Master of Science in Biology

This program is designed to serve students with diverse backgrounds and goals and provides students with core skills, general knowledge in modern biology, and specific techniques relevant to specialized fields within biology. It is a common stepping-stone degree to UALR’s Ph.D. in applied bioscience.

The Biology Department offers a Masters of Science degree with two possible options – (1) thesis option, and (2) non-thesis coursework option.

The thesis option has two possible tracks – (1) General Biology track and (2) Cell and Molecular Biology track. This program is designed to serve a wide variety of post-baccalaureate education needs in central Arkansas and serves students who may have diverse backgrounds and goals.

The program provides students with (1) core skills desired by potential or current employers, (2) specific knowledge and techniques relevant to specialized fields within biology, and (3) opportunity to work independently on a thesis or project suitable to each student’s aspirations.

The Department of Biology holds an affiliation with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (Ocean Springs, Mississippi) to expand student opportunities for study. Additional liaisons could be developed, as the need may arise, with the National Center for Toxicological Research (Jefferson, AR), Veterans Administration, and other agencies and institutions.

The Biology Department faculty holds expertise in most biological disciplines, consequently a masters student could choose from a wide variety of research topics for the thesis or special project options. Additionally a broad base of graduate courses are available.

Admission Requirements

  1. Baccalaureate degree with a minimum undergraduate GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).
  2. Upper level coursework (or equivalent) in four of the following six areas — cell or molecular biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, physiology, and organismal biology.
  3. Two lecture courses in physics and four lecture courses in chemistry (to include inorganic and organic chemistry).
  4. A minimum combined score of 950 on the verbal and quantitative sections of the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) General Test. GRE scores more than 5 years old will not be considered.
  5. International students must present TOEFL scores. Minimum scores for acceptance are 525 on the paper-based test or 195 on the computer-based version.

Applicants who do not meet the minimum entrance requirements may be admitted conditionally based on the recommendation of the graduate committee. Full admission is contingent upon successful completion of coursework to remove any undergraduate deficiencies and completion of 12 graduate credits with a GPA of 3.0 or above.

Application Procedures
Application materials should include:

  1. A completed UALR Graduate School Application Form
  2. GRE scores
  3. Copies of all college transcripts.
  4. A formal letter of application written by the applicant.
  5. A personal statement of career interests and objectives (may be included in # 4).
  6. Three letters of recommendation from persons well acquainted with the applicant. Letters from former faculty are expected.

Items 1-3 should be submitted to the Graduate School. Visit the UALR Graduate School to view admission requirements and online application forms. Items 4-6 should be sent directly to the Biology Graduate Program Coordinator at the following address:

Biology Graduate Program Coordinator
Department of Biology
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 South University Avenue
Little Rock, AR 72204-1099

Application materials deadlines:

  1. April 15 for Fall Semester entry
  2. November 1 for Spring Semester entry

A limited number of graduate assistantships are available. Contact the program coordinator for information. Applicants seeking a teaching or research assistantship must apply by March 15 to ensure full consideration.

Program Requirements

A. General Biology Track

Core Requirements.

    All students in the General Biology Track must complete 13 hours in the following core courses.
  1. Biometry (Biology 5415) – 4 hrs
  2. Experimental Design (Biology 7310) – 3 hrs
  3. Technical/Scientific Writing (Rhetoric 5302, 04, 06, 5315 or 17) – 3 hrs
  4. Graduate Seminar (Biology 7199) – 3 hrs Thesis Option
    Students pursuing a Thesis option must complete an additional 17 hours of coursework, including 6 hours of thesis research (Biology 8100-8400) and a minimum of 3 hours at the 7000 level or above.
  1. Non-thesis Coursework Option
    Students pursuing a non-thesis Coursework option must complete an additional 23 hours of coursework, including at least 9 hours at the 7000 level or above.

B. Cell and Molecular Biology Track

Core Requirements.

    Students in the Cell and Molecular Biology Track should complete 9-12 hours in 3 of the following 5 competency areas.
  1. Biochemistry – Chemistry 5420 (Biochemistry) or Applied Science 7375 (Biochemistry of Biological Molecules)
  2. Computational Biology – Biology 5415 (Biometry)
  3. Genetics – Applied Science 7385 (Concepts in Genetic Analysis)
  4. Ecology and Evolution – Biology 5310 (Evolution) or Biology 5412 (Plant Ecology)
  5. Physiology – Biology 5403 (Comparative Physiology) or Biology 5419 (Plant Physiology) Students pursuing the Cell and Molecular Biology Track must complete an additional 18-21 hours of coursework, including 6 hours of thesis research (Biology 8100-8400), 3 hours of Graduate Seminar (Biology 7190), and a minimum of 3 hours at the 7000 level or above. A non-thesis option is not offered through the cell and molecular biology track.

Questions concerning the Biology M.S. Program should be addressed to the Graduate Program Coordinator, Dr. Nawab Ali at (501) 916-6518 or nali@ualr.edu.

Admission Requirements

Students applying to the master of science 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.


Thesis and Advisory Committee

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.


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; and
  • Successful completion of the writing and seminar requirements.


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 (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.