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Admissions | Program Requirements | Graduate Courses

Fribourgh Hall, Room 406, (501) 569-3470, Website

Master of Science/ Master of Arts in Biology

The Department of Biology offers a Masters degree with two possible tracks: the thesis option leading to the MS and the non-thesis/coursework 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 coursework 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. 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:
    1. Cell or molecular biology
    2. Ecology
    3. Evolution
    4. Genetics
    5. Physiology or
    6. 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.
  • 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 lBT version.

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

Application Procedures

Applications for Fall semester entry are due by April 15 and Spring semester entry applications are due by November 1. Application materials include:

  • Completed UALR Graduate School application form;
  • Formal letter of application written by the applicant, including a personal statement of career interests and objectives;
  • Official college transcripts;
  • GRE scores; and
  • 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.

Financial Aid

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 (MA) 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.


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Program Requirements

Core Courses

Students will complete the following 13 credit hours:

    BIOL 5415 Biometry
    BIOL 7310 Experimental Design
    RHET 5302, 5304, 5306, 5315, or 5317

Technical/Scientific Writing (These courses will not be required if the student obtains a suitable score on writing proficiency examination in place for the Applied Science PhD program)

    BIOL 7191 Graduate Seminar (3 semesters)

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 3 credit hours at the 7000 level or above and 6 thesis research hours.

Course Work (M.A.) Option Courses

This option includes the core curriculum and 23 additional hours, including at least 9 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 PhD in Applied Sciences (Applied Biosciences). Admissions requirements remain the same as those already existing for the biology MS/MA. 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 PhD program. An English Writing Proficiency Exam (WPE) will be offered to all thesis track students each Fall term by the Applied Science Department. 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), 3 hours of seminar and 6 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::

  1. Biological analysis and modeling: BIOL 5415 Biometry, BIOL 7420 Phylogenetics,
  2. BIOL 7310 Experimental design Cellular functions: BIOL 5401 Cell Biology, BIOL 5413 Immunology, BIOL 5406 Pathogenic Microbiology
  3. Organismal functions: BIOL 5403 Comparative Physiology, BIOL 5419 Plant Physiology, 5422 Mammalian physiology
  4. Genetics: ASCI 7385 Concepts in Genetic Analysis, ASCI 7387 Genetics
  5. Biochemistry and molecular biology: BIOL 5418 Molecular biology, ASCI 7375 Biochemistry of biological molecules
  6. Ecological interactions: BIOL 5412 Plant Ecology, BIOL 7311 Behavioral Ecology

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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 MS 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 Dissertation and Thesis Guide 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 (MA) Option includes 36 semester hours to include core requirements listed above, 3 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 MS 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

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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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Courses in Biology

BIOL 5199, 5299, 5399, 5499 Special Topics in Biology
Prerequisites: 20 biology hours, consent of instructor (other prerequisites may be required depending on topic). Specialized areas of study in biological sciences. Credit varies with depth of content. One to four hours lecture per week; up to four hours laboratory per week. Offered on demand.

BIOL 5201 AIDS
Prerequisites: BIOL 1401, graduate standing. The disease AIDS; includes cell biology, the disease process, and the social, economic, legal, and political aspects related to the disease and society.

BIOL 5305 Animal Behavior
Prerequisites: BIOL 1401, 2403, eight additional biology hours or consent of instructor. Known behavior of various vertebrate, invertebrate phyla; emphasis on adaptive significance; special attention to mating, defensive, nutritive, social behaviors; ontogeny of behavioral patterns (where known); relationship of behavior to ecology of various animal populations. Three hours lecture per week.

BIOL 5310 Evolution
Prerequisites: four hours of the core science requirement, graduate standing. Basic principles of evolutionary biology: Darwinian Theory, principles of inheritance, microevolution, and speciation processes; includes the evolution of humans.

