Christopher E. Skelton, Coordinator
The Master of Science degree in Biology consists of 36 hours of graduate work. There are a variety of concentrations that a student can pursue within either the thesis or non-thesis option. All graduate students (thesis and non-thesis) must successfully complete as an undergraduate or graduate student at least one course each in cellular/molecular, ecology/evolution, and organismal biology before receiving a Master's Degree. The Department Chairperson and/or Graduate Coordinator will resolve questions concerning courses in these areas.
Requirements and Conditions
In order to apply for admission to the graduate program of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences Department you must meet the following criteria.
- Hold a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited institution with evidence for success in graduate work.
- If you are presently enrolled in or have taken graduate courses elsewhere, you must be in good standing at that institution to be eligible for admission to graduate study at Georgia College.
- If Biology was not your major, then to receive regular admission you need at least 30 hours of undergraduate course work in Biological Sciences. If you do not have enough hours, you can be admitted contingent on completing enough undergraduate courses to fulfill the 30 hours. Your graduate committee will help you decide what undergraduate courses you need.
- Undergraduate students within 8 hours (two courses) of graduation and who have at least a B academic average in the major subject may enroll for graduate courses. Approval must be obtained from the graduate coordinator, academic advisor, and the instructor for the class prior to registration (use a regular add/drop form). Graduate work taken under this provision may not be used to meet undergraduate requirements. No more than 8 semester hours (two courses) of graduate work may be completed prior to the completion of baccalaureate degree requirements and admission to the Graduate Program as an applicant for a graduate degree.
- 9 credit hours may be transferred from other accredited institutions.
- Transient Students - A student in good standing at another regionally accredited graduate school can enroll as a transient student at Georgia College for one semester. In lieu of the usual transcripts and test scores, this student must submit a letter from the registrar where the student is regularly enrolled that certifies good standing and recommends admission to Georgia College as a transient student. Transient status means that a student is admitted to GC for normally a single semester, with the understanding that the student will return to the student's own institution for the next term.
- International Students - Must attain minimum language scores as follows (TOEFL/IELTS scores MAY be waived if undergraduate school was completed in USA):
- IBT (Internet Based TOEFL Test) - 23 in listening portion, 23 in speaking portion, with overall score of 80 to be eligible for a Graduate Assistantship. An overall score of 79 is required for international students seeking admission with a GA (no minimum score is required in any specific portion of the test for non-GA's).
- IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) - 6.5 in listening portion, 7.5 in speaking portion, with overall score of 6.5 to be eligible for a Graduate Assistantship. An overall score of 6.5 is required for international students seeking admission with a GA (no minimum score is required in any specific portion of the test for non-GA's.)
- PBT (Paper Based TOEFL Test) - is ONLY utilized if both the IBT and IELTS are unavailable. A minimum overall score of 625 is required to be eligible for a Graduate Assistantship. An overall score of 550 is required for international students seeking admission without a GA (no minimum score is required in any specific portion of the test for GA applicants or non-GA's.)
USEFUL INFORMATION - A variety of information is provided at the sites below:
For a variety of general information: http://www.gcsu.edu/
For online application: http://www.gcsu.edu/graduate/apply.htm
For online international application download: http://www.gcsu.edu/international/howdoiapply.html
For costs and other financial information: http://www.gcsu.edu/financialaid/docs/Cost_of_Attendance__Graduate.pdf
For graduate assistant application: http://www.gcsu.edu/graduate/assistantships
For information on our department: http://www.gcsu.edu/biology/
In order to complete your application you should:
- Submit an application (with application fee) to the Graduate Admissions Office.
- Submit TWO OFFICIAL transcripts from ALL colleges and universities attended.
- Submit an official copy of GRE exam scores. A new GRE scoring system is in place, but you do not need to take the new test if you have already taken the old test. Under the new scoring system, the minimum GRE score for entry into the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences is 286 (verbal + quantitative combined score). Under the old scoring system, the minimum score is 800 (verbal + quantitative combined score).
- Complete a Certificate of Immunization Form. http://www.gcsu.edu/registrar/immunization.htm.
- For thesis/research students, optionally (strongly recommended) request a letter of recommendation from a professor who is interested in beginning immediate collaboration with you. This will add 75 points to your admission score (200 if you have taken the old GRE).
