175 Schmucker Science Center North
West Chester University
West Chester, PA 19383
Dr. Waber, Chairperson
Dr. Fan, Graduate Coordinator
Sharon E. Began, Ph.D., Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
John T. Beneski, Jr., Ph.D., Washington State University
Steven L. Broitman, Ph.D., Princeton University
Giovanni Casotti, Ph.D., Murdoch University
G. Winfield Fairchild, Ph.D., University of Michigan
Frank Eliot Fish, Ph.D., Michigan State University
Maureen T. Knabb, Ph.D., University of Virginia
Gustave Mbuy, Ph.D., University of Cincinnati
Leslie B. Slusher, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Harry M. Tiebout III, Ph.D., University of Florida
Jack Waber, Ph.D., University of Hawaii
Anne Boettger, Ph.D., University of Alabama at Birmingham
Xin Fan, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Oné R. Pagán, Ph.D., Cornell University
Greg Turner, Ph.D., Fordham University
Josh Auld, Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh
Erin Gestl, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University
Judith J. Greenamyer, D.V.M., Ohio State University
John Pisciotta, Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University
Jessica Schedlbauer, Ph.D., University of Idaho
Admission Requirements [top]
Applicants must meet the general requirements for admission to degree study at West Chester University. Applicants must submit two letters of recommendation as part of their application to graduate study. Applicants must include a one-page written statement that outlines their reasons for pursuing graduate study in biology and the specific area of biology in which they are interested. Applicants must fill out a supplemental application for graduate study in biology by the end of their first semester of study, available from the biology coordinator, in which they identify their preferred adviser and indicate whether they intend to pursue the thesis or nonthesis option, and whether they intend to be a full-time or part-time student.
Minimum academic prerequisites for admission include two semesters of general chemistry, two semesters of organic chemistry, one semester of physics, one semester of calculus, one course in statistics, one course in statistics, and 17 semester credits of course work in the biological sciences. Because of space and personnel limitations, admission of academically qualified applicants is contingent upon the availability of laboratory space, the adviser whom they identify, and the appropriateness of the student's background to the chosen area of concentration.
The M.S. in biology may be completed under either the thesis or nonthesis option. Switching between the two options is possible early in the program, but will require the student to organize a new advisory committee, take additional courses, and spend additional time completing the program.
The supplemental application form will not be required to be admitted into the graduate program. Instead, students (thesis and nonthesis) will have until the end of their first semester to choose an adviser and a committee. Continued enrollment in the program is contingent upon the student finding a faculty member who is willing to act as his or her adviser.
DEADLINE DATES FOR APPLICATIONS: April 15 for all students wishing to be considered for graduate assistantships for the following September; April 15 for the fall semester; October 15 for the spring semester. Students who do not wish an assistantship can apply throughout the year to enter the program.
Master of Science in Biology [top]
Curriculum - Thesis Option (30 semester hours)
- Required core (9 semester hours)
BIO 608, 609*, 610 **
- Research methods core (6 semester hours)
Select two from BIO 511, 513, 514, 515
- Concentration courses (6 semester hours)
Select two courses from BIO 535, 536, 537, 590
BIO 535/536/537 (topics courses) may be repeated for credit as long as the topic is different.
- Electives (9 semester hours)
Any course listed in II or III above
Any other 500-level biology course
Up to 6 semester hours of 400-level courses, where no 500-level component is available
Up to 6 semester hours of graduate course work from another department or university, but only with prior departmental approval
* A letter grade must be assigned for BIO 608 before the student may enroll in
** A letter grade must be assigned for BIO 609 before the student may enroll in
To complete BIO 591 successfully, the student must present the thesis proposal to his/her thesis advisory committee and demonstrate a fundamental understanding of the principles of biology underlying the proposed research. At that time, the committee also will examine the student on his/her understanding of other related areas of biology. Students who demonstrate a poor understanding of their chosen field must correct their deficiencies.
To complete BIO 610 successfully, the student must present the thesis research in an open seminar and also pass a final thesis defense before the thesis committee. The degree will not be awarded until the thesis has been accepted by the student's committee and signed by the dean of graduate studies.
Part-time students will be required to take the same group of courses as full-time students except they must complete BIO 591 (thesis proposal) by the end of their third year. As with the full-time students, part-time students cannot sign up for BIO 592 unless they have obtained a letter grade for BIO 591. In addition, they must sign up for BIO 610 (thesis) by the start of their sixth year and complete it by the end of that year.
Nonthesis Option (36 semester hours)
- Required core (24 semester hours)
Three research techniques courses: BIO 513, 514, 515
Three different course topics areas: BIO 535, 536, 537
- Electives (12 semester hours)
See general information for details and restrictions.