BIOL 5311 Neurobiology
Prerequisites: 16 hours in biology or consent of instructor; CHEM 1401 or 1403 strongly encouraged. This course examines the functioning of the nervous system, with emphasis on vertebrates-in particular, humans. The course covers the structure and function of neurons as fundamental unit of the nervous system, functional neuroanatomy, and the basis principles of nervous system development. Three hours lecture per week. Three credit hours.

BIOL 5312 Population and Community Ecology
Prerequisites: BIOL 3303 and at least junior standing. Graduate standing required if student enrolled in BIOL 5312. Basic principles of population ecology will be discussed, including niche concept, demography, population growth and regulation, life history patterns, sociality, competition, predation, mutualisms, and control of community structure. Dual-listed in the UALR Undergraduate Catalog as BIOL 4312. Students cannot receive graduate credit for BIOL 5312 if they have previously taken BIOL 4312. Three hours of lecture per week. Three credit hours.

BIOL 5314 Soil Biology
Prerequisites: BS in biology or permission of the instructor. Concepts of soils are presented with emphasis on biological processes and soil/ecosystem relationships. Hands-on laboratory exercises and field exercises will supplement course lectures. Dual-listed in the UALR Undergraduate Catalog as BIOL 4314. This course is not open to students with credit for BIOL 4314. Three hours lecture per week. Three credit hours.

BIOL 5315 Toxicology
Prerequisites: BS in biology or permission of the instructor. Principles of toxicology are presented with an emphasis on toxic kinetics and toxicity mechanisms. Laboratory testing, risk analysis, and study design requirements are applied to various settings. Lectures will be supplemented with case studies. Dual-listed in the UALR Undergraduate Catalog as BIOL 4315. This course is not open to students with credit for BIOL 4315. Three hours lecture per week. Three credit hours.

BIOL 5401 Cell Biology
Prerequisites: BIOL 1402, 12 additional hours in biology, CHEM 1401 or 1403; microbiology is strongly encouraged. A study of the organization of cells as related to the structure and function of biological molecules. Emphasis is placed on eukaryotic cells. Three hours lecture, three hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5402 Limnology
Prerequisites: BIOL 1401, 2402, 2403, 3303, CHEM 1403 or equivalent. Physical, chemical characteristics of water; morphometry, physiography of lake, stream basins; ecology, taxonomy of aquatic communities; laboratory includes physical, chemical, biological sampling and analysis methods; field work includes various types of aquatic habitats and sampling methods involved; requires some extended Saturday field trips. Two lectures, one four-hour laboratory per week.

BIOL 5403 Comparative Physiology
Organ function in a wide range of organisms, including vertebrates and invertebrates. A comprehensive survey of functional relationships in more than one group of animals. Three hours lecture, three hours laboratory per week. Four credit hours.

BIOL 5404 Mammalogy
Prerequisites: Biology 3404, 3409, equivalent, or consent of instructor. Classification, distribution, ecology, natural history of mammals; emphasis on Arkansas species; field studies, preparation of study specimens. Two hours lecture, two hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5405 Ichthyology
Prerequisites: BIOL 1400 or 1401, 3404 or 3409 or equivalent, or consent of the instructor. Classification, phylogeny, morphology, physiology, and ecology of fishes concentrating on North American and Arkansas freshwater fishes. Three hours lecture, three hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5406 Pathogenic Microbiology
Prerequisites: BIOL 1400 or 1401, 2401, or their equivalents. Survey of pathogenic microbiology, immunology, and virology with emphasis on fundamental principles of each science and their application to the diagnosis and control of human diseases. Three hours lecture, two hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5407 Herpetology
Prerequisites: BIOL 3404, 3409, or equivalents, or consent of instructor. Classification, anatomy, distribution, ecology, natural history of amphibians and reptiles; emphasis on Arkansas species in field techniques, student projects, laboratory work, curatorial training. Two hours lecture, four hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5409 Plant Taxonomy
Prerequisites: BIOL 1400 or 1401 2402, or their equivalents. A study of the principles of plant identification, classification, systematics, and nomenclature. Major families of flowering plants with emphasis on the floristics of the immediate area. Two hours lecture, four hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5410 Fisheries
Prerequisites: BIOL 1400 or 1401, 2403, 3303 or 3409, or their equivalents, or consent of the instructor. A survey of fish management and fish culture principles and techniques including population assessment, habitat improvement, pond culture, commercial fish farming, and an introduction to fish diseases. Three hours of lecture, three hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5411 Ornithology
Prerequisites: BIOL 2403, 12 additional biology hours. Selected aspects of avian biology; emphasis on ecology, evolutionary biology, natural history, classification of birds; includes lecture, discussion, laboratory, field study.

