Biology - Master of Science

The Master of Science degree can be obtained through either a thesis option or a non-thesis option. Both options require 30 credits of course work. The non-thesis option can be completed as an accelerated (one-year) program concentrating in biotechnology or through an individual degree plan in consultation with the student's Master of Science committee.

There are two formal course requirements for all Biology Graduate students, with the exception of students in the accelerated non-thesis MS Biotechnology option. These core courses are

Prefix Title Credits
Course Requirements
BIOL 510Current Topics in Biology3
BIOL 540Science and Ethics1-3

For research toward the Master of Science degree, students can choose among the Department's three areas of emphasis:

1. Behavioral, Ecological and Evolutionary Biology
The Behavioral, Ecological and Evolutionary Biology program is appropriate for graduate students who wish to specialize in areas of biology that study the various processes that encompass the behavior, ecology, and evolution of living and extinct taxa.

2. Cell and Organismal Biology
The Cell and Organismal Biology program is appropriate for all Graduate students who wish to emphasize those areas of biology that integrate function and structure in cells, tissues, and organisms. This emphasis focuses in faculty areas of expertise in cell and molecular biology, neurobiology, developmental biology, and physiology.

3. Microbiology
The Microbiology curriculum is appropriate for graduate students who wish to specialize in areas of biology that study the various processes that occur in microbes (bacteria, viruses, fungi, and protists) such as their physiology, ecology, development or evolution.

All graduate students should develop their curriculum plan in consultation with the faculty advisor and graduate committee. Details of sample course sequences within the different emphases are described in the Biology Graduate Handbook available for download from the Graduate Student section of the Biology website

Graduate students may also earn a minor in other graduate departments and programs.

Biotechnology Program

This is an accelerated (one year) non-thesis Master of Science degree in Biology that focuses on biotechnology.  The program requires 30 hours of course work. The courses in this program are designed to prepare students for biotechnology-related careers in basic and applied research; in product development and testing; and in policy-making, regulation and law enforcement. The program of study includes practical training in molecular biology, genomics and bioinformatics, statistical analysis, business, bioethics and professional development skills. Additional graduate course work will provide students with further expertise in their individual areas of interest, including cell, molecular, and microbial biology; environmental, ecological and evolutionary biology; and general and integrative biology. Students who complete this training will be prepared for successful employment in academic, corporate, and government settings.

Prefix Title Credits
Special Topics (Molecular Biology Techniques Lab)3
Advanced Bioinformatics and NCBI Database3
Applied Bioinformatics
Advanced Genomics Technology3
Statistical Inference I4
Professional Development5-7
Science and Ethics1-3
Professional Development Seminar1-3
Seminar in Entrepreneurship (or approved substitute)3
Biological Knowledge Electives 114-16
Optional Internship 23-6

Students are expected to choose 5 or more courses numbered 450 or above in microbiology, organismal and cellular biology, genetics, or ecology.


This may include a research internship in a biotechnology company or in a Biology Department laboratory. Credits earned during an internship count towards the required elective credits.

New Mexico State University master’s accelerated program provides the opportunity for academically qualified undergraduate students to begin working on a master’s degree during their junior and senior years while completing a bachelor’s degree. Typically, a bachelor’s degree requires four years to complete, and a master’s degree requires an additional two years. The master’s accelerated programs allow students the opportunity to complete a graduate program in an accelerated manner. You can also check NMSU’s catalog for additional information about our programs. 

Please talk to a faculty advisor about your MAP plan and develop a course plan in consultation with the advisor. The faculty advisor should preferably be from the area of your interest. 

MAP Requirements

  • The Graduate School allows qualified junior or senior students to substitute its graduate courses for required or elective courses in an undergraduate degree program and then subsequently count those same course as fulfilling graduate requirements in a related graduate program.
  • Undergraduate students may apply for acceptance to the accelerated master’s program after completing 60 semester hours of undergraduate coursework of which a minimum of 25 semester credit hours must be completed at NMSU.
  • The grade point average must be at a minimum of 2.75.
  • Students must receive a grade of B or higher in this coursework to be counted for graduate credit. If a grade of B- or lower is earned, it will not count toward the graduate degree.

Accepted MAP Courses

The following courses are accepted for use in the MAP program, any other courses may be considered after a consultation with an advisor. An exception will need to be made to the degree audit in order for the additional course(s) to be included on both the Undergraduate and Graduate degrees.

Prefix Title Credits
BIOL 450Special Topics1-3
BIOL 455Biometry3
BIOL 459Darwinism Versus Creationism3
BIOL 467Evolution3
BIOL 474Immunology3
BIOL 475Virology3
BIOL 479Medical Microbiology3
BIOL 490Neurobiology3