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degrees. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies. For more information on undergraduates enrolling in graduate courses, see AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.

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.

Important application information and processes for this accelerated master's program can be found here.

Students should seek out the graduate program's advisor who will aid in choosing the appropriate graduate courses and help prepare the student for graduate studies.

GRE scores are not required for students in this accelerated program.

Students must obtain a graduate faculty advisor prior to beginning graduate coursework.

Successful applicants will have an overall undergraduate GPA of at least 3.10. Three letters of recommendation, including one from a prospective thesis or project advisor, are required. Additionally, they will have completed2 the following courses with a GPA of 3.001 or higher:

BIOL 213Cell Structure and Function (Mason Core)4
One Course in Statistics:3-4
Biostatistics for Biology Majors
Introductory Statistics I (Mason Core)
Statistics in Psychology
Statistics
BIOL 311General Genetics4
CHEM 313
CHEM 315
Organic Chemistry I
and Organic Chemistry Lab I 1
5
NEUR 327Cellular, Neurophysiological, and Pharmacological Neuroscience 23

Accelerated Option Requirements

After the completion of 75 undergraduate credits, students may complete 3 to 12 credits of graduate coursework that can apply to both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.

In addition to applying to graduate from the undergraduate program, students in the accelerated program 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 by the last day to add classes of their final undergraduate semester. Students should enroll for courses in the master's program in the fall or spring semester immediately following conferral of the bachelor's degree, but should contact an advisor if they would like to defer up to one semester.

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

Reserve Graduate Credit

Accelerated master's students may also take up to 6 graduate credits as reserve graduate credits. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree, but will reduce the master's degree by up to 6 credits. With 12 graduate credits counted toward the undergraduate degree plus the maximum 6 reserve graduate credits, the credits necessary for the graduate degree can be reduced by up to 18.

Graduate Course Suggestions

The following list of suggested courses is provided for general reference. To ensure an efficient route to graduation and post-graduation readiness, students are strongly encouraged to meet with an advisor before registering for graduate-level courses.

BIOL 682Advanced Eukaryotic Cell Biology3
BIOL 689Interdisciplinary Tools in the Biosciences3
BIOL 690Introduction to Graduate Studies in Biology1-2
BIOL 695Seminar in Molecular, Microbial, and Cellular Biology1
NEUR 612Neuroethics3
NEUR 601Developmental Neuroscience3
NEUR 602Cellular Neuroscience3
NEUR 603Mammalian Neuroanatomy3
NEUR 634Neural Modeling3
NEUR 651Molecular Neuropharmacology3