SUNY Oneonta

Master of Science (M.S.) in Biology

Department of Biology

Department phone number: (607) 436-3703

FAX: (607) 436-3646


Faculty: Jeffrey Heilveil, Chair, Nancy Bachman, Elizabeth Bastiaans, Jill Fielhaber, Willard N. Harman, Vicky Lentz, Tsitsi McPherson, Florian Reyda, Sean Robinson, Kristen Roosa, Keith Schillo, Daniel Stich, Donna Vogler, Junryo Watanbe, Jennifer Withington, Kiyoko Yokota, Fredrick Zalatan

Program purposes and philosophy: The objectives of this program are to prepare students for doctoral studies and for professional careers in biology. A plan of study will be developed by the student and a committee, based upon student interest, undergraduate background and the results of a diagnostic examination taken in the first semester of the program.

The program emphasis is ecology and environmental science but open to any area within biology. Program quality is particularly enhanced by the facilities, opportunities for study, and research activities at the Biological Field Station in Cooperstown NY. This site provides students with a research complex that contains several multipurpose and analytical laboratories, two lakefront docks, boats, sampling equipment and access to over 2,600 acres of woodlands, bogs, marshes and ponds.

Non-degree students should not enroll in more than 9 s.h. of graduate courses before applying to a degree program.

No more than 16 s.h. may be transferred into this program from another college. Courses with grades of "B-" through "F" are not transferable.

Program Options

The M.S. in Biology Thesis Option was established to prepare students for undertaking doctoral studies at university centers and to train technicians for specialized career opportunities in the biological sciences. In this track, students focus on an independent research topic and develop a research thesis that is presented in written and oral forms to the college community.

The M.S. in Biology Non-thesis Option is designed to offer post-graduate education for biology teachers in secondary schools and two-year colleges, and for those who desire a broad understanding of biological topics at an advanced level. In this track, students select from a wider array of elective courses in biology, and produce a research paper directed on a single topic area within biology.

5-year Combined Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Biology. SUNY Oneonta students majoring in Biology may apply to this five year dual-degree program in their 3rd-5th semesters. Admission into the dual program is competitive, normally requiring a 3.5 GPA with at least four Biology courses. At the current time the graduate program is focused on graduate studies in field biology, ecology or aquatic biology, and this includes the 5-year program. Students who qualify for this program in Biology have the opportunity to complete a B.S. in Biology in their fourth year (7th and 8th semesters) while simultaneously taking introductory graduate classes and beginning research. The fifth year is devoted to graduate work exclusively. Students accepted into this program may select either the Thesis Option or the Non-Thesis Option for the graduate degree and follow the degree requirements of those options. To apply, the student must submit an official transcript, 3 letters of reference including one from a member of the Biology graduate faculty willing to serve as an initial advisor.

Admission Requirements

All students applying for admission to degree status are required to:

  1. Submit a completed application and the non-refundable fee.
  2. Submit an official transcript of an earned Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college with at least 25 s.h. in biology and 6 s.h. in chemistry. Students not meeting these requirements may be admitted on the condition that undergraduate deficiencies be made up.
  3. Submit three letters of recommendation, one of which must be from a member of the SUNY Oneonta biology faculty willing to serve as Graduate Advisor.
  4. Submit a written statement explaining the purpose/goal for seeking the degree.

Admission is competitive and meeting the minimum admission criteria does not guarantee acceptance.

Degree Requirements: M.S. in Biology – Thesis Track


29 s.h.

BIOL 501 Experimental Design


BIOL 617 Advanced Biological Literacy


BIOL 678 Advanced Quantitative Methods


BIOL 695 Graduate Seminar


17 s.h. of additional graduate coursework approved by the student's Thesis Committee with a minimum of 3 s.h. of BIOL 500-594, BIOL 600-694



3 s.h.

Minimum 3 s.h. of BIOL 698 Thesis



Total 32 s.h.

  1. Minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. Diagnostic Examination.
  3. Research Thesis (including Thesis Deposition).
  4. Oral Presentation.

Degree Requirements: M.S. in Biology – Non-Thesis Track


29 s.h.

BIOL 501 Experimental Design


BIOL 617 Advanced Biological Literacy


BIOL 678 Advanced Quantitative Methods


BIOL 695 Graduate Seminar


17 s.h. of additional BIOL 500-594, BIOL 600-694, approved by students' committee


Non-Thesis Project

3 s.h.

Minimum 3 s.h. of BIOL 696 or BIOL 699



Total 32 s.h.

  1. Minimum GPA of 3.0.
  2. Diagnostic Examination.
  3. Project Write-up.
  4. Oral Presentation.
  5. Defense (Comprehensive Examination).

All College policies and procedures found in this Graduate Catalog will apply to students enrolled in this program.

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