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A Master of Natural Science Biology degree is focused on your interest in biology. You get to tailor the degree with a variety of interdisciplinary courses to choose from, plus the option of taking a thesis or non-thesis option.

What to Expect

The curriculum allows you to pursue the area in which you are interested through coursework and independent research. Whether you are interested in research questions that incorporate the study of genetics, cell biology, tissues, anatomy/physiology, wildlife/organismal biology, there is an advisor at Southeast that possesses the technical expertise to guide you through a master’s degree in biology. Whether you are interested in studying fungi, plants, insects, amphibians, reptiles, or mammals, there is an advisor at Southeast with familiarity with at least one of these groups. Some students are interested in the science of teaching biology, and there are faculty members at Southeast that can advise students along this path as well.

  • Apply the scientific method through research.
  • Master scientific writing skills.
  • Develop presentation skills.

Graduate Assistantships

The graduate assistantship (GA) is designed to provide support during full-time graduate study. It’s an opportunity for the graduate students to serve in a professional role while establishing a professional relationship with faculty and administrators. In addition to a per year stipend, GAs gain valuable experience. There are two kinds of assistantships: teaching and administrative.

Outcomes & Careers

  • 97%

    Successful Outcomes Rate

    Students graduating with degrees from the Department of Biology report being employed or furthering their education six months after graduation.

  • $92k

    Biological Scientist

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for a biological scientist is $91,550.

  • $101k

    Biology Professor

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for a biological science teacher, postsecondary is $101,320.

  • $67k

    High School Biology Teacher

    According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean annual salary for a secondary school teacher is $67,240.

College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics

This program is housed within the College of STEM. The College prepares students to find creative solutions to problems. Curiosity and analysis merge, creating students ready to figure things out and then use that knowledge to make things better.

What You'll Study

There are two degree tracks for graduate studies in the biological sciences. Students can either choose the Plan A option (thesis option) or Plan B option (non-thesis option). The Plan A option culminates with the defense of the findings of an independent research project and a thesis describing the pertinent literature, methodology, and results of the research project. Students often publish aspects of their theses in peer-reviewed journals and present their findings at national and international conferences. The Plan B option culminates with a written critical evaluation on a specific area of study in biology and a written examination.

32 Hours Required

Required Courses:

  • BI689 Graduate Seminar I (1)
  • BI690 Graduate Seminar II (1)

Complementary Area:

  • 6 Hours from any one department outside of Biology

Choose One of the Following Options


Choose 3-6 hours from the following:
  • BI694 Thesis (3)
  • BI696 Thesis (2)
  • BI697 Thesis (1)
  • 13-16 Hours of Biology Electives
  • 2-8 Hours of Electives


  • 16 Hours of Biology Electives
  • 8 Hours of Electives
Additional requirement for graduate assistants only:
  • GR603 Seminar in College Teaching (3)