BIOL 5412 Plant Ecology
Study of plant species ecology (life history and reproductive biology) and vegetation ecology (abundance, structure, dispersion, patterns, and dynamics), with emphasis on quantitative methodology and management principles. Three hours lecture, two hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5413 Immunology
Immunobiology and immunochemistry of humoral and cellular mechanisms of immunity. Three hours lecture, two hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5415 Biometry
Prerequisites: 12 hours of biology, environmental health science, or earth science (in combination or singularly), MATH 1302 or higher numbered course, three hours of statistics or consent of instructor, graduate standing. Computer-based course in experimental design, data analysis, and interpretation; objective is the application of statistical procedures relevant to the academic emphasis of students, not statistics per se; especially beneficial to those students planning to seek an advanced degree or to go into quality control or research positions. Offered in spring on even years.

BIOL 5416 Microscopy
Prerequisites: 15 hours of biology, graduate standing. Laboratory in the fundamental theory and practical application of light and electron microscopy including specimen preparation, photomicrography, and digital computer image processing and enhancement; topics include brightfield, darkfield, phase, differential interference contrast, polarized, and epi fluorescent light microscopy and scanning and transmission electron microscopy; emphasizes experimental design and use of the microscope as an experimental tool.

BIOL 5417 Molecular Biology
Prerequisites: nineteen hours in biology including both BIOL 2401 and BIOL 3300; CHEM 1401 or 1403; BS in biology or permission of instructor. Successful completion of either BIOL 3400 or BIOL 4401 is strongly encouraged. A study of molecular biology theory and practice. Emphasis is on the study of model systems to understand the current approaches and laboratory techniques necessary to answer basic questions in current molecular biology. Two hours of lecture and four hours of laboratory per week.

BIOL 5418 Biotechnology
Prerequisites: 19 hours of biology including 2401 and 3300; CHEM 1401 or 1403. BIOL 3400 and 4401/5401 are strongly recommended. BIOL 4417/5417 is also recommended or may be taken concurrently. A study of the applied science of biotechnology designed to introduce students to the elements of a biotechnological career. Topics range from traditional biotechnology such as animal and plant tissue culture to contemporary molecular biotechnology and the use of recombinant DNA technology and genetic engineering in research and industry. Emphasis will be placed on current biomedical, pharmaceutical, and agri/industrial applications. Graduate students must complete and defend a term paper. Two hours lecture, four hours laboratory per week.

BIOL 5419 Plant Physiology
Prerequisites: BIOL 1400 or 1401, 2402, CHEM 2450, or their equivalents, or consent of instructor. Study of water relations, nutrition, and metabolism including photosynthesis, growth, and development. Two hours lecture, four hours laboratory per week.
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BIOL 5421 Introduction to Geographic Information Systems
Prerequisites: ERSC 2320 or ENHS 3415 or BIOL 4309, or consent of instructor. This course introduces Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and the use of spatial data for problem-solving in science. The lecture portion of the course focuses on the data models used to represent spatial features and on the processes involved in creating, acquiring, analyzing, and displaying georeferenced information. The laboratory portion of this course employs a project-based methodology including applications from geology, biology, environmental science, and political science to foster basic GIS software proficiency. Two lecture hours per week, four laboratory hours. Four credit hours.

