2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    Apr 17, 2021  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Biology MS

College: Sciences Degree: MS
Department: Biology Option: Thesis
Program Websites: https://sciences.ucf.edu/biology/graduate/
Graduate Program Handbook

Program Description

The Master of Science in Biology program offers a broad range of training opportunities ranging from the sub-cellular to entire ecosystems.

Our program offers broad-based training in a variety of disciplines including Conservation Biology, Ecology, Evolution, Physiology, Genetics and Cell and Developmental Biology.


The Master of Science in Biology program offers a thesis option only (the non-thesis MS option is not currently accepting applications). The thesis option requires a minimum of 30 credit hours, 15 of which must be at the 6000 level. Students who wish to pursue a thesis must receive a commitment from a faculty adviser for admission into the program. The thesis curriculum contains a minimum of 24 credit hours of formal coursework excluding research (note: Independent Study may account for 6 of the 24 formal coursework credits). 

Total Credit Hours Required: 30 Credit Hours Minimum beyond the Bachelor’s Degree

Most graduate courses require reading and critical analysis of the primary literature in biology, and students are required to make presentations of their analysis or present proposals outlining a series of integrated experiments that would further knowledge in the field. Thesis students work with a faculty adviser and advisory committee members throughout the planning and conduct of their research. They submit a thesis proposal to the committee for approval prior to conducting the research and present a thesis defense and examination upon completion of that work. 

Required Courses—7 Credit Hours

Thesis Option—23 Credit Hours

  • BSC 6971 - Thesis 6 Credit Hours (minumum)
  • Electives 17 Credit Hours selected with the faculty adviser and advisory committee and approved by the program graduate coordinator


A thesis proposal defense is required. The purpose of the proposal defense is to present the planned research and its foundations as a seminar to an interested audience of peers and the advisory committee. The proposal should be distributed to advisory committee members two weeks in advance of the defense, and the defense should be advertised (contact the graduate program administrator two weeks in advance). Public attendees typically have an opportunity to ask questions and comment following the seminar, after which the committee meets with the student to further discuss the proposal. The advisory committee must then vote to accept or reject the proposal. The thesis proposal defense must be passed a minimum of one semester preceding the oral thesis defense (i.e., the proposal defense and thesis defense cannot occur in the same semester). When the research is completed, the final oral thesis defense is conducted similar to the proposal defense.

Non-thesis Option—33 Credit Hours

NOTE: The Department of Biology is no longer accepting applications to the non-thesis program.  

In addition to the 7 credit hours of required courses listed above, nonthesis students must complete 12 credit hours of restricted electives, 19 credit hours of unrestricted electives, and a research report. Students interested in the nonthesis option should contact the program graduate coordinator before applying.

Restricted Electives—12 Credit Hours

Students take 12 credit hours of courses in at least three of the five areas below.

  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics
  • Physiology
  • Cell and Developmental Biology

Unrestricted Electives—19 Credit Hours

Students take 19 credit hours of unrestricted electives that must be approved by the program graduate coordinator.

Research Report—2 Credit Hours

  • BSC 6909 - Research Report 2 Credit Hours


Nonthesis students must take the comprehensive exam no later than the semester preceding that of graduation. If a student fails the comprehensive examination, a minimum of four weeks must elapse before reexamination. The comprehensive exam may be taken a maximum of two times.

Independent Learning

Nonthesis students are required to complete a research report as their independent learning experience.

Application Requirements

For information on general UCF graduate admissions requirements that apply to all prospective students, please visit the Admissions  section of the Graduate Catalog. Applicants must apply online. All requested materials must be submitted by the established deadline.

In addition to the general UCF graduate application requirements , applicants to this program must provide:

  • One official transcript from each college/university attended
  • Three letters of recommendation that addresses the applicant’s capabilities and likelihood of success as an M.S. student.
  • Résumé or CV
  • A personal statement. Assessment of your application is based on your academic background, analytical skills, communication skills, and research experience. A personal statement is an opportunity to convey to the selection committee your personal, academic, and/or professional experiences that have led to your desire to attend graduate school. Include your long-term career goals and how a graduate education will help you achieve these goals. It is important to dedicate a section of your statement to discuss your research interests.
  • A computer-based score of 230 (or 89 internet-based score) on the Test of English as a Foreign language (TOEFL) if an applicant is from a country where English is not the official language, or if an applicant’s degree is not from an accredited U.S. institution, or if an applicant did not earn a degree in a country where English is the only official language or a university where English is the only official language of instruction. Although we prefer the TOEFL, we will accept IELTS scores of 7.0.
  • Applicants applying to this program who have attended a college/university outside the United States must provide a course-by-course credential evaluation with GPA calculation. Credential evaluations are accepted from World Education Services (WES) or Josef Silny and Associates, Inc. only.
  • NOTE: The GREs are no longer required for admission into the MS Biology program. However, GREs are used for deciding internal UCF fellowships. If you wish to be considered for these fellowships, we encourage you to submit your GRE scores.

Applicants do not need to have an undergraduate degree in a biological science, but are expected to have 18 hours of biological sciences, including ecology and genetics. Courses in organic chemistry, calculus, and statistics are also recommended. After acceptance, minor deficiencies must be remedied by enrollment in the appropriate course at the first opportunity.

MS thesis applicants should first identify faculty who match their own research interests, and then contact faculty in advance to inquire about research opportunities in faculty labs and to solicit agreement that a faculty member is interested in serving as the student’s dissertation advisor. Applicants who do not have a consenting thesis advisor within the department faculty will not be accepted into the program.  

Applicants who do not have a competitive GPA may occasionally be accepted if there is other convincing evidence of potential for high achievement and success. For U.S. applicants, GRE scores can be self reported prior by the submission deadline if the official score cannot be received in time. 

Application Deadlines

Students applying for summer or spring admission will be considered on an ad hoc basis but must complete their applications by December 1.

Biology MS *Fall Priority Fall Spring Summer
Domestic Applicants Dec 1 Dec 1    
International Applicants Dec 1 Dec 1    
*Applicants who plan to enroll full time in a degree program and who wish to be considered for university fellowships or assistantships should apply by the Fall Priority date.


Graduate students may receive financial assistance through fellowships, assistantships, tuition support, or loans. For more information, see the College of Graduate Studies Funding website, which describes the types of financial assistance available at UCF and provides general guidance in planning your graduate finances. The Financial Information  section of the Graduate Catalog is another key resource.


Fellowships are awarded based on academic merit to highly qualified students. They are paid to students through the Office of Student Financial Assistance, based on instructions provided by the College of Graduate Studies. Fellowships are given to support a student’s graduate study and do not have a work obligation. For more information, see UCF Graduate Fellowships, which includes descriptions of university fellowships and what you should do to be considered for a fellowship.

Contact Info

Graduate Program

Kate Mansfield PhD
Assistant Professor
Telephone: 407-823-4431
BIO 402B

Graduate Admissions

Anthony Tufano
Telephone: 407-823-2766
Millican Hall 230  
Online Application
Graduate Admissions

Mailing Address

UCF College of Graduate Studies
Millican Hall 230
PO Box 160112
Orlando, FL  32816-0112

Institution Codes
GRE: 5233
TOEFL: 5233
ETS PPI: 5233

Graduate Fellowships

Grad Fellowships
Telephone: 407-823-0127

Graduate Financial Aid

UCF Student Financial Assistance
Millican Hall 120
Telephone: 407-823-2827
Appointment Line: 407-823-5285
Fax: 407-823-5241