Oct 15, 2019  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
    
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog

Biology, M.A.


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Master of Science/Master of Arts in Biology


The Department of Biology offers a Master’s degree with two possible tracks: the thesis option leading to the M.S. and the non-thesis/course work option leading to the M.A. This program is designed to serve a wide variety of post-baccalaureate educational needs in central Arkansas and serves students with diverse backgrounds and goals. The program provides students with core skills desired by potential and current employers, specific knowledge and techniques relevant to specialized fields within biology, and the opportunity to work independently on a thesis or suite of course work suitable to each student’s aspirations.

The Department of Biology is composed of faculty with access to excellent laboratory and computer facilities. The Department holds affiliations with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, Mississippi, which expand student’s opportunities for study. For more information, visit the program’s website.

Admissions Requirements

Students applying to the master of science/master of arts program in biology should meet all the requirements for admission to the UALR Graduate School. Applications for fall semester entry are due by April 15 and spring semester entry applications are due by November 1.

In addition, the following requirements should be met:

  • Baccalaureate degree in an appropriate biological discipline with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • Upper- level course work in four of the following six areas:
    • Cell or molecular biology
    • Ecology
    • Evolution
    • Genetics
    • Physiology or
    • Organismal biology
  • Two lecture courses in physics and four lecture courses in chemistry, including inorganic and organic chemistry.
  • Combined scores of 300 on the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE general section. GRE tests must have been taken within the last five years.
  • Formal letter of application written by the applicant, including a personal statement of career interests and objectives.
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons well acquainted with the applicant. Letters from former faculty are expected. Students applying to the thesis track are encouraged to obtain a letter of support from a faculty advisor.
  • International students must present TOEFL scores. Minimum scores for acceptance are 525 on the paper-based test or 195 on the computer-based version, or 72 on the IBT version.

Conditional Admission

Applicants who do not meet the minimum entrance requirements may be admitted conditionally. In these cases, full admission is contingent upon successful completion of courses to remove any undergraduate deficiencies and completion of 12 graduate credits with a GPA of 3.0 or above.

Financial Aid

Limited Graduate assistantships are available to students pursuing the thesis track. These assistantships support teaching and research activities and are available to qualified full-time students. Tuition is paid, and a stipend is provided for living expenses. Financial support is available only to those students making satisfactory progress toward their degree. Students who begin the thesis option and take one or more thesis hours but later elect to switch to the non-thesis (M.A.) track will not be eligible for financial support. Students must pay registration fees, buy textbooks, and purchase any necessary support materials. To learn about the availability of these assistantships, contact a faculty member in your area of interest or the graduate program coordinator before you plan to apply for admission. Assistantships are competitive and dependent on availability of funds and faculty interest.

Program Requirements


Core Courses


Students will complete the following 13 credit hours:

Thesis (M.S.) Option Courses


This option includes the core curriculum and 17 additional hours consisting of 11 credit: hours of course work, including at least three credit hours at the 7000 level or above and six thesis research hours.

Course Work (M.A.) Option Courses


This option includes the core curriculum and 23 additional hours, including at least nine credit hours at the 7000 level or above. Students may not receive credit for thesis research hours under this option.

Cell and Molecular Biology Track

This track is designed to complement the Ph.D. in Applied Science (Applied Biosciences). Admissions requirements remain the same as those already existing for the biology M.S./M.A. Writing skills must be demonstrated either through a graduate technical writing course (see existing core) or through the writing proficiency requirements in place for the Applied Science Ph.D. program. An English Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE) will be offered to all thesis track students each Fall term by the Applied Science program. Students who select the cell and molecular biology track have two options:

Thesis (M.S.) Option

The Thesis Option includes 30 semester hours to include the core requirements (described below), three hours of seminar and six hours of thesis. The remaining hours will be electives.

Core requirements include at least one course each from three of the following six competency areas:

Thesis and Advisory Committee

The student’s Advisory Committee will be composed of at least three faculty members, including the student’s thesis advisor if in the M.S. track. The student must select a thesis or program advisor by the end of his/her first semester and assemble an Advisory Committee by the end of his/her second semester. The thesis subject is selected by the student and the Advisory Committee by the end of the second semester. The written thesis format must follow the UALR Graduate School’s Dissertation and Thesis Guidelines found on the Graduate School website.

Thesis Proposal

At least one year prior to the thesis defense, thesis candidates must present a written proposal for his/her thesis work to the Advisory Committee.

Thesis Defense

Students will present and orally defend their completed master’s research before their Advisory Committees. The defenses will be open to the public and must be announced at least two weeks in advance.

Course Work Only Option

The Course Work (M.A.) Option includes 36 semester hours to include core requirements listed above, three hours of seminar, and the remaining courses to be electives.

Exit Examination


All students will be required to complete comprehensive written examinations, compiled and administered by the students’ Advisory Committees as an additional exit requirement for the M.S. degree.

Graduation Requirements


  • Successful completion of an approved program of study with a minimum GPA of 3.0;
  • Successful completion of comprehensive exit examinations;
  • Successful completion of the thesis and oral defense (thesis option); and
  • Successful completion of the writing and seminar requirements.

Student Progress


Students are expected to make satisfactory progress toward their degree. Satisfactory progress includes appropriate grades in all courses and steady progress toward research goals as determined by the student’s advisory committee. Should progress be deemed unsatisfactory, the student will be informed in writing by the program coordinator with copies to the Graduate School Disputes regarding satisfactory progress will be handled by the Biology Graduate Committee.

Transfer Credit


With written approval of the graduate coordinator and the department chair, a student may meet some of the course requirements with UALR graduate courses in chemistry, integrated science and mathematics, and/or applied sciences or from the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Transfer credit from any other program will generally be limited to six hours.

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