Admission to our program is currently based on an overall admission score calculated from several factors. Using the new GRE scoring, the minimum required admission score is 820 and the minimum GRE score is 286. Using the old GRE scoring, the minimum required admission score is 2300 and the minimum GRE is 800.
Currently, our score is generated from:
- GRE score (minimum of 286 [new] or 800 [old])
- Undergraduate GPA.
- Research experience (in the form of publications and/or papers presented at professional meetings).
- Previous Master of Science degree.
- Ideally, obtain a letter of recommendation from one of our faculty that indicates a willingness to immediately begin collaborating with you. This will add 75 points to your admission score under the new system or 200 points under the old system.
The overall admission score is computed as follows:
- New GRE Scoring: GRE (verbal+quantitative) + GPAx178 + publication pts (60 pts/publication (maximum 120 pts)) + papers/meeting (15 pts/paper (maximum 30 pts)) + letter of support (75 pts for one letter only) + previous Master of Science degree (30 pts per degree).
- Old GRE Scoring: GRE (verbal+quantitative) + GPAx500 + publication pts (200 pts/publication (maximum 400 pts)) + papers/meeting (50 pts/paper (maximum 100 pts)) + letter of support (200 pts for one letter only) + previous Master of Science degree (100 pts per degree).
If admitted to the program, you will have regular, provisional, conditional, transient, or enrichment status.
The following admission standards are required for regular admission to the Master of Science program in Biology.
- A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution.
- A minimum of 30 hours of undergraduate biological sciences course work.
- GRE Minimum Score – 286 (or 800) combined verbal and quantitative score
- An admission score of >= 820 (or 2300) (see above).
Students with regular status are eligible for a Graduate Assistantship.
Applicants may be assigned conditional status if they apply too late for full consideration for admission and/or have not submitted all required documents for evaluation. Students with conditional status are not eligible for an assistantship. While in this status you may register for one semester only, by completing a Georgia College Conditional Registration Agreement form that requires the signatures of both the student and the Graduate Coordinator. Any student who registers under this agreement must be admitted to regular status by the end of the first semester of enrollment to continue taking courses in the degree program. Since you can only take a total of 12 credits during conditional status, you must obtain at least a "B" in each class in order to remain in the Graduate Program. You will need to see the Graduate Coordinator in order to have your course selection approved. The 12 credits maximum that can be earned in conditional status may be reduced according to the number of hours a student has earned in enrichment, certification, or transient categories. In no instance will more than a total of 12 semester hours from any one or a combination of the conditional, enrichment, certification or transient designations be counted toward a degree program.
GC graduate students with regular status may take courses as transient students at other institutions that will count toward their degree at Georgia College. Graduate students in good standing and who have been enrolled within the last five years are eligible for transient status. You must petition the program coordinator and obtain the approval of your faculty advisor for the specific courses prior to enrolling at the other institution. Finally, you must have the other college/university send a transcript of the courses to the GC Office of the Registrar. Ordinarily, students are permitted to be transient students away from the University for only one semester and up to 9 credits. See the discussion of conditional status for complete explanation.
There are no specific admission score requirements. A student with a baccalaureate degree can enroll in graduate courses for purposes of self-improvement or enjoyment as an enrichment student. Should the student later decide to transfer to a degree seeking category, no more than 12 semester hours of credit earned while in this category may be applied toward a graduate degree program and then only if approved by the Graduate Coordinator (minimum GRE and admission scores will be required. See the discussion of conditional status for a complete explanation.)
Academic Dismissal Policy
If the overall graduate GPA of a graduate student falls below 3.00, the student is placed on academic probation. The student has one academic semester (Fall or Spring) to raise the overall GPA back to 3.00; failure to do so will result in academic dismissal and, if applicable, the loss of graduate assistantship. Students can reapply after one semester. Readmission is not guaranteed. If readmitted, students have two contiguous academic semesters (Fall & Spring/Spring&Fall) to attain an overall 3.00 GPA.
A graduate committee is formed for thesis and non-thesis students in regular and/or conditional status.
- The Graduate Committee must be composed of at least three full-time faculty members.
- An additional committee member may be required for the determination of the Program of Study. This is sometimes necessary to assess strengths and weaknesses in academic training.
- By the end of the second semester the major advisor and the committee composition must be determined.
- You must meet with your committee and determine a Program of Study by the end of your second semester.
- You will not be able to enroll for your third semester until your committee: 1) is formed, 2) has met, 3) decided on a thesis vs. non-thesis option, and 4) has determined your Program of Study.
