MS in Biology

Our master’s program in Biology, often called the Open Choice MS program (OC-MS), is designed for students wishing to advance their career in biology professions, expand their interest in research, or broaden their base for making future career choices in the biological sciences through graduate coursework, participation in seminars, and optional research experience with faculty. The program has an Advisory Board made up of industry professionals who provide the program with critical input in the practical skills that are sought after in biotech, medical, and pharmaceutical careers. 

Our OC-MS offers students the option of specializing in one of five concentration areas, or to explore topics broadly across all areas. Students work with faculty advisors to plan their curriculum and often take on a semester-long research project, which can provide the opportunity to publish research results without the burden of assembling a thesis. Throughout the year, graduate students benefit from various seminars on current research presented by faculty, other graduate students, and invited speakers.

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

Research Areas

Browse our department's five research areas, which master's degree candidates may elect to concentrate in below:

Degree Requirements

  • 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-. Eight or more of those courses must be worth at least 3 units each.
  • This degree program can be completed either full-time or part-time. In particular, the Open Choice MS track focusing on Functional Genomics is designed for working professionals as courses are in the evenings, on weekends, or online.
  • One of the ten courses must be an advanced seminar course (100 or 200 level), which is driven by student readings, presentations, and discussion of papers from the primary literature
  • Courses must be letter-graded and completed with grades of B- (B minus) or better to count towards the MS degree. No more than two qualified courses may be transferred from another institution.
  • No more than 3 courses (up to 9 units) of Independent Research or Study (Bio 193, 194,195) can be used towards the Master's.