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Biology MS |

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Degree Options

We offer two tracks toward the M.S. degree: A traditional thesis and an internship.

The thesis track is our “standard” degree and is designed for students seeking to gain expertise in scientific research. It allows students to design, implement, and analyze an original research project, in cooperation with their graduate research committee. Students write and publish a thesis, and are encouraged to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals.

Alzheimer's: Collaborative Search for a Cure

Graduate student Eric Hendricks discusses his thesis research in the laboratories of Dr. Menze and Dr. Nathan.


The internship track is designed for students seeking applied experience in the field, outside of the university setting, as a means to enter the workforce. Students find and complete a internship in an appropriate setting, which incorporates an independent study/research project, to complement their coursework. Both tracks require students to conduct scientific research and present their work to the department as part of the capstone.

The Biology of Water Treatment

Biology master's degree candidate Kyle Heffron discusses his internship opportunity at the Charleston Waste Water Treatment Plant and how his experiences working there have been valuable not only to his education at EIU, but also to his preparation for a career in the field.


Students in the program can also take advantage of a number of interdisciplinary programs on campus. These include certificate programs in Geographic Information Services (GIS) and a masters program in sustainable energy.

Non-degree seeking students are invited to take courses if they meet entrance requirements.


Research Opportunities

Students work closely with faculty advisors to conduct research in any of several areas of biological sciences. Graduate faculty research interests and expertise span the gambit, allowing students to design a research project in any sub discipline from organismal and field biology to physiological, cellular and molecular biology.

Field-based students can choose to specialize in a particular taxonomic group, or work with broader ecologic problems at the population, community or landscape levels. Bench types can work from the molecular to whole organism physiologic interactions. Students are encouraged to take an active role in designing their research project as part of the graduate learning process.

Kickapoo Creek Restoration

Since 2009, Dr. Robert Colombo and his biological sciences students at EIU have been engaged in measuring and evaluating the effects of efforts to restore fish and macroinvertebrate life in Kickapoo Creek, which was devastated by a 2001 contamination involving approximately 8,000 gallons of furfural. Read more...



Flexible Curriculum

Graduate Showcase

Graduate student Lori Neuman-Lee and Professor Stephen Mullin give insight into Lori's graduate research.



Opportunities for Engagement

Students in the thesis track or internship track take a total of 30 or 32 credits, respectively, which include research, seminar and independent study hours. There is no defined set of courses. The student and his/her graduate committee design individual study plans dependent on specific needs of the student and project.

Graduate Showcase

Graduate candidate Wadud Khan and Associate Professor Kai Hung give some insight on using the functional genomics approach.


Students in the program are part of an academic community. They interact closely with faculty members – both academically and socially. They are involved in mentoring of undergraduate students through teaching assistantships and research.

Qualified students can participate in the Graduate Teaching Assistants Program (GTP) to gain experience and build a portfolio for teaching in the sciences. Students in the program are part of the Biological Sciences Graduate Student Association (BSGSA), which supports an invited speakers program, sponsors grants for graduate research, and serves as the central voice.