- Program of Study A total of 36 semester hours is required for graduation. Of the 36 total hours, 30 hours of course work are required. This is broken down into the following components: 2 credit hour graduate seminar is required during the first fall semester of enrollment; 6 hours of BIOL 6970 (thesis hours) are required; at least 9 hours of 6000-level course work (excluding BIOL 6940, 6945, 6960, and 6970) are required; and the remainder is made up of 19 hours of any combination of approved 5000-level and 6000-level course work. By the end of the first semester (before registration for the second semester or before the next semester after 9 hours are completed) the student must meet with the graduate coordinator to determine a program of study that most effectively compliments both the academic history and future plans of the student. Additional remedial undergraduate course work in biology may be required in addition to graduate-level course work.
- Thesis Students must successfully complete a thesis research project that will be supervised by the student's Primary Advisor and Graduate Committee. The research will typically last for approximately one year or field season and often takes place over the summer.
- Final defense The final thesis project must be presented at a public forum. This consists of an oral presentation of the thesis research as well as a defense of the thesis. The student's Graduate Committee will administer this examination. A final copy of the thesis (as determined by the major advisor) must be distributed to the graduate committee at least two weeks prior to the defense. The defense must occur prior to the final exam period of the semester the student plans to graduate. A thesis defense is virtually impossible to conduct during the summer since many faculty are away. Passing of the defense will be determined by a favorable simple majority vote of the committee members. A second attempt at the defense cannot be scheduled until at least 90 days after the original failure and must occur no later than one calendar year after the initial failure. Only two defense attempts will be allowed. Upon successful completion of the defense, the Dean of the College Arts and Sciences must approve the thesis. Once approved, the student will submit at least five signed copies of the thesis to the library with payment for binding.
- Program of Study A total of 36 semester hours is required for graduation. Of the 36 total hours, 33 hours of course work are required. This is broken down into the following components: 2 credit hour graduate seminar is required during the first fall semester of enrollment; 3 hours of BIOL 6945 (non-thesis study hours) are required; at least 9 hours of 6000-level course work (excluding BIOL 6940, 6945, 6960, and 6970) are required; and the remainder is made up of 22 hours of any combination of approved 5000-level and 6000-level courses. By the end of the first semester (before registration for the second semester or before the next semester after 9 hours are completed) the student must meet with the graduate coordinator to determine a program of study that most effectively compliments both the academic history and future plans of the student. Additional remedial undergraduate course work in biology may be required in addition to graduate-level course work.
- Non-thesis. The student will write a research paper on a topic selected in consultation with the members of their Graduate Advisement Committee. This paper will be organized to conform to the standards of the GCSU research journal and will be defended at a public forum.
- Final Defense. A final copy of the non-thesis (as determined by the major advisor) must be distributed to the graduate committee at least two weeks prior to the defense. The defense shall consist of an oral presentation of the independent study research paper and a defense of the ideas and concepts presented within the paper. The defense must occur prior to the final exam period of the semester the student plans to graduate. A defense is virtually impossible to conduct during the summer since many faculty are away. Passing of the defense will be determined by a favorable simple majority vote of the committee members. A second attempt at the defense cannot be scheduled until at least 90 days after the original failure and must occur no later than one calendar year after the initial failure. Only two defense attempts will be allowed.
Additional Program Information.
- At least 9 hours of 6000-level courses (graduate student only courses) must be taken, not including Thesis Research (6970), Internship (6960), Non-Thesis Study (6945), and Independent Study (6940). The 6000-level courses (excluding those mentioned) must meet the following criteria: 1) be open to all graduate students, 2) meet regularly, 3) have scheduled assignments, and 4) cannot be open to undergraduate students. If more than 9 hours of 6000-level courses are taken (excluding those above) then correspondingly fewer 5000-level courses are required to meet total graduation requirements. For example if 9 hours of 6000-level courses are taken then 21 hours of 5000-level courses would be required for the thesis option; however if 12 hours of 6000-level courses are taken then only 18 hours of 5000-level courses are required. This same correspondence of hours is true for the non-thesis option.
- You have 7 years to complete your graduate degree from your first date of enrollment. Courses that are transferred from other institutions must fit into the seven-year time frame. If you extend past the 7 year deadline you can apply for readmission and then petition for reinstatement in the Biology Program.
