MS in Biotechnology

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

Program Description

The graduate programs in Biological Sciences offer advanced training and independent investigations in biology that lead to a Master of Science (MS) in Biotechnology. This degree program allows students who successfully complete the program to upgrade their qualifications for careers in the biotechnology sector or for educational advancement to doctoral programs. The MS in Biotechnology requires original research in a biotechnology-centered discipline and completion of a thesis.

All students are required to complete a thesis involving laboratory research. Research for the thesis may be conducted on campus with a biology faculty member or at an off-campus location. In either case, the student's research must make a new contribution to the field of biotechnology. If the research is conducted off campus, a biology faculty member must be identified as the student's graduate advisor. Following admission to the program, students are advised by a graduate advisor who will supervise their thesis research.

For additional information regarding the Biological Sciences Graduate Program, visit the Biological Sciences website.

Admission Requirements

Admission as a classified graduate student to the MS in Biotechnology 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;
  • two letters of recommendation from persons qualified to judge the applicant's potential for successful graduate study; and
  • a statement of purpose.

It is important to note that meeting all admission requirements does not guarantee acceptance into the graduate program. Students who have deficiencies in admission requirements 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 and a biology faculty member has agreed to serve as their thesis advisor. Any deficiencies in admissions requirements will be noted on a written response to the admission application.

Admission Procedures

Applicants must complete a university application by the posted application deadline date for the term applying:  

• an online Cal State Apply application for admission; and  

one set of official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended, other than Sacramento State. For more admissions information and application deadlines, please visit (  

In addition, all prospective graduate students must submit the following application materials directly to the Department of Biological Sciences:  

• an online departmental application for admission;  

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

• two letters of recommendation; and  

• a statement of purpose.  

Departmental applications for admission are due February 15. There is currently no general call for admission for students to begin in the spring semester. Approximately eight to ten weeks after the application deadline, a decision regarding admission will be emailed to the applicant. 

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 MS: 30
Minimum Cumulative GPA:  3.0

Advancement to Candidacy

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

• removed any deficiencies in admission requirements;  

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

• begun a preliminary study for the thesis; 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 

An Application for Advancement to Candidacy forms are available on the Office of Graduate Studies Web site and the Department of Biological Sciences Web site. The student fills out the form after planning a degree program in consultation with his/her Biological Sciences graduate advisor. After approval by the Biological Sciences Graduate Committee and the student's thesis committee, the completed form is routed to the Office of Graduate Studies for approval. All requirements for the Master of Science degree must be completed within seven (7) years starting from the time the first course is used to meet the master’s degree requirements. 

Program Requirements1

Required Core Courses (19 Units)
BIO 220Introduction to Scientific Inquiry 2
BIO 221ACell and Molecular Methods and Techniques2
BIO 222Molecular Biology3
BIO 225Stem Cell Biology and Manufacturing Practices1
BIO 227Development and Regenerative Medicine3
BIO 293Research Conference2
BIO 294ASeminar in Molecular and Cellular Biology 21
BIO 299Problems in Biological Sciences4
Culminating Requirement (6 Units)
BIO 500Master's Thesis6
Additional Requirements (5 Units)
Select one of the following:5
Human Molecular Genetics
Genomics, Proteomics, and Bioinformatics
Host/Pathogen Interactions
Contemporary Topics in Immunology
Separation Methods in Chemistry
Applications of Computational Chemistry
Protein Biochemistry
Nucleic Acid Chemistry
Total Units30