To complete BIO 591 successfully, the student must present the results of the project in an open seminar. In addition, during or immediately after the final semester of course work in the nonthesis program, the student must pass a written comprehensive examination prepared by the student's advisory committee. Students who fail this examination will not receive their degree.
General Information and Restrictions on Electives
With the prior consent of his or her advising committee, a thesis student may take a maximum of six semester hours at the graduate level in allied disciplines, and a maximum of six biology semester hours at the 400 level. A nonthesis student may take a maximum of nine semester hours at the graduate level in allied disciplines, and a maximum of six biology semester hours at the 400 level. The following courses are senior-level undergraduate courses that are acceptable for graduate students. Graduate students should expect to be graded by the same standards as the undergraduate students. Selection of these courses must be done with the approval of the student’s adviser.
412 Organic Evolution
414 Applied and Industrial Microbiology
415 Tropical Ecology and Conservation
421 Cell and Molecular Biology
428 Animal Histology
435-438 Course Topics in Biology
440 Human Genetics
443 Introduction to Gene Expression Methodology
448 Animal Development
457 Functional Animal Morphology
473 Conservation Biology
474 Microbial Ecology
478 Plant Evolution
485 Systematic Botany
With the consent of his or her advising committee, any student also may transfer in six semester hours of graduate-level work from another university.
BIO 593 may not be counted towards the 30 semester hours required for graduation in the thesis option.
BIO 592, 593, and 610 may not be counted towards the 36 semester hours required for graduation in the nonthesis option.
Course Descriptions [top]
Courses are divided into three groupings: graduate only, combined graduate and undergraduate, and acceptable undergraduate courses.
Numbers in parentheses at the end of course descriptions indicate the number of hours of lecture and lab, respectively. Prerequisite for graduate course attendance is admission to the degree program or permission of the graduate coordinator and the dean of graduate studies. Prerequisites for specific courses are given.
The following are the graduate-only courses in the biology program:
511 Experimental Design and Analysis (3) An introduction to the design and analysis of biological research. An independently conducted research project is a required part of the course. Lab BIL 511 (2, 1) PREREQ: Basic statistics.
513 Research Techniques in the Biological Sciences I (3) An introduction to the theory and application of histological techniques, and light and electron microscopy. (0, 3)
514 Research Techniques in the Biological Sciences II (3) Introduces students to the theory and practical application of selected techniques in biological research, such as radioisotope labeling techniques, spectrophotometry, and various chromatographic procedures. (0, 3)
515 Research Techniques in the Biological Sciences III: Computer Applications in Biological Research (3) Use of computers in biological research and data analysis. Topics include image analysis, modeling, and database access for proposal or presentation preparation. (0, 3)
530 Human Genetics (3) Basic genetic theories as they apply to the study of humans; chemical basis of inheritance; biochemical variation; cytogenetics; somatic cell developmental, behavioral, and population genetics of man; immunogenetics; quantitative inheritance, treatment, and prevention of genetic disorders; relationships between viruses, genes, and cancer; social, legal, and psychological aspects of human genetics. (3, 0) PREREQ: Introductory genetics.
535 Course Topics in Biology I (3) Lecture/ seminar course on the latest topics in ecology, evolution, or organismal biology. Specific content varies depending on faculty involved. Offered in rotation with BIO 536 and 537. May be repeated for credit if a different topic is presented. (3, 0) This course may be taken again for credit.
536 Course Topics in Biology II (3) Lecture/ seminar course on the latest topics in microbiology, immunology, or molecular genetics. Specific content varies depending on faculty involved. Offered in rotation with BIO 535 and 537. May be repeated for credit if a different topic is presented. (3, 0) This course may be taken again for credit.
537 Course Topics in Biology III (3) Lecture/seminar course on the latest topics in cell biology, physiology, or development. Specific content varies depending on faculty involved. Offered in rotation with BIO 535 and 536. May be repeated for credit if a different topic is presented. (3, 0) This course may be taken again for credit.
538 Design, Analysis, and Adaptation Conceptual Science I (3) The pragmatic application of advanced biological content in secondary science lesson design, implementation, and assessment with respect to contemporary science education curricular standards. PREREQ: Minimum of three, 500-level graduate credits in biology, Pennsylvania secondary certification (or equivalent) in a science discipline, or permission of instructor.
539 Design, Analysis, and Adaptation of Conceptual Science II (3) The pragmatic application through collaboration of advanced biological content in secondary science lesson design, implementation, and assessment with respect to contemporary science education curricular standards. The emphasis is on thematic, integrated, and interdisciplinary unit design. PREREQ: BIO 538, a minimum of six 500-level graduate credits in biology, Pennsylvania secondary certification (or equivalent) in a science discipline, or permission of instructor.