- The normal time for completing a Masters Degree in our department is two years. Eligibility for a graduate assistantship is only for two years (24 months) applicable to the completion of one graduate degree. Once a student has completed a graduate degree, whether that program of study required one year or two, the student is no longer eligible for a graduate assistantship.
- You can transfer up to 9 credits (~one semester) from another accredited institution with the approval of the graduate coordinator.
- No more than a total of 12 semester hours from any one or a combination of the conditional, enrichment, certification, or transient designations can be counted toward a degree program.
- At least 18 semester hours of graduate work must be completed in regular Georgia College & State University courses on campus or at a Regents' approved Residence Center.
- Graduate students in the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences are permitted to take up to one graduate level course with the same title/name previously taken at the undergraduate level. This requires approval of the instructor.
- Students are allowed to take only one independent study (BIOL 6940) course (3 semester hours) to go toward their total 36 hour requirement. This course will require approval by the graduate coordinator. BIOL 6940 cannot count toward the 9, 6000-level hours that all graduate students are required to take.
- Graduate Assistants are required to take BIOL 5050 (Teaching Techniques) the first Fall semester they are enrolled.
- Full time graduate students must take a minimum of 6 hours; however, a normal course load is 9-12 semester hours/semester. The advice of the student's faculty adviser should be considered when deciding the total number of hours per semester. Nine semester hours is considered a full-course load for graduate students and for Veteran's Certifications purposes. Students can only take 3-4 hours during Maymester.
- You must have completed, as an undergraduate or graduate student, at least one course each in cellular/molecular, ecology/evolution and organismal biology before receiving a Master's Degree. The Graduate Coordinator or the Department Chairperson will resolve questions concerning courses in these areas.
- Only grades in courses numbered 5000 - 7999 shall be counted in a student's institutional grade point average. Courses in which the student has earned less than a “C” cannot be counted for degree credit.
- You must be enrolled the semester you defend your thesis (or non-thesis paper) AND the semester you submit your thesis to the library.
Summary Table of Requirements
SUMMARY – NONTHESIS vs. THESIS
3 Committee members
3 Committee Members
Mentoring by advisor and committee by end of second semester
Mentoring by advisor and committee by end of second semester
BIOL 6945 (3 hrs) Non-thesis Study hours
BIOL 6970 (6 hrs) Thesis hours
at least 9 credits 6000-level courses (excluding 6940, 6945, 6960, and 6970)
at least 9 credits 6000-level courses (excluding 6940, 6945, 6960, and 6970)
2 hour Graduate Seminar taken first Fall student is enrolled
2 hour Graduate Seminar taken first Fall student is enrolled
22 credits other 5000-level courses
19 credits other 5000-level courses
Total - 36 hours
Total - 36 hours
The Biology Graduate Program usually has about 30 to 40 graduate students enrolled and about 15 Graduate Assistantships (varies somewhat from year to year).
- A graduate assistant must have regular admission to the graduate program
- Enroll for 6 – 12 hours fall and spring.
- Assistantships are awarded based on the overall admission score (see above for calculation).
- Assistantships generally are awarded for 2 academic years (4 semesters - fall/winter): however; GA’s are NOT guaranteed and are renewed each semester pending evaluations.
- Graduate assistants must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA on graduate courses at GCSU.
If a student's grade point average falls below 3.0 (academic warning), the student will have one semester to improve and return to academic good standing before termination of the assistantship. Should a student fail to return to good standing after one semester, or should a student receive academic exclusion and be dismissed from the degree program, the assistantship will be terminated at once. If a student regains good standing and then falls below a 3.0 a second time, the assistantship will be terminated. Students with an assistantship will receive a stipend and be required to work between 15 and 20 hours per week while enrolled in at least six graduate hours per semester.
For international students: The following are minimum language scores required for eligibility for a GA (TOEFL/IELTS scores MAY be waived if all four years of undergraduate school were completed in USA):
- IBT (Internet Based TOEFL Test) – 23 in listening portion, 23 in speaking portion, with overall score of 80 to be eligible for a Graduate Assistantship.
- IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) – 6.5 in listening portion, 7.5 in speaking portion, with overall score of 6.5 to be eligible for a Graduate Assistantship.
- PBT (Paper Based TOEFL Test) – is ONLY utilized if both the IBT and IELTS are unavailable. A minimum overall score of 625 is required to be eligible for a Graduate Assistantship.
- Stipends and fees associated with an assistantship are:
- Assistantships offer a waiver of tuition and a stipend of approximately $5300AY: $2650 per Fall and Spring semester. Graduate Assistants must purchase mandatory health insurance that costs $1122.00 per year. The breakdown is ~$483.00 for Fall and ~$639.00 for Spring Semester. The Spring semester medical insurance payment is higher because it covers each student through July 31. The gross pay for GA’s is ~$662.50/month Sep., Oct., Nov., and Dec. during Fall semester and Jan., Feb., Mar., and Apr. during Spring semester.
- GA’s receive a tuition waiver for Fall/Spring semester in addition to the stipend; however, there is NO tuition waiver for Summer, Maymester or workshops.
- Direct deposit is mandatory.
- Fees: GA’s must pay $25 toward tuition per BOR policy (this essentially means that all but $25 of your tuition is waived.). GA’s are responsible for all other fees including: Activity, Athletic, Bobcat Card, Health, Institution, Tech, Wellness, Transportation & Parking, and any meal plans.
Graduate Assistant Application Process.
- Students must submit an application at: http://www.gcsu.edu/graduate/assistantships.htm
- Applications are primarily evaluated based on the overall admission score (see above) and, additionally, the needs of the department.
- Offer letter is sent to student.
- Student accepts position by letter.
- Appointment form is generated and signed by Supervisor, Graduate Coordinator, and Academic Dean.
- Employment packet (Forms in this packet can be picked up at Human Resources or requested electronically. For information visit: http://www.gcsu.edu/humanresources/index.htm.)
- Employment information form - Emergency contact information
- Federal I-9 form (Employment Eligibility Verification form) – you will need one or more of the following documents to verify employment eligibility: social security card, Certificate of U.S. birth, state drivers license, school ID card with photograph, U.S. passport (or other approved U.S. government documents.)
- State of Georgia Withholding form (G-4)
- Federal Withholding form (W-4)
- Board of Regents University System of Georgia Security Questionnaire
- Direct Deposit Form (bring voided check, savings deposit form, or official letter from bank)
- Acknowledgement of Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
- Information on workers compensation insurance
- Memorandum to personnel file form (regarding on the job injury)
- New GA’s MUST attend mandatory orientation sessions.
- Graduate Assistants must purchase mandatory health insurance. You must renew the waiver every semester. Waivers only are available to students who are currently covered by a GROUP INSURANCE policy (either through their own employer, their spouse’s employer, or their parents employer. If you, your spouse, or your parents are self-employed and have health insurance your request for a waiver will probably be denied. Check with human resources if you have any questions. http://www.gcsu.edu/humanresources/index.htm
Hours and schedule:
- The work period begins one week before the first day of class and ends on the last day of finals.
- Fall and Spring break are built into the calendar so that GA’s do not have to be on campus.
- You are expected to work 300 hours per Fall and Spring semester (15-19 hours per week).
- The Graduate Assistant Supervisor determines the specific job description and schedule.
- The appropriate supervisor evaluates GA’s at the midterm and end of each semester. Students not meeting excellence standards may lose their assistantship.
- GA’s provide confidential feedback regarding their experience. This feedback is required before tuition can be waived.
Outstanding Graduate Student Award
All graduate students are eligible for the outstanding graduate student award during the first 2.5 calendar years of enrollment. The award is derived from the following point system:
- Graduate assistantship (RA or TA for at least one semester) – 1 point
- Grade point average (GPA) – value / 2 (a 3.5 GPA would = 1.75 points)
- Meeting paper presentations
Georgia Academy of Science (or comparable meeting) – 2 points
Regional or National meetings – 3 points
- Grant proposals submitted for research funding (not travel grants) – 2 points
- Articles submitted for publication:
Georgia Academy of Science (or comparable) – 3 points
Regional or National journal – 5 points
Students with 7 total points are eligible for the award. A maximum of three awards can be given each year. If there are ties (e.g. five students with the same score) priority will be given to papers and articles in regional and/or national meetings/journals.
To qualify for a graduate degree at Georgia College you must:
- Fulfill the departmental requirements for the degree chosen. These requirements are described above.
- Present an application for graduation to the graduate coordinator or chairperson for approval then submit the approved application and associated fees to the Office of the Registrar, 107 Parks Hall, by the dates indicated in the Official University Calendar.
- A graduate student must have an institutional average of B (3.0 GPA).
Program of Study
Total Credit Hours: 36