Degrees in Biological Science

Doctoral Degree

The PhD in Biology is a research intensive degree which prepares you for a professional career as a researcher, teacher, policy-maker, or other leadership roles in either academia or the private sector. Students typically spend 1-2 years on course work, along with several years of research on the leading edge of biology. The direction and supervision of graduate work at the doctoral level resides primarily with the major professor and supervisory committee, within the 3 areas of the department.

The overall requirements for completing the PhD are:

  • Course Work: Each area offers a series of core courses to be taken in the first 1-2 years. After passing the preliminary exam, and thus being admitted to doctoral candidacy, a minimum of 24 semester hours of dissertation credit is required.

  • Teaching requirement: Teaching experience as a TA in at least 2 different courses.

  • Seminar requirement: 3 presentations, excluding the dissertation defense. Students are encouraged to give presentations at national and/or regional meetings.

  • Preliminary examination:

  • Doctoral proposal:

  • Successful defense of the dissertation.


Thesis Masters Degree

The Thesis Masters of Science (MS) degree involves advanced graduate classes in Biology and the opportunity to make a substantial, focused research contribution in the laboratory of a Biology faculty member who serves as the student's supervisor. Not all areas and faculty of the Department accept MS students, so be sure to review the program descriptions and contact faculty members if you are interested in pursuing the MS only.

The MS requirements should be met in two to three years. The MS degree requirements include the following:

  • Course Work: At least 30 semester hours of graduate credit.

  • Teaching requirement: Teaching experience in at least one course recommended by the supervisory committee and approved by the associate chair.

  • Seminar requirement: One departmental presentation, excluding the formal presentation of the thesis research. MS students are encouraged to give presentations at national and/or regional meetings.

  • Submission and approval of a master's prospectus.

  • Successful defense of the thesis, based on 1-2 years of original research under the advisor's supervision.


Course-Type Masters Degree

For more information, see the course-MS page.

The Course-Type Master of Science (MS) degree is a mechanism of study for students preparing to apply for professional school, or for mid-career professionals looking for an additional graduate credential while still working. The requirements of the Course-Type MS degree can generally be completed in eighteen months to two years including:

  • Course Work: At least 32 semester hours of graduate credit (5000 level and above courses and those 4000 level courses approved by the student's committee), 21 semester hours of which must bear letter grades (not "S" or "U").

  • Comprehensive Examination: Students must pass a written comprehensive examination to be administered by the student's Supervisory Committee. The students must have a 3.0 or greater grade point average to be eligible to take the comprehensive examination.

  • Directed Individual Study requirement: Students must submit a written research report upon completion of either two semesters of a research-based DIS or a literature-based DIS.

The Program Director will initially advise students with each student forming a supervisory committee in the first year that will oversee the Comprehensive examination, the DIS and submission of the research paper.


More information

The specific requirements and expectations for all our degree programs can be found in the Biological Science Graduate Handbook. Additional information on University requirements can be found in the FSU General Bulletin and the FSU Graduate School Handbook.