BIOL 5422 Mammalian Physiology
General physiological principles and a treatment of functions and interrelations of mammalian systems. Three hours lecture, tow hours laboratory per week. Four credit hours.

BIOL 5423 Plant Anatomy
Detailed coverage of the microscopic anatomy of all the organs of seed plants and a critical evaluation of the major tissue types found within these plant organs. Two hours lecture, hour hours laboratory per week. Four credit hours.

BIOL 5424 Entomology
Prerequisites: BIOL 3303 or equivalent, or permission of the instructor. A study of insects including their anatomy, physiology, behavior, development, diversity, classification, and economic importance. Two hours lecture, four hours laboratory. Four credit hours.

BIOL 5426 Plant and Human Nutrition
Prerequisites: BS in Biology or permission of the instructor. Plant nutrition refers to the needs and uses of the basic chemical elements in the plants, which are essential for plant growth and development. Thus, plant nutrition is an area of fundamental importance for both basic sciences (Plant physiology, Plant cell and molecular biology, Plant development) and applied sciences (Agronomy, Crop physiology, Horticulture, Human nutrition and health). Human nutrition refers to the needs and uses of the basic chemical elements and compounds in the human body, which are essential for human development and healthy life. The course consists of lectures, laboratory exercises, and case studies. Dual-listed in the hours lecture, and four hours laboratory per week. Four credit hours.

BIOL 5427 Tissue Engineering
Prerequisites: BS in Biology or the permission of the instructor. Tissue engineering (TE) is defined as the development and manipulation of laboratory-grown molecules, cells, tissues, or organs to replace and/or support the function of injured body parts. TE applies the principles and methods of biology, stem cell biology, immunology, life sciences, physical sciences, engineering, cell and drug delivery, nanobiotechnology, and bioinformatics to understand physiological and pathological systems and to modify and create cells and tissues for therapies for structural tissue repair (e.g., skin, bone, cartilage, tendon, muscle, and blood vessel), for enhancing metabolic function (e.g., liver), for improved drug delivery (localized delivery of a drug), and as a vehicle for cell-based gene therapy. Dual-listed in the UALR Undergraduate Catalog as BIOL 4427. The course consists of two hours of lectures and four hours of laboratory per week. This course is not open to students with credit for BIOL 4427. Four credit hours.

BIOL 7110 Independent Study
Independent study provides an opportunity for a student to gain depth in a specialized area to support a particular aspect of their research. The specific topic and course of study will vary by student and are to be developed with a faculty member in the department and the student’s advisory committee to augment the student’s background in a specific area or to fill a gap in knowledge when no regularly-scheduled courses are available. No more than two hours of independent study may be counted toward a graduate degree.

BIOL 7210 Independent Study
Independent study provides an opportunity for a student to gain depth in a specialized area to support a particular aspect of their research. The specific topic and course of study will vary by student and are to be developed with a faculty member in the department and the student’s advisory committee to augment the student’s background in a specific area or to fill a gap in knowledge when no regularly-scheduled courses are available. No more than two hours of independent study may be counted toward a graduate degree.

BIOL 7191 Graduate Seminar
Prerequisites: graduate standing and consent of graduate coordinator. Students, faculty, and invited speakers present, discuss, and exchange ideas on research topics and methods in biology. MS students required to enroll three times and obtain three hour credit. Graded C/NC.

BIOL 7199, 7299, 7399 Selected Topics in Biology
Prerequisites: Graduate standing or consent of instructor. Advanced studies in specialized areas of biological science, such as cell and molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, organizational biology, ecology, fisheries and wildlife management. One to three hours lecture per week depending on credit hours. Offered on demand.

