Program Roadmap

A page within Biology (MS)

Program components (all programs except Nurse Anesthesia)

Please note: For specific requirements and deadlines, consult the UWL Graduate Catalog.

During the first semester, each student works with their advisor to select members for their Advisory, Oral Examination/Thesis Proposal Defense, and Thesis or Seminar Paper Committees. The Advisory Committee advises the student on the Program of Study. The Oral Examination/Thesis Proposal Defense Committee administers the student's qualifying examination. The Thesis Committee supervises the student's research and administers the thesis defense examination. Often, the Oral Exam/Thesis Proposal Defense and Thesis committees are the same. The student should submit a completed Graduate Committee Assignments form to the Biology graduate program director. 

During the first semester, students complete a Program of Study form. This form must be approved by the student's Advisory Committee. The Program of Study contains the courses (including research credits) that the student plans to take, and must conform to the program credit requirements.

The courses that each student takes depend on their specific program requirements. Students should select elective courses in cooperation with their Advisory Committee. Selections may be based on the results of assessment exams, the student's undergraduate transcripts and course background, and additional background needed for the student's specific area of research and/or career goals.

Students must register for Bio 700 (Biology Graduate Program Orientation) during the first fall semester of residence. Students must also register for BIO 701 (Communication in the Biological Sciences) and two semesters of Graduate Seminar (BIO 751) within the first four semesters of residence.

Nurse Anesthesia students are only required to enroll in BIO 701 during the second spring semester in residence. 

Each student must pass an oral examination and/or thesis proposal defense covering material determined by the advisory committee, such as the student's research area and advanced coursework. The purpose of the qualifying examination is to assess the student's overall biology knowledge and readiness to complete the degree program. The thesis proposal defense assesses the strength of the proposal itself as well as the student's background knowledge in topics relevant to the thesis. A student's committee may require one or both of these examinations, or a hybrid examination that includes components of both.

The examination(s) should be completed prior to entering the second year of the program.

Upon successful completion, the student should have the committee complete an Oral Examination/Thesis Proposal Defense Completion form and submit it to the Biology graduate program director. 

Thesis-track students must complete a thesis based on an independent work of scientific research. Theses must follow the formatting and submission guidelines specified by the UWL Graduate Studies office. Past UWL Masters theses are available through the Murphy Library website. 

Non-thesis-track students must complete a seminar paper consisting of a literature review, project description, or other scholarly work developed in cooperation with, and approved by, the student's committee. The seminar paper does not need to follow the Graduate Studies thesis guidelines.

Thesis-track students must complete a defense of the thesis consisting of a public seminar followed by a committee examination. The defense cannot be done in the same semester as the student's thesis proposal defense or oral examination. Prior to the thesis defense (specific timeline determined by the student's committee, but generally 2 weeks prior), the student must submit a finished thesis draft to the committee. Be sure to inform the Biology Graduate Program Director when you are ready to defend. 

During the thesis defense or upon reading of the student's finished thesis draft, the committee may request revisions. The student should then complete a final draft of the thesis that contains all required parts and incorporates the revisions. The final version must follow the University Thesis Guidelines. After the committee has approved the final version and signed the signature page of the thesis (printed on the same archival paper required for the thesis), the thesis must be submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies.

A professional editor will review your thesis for adherence to the University Thesis Guidelines and you will most likely exchange several rounds of edits. Once the Thesis Editor confirms that the thesis is properly formatted, the thesis will be reviewed for approval by the Graduate Studies Director. The editing process typically takes several weeks, so plan accordingly. 

We have many students who balance family and career obligations along with their graduate studies. We will help you design a plan of study that allows you to complete your degree over a time frame that works for you - for example by enrolling in classes part-time while you continue working. 

If you finish all required coursework and research credits before completing your thesis, you must register for up to two semesters of GRC 799 prior to graduation. This will ensure your continued access to university resources, including an active card key, UWL email, and library privileges. GRC 799 is required for fall and spring terms only. However, to maintain access to university resources during the summer, you must be registered for the following fall. (If you graduate during the summer the fall registration will be dropped.) GRC 799 costs the same as one resident graduate credit. 

After registering for GRC 799 two times, you must register for GRC 795 each summer, fall, and spring if you require continued access to university resources, including an active card key, UWL email, and library privileges. If you do not need these things, registration in GRC 795 is not required, even if you require additional time to complete your thesis. GRC 795 costs the same as 50% of one resident graduate credit.

If you finish all required coursework and research credits before completing your thesis, and fail to register for GRC 799, you will have to register for GRC 798 the term you graduate. The cost of GRC 798 is equal to the cost of three resident graduate credits.

The Graduate Catalog contains the full GRC policy.

In compliance with university policy, Biology MS degree requirements must be completed within seven years. If you have not completed your degree within seven years, it is possible to appeal for a time extension. 

Graduate students in class