2020-2021 Graduate Catalog 
    
    Nov 25, 2020  
2020-2021 Graduate Catalog

Biological Sciences (M.S.)


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Program Coordinator/Contact

Nicole Lounsbery, Director
Graduate School
130 Morrill Hall, Box 2201
605-688-4181

Program Information

This is a collaborative graduate program leading to the Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences. Departments that cooperate in the program are the Departments of Agricultural & Biosystems Engineering; Agronomy, Horticulture, & Plant Science; Biology & Microbiology; Dairy & Food Science; Natural Resource Management; and Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences. Specializations and emphases are available in the following areas:

The masters and doctoral programs in Biological Sciences allow for considerable latitude in the education and training of students. Students interested in advanced studies in the biological sciences will have the opportunity to tailor a program that meets their interest by selecting courses offered by faculty from the participating departments. While the training of most students is largely directed to a single discipline represented within one of the participating departments, cross-discipline training is available. Generally, identification of a major professor with resources to support the student’s dissertation project is required for unconditional acceptance into the program. Therefore, interested persons should make application for program admission well in advance of the anticipated date of enrollment. Please refer to each departmental section for a listing of the graduate faculty and details regarding the areas of study offered in this program. Inquiries should be made directly to the department representing the discipline of interest.

Biological Sciences Program Objectives

Graduates of the Master of Science in Biological Sciences will:

  • Have a deep understanding and knowledge of biological principles related to the chosen discipline
  • Apply principles into practice in the field or industry setting
  • Have an appreciation and working knowledge of scientific research methods in the discipline
  • Demonstrate ability to interpret research findings and understand the implications
  • Write a coherent thesis or research paper and demonstrate the ability to write a scientific journal paper
  • Demonstrate competence in the major course topics covered by the student’s graduate plan of study
  • Demonstrate the ability to use ethics in decision making and planning
  • Demonstrate information literacy for science-based decision making and lifetime learning

Student Learning Objectives

  • Knowledge of program: Exhibit knowledge concerning biological and/or microbiological systems/sciences at a level appropriate to a MS degree holder.
  • Communication skills: Be able to effectively express themselves orally and in written form.
  • Understand scientific method: Understand the scientific methods and techniques for solving research problems and analyze scientific data using the appropriate statistics.
  • Use statistics to analyze data: Be able to use statistics to analyze scientific data.
  • Specialization: Specialize in some area of biology, biotechnology and/or microbiology, but still be broadly based in knowledge in cellular and molecular biology.
  • Publish research: Be able to conduct and publish scholarly research. (Option A)
  • Professional Development: Demonstrate professional development and competence so that they may enter the work force in academia or industry. (Transferable Skill: Career Preparedness)

Course Delivery Format

Biological Sciences courses are delivered face-to-face and enhanced with web-based instruction. Online delivery may be offered for specific courses.

Facilities and Services

A variety of outstanding laboratories, green houses, McCrory Gardens and Arboretum, livestock units, and field stations are available for education and research. Many Biological Sciences faculty hold appointments in the South Dakota Agricultural Experiment Station.

Available Options for Graduate Degrees


Master of Science Option A - Thesis 30 Credit Hours
  Option B - Research/Design Paper 32 Credit Hours

Core Requirements


The student, major advisor and Advisory Committee select the discipline specific emphasis area of the biological sciences. The courses will be identified on the student’s Plan of Study no later than the end of the first year of study.

Option A - Thesis


  • XXX 790 - Seminar Credits: 2
  • XXX 798 - Thesis Credits: 5-10
  • 3 or more credits of STAT courses numbered 500-level or higher
  • 6 additional course credits, designed to meet the interests and individual needs of the student
  • Electives Credits: 9-14

Option B - Research/Design Paper


  • XXX 790 - Seminar Credits: 2
  • XXX 788 - Master’s Research Problems/Project minimum Credits: 2-3
  • 3 or more credits of STAT courses numbered 500-level or higher
  • Electives Credits: 18-19

Total Required Credits: 30 (Option A), 32 (Option B)


Additional Admission Requirements


GRE: Not a general requirement, but individual departments may require GRE
TOEFL: required score of 525 paper-based, 71 Internet-based
IELTS: 5.5

(Individual departments may have different requirements for GRE, TOEFL and IELTS.)

General Requirements


Graduate students should consult with their advisor before registering for graduate coursework.

For additional information refer to the Master’s Degree Requirements .

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