Masters of Science in Biology: Non-Thesis Option

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The non-thesis option requires twenty-nine credits in formal courses and special assignments (independent study, research and reading) and one credit in seminar.  The special assignment credits cannon exceed six; and the reading credits cannon exceed three.  Of the total of thirty credits, twenty-one credits must be in the primary area of biology at 50000 and 60000 levels and nine credits in supporting areas.  Students exercising this option must pass a written comprehensive exam for the degree.


Graduate Advisory Committee

A Graduate Advisory Committee, including a major professor, will be formed to assist in the development of a plan of study.  The committee will work closely with the student to design a cohesive, academically meaningful program suited to the student’s goals.  Students may choose one of the areas of specializations for their plan study:   Biotechnology (focusing molecular biology and genetics) Physiology/Cell Biology, Microbiology, or Ecology.


Plan of Study

Each student admitted to a degree program must submit a Plan of Study.  The Plan must be appropriate to meet the needs of the student’s chosen field, as determined by the advisory committee and approved by the graduate coordinator.

The Plan of Study for the non-thesis option includes a primary area and a related area.  It is to include the specific courses the student is expected to complete and other requirements of the particular degree being sought.  A tentative Plan of Study should be drawn up in the early stage of the graduate program.


Requirements Applicable to a Master’s Plan of Study

    • A minimum of 30 credit hours are required on a Plan of Study for a Master’s degree.
    • Primary area: A minimum of 21 credits of 500 or above level biology courses. Only A/B grades are accepted.
    • Related area: A minimum of 9 credits of courses in biology or related areas but the average grade of B or better must be maintained.  Up to six credits of non-biology courses may be taken at the 400-level.
    • BIOL 601 Graduate Seminar (1 credit):  This course is required for all students which may be counted in the primary or related area credits.
    • BIOL 595 Research (variable credits):  Students who are interested in research may take up to six credits of research with appropriate faculty members. Of the six credits, no more than three credits of reading courses are allowed.


    • Coursework used to satisfy the requirements of one Master’s degree may not be used on the Plan of Study for another Master’s degree.
    • Course credits earned by a student whose graduate study has been inactive for five years or more cannot be used on a Plan of Study for a Master’s degree.   A Plan of Study approved prior to such a period of inactivity is invalid.

Applicable Courses Taken Prior to M.S. Degree Admission Status

    • No more than a total of 12 course credits taken prior to M.S. degree admission status and from other universities may be applied to a Plan of Study. For details, see below.
    • For students initially enrolled in graduate level courses on a post baccalaureate (non- degree seeking) status, it is possible to apply up to 12 credit hours of such approved course work to degree after regular admission status has been attained.
    • Up to six graduate course credits earned while as an undergraduate student at Purdue University Calumet in excess of any requirements for the baccalaureate degree may be applied toward a Master’s degree.  Such credits must be certified as available for graduate credits and will be accepted only if:   (1) the student had a senior standing when taking the course, (2) the student received a grade of B or better, and (3) the course was designated as a graduate course.
    • Up to nine credits earned for graduate study at other accredited universities may be applied toward a master’s degree.  These appropriate biology courses with B or better grades will be eligible for transfer into the related area on the Plan of Study.

Filing Plan of Study

A formal Plan of Study should be filed as early as is feasible (by the end of the first session) in the student’s study.  It must be filed with the Graduate School prior to the first day of the academic session of graduation. Students not meeting this deadline may be asked to register for “Degree Only” for the following session to receive the degree.

Course Changes in the Plan of Study

Course changes in the Plan of Study may be requested on the Request for Change to the Plan of Study (GS Form13).  The Graduate School regards the Plan of Study as an individualized curriculum designed by the Advisory Committee to assist the student in achieving his or her educational objectives.  Although changes in the Plan of Study may be necessary, each change requested must be accompanied by a brief rationale in the space provided.  Poor performance in a course is not an appropriate reason for removing a course from the Plan of Study.  A request for changes in a Plan of Study must be signed by the student and approved by the major professor and the coordinator of the graduate program.


Examining Committee

The Examining Committee for a non-thesis Master’s degree is usually identical to the Advisory Committee, in which case, no additional request for appointment of a committee is required. If, however, the Examining Committee is different from the Advisory Committee (e.g., when a committee member is unable to serve), appointment of a committee of at least three graduate faculty must be requested.


Comprehensive Examination

A comprehensive examination given by all committee members is required for all non-thesis Master’s degree candidates.  The examination should normally be conducted within a week, or preferably on the same day.  The Examining Committee will administer the exam.  The written

examination can only be taken after the Plan of Study has been approved by the Graduate School.  Each subject area of the examination may be repeated once in case of a failing grade. Final examinations must be held at least 10 days before the last week of classes.

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 Form

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


Examination and Graduate Deadlines

Each student is responsible for following the examination and graduate deadlines set by the Graduate School at Purdue University West Lafayette.   For the current Examination/ Graduation Deadlines Calendar go to