Other potential courses from BI, BO, BT, and ZO

  • BI500 Fundamental Concepts of Bioenergetics (3)
  • BI501 Fundamental Concepts of Genetics (3)
  • BI543 Pathogenic Microbiology (2)
  • BI544 Pathogenic Microbiology Laboratory (1)
  • BI551-553 Biology Field Studies (1-3)
  • BI570 The Development of Instructional Materials for Courses in the Biological
    Sciences (1)
  • BI589-591 Biological Research (1-3)
  • BI600 Health Physics (3)
  • BI604 Cell Biology (3)
  • BI614 Current Problems in Cell and Molecular Biology (3)
  • BI620 Principles of Wildlife Management (3)
  • BI625 GIS Planning for Emergency Management (3)
  • BI630 Management of Wildlife Habitat (3)
  • BI634 Marine Evolutionary Ecology (3)
  • BI635 Conservation Biology (3)
  • BI638 Biogeography (3)
  • BI640 Ecology and Management of Wetlands (3)
  • BI642 Immunology (3)
  • BI643 Epidemiology (3)
  • BI645 Microbial Physiology (3)
  • BI647 Fundamentals of Disaster/Emergency Management and Planning (3)
  • BI648 Disaster/Emergency Planning and Response (3)
  • BI649 Vulnerability, Risk Reduction, and Critical Incident Management (3)
  • BI650 Investigative Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (3)
  • BI652 Freshwater Ecology (3)
  • BI653 Occupational Health (3)
  • BI654 Risk Assessment Applications (3)
  • BI655 Industrial Hygiene (3)
  • BI656 Fundamental Risk Communication in Emergency Management (3)
  • BI658 Analytical Bioinformatics (3)
  • BI660 Introduction to Toxicology (3)
  • BI669 Wildlife Toxicology (3)
  • BI684, BI693 Readings in Biology (1-2)
  • BI685 Topics in Biology (3)
  • BI688 Experimental Design (3)
  • BO501 Fundamental Concepts of Botany (3)
  • BO645 Plant Physiology (3)
  • BO661 Native Aquatic Plants (3)
  • BO669 Field Botany (3)
  • BT650 Investigative Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (3)
  • ZO501 Fundamental Concepts of Zoology (3)
  • ZO614 Developmental Biology (3)
  • ZO620 Animal Behavior (3)
  • ZO630 Invertebrate Zoology (4)
  • ZO641 Parasitology (3)
  • ZO651 Vertebrate Histology (3)
  • ZO659 Mammalogy (3)
  • ZO660 Herpetology (3)
  • ZO665 Entomology (3)
  • ZO666 Ornithology (3)
  • ZO669 Vertebrate Adaptations (3)
  • ZO678 Ichthyology (3)

The curriculum of every graduate student in biology varies with their interests in biology. For example, graduate students in biology often pinpoint a specific area of biological investigation and focus the majority of their attention toward developing their skills in that area of emphasis. So no two curricula of graduate students will be the same.  

A graduate student in biology creates their degree plan (including course curriculum) with their advisor during their first semester in graduate school. This includes  

  • at least 32 total credit hours that are partially accomplished through 
  • 15–18 credit hours of biology courses (BI, BO, BT, and/or ZO) and  
  • 6 credit hours from a complimentary area (mutually agreed upon by a graduate advisor and his/her graduate student).  

However, there are courses that every graduate student in biology will have to complete for graduation. Those courses are listed in the sequence that the courses should be taken.  

  1. An undergraduate GPA of 2.75 on a 4.0 scale
  2. Minimum 2.75 GPA on a 4.0 scale for the last 30 semester hours of undergraduate science and math courses
  3. Two letters of recommendation addressing the applicant’s potential for academic success
  4. Submission of completed Faculty Sponsor Agreement
  5. Submission of a letter of intent that details the applicant’s interests in biology and future goals after obtaining a graduate degree in biology

Graduate Coordinators

Graduate coordinators serve as the contact for graduate programs. The coordinators are most often faculty within the college that houses the program, helping you to get questions answered and first-hand knowledge of the degree requirements and placement opportunities.

Become a Redhawk.

Do more than dream about the future. Take the first steps to make it all happen.

What Can You Do with a Master of Natural Science Degree?

Most graduates of the program begin their careers in teaching either at the high school or university level or go directly into industry. Grads have been recently hired by U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Institute for Wildlife Studies, and Monsanto. Other graduates pursue Ph.D. programs and have been accepted into the following institutions:

  • University of Missouri St. Louis
  • University of Florida
  • Kansas State University
  • University of Missouri
  • Texas A&M-College Station

Getting the Job

Your education is just one piece to launching an extraordinary career. Once you’ve mastered the material, you still have to find the job you want, make the right connections, sell your knowledge and experience—and if all this is giving you anxiety, don’t panic. SEMO’s Career Services office is here to help you with the next step. They’ll provide the expertise and support you need, so you’re landing your dream job in no time.

Biology (MNS) Degree Map

Explore the courses you'll need to complete your degree.

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