Biological Sciences - Graduate Biology Program

Graduate Program Coordinator:

Dr. Jim Harper

Box 2116

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, TX 77341

Graduate Catalog

Biology Graduate Student Handbook

Sam Houston State University Graduate Programs

Degrees Offered:

Master of Arts
Master of Science
Master of Education in Secondary Education

Biology, the study of living things, is an exciting and dynamic field that offers many areas of focus. Graduate studies in the biological sciences provide opportunities to study viruses, bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, and animals, and to investigate the biochemical, physiological, anatomical, behavioral, or ecological processes that make each organism unique. Specific areas of faculty research interests include. parasitology, systematics of insects and plants, vegetation mapping, animal, plant and bacterial physiology, cellular signal transduction, genomics, micro and macro evolution, vertebrate reproduction, animal mating systems, entomology, behavioral ecology, and ecology of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.

The Department of Biological Sciences is located in the Life Sciences Building, which houses facilities including teaching and research laboratories, a core microscopy center, and a modern molecular biology center. Students also have access to the nearby Warner Herbarium, Sam Houston State Vertebrate Museum, Texas Bird Sound Library, an animal rearing facility, and greenhouse. The Department also operates the Pineywoods Environmental Research Laboratory (PERL), a 250 acre field station within five miles of campus that is dedicated to research and teaching.

The Department of Biological Sciences offers MA and MS degrees in Biology and is a contributing partner to the interdisciplinary MS degree in Forensic Science along with the College of Criminal Justice and Department of Chemistry. The MS degree in Biology allows for specialization in one of several areas of Biology and is designed for those students planning to pursue careers in research or environmental biology with governmental agencies and industry. The MS degree in Biology is also appropriate for students planning to continue their training in PhD programs at other institutions or in professional schools. The MS degree in Forensic Science is a degree that prepares the student to work for or consult with various agencies in the criminal justice system.

The MA degree in Biology is primarily designed for secondary education teachers who wish to increase their competency in the field of biology. This degree is not recommended for students who plan to pursue doctoral studies. Students pursuing the Master of Education degree may specialize in Biology as a teaching field.


Competitive teaching and research assistantships are available to graduate students in Biology through the Department of Biological Sciences and individual faculty members, respectively. Teaching assistantships pay a stipend of $14,301 over nine months each year for at least two years. To apply for a teaching assistantship, a TA Application should be completed and sent to Graduate Program Coordinator, Department of Biological Sciences, 2000 Avenue I, Box 2116, Huntsville, TX 77341-2116. The deadline for TA applications is April 15 for admission in the fall and December 1 for admission in the spring. University scholarships are also available. The department also offers competitive research grants to support research activities and travel to scientific meetings. For additional support opportunities, see the College of Science and Engineering Technology scholarship page here.

Admission Requirements

Students seeking admission to the graduate program in the Biological Sciences must submit the Graduate Studies Application for Admission with the one-time application fee to the Office of Graduate Studies, official transcripts of all college-level work (including the transcript that shows the date the undergraduate degree was conferred), official GRE scores, and a statement of purpose. Two letters of recommendation from faculty in the undergraduate major field of study at the student’s undergraduate degree-granting institution are required with the application for admission.

To be granted regular admission to the graduate program, applicants must have an undergraduate degree in biology or a related field. Applicants having an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than biology must successfully complete the equivalent of an undergraduate minor in the biological sciences before being considered for regular admission. For regular admission to the graduate program, applicants must also have a GRE score and undergraduate GPA in concordance with the following formula: {[( 200*GPA) Averaged % ranking] > 300 ]}. For a final admissions decision, GRE scores and undergraduate GPA do not constitute the primary criteria to end consideration of an applicant. Applicants with combined scores of slightly less than 300 using the above formula may be considered for probationary admission.

Master of Arts, 36 Semester Hours with a Minor, 30 Semester Hours without a Minor.

This degree program is well suited for many training objectives, but it is most often recommended for secondary teachers who wish to prepare in two fields. A student may opt to include a minor. This plan requires 32 semester hours (36 with a minor field) of graduate credit. If opting for the MA with a minor, 24 hours are taken in Biology, including BIO 5301 and BIO 5302, and 12 semester hours of graduate credit are required in a minor field that logically supports the major. Completion of a literature-based review paper is required.

Master of Science, 30 Semester Hours with Thesis.

This degree program is designed for those students who select all of their courses from those offered in the Biology program unless otherwise authorized by the Graduate Advisor and the faculty research advisor.  Students with this degree are prepared for positions as professional biologists in the public or private sector, teaching at the college level or to begin doctoral programs in the biological sciences. This is a research-oriented degree requiring a thesis. This plan requires 32 semester hours of graduate credit, at least 26 of which must be in courses numbered 5000 or above. Six hours of thesis (3 hours each of BIO 6398 and BIO 6099) and BIO 5301, BIO 5302 (6 hours) are counted toward this 30-hour degree program.

Master of Science, 36 Semester Hours with a Minor and a Thesis.

Students with this degree are prepared for positions as professional biologists in the public or private sector, teaching at the college level or to begin doctoral programs in the biological sciences. This is a research-oriented degree requiring a thesis. This plan requires 36 semester hours of graduate credit.  Included in the 36 hours are BIO 5301 and BIO 5302 (6 hours), BIO 6398 and BIO 6099 (minimum 6 hours of thesis), 18 hours of Biology courses and a minor of 12 hours in a field that supports the major. The minor must be approved by the minor-granting program.

Master of Education in Secondary Education.

This degree plan is designed primarily for the secondary teacher. All such degrees originate in the College of Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and require the completion of a minimum of 36 hours of graduate credit, 30 of which must be in courses numbered 5000 or above. Twelve to 24 hours of professional education course work are required (12 hours minimum for minor and 6 hours minimum for a second minor). A comprehensive examination is required. Students may elect from 12 to 24 semester hours in biology in this 36-semester-hour program. A thesis is not required. Course requirements are adjusted to meet individual student needs by the M.Ed. program and the Graduate Advisor for Biology.


In order to receive the MA or MS degree, all graduate students are required to pass a comprehensive examination based on their course work and general biological concepts. The nature of this examination, which may be written and/or oral, will be determined by the faculty. Students must be enrolled the semester they take the comprehensive examination. For MA degrees, a literature-based review paper is prepared in consultation with the student's faculty advisor. Students must defend the literature-based review before the student's advisory committee, and present it to the faculty in seminar format. For MS degrees, students complete a thesis research project under supervision of the student's thesis advisor, and present the thesis to the faculty in seminar format. The thesis must also be defended before the student's thesis committee. Once enrolled in BIO 6099, a student must be continually enrolled until graduation.

We've Moved!

Life Sciences Building  

Department of Biological Sciences
2000 Ave. I, Lee Drain Building (LSB) 
P.O. Box 2116
Huntsville, Texas 77341
Phone: 936.294.1540 Fax: 936.294.3940

Building Hours:  7:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m., Monday - Friday