590 Directed Study in Biology (3) In-depth study of the literature of a specific topic in biology, under the direction of a biology faculty member. Students will read, analyze, discuss, and summarize relevant peer-reviewed journal articles. Field or laboratory work may be part of the course, but no research project is to be required. PREREQ: At least one undergraduate course in the topic, plus permission of the department's graduate committee. BIO 590 may not be taken more than once in the student's graduate career.
591 Directed Research I (3) To be taken when the student begins his/her nonthesis research. Includes a comprehensive literature search and/or development of specialized techniques. This course should culminate in the acceptance of the nonthesis proposal by an appropriate committee of faculty and is required for degree candidacy.
593 Directed Research III (3) A continuation of the research proposed and initiated in BIO 591. To be taken for credit only with the approval of the graduate coordinator. (Does not count towards 30 credits required for graduation.)
608 Thesis Research I (3) To be taken when the student begins his/her thesis research. Includes a comprehensive literature search and development of specialized techniques. This course should culminate in the acceptance of the thesis proposal by an appropriate committee of faculty and is required for degree candidacy.
609 Thesis Research II (3) A continuation of thesis research. Credit is awarded for this course once all experimental work for BIO 610 (thesis) has been completed and approved at a meeting of the student's thesis committee proposed and initiated in BIO 608.
610 Thesis (3) Completion of the thesis project. Includes presentation at an open seminar, and the defense of the thesis as presented to the committee.
The following courses are combined graduate and undergraduate courses. Graduate students will be expected to complete additional course work beyond that required of undergraduate students, as described in the course syllabus provided by the instructor.
531 Molecular Genetics (3) This course exposes graduate students interested in gene manipulation to up-to-date information in procaryotic and eukaryotic genetics. (3, 0) PREREQ: Introductory genetics, one year of organic chemistry.
564 Microbial Physiology (3) Physiology and biochemical variations are studied in the prokaryotes and lower eukaryotes. Lab BIL 564. (3, 3) PREREQ: Microbiology, genetics, and organic chemistry.
565 Immunology (4) Immunoglobin structure and function, nature of antigens, cell-mediated immunity, hypersensitivity, regulation of immunity, and immunological diseases. Laboratory experience in immunological techniques. Lab BIL 565. (3, 3) PREREQ: Microbiology, one year of organic chemistry.
566 Plant Physiology and Biochemistry (3) Plant-cell physiology, including respiration, photosynthesis, enzyme catalysis, auxins, and membrane phenomena. Lab BIL 566. (2, 3) PREREQ: College botany, organic chemistry.
567 Endocrinology (3) An integrative look at the physiology of the mammalian endocrine system in the regulation and maintenance of homeostasis. The pathology associated with hormone imbalance will be included. (3, 0) PREREQ: Cell physiology and mammalian physiology.
568 General Animal Physiology (4) General theoretical and applied principles of the physiology of various animal cells, tissues, and organs, with an emphasis on homeostasis and mammalian physiology. Lab BIL 568. (3, 3) PREREQ: One year of organic chemistry, statistics.
570 Population Biology (3) A quantitative second course in ecology, emphasizing distributional patterns and fluctuations in abundance of natural populations. Lab BIL 570. (2, 3) PREREQ: General ecology, statistics, calculus.
571 Wetlands (3) A course designed to provide practical experience in wetlands classification, delineation, regulation, management, and mitigation practices. The abiotic and biotic characteristics of inland and coastal wetlands are emphasized. Lab BIL 571. (2, 3) PREREQ: Eight hours of biology or permission of instructor.
575 Plant Communities (3) A survey of ecological, morphological, and physiological strategies of plants from seed through adult stages. The integration of these strategies to explain the major plant communities of North America will be covered. Lab BIL 575. (2, 3) PREREQ: General biology.
576 Freshwater Ecology (3) The environmental and biological characteristics of freshwater. Emphasis is placed on field methods, water quality evaluation based on the interpretation of comprehensive datasets, and management strategies for lakes, ponds and streams. Lab BIL 576. (2, 3) PREREQ: General chemistry.
580 Light Microscopy and the Living Cell (3) Theory and practical techniques of all types of light microscopy and their uses in investigating living cells. Also includes techniques such as microinjection, cell electrophysiology, and others. Strong emphasis on "hands-on" work with equipment. (2, 2)
584 Epidemiology (3) A general study of the epidemiology of both infectious and environmentally related health problems. Methods of interviewing and data collecting also are included. (3, 0) PREREQ: Microbiology.