MA in Biological Sciences

Units required for MA: 30 includes units required in areas of concentration.

Program Description

The Master of Arts (MA) in Biological Sciences offers advanced training in the biological sciences through coursework and completion of a non-thesis project. The MA degree prepares students for careers in education, government, and industry, as well as for doctoral programs or advancement in teaching, laboratory work, or fieldwork.

Faculty have specializations and expertise in a diverse range of areas within the biological sciences. Students work with a graduate faculty advisor to develop a coursework plan that meets their professional goals, and design and complete their culminating project.

The MA degree requires 30 credit hours of coursework and completion of a project, which takes the form of a grant proposal or a review paper. 

For additional information regarding the MA in Biological Sciences, visit the Biological Sciences website.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student to the MA in Biological Sciences requires:

  • a baccalaureate degree;
  • completion of a major in biological sciences or closely related field; or completion of 24 units of upper division biological sciences courses or courses in closely related fields, each of which must be passed with a "C-" or better;
  • a minimum GPA of 2.75 in all biology courses and a minimum GPA of 3.0 in upper division biology courses; and
  • a faculty member who has agreed to serve as the applicant's graduate advisor.*

It is important to note that meeting all admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the graduate program. Applicants who have deficiencies in admission requirements (e.g., GPA, coursework) that can be removed by specified additional preparation may be admitted with conditionally classified graduate status. Admission as a conditionally classified graduate student does not guarantee fully classified status. Fully classified graduate status is conferred when all deficiencies identified at the time of admission are removed. Any deficiencies in admissions requirements will be noted in a written communication to the applicant.

*For your application to be considered for admission, a faculty member in the Department must agree to serve as your graduate advisor. This requires that you correspond directly with a faculty member with whom you would like to study. We recommend that you do this well ahead of the application deadline to allow sufficient time for correspondence. In your application, you will be asked to enter the name(s) of the faculty member(s) with whom you would like to study and have been in correspondence. This requirement does not apply to applicants to the MA Stem Cell Program.

Admission Procedures

To be considered for admission, all applicants must complete a Cal State Apply application by the posted application deadline date for the term applying and submit all requested application materials below.  

A complete application for admission into the Graduate Program in Biological Sciences includes all of the following:  

• an online Cal State Apply application for admission;  

one set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State;  

• a Department supplemental application submitted with the Cal State Apply application 

• two letters of recommendation from persons qualified to judge the applicant's potential for successful graduate study; and  

• a statement of purpose.  

Applications are due by February 15. For additional university admissions information and application deadlines, visit the Office of Graduate Studies ( . Approximately eight to ten weeks after the application deadline, a decision regarding admission will be emailed to the applicant. 

Note: The Department of Biological Sciences currently does not have a call for admission in the spring semester. However, under exceptional circumstances an applicant may petition the department to begin graduate study in the spring. A petition for spring admission requires a compelling reason and support by a faculty member in the department. Please contact your potential graduate advisor (i.e. a faculty member in your area of interest) to discuss this option.

No units from the following are acceptable toward the master's degree:

BIO 106Genetics: From Mendel to Molecules3
BIO 194Biology-Related Work Experience6 - 12
BIO 195Biological Internship1 - 2
BIO 197ALaboratory Teaching Assistant1 - 2
BIO 197BLaboratory Techniques1 - 2
BIO 197CCo-curricular Activities in Biology1 - 2
BIO 198AHonors Proseminar and Research2
BIO 198BHonors Research and Seminar2
BIO 199AIntroductory Undergraduate Research1 - 2
BIO 199BDirected Readings1 - 2

Minimum Units and Grade Requirement for the Degree

Units required for the MA: 30
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0

Advancement to Candidacy

The Advancement to Candidacy process serves to ensure that the student is qualified for and making good progress toward successfully completing their master's degree. Each classified graduate student must file an application for Advancement to Candidacy, indicating a proposed program of study, and receive approval for their proposed project. This procedure can begin as soon as the student has:  

• removed any deficiencies in admission requirements (i.e., attained fully classified status);  

• completed at least 12 units in the graduate program with a minimum 3.0 GPA, including at least one course at the 200-level;  

• completed an acceptable draft of the proposed project; and  

• taken the Graduate Writing Intensive (GWI) course in their discipline within the first two semesters of coursework at California State University, Sacramento and passed the course with a grade of B or better 

Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies website. The student must fill out and submit the form after planning a degree program in consultation with his/her graduate advisor and supervisory committee. After approval by the Department's Graduate Coordinator, the completed form is routed to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval. 

Program Requirements1

Required Core Courses (14 Units)
BIO 220A3
BIO 220B3
Select any combination of the following:3
Seminar in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Seminar in Ecology, Evolution and Conservation
BIO 294C1
BIO 299Problems in Biological Sciences 21
Culminating Experience (3 Units)
BIO 502Master's Project3
Elective Courses (13 Units)
Select electives in consultation with graduate advisor 313
Total Units30