Master of Science in Biology

Current Graduate Students | Graduate Research Fellowship Awardees | Graduate Student Teaching Award

The graduate program in biology provides you with flexibility to pursue advanced study in such areas as biology, botany, conservation biology, ecology, fisheries biology, microbiology, rangeland biology, wildlife biology, and zoology. Graduate curricula are not specified as such; rather programs are designed with your major professor and graduate committee according to your individual needs and career goals. Your graduate study can lead to a terminal Master of Science degree or prepare you for acceptance into a doctoral program at another university. Graduate programs typically include a research project and thesis developed in consultation with your major professor and graduate committee. A public oral presentation of the research results during the fall or spring semester is included in the thesis defense. All biology graduate students also must pass a comprehensive oral exam administered by select faculty within the department. You can read details of these and other aspects of the graduate program in biology in the Graduate Student Guidelines. Additional information may be obtained from the FHSU Graduate School.

If you want to pursue a graduate degree as a secondary teacher in biology or other non-research master's degree, you may select the non-thesis option, which requires additional coursework and a research paper in lieu of a thesis. An oral presentation is not required for the non-thesis option, but the comprehensive oral exam is. For information about options for a summer-only opportunities for secondary teachers, contact the department chair.

Graduate Assistantships and Honoraria

All graduate assistantships are considered half-time positions (19 hours per week). The Graduate School currently provides the Department of Biological Sciences with 9 Graduate Teaching Assistantships (GTAs) of $7,000 per 9 months (fall and spring semesters). GTAs also receive a full tuition waiver on 6-9 credit hours, but GTAs must pay other fees assessed per credit hour (e.g., student health fee, student activity fee), which vary each year (usually about $15-25 per credit hour). The typical workload for 8 of the GTAs consists of teaching or assisting in 3 laboratory sections per week in 2 courses (for example, 2 introductory biology labs and 1 zoology lab). One GTA assists with on-line courses. GTAs are limited to a maximum of 4 semesters of support. Summer GTA positions also are available ($1,474 for 8 weeks), in which the GTA assists with 1 laboratory class or other duties, and these do not count against the limit of 4 semesters. During the summer, the tuition waiver covers the 3 credit hours required.

Two Graduate Curatorial Assistantships (GCAs) are available from the Sternberg Museum of Natural History. Generally, one GCA assists with curation of the "dry" zoological collections (mammals, birds, and insects), and one works in the "wet" collections (primarily fish and herps). The museum also has 4 Graduate Wetlands Assistantships (GWAs), in which the GWA assists with educational and research activities at the Kansas Wetlands Education Center at Cheyenne Bottoms State Wildlife Area. All of the museum and education center assistantships are $12,000 per 12 months, but they do not carry a tuition waiver. However, students from outside Kansas receiving one of these assistantships pay only in-state tuition.

Graduate Research Assistantships (GRAs) can be arranged if financial support is provided by a source outside the university. GRAs can be arranged for periods of 9 or 12 months, depending on the funds available. GRAs do not include a tuition waiver. However, as with the museum and education center assistantships, graduate students paid through a GRA pay in-state tuition.

Another research option is the Graduate Research Fellowship, which are partially endowed research assistantships of $7,000 per 9 months with a full tuition waiver on 6-9 credit hours. Thus, the fellowship is similar to a GTA, but you are not required to teach. Instead, you enhance your research project. Presently, two Fleharty Fellowships, one Balthazor Fellowship, and one Choate Fellowship are available on a competitive basis. Research plans must be in place for you to be considered for a Fleharty or Balthazor Fellowship, so they are usually awarded to students during their second year of graduate studies. The application deadline for the graduate research fellowships is 12 February (Charles Darwin's birthday).

In addition to support through graduate assistantships, graduate and undergraduate students may apply for student honoraria to help cover the costs of participating in professional meetings through presentation of your research or service as an officer in a professional society. Typically the costs reimbursed are lodging and registration. For most meetings, faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences arrange transportation to the meeting in a vehicle from the university motor pool, but support from an honorarium can be used to support travel when a school vehicle is not available.

Applying for Admission to Graduate School

To apply for admission to the FHSU Graduate School and a graduate assistantship, check the Graduate School website for the application forms and other information. Applications are due in the Graduate School by 15 March for the following academic year. Visits to the FHSU campus are also encouraged for prospective students.