MS in Biology

The Open Choice MS (OC-MS) program in biology is designed for students wishing to advance their careers in academia, industry, government, non-profits, and other sectors that employ biologists.

Unique aspects of the OC-MS program are:

  • It is entirely course-based. There is no required thesis. Research opportunities are possible for highly qualified students, but neither required nor guaranteed.
  • It is fully customized. Each student’s program of study is tailored to their specific career goals.
  • It leverages the entire Tufts ecosystem. Relevant courses can be selected from any department at Tufts University.
  • It is suitable for full- or part-time study. Classes at a broad range of times, including evenings, can accommodate students who are currently working professionals. Full time students typically complete our program in two years or less.

Recent graduates of the OC-MS program have gone on to a wide range of jobs, including:

  • Academia: Ph.D. programs at Brown, Emory, Penn, UC Berkeley, UConn, and UMass.
  • Biotech and pharma: R&D positions at Pfizer, Sanofi, T2 Biosystems, and TCR Therapeutics.
  • Other for-profit: Various roles at AECOM, Health Catalyst, LabCorp, and Next Rung Technology.
  • Government and non-profits: Various roles at Broad Institute, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Emory National Primate Research Center, USDA Forest Service, and USDA Human Nutrition Research Center.

The OC-MS curriculum

OC-MS students take 10 graduate-level classes of their choice (numbered 100 and above), selected in consultation with their faculty advisors. A typical course of study spans biology and adjacent areas like biomedical engineering, chemistry, and statistics. Within the biology department, students may elect to specialize in one of six departmental research areas or explore topics broadly across multiple domains. See below for a sample schedule or use the class search feature for more information on recent course offerings.

Career development for OC-MS students

Advising and career development are integral components of the OC-MS program. Presentations, seminars, and interactive discussions tailored to biology graduate students cover career exploration, opportunities beyond academia, resume preparation, interviewing, and other career-related topics. We also connect OC-MS students with professionals in Tufts Career Services for individualized consultations and hands-on assistance.

Biotechnology opportunities for OC-MS students

Besides teaching classes on drug development, our Professor of the Practice of Biotechnology coordinates numerous activities to help OC-MS students who want to work in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, and related areas. These activities include:

  • Providing advice on course selection specifically tailored to drug industry careers;
  • Providing hands-on assistance with obtaining summer internships and full-time positions in biopharma;
  • Organizing seminars and workshops on career and professional development that are specifically geared to biotech and pharma;
  • Helping connect OC-MS students to professionals in the drug development industry, including Tufts Biology alumni, who can provide career development advice;
  • Organizing visits to life sciences companies in the Boston/Cambridge area to let students get first-hand exposure to local employers;
  • Alerting students to biotech-focused career fairs and related events in the greater Boston area that are open to Tufts OC-MS students.

We get regular input from our OC-MS Advisory Board, made up of biotech and pharma industry professionals, into courses and skills relevant to drug development in order to continuously evaluate and expand our course offerings and better advise our students.

Research opportunities for OC-MS students

Qualified OC-MS students may apply for positions in research labs for one or more semesters. Through this experience, they gain technical skills and hands-on experience that help them prepare to apply for Ph.D. programs or become more competitive for full-time jobs. Note that research lab positions are not guaranteed, and there is no thesis component to the OC-MS program.

Please get in touch with the department directly at for any questions about the OC-MS program. 

Degree Requirements

All MS candidates must complete 30 units of courses (100-level or higher) and pass with a letter grade of at least a B minus.

  • Eight or more of those courses must be worth at least three units each.
  • One of the 10 courses must be an advanced seminar course (100 or 200 level) that is driven by student readings, presentations, and discussion of papers from the primary literature.
  • No more than three courses (up to nine units) of Independent Research or Study (Bio 193, 194,195) can be used towards the MS degree.
  • No more than two qualified courses may be transferred from another institution.

Sample Schedule

OCMS Sample Schedule, based on popular course offerings in the department.



Summer 1

BIO 0105: Molecular Biology

  • Tu, Th: 6:00-7:15 PM, Online

Fall 1

BIO 0103: Developmental Biology

  • Tu, Th 12:00-1:15 PM, On Campus


BIO 0104: Immunology

  • Mo, We 3:00-4:00 PM, On Campus


BIO 109: Virology

  • Tu, Th 9:00-10:15 AM, On Campus

Spring 1

BIO 0196

  • Molecules, Medicines, and Markets
    • New Course Starting Spring 2024, time TBD


  • Antibody Engineering and Therapy
    • Th 6:00-9:00 PM, On Campus


  • Data Science for Biologists
    • Mo 1:30-4:00 PM, On Campus


BIO 0256: Scientific Writing

  • We 9:00-11:30 AM, On Campus

Summer 2

BIO 0152: Biochem and Cell Metab

  • Tu, Th 6:00-9:30 PM, On Campus

Fall 2

BIO 0196: Exploratory Topics in Biology (Fall Offerings)

  • Civic Skills in Biology
    • Fr 1:30-4:00 PM, On Campus


  • Cancer Biology and Therapeutics
    • Th 6:00-9:00 PM, On Campus


BIO 0162: Molecular Biotechnology

  • Mo 6:00-9:00 PM, On Campus


BIO 0241: Advanced Genetics: DNA Repair

  • Tu, Th 6:00-7:00 PM, On Campus

Spring 2

BIO 0132: Biostatistics

  • Tu, Th 10:30-11:45 AM, On Campus



PH 0205: Principles of Biostatistics

  • Tu 7:15-8:45 PM, Online


BIO 0194: Independent Research in Biology

*While there is no thesis option for our OCMS degree, students can conduct a semester-long research project by taking bio-194.

  • Time Determined by Student and Professor