Graduate Biology Program

Graduate Program Coordinator:

Dr. Jim Harper

Box 2116

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, TX 77341

Biology Graduate Student Handbook

Sam Houston State University Graduate Programs

Degrees Offered:

Master of Science
Master of Education in Secondary Education

Application / Acceptance Procedures

Regular Admission.  Requirements for regular admission to the graduate school are set forth in the Graduate Catalog and are summarized below (see the Graduate Catalog for more detailed information):

Program Admission Requirements

  1. A minimum undergraduate GPA, from the baccalaureate granting institution, of 2.5 (on a 4-point scale).
  2. Applicants from non-English speaking countries must present a score of at least 78 on the Internet-based (iBT), 550 on the paper version (PBT), or 213 on the computer version (CBT) of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).  If English is recorded as the official language, then a TOEFL score is unneeded. SHSU is currently accepting Duolingo scores of at least 105 during the COVID-19 crisis.
    • Students from the following countries qualify for a TOEFL waiver: Antigua & Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Canada (except Quebec), Dominica, Fiji, The Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, Jamaica, Liberia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Overseas UK territories, Overseas US territories, South Africa, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago, and the United Kingdom
    • Students who completed undergraduate or previous degree coursework at a university where English was the language of instruction, and have a GPA of 2.5 or higher, may be eligible for a TOEFL waiver. If the Office of Admissions cannot determine if English was the language of instruction at your university, an advisor will contact you to submit additional evidence.

MS Program in Biological Sciences

  1. Meet program admission requirements as listed above.
  2. An undergraduate degree in biology or a closely related field. Applicants with an undergraduate degree in a discipline other than biology or a closely related field must complete ecology (BIOL 3409) and genetics (BIOL 3450) or equivalent courses prior to being considered for regular admission. At least an undergraduate minor in the biological sciences, including ecology and genetics, is strongly recommended.  The requirement for ecology and genetics will be waived if a student scores 70% or better on the genetics and ecology sections of the MFAT exam. This exam must be taken within the first two weeks of entering the graduate program.
  3. Copies of all undergraduate and graduate transcripts. Unofficial transcripts are permitted during the application process.
  4. At least two letters of recommendation. Ideally, these letters are provided by faculty in the undergraduate major field of study.
  5. A Statement of Purpose that indicates your promise for success in graduate study. This statement should provide: (1) an introduction including your interests and motivations; (2) a synopsis of your undergraduate and previous graduate career as appropriate; (3) a discussion of the relevance of your most recent and/or current activities for graduate studies; and (4) an elaboration on your academic interests including the scope of research within your area of interest.
  6. A curriculum vitae/resume
  7. Prior to submitting your application, we recommend that you contact individual faculty members whose research programs align with your research interests and career goals to inquire if such faculty can serve as an advisor. If a faculty member has agreed to serve as your advisor, this information should be included in your Statement of Purpose.
  8. OPTIONAL: A GRE score is not required but can be provided if desired.

*Conditional Admission.  An applicant whose records are incomplete may be granted conditional admission.  Such students will be classified as conditional graduate students until all records are complete and all regular admission requirements are fulfilled.  Conditional admission allows for the completion of no more than six hours of graduate credit and is valid for only one semester.  All requirements for regular admission must be met prior to enrollment for more than six hours graduate credit.  

*Probationary Admission.  An applicant whose records are complete but who did not qualify for regular admission can be granted probationary admission with department recommendation and approval from the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering Technology.  The student is allowed to enroll in graduate courses (maximum 12 hours) to demonstrate he/she can perform at the graduate level.  Students must earn a grade of “B” or better in each course taken under probationary status to be considered for regular admission.

*Preparatory Admission.  A degree-seeking applicant that does not qualify for regular admission and needs to complete one or more stem courses may be granted preparatory admission.