BIOL 7310 Experimental Design in Biology
Prerequisites: Graduate standing and 4415/5415 Biometry or equivalent. Experimental design in biology is designed to provide students with an appreciation of the utility of a rigorous experimental design and the use of inferential statistics in research with biological systems. Students will be given a background in the statistical requirements of manipulative experiments and will critique research designs in recently published literature.

BIOL 7311 Behavioral Ecology
Prerequisites: BIOL 3303, BIOL 4305/5305 or the equivalent or consent of the instructor. This course is a broad introduction to the field of behavioral ecology and how evolutionary and ecological constraints shape behavioral strategies and tactics. Topics to be addressed include the evolution of life histories, reproductive decisions, resource acquisition and utilization, and the costs and benefits of sociality. Three hours lecture per week. Computer exercises during some scheduled lecture times will include foraging and habitat use models, game theory, and species interaction models.

BIOL 7410 Phylogenetic Analysis
Prerequisite: Graduate standing and completion of two courses (or equivalent) from the following: Biometry (BIOL 4415/5415), Linea Algebra (MATH 3312), Mathematical Models (MATH 3324), Molecular Biology (BIOL 4417/5417). Student may also enroll with the consent of the instructor. A computer based course in phylogenetic analysis of molecular sequence data through the use of both distance and character based models. Parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian inference are key procedures used to assess, test and characterize molecular evolution. Two hours lecture and four hours laboratory per week. Four credit hours.

BIOL 7499 Selected Topics in Biology
Prerequisites: Graduate standing or consent of instructor. Advanced studies in specialized areas of biological science, such as cell and molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, organismal biology, genetics, ecology, fisheries and wildlife management, Two or three hours lecture per week and 2-4 hours laboratory per week. Offered on demand. Four credit hours.

BIOL 8100, 8200, 8300,8400 Thesis Research
Prerequisite: full admission to the program. Thesis research in biology is designed to provide students with graduate level research experience. Under the directions of the student’s major advisor and graduate committee, the student will carry out original research to support his/her thesis. The Department of Environmental Health Science has no graduate programs; however, many of the department’s courses are used in other programs.


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Courses in Environmental Health Science

Carl Stapleton, Director, Environmental Health Sciences Program, (501) 569-3501

ENHS 5199, 5299, 5399 Special Topics in Environmental Health Sciences
Prerequisite: graduate standing or consent of instructor. Topics include specialized areas of environmental health sciences. Credit varies depending on depth of content. One to three hours lecture per week. Offered on demand.

ENHS 5410 Environmental Planning
Prerequisites: ENHS 2320, or consent of instructor. The planning process and evaluation methods applicable to various environmental programs are addressed. Resource allocation and procurement topics are included as appropriate to environmental planning. Case studies are presented which include areas such as watershed planning, land use, solid and hazardous wastes, air quality, and energy. Group discussions, role playing exercises, computer exercises and field study tasks will supplement class lectures.

ENHS 5415 Environmental Impact Analysis
Prerequisites: ENHS 3310, ENHS 3340 or 3350, RHET 3316, BIOL 3303 and 3103, STAT 4350, or consent of the instructor. This course provides individuals with knowledge and skills necessary to prepare and review environmental assessments (EAs) and environmental impact statements (EISs). The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and its key components are presented for discussion. Case studies and group discussions are used to supplement class lectures. Field and laboratory exercises appropriate to the environmental impact analysis (EIA) process will be presented and used to prepare an EA for a selected site.

ENHS 5430 Environmental Epidemiology
ENHS 3340 or 3350, BIOL 2401, STAT 4350, or consent of the instructor. The principles of environmental epidemiology are introduced with specific emphasis on its application to various environmental settings. Statistical methods used for analyzing environmental epidemiological data are introduced. Computer applications will be presented in lecture and laboratory sessions. The role of environmental epidemiology in anti- bioterrorism programs will be presented. Lectures will be supplemented with laboratory computer exercises, site visits, and field studies.
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