Jan 26, 2023  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Biology, M.S.

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Priority Admission Application Deadlines: http://www.grad.usf.edu/majors


Cell Biology and Molecular Biology
Ecology and Evolution
Environmental and Ecological Microbiology
Physiology and Morphology

Contact Information

College: Arts and Sciences
Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology
Integrative Biology

Contact Information: http://www.grad.usf.edu/majors

Because of the many undergraduate courses that require hands-on experimental laboratories, both CMMB and IB support many graduate students as Teaching Assistants. CMMB and IB values high quality teaching at all levels of instruction. Research Assistant positions also are available to support research with specific faculty members depending on an individual faculty members funding. Numerous scholarship opportunities are also offered on a competitive basis through the USF Office of Graduate Studies.

Application to the Biology Major is through one of the two departments, with students selecting a formal Concentration. Refer to the Concentration listing in the Catalog for specific information and requirements.

The Department of Integrative Biology is committed to train the next generation of graduate students to prepare them for professional success in the biological sciences. Our program of graduate study is designed to foster the development of technical and analytical skills used in existing and emerging fields of discovery. The Department of Integrative Biology emphasizes learning and teaching about the interactions, across all scales, among humans and other diverse organisms in a range of environments. These interactions mediate the resilience of natural biotic systems, and enhance the sustainability of products and processes that are beneficial to ecosystems and consequently to human well-being. Thus, our mission is to create new knowledge and promote learning about ecosystem health and sustainability.

The mission of the Department of Cell Biology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology (CMMB) is to prepare graduate students for professional careers in academia, government or industry in the areas of Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology. We pursue excellence in the following programmatic research areas: genome integrity and mechanisms of aging, bacterial pathogenesis and resistance, structural and computational biology.

Major Research Areas: Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Signal Transduction and Gene Regulation, Cancer Biology, Developmental Biology, Microbiology, Ecology and Evolution, Environmental and Ecological Microbiology, Physiology and Morphology

Admission Information

Must meet University Admission and English Proficiency requirements as well as requirements for admission to the major, listed below.

  • Prospective students must apply to the Biology M.S. major with a specific concentration via the online application process through the USF Office of Admissions.
  • GRE: Preferred scores of 155V (69th percentile), 150Q (38th percentile), 4.5AW
  • Acceptance by a faculty member in the IB or CMBB Department is MANDATORY. The Departments will make every effort to pair potential graduate students with appropriate faculty; however, it is recommended that applicants make direct contact with individual faculty via email to indicate an interest in the reserach being conducted in their laboratory.
  • It is expected that candidates for the M.S. degrees will have completed courses equivalent to those required for the B.S. in Biology at U.S.F.
  • Interviews may be required.  
  • Three letters of recommendation from faculty in sealed envelopes (on their university letterhead) with the envelope seal signed by the recommender. Students shall complete a Student Recommendation Form that can be found on the CMMB and IB website and submit it to the recommenders. 
  • A brief essay stating your intended field of research and professional goals. Please indicate your specific research interests, in order that we may refer your application to appropriate CMMB or IB faculty members. In the essay, please list 2-3 CMMB or IB faculty members that you would like to have review your file.
  • Applicant must complete the Application for Teaching Assistantship (TA) Form that can be found on the Department website if they wish to be considered for a TA position. Applicants who do not return this form will not be considered for a teaching position. Applicants should attach a resume to the Application for Teaching Assistantship (TA) Form that highlights any previous teaching experience.

Curriculum Requirements

The Master’s Degree Requirements should be completed in two to three years. Students must choose a specific concentration in the M.S. degree that will be completed within either the CMMB or IB Department.

Total Minimum Hours - 30 post-bachelor’s

  • Core Requirements - 6 credit hours
  • Concentration (required) - 15 credit hours minimum
  • Non-Thesis (electives) or Thesis (Seminar/Thesis) - 9 credit hours minimum

Core Requirements (6 Credit Hours)

Concentration Requirements

Students must select one of the following Concentrations.

Cell Biology and Molecular Biology (15 credit hours minimum)

Ecology and Evolution (15 credit hours minimum)

Environmental and Ecological Microbiology (15 credit hours minimum)

Physiology and Morphology (15 credit hours minimum)

Comprehensive Oral Qualifying Examination

A comprehensive examination (thesis proposal, seminar/presentation and defense of thesis proposal) is required for all master’s students. This examination is open to all departmental faculty. Students must take their comprehensive exam within two semesters of matriculation and the exam is normally taken after the completion of all formal course work. Thesis students must take the examination at least one semester before the thesis is presented.

Non-Thesis (9 credit hours)

For students enrolled in the non-thesis program a minimum of 9 hours of elective courses taken beyond the concentration and core requirements, and a review paper of a topic approved by the supervisory committee is required as well as successful completion of the comprehensive oral qualifying exam after all course work has been completed. For non-thesis master’s students, this exam will occur at the end of the program of study.

Thesis (9 hours)

  • Credit Hours: 1

  • All thesis students must present a seminar to the Department and must be enrolled in BSC 6935, during the final semester. The seminar should be a concise summary of the research completed to satisfy the requirements for the M.S. Degree. The seminar is open to the general public and must be announced two weeks prior to the presentation. Upon completion of the seminar, the general public will be invited to ask questions. At the discretion of the student’s graduate committee, members of the committee may continue to question the graduate student after the general public has departed the seminar room. Each student is expected to defend his/her research to the unanimous satisfaction of the graduate committee.

    Seminar requirement: One presentation, excluding the thesis seminar and defense. Students should present posters or oral presentations based on their thesis research at national/regional professional meetings. The student’s graduate committee must approve the presentation.  

    Presentation of the thesis seminar (BSC 6935) and successful defense of the thesis.


  • Credit Hours: 2-19 (8 credit hours minimum)

  • Submission of a thesis proposal and approval by the major professor, graduate committee and graduate director.
    A minimum of eight (8) thesis research credit hours (BSC 6971).  Thesis research should be publishable and students are encouraged to publish their findings.

Degree Progress

A student must be registered for an appropriate load (in no case fewer than two [2] graduate hours) in the College for the semester in which all degree requirements are satisfactorily completed. A student who receives three grades below “B” in structured courses required by the advisory committee will be dropped from the program. Registration in courses entitled Directed Research; thesis must be with the approval of the major professor and must be commensurate with each student’s research plan. Students may not register in Thesis: Master’s until a Supervisory Committee has been formed and completed the oral qualifying examination. A student who enrolls in courses entitled Thesis: Master’s but does not submit a thesis will not be certified for graduation.

Department Handbooks

Department Handbooks  
IB: http://biology.usf.edu/ib/forms-library/
CMMB: http://biology.usf.edu/cmmb/grad/forms/


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