In the Master of Science (MSc) program students are expected to complete 30 credits of course work.

Up to eight credits may be obtained in advanced undergraduate courses (300-400 level) taken at Rutgers. Graduate courses completed at other institutions may be accepted for credit at the university. Students are allowed to transfer one-third of the credits required for their degree into the Graduate School-Camden. A maximum of 10 graduate credits (with grades of B or better) may be transferred into the Masters Program in Biology from other institutions.


Thesis and Non-Thesis MSc Plans

There are two MSc plans: Plan Thesis, which requires a thesis and research, and Plan non-Thesis, which does not require a thesis but an essay (see below). The student, in consultation with the program director and their advisor, will choose the appropriate option. This decision is to be made early in the term in which the student starts their MSc.


1.PLAN THESIS MASTER: This plan requires the completion of thirty credits of course work and the performance of research in a lab under the guidance of a PI (Principal Investigator or Faculty). Of these thirty credits, up to six credits (as Research in Biology; 120:701, 702) are awarded for a thesis based on investigation of a research problem. Of the remaining 24 credits, a minimum of sixteen are required in graduate-level (500-600) courses, only three of which may be in Individual Studies in Biology (120:619, 620). Students enrolled are encouraged, though not required, to report on their research at meetings of professional biologists and to publish their results in research journals.

       – Thesis Requirement (see also Initiation and Conduct of the Thesis Project below):

  1. After consultation with the program director, the graduate student shall contact the Rutgers-Camden faculty member under whose direction he/she would like to work and request that faculty member to serve as the thesis advisor. This faculty member must be a Member or an Associate Member of the Graduate Program in Biology. Furthermore, for students receiving financial support from Rutgers University, the faculty member must be an employee of Rutgers University.
  2. If a student wishes to pursue a research project at an off-campus location, he/she shall propose this arrangement to the executive committee for approval who shall inform the program director of its decision.


2.PLAN NON-THESIS MASTER: This plan does not include a thesis but similar to the thesis plan, it requires the completion of a minimum of thirty credits in  graduate- level courses. In addition, requires the writing and presentation of an essay on some problem in biology of current research interest. No more than six credits of Individual Studies in Biology (120:619,620) may be counted toward the degree. 

       – Essay Requirement:

  1. In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree, all Plan non-Thesis students are required to submit a critical analysis of a topic in biology of current research interest.
  2. The analysis may be written either as part of a regular course or seminar or as a special paper for this purpose. The final draft of the paper must be submitted no later than two weeks prior to the final comprehensive examination and must be approved by the entire committee before the examination can be conducted. The student should consult the chair of the committee for details early in the term in which the final comprehensive examination is to be taken

In both degree programs there is a final comprehensive examination, normally taken during the term that will complete the student’s course of study, which will cover the research conducted by the Thesis student or  general questions in biology related to the essay developed by non-Thesis students.


Additional Requirements

Students are expected to maintain a grade point average of 3.0, or higher in their course work. No more than six credits bearing the grade of C or C+ may be applied towards the master’s degree. Students earning 9 credits (or three courses) or more with the grade of C+ or below will be dismissed.

Any exceptions to program requirements, such as waiver of preconditions for admission, must be approved by the graduate faculty in biology.

Students pursuing the MSc degree are expected to satisfy the requirements for the degree as specified by the Office of Graduate Studies in Camden.

The following regulations apply to students awarded Teaching Assistantships by the Department of Biology:

      1. Students awarded a Teaching Assistantship are expected to complete a thesis and therefore, conduct research.
      2. No reappointment to a second year as Teaching Assistant will be made unless the student’s thesis committee ascertains that satisfactory progress toward completion of the thesis has been achieved.
      3. Any student holding a Teaching Assistantship who desires to change from Plan Thesis to Plan non-Thesis must, upon the recommendation of the student’s thesis committee, receive the permission of the Graduate Faculty in Biology.


Final Comprehensive Examination and Degree Candidacy

        1. A final comprehensive examination will be taken by all students enrolled in the MSc program (Thesis and non-Thesis plans).
        2. The first step is to schedule the defense, making sure that all committee members are available on a given date and time. 
        3. The written thesis or essay must be submitted to the thesis committee for their review. It is recommended that the students submits their thesis or essay to the committee one or two-weeks prior to the oral examination. If this thesis or essay is not submitted in a timely manner, the committee has the right to postpone the defense until a later date. Please note that the postponement in the defense meeting may adversely affect the expected graduation date.
        4. The examination will be conducted by the student’s committee. This committee will be composed of at least three members who are employees of Rutgers University and shall include the student’s advisor who normally will act as chair. Additional members may be added to the committee as appropriate. Responsibility for the appointment of the committee members and committee chair lies with the student’s advisor and the student in consultation with the Program Director.
        5. A diploma (NOT THE ADMISSION FOR CANDIDACY FORM) application must be filed within 30 days of the start of the term in which the final examination is to be taken. Deadlines are available here. The application form for the diploma application is available here. 
        6. Plan Thesis (a student’s program includes research): The student must defend the thesis and by written and oral examination also demonstrate an adequate knowledge of their research topic.
        7. Plan non-Thesis (a student’s program does not include a thesis): The student must defend an essay and by written and oral examination also demonstrate an adequate knowledge of general biology and their essay topic.  
        8. The final examination consists of two parts:
          • Written examination:  
            1. Student is expected to write a Thesis or Essay under the guidance of their advisor;
            2. When a student receives approval from the thesis (or essay) advisor, it can submit to their committee for their evaluation and oral defense;
            3. This evaluation will be administered by the chair of the student’s committee (advisor) plus the rest of the committee
          • Oral examination: After submitting their thesis or essay to the committee, the student needs to:
            1. Present and defend their thesis or essay in front of the committee;
            2. This process will take around 1.5 to two hours in length;
            3. The examination will consist of questions from the committee covering aspects of the research conducted (theoretical framework, methods, results, main conclusions) or essay topic.

The examination must be completed in accordance with the schedule established by the Office of Graduate Studies in Camden. In the event of an unfavorable decision, the examination may be repeated twice.

                9. An application for admission to candidacy must be filed after the defense. Deadlines are available here. Application forms are available here. 


Initiation and Conduct of the Thesis Project:

    • Outline
      The chair of the thesis committee shall arrange for the student to present to the thesis committee an outline of the proposed work (research proposal).
      1. The outline shall be in written form with one copy available to each committee member.
      2. A meeting shall be arranged between the student and his/her committee wherein the contents of the outline will be discussed.
      3. The purpose of such an outline and meeting is to demonstrate that the student has appropriate knowledge of the research literature, that the project is feasible, and that the student has an appropriate, clearly defined research objective.
      4. Normally, the research project as outlined must receive full committee approval before the student may register for research credits (up to a total of 6 credits) towards the degree.
      5. As the research work progresses, deviation from the original proposal is possible with committee approval.
    • Progress Reports
      1. By the end of each semester after the approval of the research proposal, the student shall prepare a short (1 or 2 page) written progress report for the research director. The report shall then be circulated to the other committee members for review.
      2. The report shall become a part of the student’s file in the Department of Biology.
    • Completed Thesis
      1. The thesis must be approved by the advisor of the student’s research and then accepted by the other committee members.
      2. It shall be the student’s responsibility to assure that the thesis fulfills all of the requirements of the Office of Graduate Studies in Camden.