Master of Science in Biology: Thesis Option



The thesis option should be strongly considered by students interested in eventually applying to Ph.D. programs. A thesis student may take fewer courses but more research credit under the supervision of a major professor.    Areas of specializations include Biotechnology (focusing molecular biology or genetics), Physiology/Cell Biology, Microbiology, or Ecology.  Fifteen credits in formal courses, one credit in seminar and fourteen credits in thesis research.  Up to three credits of thesis research can be substituted by special assignment (independent study, research and reading).  Students exercising this option must submit a formal research proposal, conduct the research, write a thesis, and pass an oral defense before a faculty committee.


Thesis Advisor

A student interested in the thesis option must select a major professor as thesis advisor whose field of expertise is appropriate to the student’s research interest and who agrees to serve as the thesis advisor.  The thesis advisor will assist the student in the development of a Plan of Study and the establishment of an Advisory Committee.


Plan of Study (GS Form 6)

Each student admitted to the M.S. degree program must submit a Plan of Study form GS 6. The Plan must be appropriate to meet the needs of the student’s chosen field, as determined by the Advisory Committee including the major professor and approved by the graduate coordinator.

A minimum of 30 credit hours, which consist of both formal courses and thesis research, are required for graduation.

Formal Course Credits: At least 15 credits of 500 or above levels must be in formal biology courses (including one  credit of  BIOL 601  Graduate Seminar). Only  A  or  B  grades  are accepted.

Thesis Research:  To total at least 30 credits, the remaining credits should be taken as BIOL

698 Research MS Thesis with an appropriate faculty member. Only S grades are accepted.

General requirements and restrictions for the Plan of Study in the thesis option are the same as those listed under non-thesis option with the exception that no primary and related areas are listed.



A Master’s thesis is a document authored by a student, describing results of original research and asserting a position which that student is willing to defend.  Joint or collaborative research endeavors are not prohibited; however, in such situations, unique aspects of the broad problem are  to  be  explored  by  each  individual, and  the  thesis  written  and  presented to  the  final Examining Committee is to be a personal document describing the student’s creative effort and contribution.

All theses must be prepared according to both departmental format requirements and University format requirements, as describe in A Manual for the Preparation of Graduate Theses (PDF). University format requirements include:  1) paper requirement; 2) font size and quality; 3) spacing; 4) margins; 5) page numbering; 6) title page; and 7) abstract.  The University format requirements are examined by the staff in the Thesis/Dissertation Office, Room 170, Young Hall, at the time the thesis is deposited.

Departmental format requirements cover such matters as how figures are prepared and numbered; style of references; placement of notes; headings; chapter headings, etc.  A first draft of the thesis should be in the hands of the major professor at least six weeks before the end of the session in which conferral of the degree is expected.

A copy of the thesis and an appropriate number of duplicate copies must be submitted to the major professor at least three weeks before the end of the session in which the degree is to be conferred.   The thesis must bear the written approval of the professor who has directed the research  before  it  is  submitted  to  the  final  examining  committee.  Each  member  of  the examining committee must receive a copy of the thesis at least two weeks before the date of the final oral examination.

After the Examining Committee meets, the student prepares a final copy of the thesis.  That copy, called the “deposit” copy, incorporates all revisions requested by the members of the Examining Committee.  A final copy of the thesis should be provided to both the major professor and the coordinator of the graduate program.

Degree candidates must deliver their Thesis Receipt from the Thesis/Dissertation Office, acknowledging deposition of their thesis, to the Graduate School Student Records Office (Room 170, Young Hall) no later than the close of business (5 pm) on the last day of classes of the session in which their degree is to be awarded.  In addition to this, both the major faculty advisor and thesis student must sign and submit the GS Form 32 (PDF) Master Thesis Agreement. 


Examining Committee

A Request For Appointment of Examining Committee (GS From 8) signed by the major professor and the coordinator of the graduate program should be submitted to the Graduate School at least three weeks prior to date of thesis presentation and defense.

The Examining Committee for a thesis Master’s degree must be composed of at least three members of the graduate faculty and may or may not be identical to the Advisory Committee.


Thesis Examination

The graduate Council has recommended that oral examinations not last more than two hours. If additional time is needed, the examination may be continued at a later date.

Report of Master’s Examining Committee (GS Form 7) must be submitted to the Graduate School by the committee chair and graduate coordinator one week prior to the beginning of final exams.

Candidate Audit/Certification Forms must be returned to the Graduate School by the committee chair and graduate coordinator prior to candidate being cleared for degree.   This form must be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than one week prior to the beginning of final exams.


Thesis Receipt Forms

Thesis Acceptance (GS Form 9) – must be submitted to the Graduate School Thesis/ Dissertation Office at the final deposit appointment.  Do not confuse this form with the ETD Form 9.

Master’s Thesis Agreement (GS Form 32) — must be submitted to the Graduate School Thesis/Dissertation Office at the final deposit appointment.

Theses Submission:   All thesis-option graduate students must deposit the final products of their research in the Graduate School Thesis/Dissertation Office.  All master’s candidates must submit their theses/dissertations via Electronic Thesis Deposit (ETD) as well as turn in all required forms at their mandatory, scheduled, final deposit appointment in the Thesis/Dissertation  Office,  Room  170,  Young  Hall  (YONG),  Purdue  University,  West Lafayette, Indiana, no later than the week of final exams.   The Graduate School Thesis/Dissertation Office works on a scheduled-appointment system only. To make an appointment (or to reschedule one), please call 765-494-2600, or email

Each student is responsible for following the examination and graduate deadlines set by the Graduate School at Purdue, West Lafayette.  Refer to the current Examination/Graduation Deadlines Calendar for exact due dates and deadlines.

For thesis preparation, format & deposit checklists, required forms, and helpful links go to and

For additional publications including the Manual for the Preparation of Graduate Theses (PDF)go to