Graduate Programs

Appalachian's Master of Science in Biology program is designed to prepare students for competitive careers and continued training in the field of biology. The program will provide you with a comprehensive knowledge of broad fields and disciplines in biology while also allowing specialization in an area of your choice. The Graduate Program in Biology has been twice named the Outstanding Graduate Program at Appalachian, and a number of graduate students have been awarded grants or scholarships for their proposed and ongoing research. The program has three concentrations:

  • Cell and Molecular Biology (207B) – Students choosing this track conduct research aimed at understanding cellular and molecular processes that govern life at the molecular level and take coursework aimed that complement their research program.

  • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (207D) – Students choosing this track are involved in research programs that address key questions in physiological, population, community and ecosystem ecology with emphasis on evolutionary principles and take coursework that complement their research program.

  • General Biology (207C) – Students choosing this track have the flexibility to customize their program to incorporate aspects of both of the above tracks. In addition, students who would like to focus their coursework and research on secondary science education can choose this track.

As a student, you will study under faculty experts who conduct active research in diverse fields including cell and molecular biology, genetics; conservation biology; ecology and evolutionary biology; microbiology, immunology, pathophysiology; physiology and organismal biology; and science education.

M.S. (Master of Science) Degree Requirements

Students pursuing this degree are required to complete 30 credit hours of course work and research, while maintaining a grade-point average of 3.0. Four to eight of 30 credit hours may be for thesis research while the remaining 22 - 26 hours are chosen in consultation with the student's advisory committee. The student must pass a comprehensive written exam in his or her area, write a thesis on research conducted under the direction of an advisor and committee, present a seminar to the Department based on the thesis research, and pass an oral defense of the thesis.

Required Pre-requisites:

Prerequisites for the Biology MS Degree are Organic Chemistry and either an Ecology-type course (Ecology, Organismal course, etc.) if choosing the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Concentration or a Cellular/subcellular-type course (Genetics, Microbiology, Cell Biology etc.) if choosing the Cell and Molecular Biology Concentration. For the General Biology Concentration, either an Ecology or Cellular/subcellular course is required.  These pre-requisites are not required for admission but the faculty mentor would have to agree to accept a student without them and the student would be required to take prerequisite courses at ASU. If undergraduate courses they would not count towards the degree. 

Course requirements for the Master of Science in Biology

  • Required courses:
    • BIO 5500: Bibliography and Research (4 s.h.)
    • BIO 5999: Thesis (4 - 8 s.h.)
  • Concentration (choose one):
    • Cell and Molecular Biology (207B):
      • BIO 6615: Current Topics in Molecular Biology (4 - 12 s.h.)
      • One of the following courses:
        • BIO 5650: Bioinformatics (3 s.h.)
        • BIO 5777: Biostatistics (4 s.h.)
      • 3 - 15 s.h.. of graduate elective courses
    • General Biology (207C):
      • BIO 5777: Biostatistics (4 s.h.)
      • 5 - 19 s.h. of graduate elective courses
    • Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Concentration (207D)
      • BIO 5250: Current Topics in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (6-12 s. h.)
      • BIO 5777: Biostatistics (4 s.h.)
      • 2-12 s.h. of graduate elective courses

More information about the biology graduate program is available from the Graduate School website.

Application Essentials

Required Entrance Exam: GRE (score must be no more than 5 years old)

Required number of references to specify in the online form: 3

Supplemental Information: Resume (Required upload for application submission); Letter of Intent detailing graduate plans and expectations (upload on the Additional Information page in the online application).

Additional Notes: Must find a research mentor in department before admission.

Deadlines for Application: Priority screening dates are listed in parentheses, if applicable. Applications that are not complete by the priority screening date risk denial of admission due to no seats being available. A small number of out-of-state tuition scholarships are available to applicants with a minimum GPA of 3.4. For best consideration for these scholarships, applications must be completed before the priority screening dates.

  • Spring: 11/1
  • Summer Session 1: 4/1
  • Summer Session 2: 4/1
  • Fall: 7/1 (3/15)

Basic Conditions for Consideration of Admission: Meeting or exceeding the conditions below does NOT guarantee admission. All applications for a given entry term will be weighed based upon the number of seats available and the quality of the complete application packages. With special permission from the Graduate School, a program may admit a limited number of students with exceptional circumstances who do not meet the graduate school minimums.

Graduate School: 3.0 GPA in the last earned degree and official scores from the appropriate admission test(s), OR 2.5 GPA in the last earned degree and official scores at the 25th percentile level from the appropriate admission test(s).


All students accepted to the program by regular admission and by the application deadline are guaranteed teaching assistantships. These assistantships help students fund their education and also provide training to teach at the college level.


For more information, contact:

Dr. Ray Williams
Interim Graduate Program Director

Department of Biology
572 Rivers Street
Appalachian State University
Boone, NC 28608-2027

Telephone: 828-262-6511
Fax: 828-262-2127