College of the Environment, Forestry, and Natural Sciences2021-2022

Department of Biological Sciences

Biology, Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

Purpose Statement

The Biology M.S. program prepares students for research-focused professions in the biological sciences, emphasizing the development of a students’ ability to develop experimental approaches that accurately capture information to solve questions and problems in their biological field of study.  Our faculty members conduct research in the many fields of biology, from the level of single molecules to whole ecosystems. From the first day of entry into our program, students work closely with their faculty mentor, selecting a course of study suited to their future goals and professional interests.  The program enables graduates to contribute to the forefront of knowledge in the scientific community, share their knowledge through teaching, or apply it in public service or industry.  
Students pursuing the emphasis in Ecology, Evolution & Conservation Biology will integrate theoretical and empirical concepts in ecology and evolutionary biology to understand ecological patterns and the mediating processes that drive populations, communities and ecosystems.  Students will become familiar with ecological sampling techniques and statistical methodologies necessary to characterize populations, communities and ecosystems over broad geographic regions, and will apply current approaches for identifying and mitigating the effects of invasive species and anthropogenic impacts on threatened and endangered species within the natural ecosystems they inhabit.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the Biology M.S. degree, students will be able to:

  • Elucidate the major theories, research methods, approaches to inquiry and schools of practice in a biological discipline (genetics, physiology, anatomy, ecology, evolution, cell- or biochemistry, and microbiology), illustrating both the applications and relationships to other biological disciplines.
  • Communicate biological knowledge, including results of research undertakings, and the rationale underpinning their conclusions, to specialist and non-specialist audiences clearly and unambiguously.
  • Apply logical, mathematical or statistical methods most important or appropriate to the exploration of their field of study. 
  • Identify, select and defend the choice of mathematical or statistical methods or models appropriate to research questions.
  • Perform empirical or experimental work independently, as well as describing, analyzing, and critically evaluating experimental data.
  • Present and defend an original scientific project with the purpose of generating new knowledge:
  • Summarize existing literature and interpret their research findings within the context of the existing literature.
  • Precisely describe all research results and forms of scientific investigation used (e.g., experiments, field work, surveys, or calculations)
  • Draw meaningful conclusions from research findings. 
Students graduating with an emphasis in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation will be able to:
  • Articulate the theoretical and empirical foundations of ecology and integrate their application into thesis area
  • Provide coherent summaries and insights regarding current and emerging topics in ecology, evolution and conservation biology for both general and scientific audiences.
  • Apply quantitative methods to examine patterns, processes and anthropogenic impacts on terrestrial and aquatic environments. 
  • Examine the major theories, research methods, and inquiry approaches that scale from physiology to ecosystems.  

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