Department of Biology

The Biology Graduate Program at SFASU

Departmental Objectives

(1) To provide advanced education and training in the biological sciences.

(2) To develop, within the student, the skill sets necessary to conduct independent research in the biological sciences.

(3) To enhance a student’s potential for employment in the biological sciences or entrance to a Ph.D. or other professional program.

The Graduate Programs in Biology

     The biology major student may designate general biology as an emphasis, in which case graduate courses will be selected from all three biological areas (Botany, Cellular and Molecular Biology, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology ); or they can designate one of the three emphasis areas to focus their coursework primarily in that area. If students desire a minor or minors, they may select courses from other departments following the guidelines established in the graduate bulletin.

Option I-Master of Science Degree with Thesis                                                                                        

     The thesis program is available primarily for those who plan to continue their graduate work beyond the master’s degree, or who plan to enter positions involving research or scientific writing. Thesis research is offered in the fields of interest indicated in the list of graduate faculty shown here and in the graduate bulletin. The thesis should involve at least six months of research. A qualifying exam will be given to each student at the end of their first or beginning of their second semester. The exam will be presented in an oral format and will probe the student’s biological knowledge base to determine whether he or she has the background to conduct their proposed research. There are four possible outcomes for this exam:

          1. Pass unconditionally.
          2. Conditionally pass.
          3. Fail with the option to retake.
          4. Fail with no option to retake.

If a student’s graduate committee determines that the student conditionally passed the exam, the committee will outline coursework that must be completed during the time the student is enrolled in the program. If the graduate committee determines that the student failed with the option to retake the exam, the student must retake and pass unconditionally or conditionally pass no later than the end of their second full semester. Failed exams can only be repeated one time if initially given the option to retake the exam. Students who do not pass their retake exam, or whose graduate committee determined they failed with no option to retake their initial qualifying exam will be removed from the thesis track and given two options:

          1. Remain in the biology program as a non-thesis track student following the guidelines below for
               the non-thesis option.
          2. Transfer to the non-thesis MSNS program (described in the graduate bulletin).

On completion of the thesis and other requirements for the degree, the student will be given a final oral examination primarily over the thesis by members of the committee and other members of the graduate faculty suggested by the Dean of the Graduate School. For further details concerning these requirements, refer to the section of this bulletin that describes the overall procedure and preparation of the thesis. There are three possible outcomes for the final oral exam:

          1. Pass unconditionally.
          2. Conditionally pass.
          3. Fail with the option to retake.

If a student’s graduate committee determines that the student conditionally passed the final exam, the committee will outline specific conditions that must be met. These conditions must be completed and the committee unconditionally pass the student prior to graduation. If a student’s graduate committee determines that the student failed the final oral exam with the option to retake, the student must retake the exam the following full semester. Failed exams can only be repeated once. If a failed exam is retaken, and the committee again determines that the student failed the exam, the student is given two options:

          1. Remain in the biology program as a non-thesis track student following the guidelines below for
               the non-thesis option.
          2. Transfer to the non-thesis MSNS program (described in the graduate bulletin).

All students must successfully present a seminar over his/her thesis research. Those students graduating during the summer must present their seminar during the preceding spring semester. No semester hours of Advanced Graduate Studies (Biology 575 or 576) may be taken without permission of the departmental chair.

Option II-The Master of Science Degree without Thesis                                                                                  The non-thesis program is available for those who plan no further work beyond the master’s degree, or who do not plan careers in research or scientific writing. A qualifying exam will be given to each student at the end of their first or beginning of their second semester. The exam will be presented in an oral format and will probe the student’s biological knowledge base to determine whether he or she has the background to succeed in his or her chosen career path. The oral examination for the non-thesis student will deal both with the student’s coursework interest as well as all other biology emphasis areas. The student is required to form a committee consisting of at least five faculty members representing all three areas of emphasis. There are four possible outcomes for this exam:

          1. Pass unconditionally.
          2. Conditionally pass.
          3. Fail with the option to retake.
          4. Fail with no option to retake.

If a student’s graduate committee determines that the student conditionally passed the exam, the committee will outline coursework that must be completed during the time the student is enrolled in the program. If the graduate committee determines that the student failed with the option to retake the exam, the student must retake and pass unconditionally or conditionally pass no later than the end of their second full semester. Failed exams can only be repeated one time if initially given the option to retake the exam. Students who do not pass their retake exam, or whose graduate committee determined they failed with no option to retake their initial qualifying exam will be removed from the non-thesis track and the biology graduate program. These students will be given one option:

          1. Transfer to the non-thesis MSNS program (described in the graduate bulletin).

On completion all requirements for the degree, the student will be given a final oral examination covering the student’s coursework and all biology emphasis areas by members of the committee and other members of the graduate faculty suggested by the Dean of the Graduate School.  There are two possible outcomes for the final oral exam:

          1. Pass unconditionally.
          2. Fail with the option to retake.

If a student’s graduate committee determines that the student failed the final oral exam with the option to retake, the student must retake the exam the following full semester. Failed exams can only be repeated once. If a failed exam is retaken, and the committee again determines that the student failed the exam, the student is given one option:

1. Transfer to the non-thesis MSNS program (described in the graduate bulletin).

All students must successfully present a seminar over a relevant and current topic in biology primarily dealing with the student’s area of selected coursework. Those students graduating during the summer must present their seminar during the preceding spring semester. No semester hours of Advanced Graduate Studies (Biology 575 or 576) may be taken without permission of the departmental chair.

Option III-Minor or Electives in Biology                                                                                                    
     Students may take courses in biology for which they have satisfied the prerequisites. A minor in biology consists of nine or more semester hours chosen from the 500-level courses. The minor student should consult with the departmental graduate advisor about course work.

Option IV-Postgraduate Work in Biology                                                                                                  
     A student with a bachelor’s or master’s degree and with the proper course prerequisite may take additional work in biology. The graduate advisor will assist the student in choosing courses that will increase working ability in biology. Postgraduate work is recommended for junior college as well as other teachers. It is recommended that the student spend a year on campus to gain a wider selection of courses and more closely supervised research experience.

Facilities

     The department has a number of special facilities in which graduate students study and carry on their research. These facilities include a fully equipped electron microscope laboratory, a modern aquatic biology laboratory, a fully equipped cellular and molecular biology lab, a greenhouse, a herbarium and an entomarium. Reference collections of invertebrates, birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and fishes are maintained for studies in these respective areas. Other resources on campus include the Ralph W. Steen Library containing 1,400,000 holdings. Numerous areas in eastern Texas are also available for establishment of field sites for ecological studies (SFA Experimental Forest; Davy Crockett, Angelina and Sabine National Forests; numerous area lakes and streams).











 

Stephen F. Austin State University . The College of Science and Mathematics  

 Department of Biology   ||   Phone: 936.468.3601   ||   biology@sfasu.edu