Biological Sciences

Sponsor Information

In order to be apply to the graduate program, you must identify a faculty sponsor. A sponsor is a faculty member who has agreed to advise you and supervise your thesis research during your graduate studies. When a faculty member agrees to sponsor you, they are making a commitment to be your thesis advisor / major professor, if you are accepted into the program. Securing a sponsor and being accepted into the program are not the same thing. Although securing a sponsor is a requirement to apply, it is not a guarantee of admission, even if you meet the minimum requirements.

You will need to have a sponsor in place prior to the application deadline. Once you have secured your sponsor, promptly email your sponsor’s identity to the Graduate Coordinator.

You should first find a sponsor. If you do not have a sponsor secured by the application deadline, then it will not be possible for you to be admitted to the program.

The MS in Biological Sciences degree requires both coursework and research. The research culminates in a written thesis and an oral thesis defense. In order to conduct this research, you must work very closely with and under the supervision of a faculty member. This faculty member fills the role "Chair of the Thesis Committee" but is commonly referred to as the "advisor" or "major professor". You must have an advisor / major professor to graduate.

Because of the significant commitment of time and resources to support a graduate student, there is a limit on the number of graduate students a faculty member can supervise. That limit varies and depends on resources (grants, contracts, facilities), time available, and the nature of the faculty member’s research program. Only the individual faculty member can determine their limit.

Yes, an agreement by a research faculty member to sponsor an applicant is an agreement to be their advisor / major professor, if you are accepted into the program.

Examine the list of the graduate faculty and find people doing research in an area that interests you. Many of the faculty have web pages that provide additional detail on their research. Contact that person (email recommended). Provide a brief introduction of your background and interests. Ask whether they are accepting new graduate students for the semester in which you wish to apply. If you receive a reply, you then can begin a dialogue that may lead to sponsorship.

Discuss your research experience and interests. Provide your undergrad GPA. It also can be helpful to provide your GPA for upper-division Biology and related courses (Microbiology, Zoology, Botany, Biochemistry). Attach your curriculum vitae. It prevents the potential sponsor from having to send an email reply requesting it. This only delays the communication and sponsorship process.

No, absolutely not. The whole purpose of the sponsor procedure is to develop a professional association with a member of the Biological Sciences Department graduate faculty.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to secure a sponsor. The applicant is welcome to email the graduate coordinator for advice. However, it is best for the applicant to directly contact potential sponsors by email. This demonstrates initiative. It also shows that you have the ability to seek out important information, for example, by evaluating potential sponsors’ publication records via Google Scholar.

Applicants are strongly advised against doing a mass emailing to a large number of faculty members. It will become very apparent that the applicant is "shopping" for a sponsor without having done research on the professors being contacted. It makes the applicant seem insincere, unfocused, and lazy. A personalized email to each faculty member of interest is highly preferable.