Quad Cities Campus

Master of Science in Biology


Admissions: (309) 762-1495 | Catalog

QC College of Arts & Sciences Website

Dept. of Biology Website

Brochure PDF File

Biology is one of the most basic fields of science with direct application to humans. Our continued existence on the planet Earth will depend on how we resolve biological problems. Biology ranges in scale from biochemical processes inside individual cells to complex multicellular organisms to populations of organisms to ecosystems to the entire planet. A Master of Science in Biology allows our graduates to pursue careers in health care, biotechnology, conservation, government agencies, education, and a wide range of other fields.

Admission Requirements

All candidates must meet the general admission requirements of the School of Graduate Studies. Students selecting the biological sciences as a graduate major must have received a Bachelor’s degree with work in biological sciences. Departmental approval may be contingent upon the student making up undergraduate deficiencies (undergraduate deficiencies can be taken as Pass/Fail, but they must be completed before graduation). All incoming students are expected to have three semesters of Chemistry (including Organic or Biochemistry) and three semesters of General Biology (focusing on Botany, Microbiology, and Zoology), plus two semesters each of the following: Physics or Geology (any sequence) and Mathematics. A semester each of Genetics, Ecology, and Cell Biology is also required. The department has no foreign language requirement for the Master of Science (MS) degree. Although the Graduate Record Examination is not required, students are encouraged to submit scores for both the General Test and the Subject Test in biology prior to admission. Acceptance to do graduate work in the department is dependent upon the following: a minimum GPA of 3.0 (unless waived by action of the Departmental Graduate Committee) or a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the last two undergraduate years, three letters of recommendation, and a written statement on the student’s interests and career goals.

Degree Requirements

The MS degree in Biology can be earned by satisfying either the requirements of the thesis plan or the non-thesis plan. The thesis plan is designed for students who are interested in research and/or who wish to continue their education beyond the Master’s degree. The non-thesis plan is recommended for students who want additional advanced training in the biological sciences but do not have research-oriented career goals. All students must complete an original research project (non-thesis research projects are less intense than thesis projects; however, a non-thesis student can also complete an internship for their research requirement). All students must take 9 semester hours (sh) of our core courses. Thesis plan students will also take 10 sh related to their research, while non-thesis plan students will take 4 sh that are research-related. The remaining classes are electives (13 sh for the thesis option; 19 sh for the non-thesis option). There are a total of 32 sh required for graduation.

Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Programs

The department offers two post-baccalaureate certificates which may be integrated with the Biology master’s degree program.

  • Environmental GIS – An interdisciplinary, skill-based program designed to provide students with an understanding of how environmental information is collected, reported, and analyzed. The program provides hands-on training in the basic concepts at all levels of ecology from populations to landscapes and the interaction between the physical and biotic environment using cutting-edge technology of geographic information systems (GIS) software.
  • Zoo and Aquarium Studies – A program designed to provide students with practical experience in animal husbandry and animal training. In addition, the program provides students with an understanding of space, personnel, and budget management; policies of profit versus nonprofit facilities; and ethical and legal issues related to working at a zoo, aquarium, or marine park. For Gainful Employment Disclosure, visit wiu.edu/grad/gainfulemployment.

Contact Information

Chairperson: Charles Lydeard
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Susan Romano
Office: Waggoner Hall 372
: (309) 298-1546 Fax: (309) 298-2270
E-mail: biology@wiu.edu
Website: wiu.edu/biology
Location of Program Offering: Macomb, Quad Cities, Shedd Aquarium, Alice L. Kibbe Life Sciences StationWIU-Quad Cities Biology Grad Student

Featured Alumni

Brian L. Sloss, PhD.

My time in the program (MS, 1996) was vital in my development as a young scientist and educator. The faculty, the multidisciplinary curriculum, and the interaction with fellow graduate students fostered my own skills and provided me a better appreciation of all fields of biological sciences. The focus on a core curriculum at the graduate level is a central factor in consistently producing quality young scientists with diverse career opportunities. I believe strongly in the Biological Sciences program and am proud to have been able to continue my association with the program into my professional career.

– Brian L. Sloss, PhD, USGS–Wisconsin Cooperative
Fishery Research Unit, College of Natural Resources,
University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point

Career Opportunities

The career opportunities available to our graduates are as varied as biology itself. Potential careers open to our graduates include the following:

  • Biotechnology industry
  • Medicine
  • Government conservation agencies such as the Department of Natural Resources, Fish, and Wildlife or the Environmental Protection Agency
  • Private conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy
  • Science education
  • Museum curation
  • Zoos and aquaria

Also, many of our MS graduate students further their education by pursing advanced degrees or attending medical school.

Faculty Expertise

The Department of Biological Sciences in the Quad Cities has faculty members with advanced degrees in plant ecology, mammalogy, conservation, environmental biology, and zoo and aquarium studies.

Assistantship Opportunities

The Biological Sciences department has several graduate assistantships available on the Macomb campus, and all degree-seeking students are eligible to apply for these assistantships. Graduate assistantships are also available with administration and in other departments on campus. Students must fill out an assistantship application with the School of Graduate Studies. Criteria for awarding assistantships includes grade point average, individual skills as needed by the department, and a letter of recommendation. All assistantships come with a stipend and a tuition waiver.


The Department of Biological Sciences in the Quad Cities provides a high-quality, small college learning environment. Faculty are engaged in teaching and research with several partners. These partners include the Nahant Marsh in Davenport, Iowa; the Niabi Zoo in Moline, Illinois; and the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois.