Master of Science (M.S.)

Students accepted to the Master of Science Program in the Department of Biology cover JCU tuition by one of three options:

  1. working as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (i.e., G.A.) for the department;
  2. working as a Graduate Research Assistant (i.e., RA) in one of our research labs; or
  3. self-funding.

In each scenario, students in the M.S. program are expected to maintain research productivity towards the goal of completing a graduate research thesis under the mentorship of a graduate faculty advisor. This advisor is the primary reader of the thesis and plays an integral role in helping the student to define the limits, timelines, and research objectives of the project; additionally, the graduate advisor helps the prospective student to determine which route of funding is most appropriate for his/her situation.

Our faculty select prospective students to work on research in their labs if space and resources are available, but it is the responsibility of applicants to the M.S. program to contact potential graduate advisors during the application process to determine if an advisor is accepting students into a lab. Students are only accepted “unconditionally” to the M.S. Program if a definite plan of funding has been presented.

Option 1:
Students working as Graduate Teaching Assistants will have their tuition waived by JCU, and they will receive a moderate living stipend in exchange for assistance with laboratory courses. This typically involves 20 hours per week of preparation and setup for laboratory courses, grading lab reports, and assisting in management of grades. G.A. awards are competitive and are granted only to M.S. students who are (or will be) working actively on their thesis research with a faculty sponsor in our department. To be considered for a G.A. position, prospective students must:

  1. specify their intent to be considered for one of these positions during the application process.
  2. provide two letters of recommendation that comment on the applicant’s qualifications for this appointment as part of the application process.
  3. be sponsored by a faculty advisor in our department.

Applicants for the M.S. program who desire a G.A. position must consider finding a faculty advisor as central to the application process, as admission to the this program and receiving a G.A. position both require having a faculty sponsor for active thesis research.

Option 2:
Students working as Graduate Research Assistants will have their tuition waived, and they will receive a moderate living stipend in exchange for working closely with a specific faculty member to conduct research that is funded by outside sources (e.g., National Science Foundation). This typically involves 20 hours per week of guided research that aligns closely with the proposed thesis research of the student, and typically involves the same research methods. RA awards are competitive and granted only to M.S. students who are (or will be) working actively on their thesis research with a specific faculty sponsor. To be considered for a RA position, prospective students must:

  • be sponsored by a faculty advisor who is actively recruiting RA students.
  • specify their intent to be considered for these positions during the application process.
  • meet the RA application requirements defined by the faculty member advertising the position.

Applicants for the M.S. program who desire an RA position must consider finding a faculty advisor as central to the application process, as admission to the M.S. program and receiving an RA position both require having a faculty sponsor for active thesis research.

Option 3:
Self-funding of the M.S. program is ideal for students who may have existing full-time employment with an institution or business that will pay all or some of the tuition of their employees, or for students who have the finances necessary to cover tuition. Self-funded students are only accepted if they have a research advisor.

Finally, if a student applies to the M.S. program and meets the GPA requirements but is unable to find space in a faculty research laboratory for thesis research, that student may consider requesting admission to the M.A. Program as a self-funded student.

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Students accepted to the Master of Arts Program in the Department of Biology pay tuition as self-funding students. Students in the M.A. Program do not conduct thesis research, but degree requirements will include coursework and passing a comprehensive exam. M.A. students are required to have an academic advisor (typically the Graduate Coordinator for the Department of Biology) who will help the student to define a course sequence that meets the needs and objectives of the student. This advisor will also help the M.A. student to determine which other faculty will comprise the examination committee. M.A. students generally are not eligible for G.A. positions.

The M.A. Program is appealing to students who are interested in exploring post-baccalaureate education, or who are non-matriculated students that desire to take only a few courses. Many of our MA students live in the region and are taking classes to complete prerequisites for other graduate and professional programs, such as medical and dental school.