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Master of Science

Biology or Microbiology

​The Department of Biology offers a Master of Science (M.S.) with an emphasis in Biology or Microbiology.  Both programs follow the general requirements outlined below, but will differ in the subject of the graduate thesis.

Requirements for Graduation

In addition to requirements of the Office of Graduate Studies, three additional requirements must be fulfilled:

  • Thirty credits applicable to the graduate degree constitute the minimal requirement for all students. At least 15 credits being applied to the M.S. degree must be in graduate-only courses (700 numbers). The other 15 credits may be from courses that are dual level (combined undergraduate and graduate students and designated by 500 and 600 numbers). Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA or above.
  • Students must pass a written comprehensive examination and satisfy fully the graduate school requirements for advancement to candidacy. The exam is prepared and the results are evaluated by the Thesis Committee, which is selected by the student and is typically composed of three graduate faculty from the department (including the advisor); qualified individuals from other departments on campus and from off-campus institutions may be included. It is strongly recommended that students complete this exam as early as possible (e.g., by the end of the second semester for most students).
  • All students must write and successfully defend a thesis based on original research. The research is performed under the supervision of the thesis advisor. One of the most important functions of the Thesis Committee is to provide guidance and feedback for the student during the course of the student’s thesis research.

Further information is available in the Department of Biology’s Handbook for Graduate Students.

Required Courses and Electives

Required Courses:

  • Two credits of graduate seminar in biological sciences (Bio 748)
  • Two credits of advanced statistics (Bio 710: Biostatistics)
  • Four credits of advanced topics (Bio 765 or 766: Advanced Topics in Microbiology or Biology)
  • Six thesis credits (Bio 795)
  • One additional credit at the 700-level

Elective Courses:

Any combination of 500, 600, or 700- level courses in the Department of Biology can be used for the 15 elective credits. In addition, selected courses in chemistry, engineering technology geography, geology, mathematics, physics and psychology can be used. See TitanWeb for a complete list.

Requirements for Admission

Applicants to the MS in Biology/Microbiology are expected to have a bachelor’s degree in biology or a related science, including a course in statistics or calculus.

For international students, English proficiency needs to be demonstrated based on policy for graduate education at UW Oshkosh.

Once the Office of Graduate Studies has a complete application, it is forwarded to the department for evaluation by our Graduate Committee. Note that our department’s requirements are more restrictive than the university’s minimal requirements; it is our opinion that students who do not meet these criteria have a reduced probability of success in our graduate program.

For admission in full standing, the Department of Biology requires:

  • An overall undergraduate grade point average (GPA) of 3.0 or better (on a 4.0 scale), as evinced by an official transcript; if the overall undergraduate GPA is less than 3.0, the applicant must have earned a GPA of 3.25 or better during the last half of undergraduate work (approximately 60 credits). The GRE is not required.
  • Three positive letters of recommendation detailing the applicant’s abilities in the sciences and potential to succeed in graduate school. At least two will be written by university professors in the sciences. For students who earned their B.S. degree 5 or more years ago, letters from supervisors, preferably in STEM fields, may be acceptable.

Students who do not meet the criteria for full standing admission may be admitted on probation, if the department’s Graduate Committee sees evidence of the applicant’s potential to succeed in graduate school. To achieve full standing, an applicant admitted on probation must earn a 3.0 GPA in the next nine (9) credits attempted.

An applicant who meets the above criteria for admission in full standing, but whose baccalaureate is in a non-science discipline, may be admitted conditionally, if the department’s Graduate Committee sees evidence of the applicant’s potential to succeed in graduate school. If an applicant is admitted conditionally, the Graduate Committee will require successful completion of such undergraduate courses as they believe necessary to permit the applicant to succeed in our program. Although these deficiencies may be addressed concurrently with graduate work, they do not count toward the total graduate credits required for graduation.

Application to the Program

All students must apply through the UW Oshkosh Office of Graduate Studies. Application materials will be sent to that office but will be reviewed by the Graduate Committee in the Department of Biology.

For more information, please contact Dr. Bob Stelzer (, Graduate Coordinator and Professor of Biology. Dr. Stelzer will gladly set up a meeting with you to talk about opportunities in our MS Program and to answer any questions you may have.

Funding for Graduate Students

Graduate Assistantships (GAs)

The department is given, by the Dean of the College of Letters and Science, limited funds to support graduate assistantships. All graduate students are considered for assistantships; however, those on probation are not eligible. The department’s Graduate Committee ranks students by considering GPA, GRE scores (for incoming students) and progress toward degree (for returning students). Progress toward degree is judged by whether the student has found a thesis adviser, taken and passed the Advancement to Candidacy Exam, and made good progress with his/her thesis research. GAs are given to the top students.

GAs typically help prepare classroom laboratory materials. They may also be asked to work as assistants during classroom time. They are expected to work 13.5 hours per week. At this level, the graduate student will receive fringe benefits such as health insurance. Recipients receive a total of about $6900 for the nine month academic year.

Additional Sources of Funding

  • Research Grants to Individual Faculty: Some faculty have research funding from federal sources (e.g., National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, US Department of Agriculture), state sources (e.g., Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources), or private entities. They may have money to pay you to do research in their labs. Ask your mentor (or potential mentor) about this possibility.
  • Graduate Student-Faculty Collaborative Grants: These grants are issued by UW Oshkosh and include a $3,000 stipend for students and $500 for supplies.  Ask your advisor for more information.  The deadline is typically in early February and the call for proposals usually occurs in December.
  • American Association of University Women (Oshkosh): The AAUW offers a yearly scholarship for any full-time graduate student at UW Oshkosh. The application deadline is typically in January.
  • Leslie Allen: For biology or microbiology majors (graduate or undergraduate) with a demonstrated interest in ecology or field biology. The student must have completed 60 credits and have at least one semester of coursework remaining. Amount is $500.  See the section on Scholarships for more details.