 *Please note that conditional, probationary, and preparatory admission do not guarantee regular admission once deficiencies are met.  Only regularly admitted students are eligible for College of Science and Engineering Technology Graduate Assistantship positions.

Post Baccalaureate Admission or Non-Degree Admission.  Post baccalaureate classification is assigned to students possessing a Baccalaureate Degree that have not been regularly admitted or conditionally admitted into a graduate program and could be classified as non-degree seeking.  Non-degree admission may be granted to a student who does not intend to pursue a graduate degree but who wishes to take courses for professional advancement, licensure, certification, or self-education purposes, and who holds a baccalaureate degree or higher from an accredited university.

International students must meet the same requirements for admission and candidacy as students from the United States except that they MUST also have identified a faculty member that has agreed to serve as their advisor.  In addition, some form of documentation (e.g., and email) needs to be provided to the Graduate Coordinator.  In addition, an original evaluation of foreign education credentials is required (formal transcript evaluation), as well as proof of financial support.  International students are eligible only for regular admission status.

Transfer Credit.  A total of nine (9) credit hours may be transferred to SHSU from another accredited graduate program at the discretion of the Graduate Coordinator and the Dean.  Transfer credit is not automatic and must be requested by the Graduate Coordinator using a form found on the Office of Graduate Studies website.  Only courses with an earned grade of “B” or better may be used as transfer credit.  Transferred courses must adhere to the six-year time frame (i.e. courses may not be older than six years at the time of completion of the degree). Exceptions to the six-year rule require approval by the Graduate Coordinator, Dean of the college, and Dean of Graduate Studies.


Graduate (Teaching) Assistantships

Graduate Assistantships are available through the Department of Biological Sciences in conjunction with the College of Science and Engineering Technology and the Office of Graduate Studies. They are limited in number and awarded on a competitive basis. An Application for a Graduate Assistantship should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator at the time of application into the program. Applications are available in the Department of Biological Sciences main office (LSB 105) or from the Graduate Coordinator. To be considered you must also submit letters of recommendation (3) that can attest to your potential as a Graduate Teaching Assistant.  These letters must be separate from those in support of your application for admittance to the program.

Assistantships are typically awarded for a total of four semesters if the student remains in good standing. A fifth semester of support is possible with approval by the Graduate Committee and the Dean of COSET.  To be eligible for a fifth semester of support the student must have turned in their prospectus by their third semester and completed their comprehensive exam by their fourth semester. Students must make satisfactory progress and adhere to all deadlines or risk losing their teaching assistantship.  All assistantship awards will be made on a competitive basis by approval of the Graduate Committee.  Students that are awarded assistantships will receive a letter from the COSET Dean and notification from the Biological Sciences Graduate Coordinator. Those students awarded assistantships are required to submit additional paperwork to Ms. Kristin Skillern in the Department of Biological Sciences main office (LSB 105).

In addition, the office of the Dean of the College of Science and Engineering Technology offers a one-time scholarship for first-time master’s students which is only paid out in conjunction with a Graduate Assistantship. These cannot be separated.  First-time master’s students awarded an assistantship for the fall semester are given $2,000 that is split between the fall and spring semester. This is the only time we will automatically award this scholarship. First-time master’s students awarded an assistantship for the spring semester are given $1,000 that is awarded in the spring semester. This is the only time we will automatically award this scholarship.

Failure to adhere to departmental policy may result in termination of the graduate assistantship based on noncompliance.


All students who have been awarded a Graduate Assistantship are required to attend the Office of Graduate Studies New Graduate Student Orientation during their first semester in the program, as well as the Department of Biological Sciences TA Training held at the beginning of each fall and spring semester. 

Hourly Teaching Positions

Students not awarded Graduate Assistantships may be eligible to teach laboratories on an hourly basis.  Students interested in hourly teaching positions should contact Ms. Lori Rose, the freshman laboratory coordinator in the Department of Biological Sciences (, LSB 200B).


Life Sciences Building  

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

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