University of Vermont

The College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Biology

Graduate Programs

Our Program has excellent students, world class faculty for advisors and superb staff. We will work with you to design a set of courses, a research project and other activities that will prepare you for your career choice of:

  • academic research
  • medical institution research
  • private sector research
  • government work
  • teaching at the baccalaureate level

No matter what your choice is, we will help you to develop as a research scientist, who knows how to write, think critically, and express yourself effectively. We will also help you to network and find the right position for your next step: postdoctoral training, industry, teaching position, etc. All of our students learn to teach undergraduates, and we will help you develop your teaching skills, which will serve you well even if teaching is not your ultimate career goal. Our graduates are very successful and we expect that you will be as well. We appreciate your contribution to undergraduate research, to the research program of our faculty, and to the quality and liveliness of the Biology Department.

The research of our faculty is grouped into two clusters: Cell and Molecular Biology and Ecology-Evolution-Animal Behavior, and you will have the opportunity to mention from the outset of the application process whose research you are interested in.

Overview of graduate programs

The M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Biology

The M.S. and Ph.D. programs in Biology are geared to the needs and interests of each individual student. Graduate students may be admitted to work with a specific faculty sponsor, or may choose to rotate through appropriate laboratories to identify a faculty sponsor. Upon arrival, incoming graduate students take a diagnostic examination in four major subject areas. Based on the results from that examination, the faculty work with each student to map out the first year's course work. During that first year graduate students interact with faculty and other students to further define their areas of interest.

Typically, the student has chosen a Studies Committee, identified a major advisor, and started work on a thesis topic by the end of his/her first year. Later in the student's tenure, a written comprehensive examination compiled by the Studies Committee must be completed. Finally, a written thesis must be submitted and defended before the Thesis Defense Committee.



Requirements for Ph.D. Degree

A total of 75 hours, including six graduate colloquia, must be completed. Biology offers graduate courses in ecology, evolutionary biology, animal behavior, physiology, cell biology, genetics, and development; furthermore, our graduate students typically take courses offered by other departments, such as biochemistry and statistics. In addition to formal course work, all students must spend at least one semester as a teaching fellow.

Requirements for the Master's of Science

Four hours of Biology graduate colloquia and 26 additional hours of course work and thesis research. In addition to formal course work, all students must spend at least one semester as a teaching fellow.

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Studies for the Degree of Master of Science for Teachers (Biology)

A bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and certification as a teacher of biology or an associated field. At least three years of secondary school teaching. Satisfactory scores on the Graduate Record Examination, general (aptitude) section.

Degree Requirements for the M.S.T. (Biology)

Thirty hours of course work to include a selection of courses in the Departments of Botany and Biology which will broaden and balance the undergraduate work in biology. At least two 200-level courses in each department. Courses in four of the five following areas: anatomy; morphology and systematics; genetics; developmental biology; and environmental biology. Up to 12 hours of 100-level courses may be used for the above requirements where approved by the advisor and the Dean. Appropriate courses in related science departments may be used to complete the required 30 hours. No thesis is required; however, each degree recipient must complete a written and oral examination.

The Accelerated Master's Program (AMP) in Biology


An accelerated master's degree in biology can be earned in a shortened time by careful planning in the junior and senior years of undergraduate work. Biology, Zoology, Neuroscience, or Environmental Science B.S. majors should discuss this possibility with the department’s graduate program director as soon as they think they might be interested in the program. The M.S. can typically be earned in one additional year.

Following formal admission to the Accelerated Master's Program, up to six credits of subsequent course work approved for graduate credit taken in the junior and senior year can be counted toward the degree requirement. Courses must be selected from among the approved courses at this site:

The student takes the double counting courses as a "graduate student" for graduate credit - i.e. does extra work and needs to tell the instructor about this. An applicant must have a Biology faculty member as a research advisor.

How To Apply To The AMP Program

AMP students are eligible to apply to the program in their junior year of undergraduate study, for admission in their senior year. Students are strongly encouraged to apply in the fall semester of their junior year. The admissions criteria are similar to those for regular graduate students. Although we do not maintain strict cutoffs, we look for GRE scores typically in the upper half of students taking the exam, an undergraduate GPA typically above 3.1 with a GPA in biology courses above 3.3. We also require a focused, well-written statement of purpose, strong letters of recommendation from our faculty, and interest and willingness on the part of a particular faculty member to serve as an advisor.

In the junior year, the prospective AMP student will also select with their research advisor 6 credits of coursework that will count towards both the bachelor’s degree and the MS. These courses must be taken AFTER the student has applied and been accepted into the program, typically in the fall and spring of the senior year.

Beyond these six double-counted credits, an additional graduate-level course— taken before the bachelor’s degree is completed— may be used for the master’s, provided the course does not also count toward the bachelor’s degree. In all cases, students must be admitted by the Graduate College before taking any courses that will apply to the master’s degree, i.e., all courses used for the master’s degree must be taken after formal admission to the AMP. AMP students may not receive fellowship or assistantship funding prior to completion of the bachelor’s degree.

For more general information on the UVM accelerated master’s program, visit:

To apply for the AMP, use the general application form for the master’s program at UVM: Also, please fill out the online Accelerated Master's Degree Permission FORM

Requirements for Admission to Graduate Studies for the Degree of Master of Science for Accelerated Master's Students

To be eligible for the Accelerated Master’s Program, a student must be a declared biological science, zoology, neuroscience or environmental science B.S. major, and have identified a Biology faculty sponsor. Other requirements include a GPA typically higher than 3.10 overall and 3.30 in biology courses. Following admission students are required to take at least three credits of undergraduate research, usually in their senior year. After graduation with the B.S. degree, students are eligible to become candidates for the M.S. degree.

Minimum Degree Requirements

Nine or more additional course credits in biology and related fields; thesis research (up to fifteen credits); and successful defense of thesis.

Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination must be taken by the end of the second semester as a matriculated graduate student for students admitted under the accelerated program. The examination will cover broad knowledge of the student's discipline. The details and format of the examination and its form (written or oral or both) are decided upon by the studies committee and will be discussed with the student well in advance of the exam.

Requirements for Advancement to Candidacy for the Degree of Master of Science

Satisfactory completion of a qualifying examination.

Further information regarding course offerings and degree requirements can be obtained by contacting the Graduate College.

Looking for department details? Discover Biology at UVM.

Last modified November 08 2016 04:08 PM