Graduate Studies

Master's of Science Program in Biological Sciences

The Master of Science Degree in the Biological Sciences Department is designed to enhance the knowledge and competence of the student in his or her field of specialization and to develop the potential for a career of continuing, self-directed study and research. The curriculum also prepares candidates for further specialized training on the Ph.D. level and allows for entry into a variety of professional schools to pursue other advanced postgraduate degrees. The courses in the program are designed not merely for study in the field, but also to introduce various research techniques and require the continuing review of the scientific literature relevant to the graduate student studies. Graduates of the program have proceeded to contribute to the biotechnology industry, environmental sciences, agriculture, medical sciences, and education.

The graduate program provides training in a wide variety of specializations including animal physiology, animal and plant cell/molecular biology, developmental biology, ecology, entomology, evolutionary biology, genetics, herpetology, ichthyology, immunology, invertebrate zoology, marine biology, mammalogy, medical bacteriology, molecular biology, neurosciences, plant ecology, plant physiology, plant pathology, plant systematics, population genetics, animal and plant virology. The graduate faculty includes approximately 30 professors.

The department maintains standard animal research colonies, greenhouses, controlled environmental chambers, study collection of major plant and animal groups, transmission and scanning electron microscopes with image analysis, a tissue culture facility, a radiation biology center, an ultracentrifuge facility, and laboratories for studies in the specialized areas listed above.

The 1400 acre Cal Poly University campus and nearby mountain, desert and marine habitats provide abundant opportunities for field studies. On campus, the Voorhis Ecological Reserve and the Lyle Center for Regenerative Studies are used for ecological research. Cal Poly is affiliated with other California State University campuses in the California Desert Studies Consortium and the Southern California Ocean Studies Consortium.

The Department offers the Master of Science degree in Biological Sciences. Course work (program of study) and area of research are determined on an individual basis. All degrees, regardless of specialization, are titled Master of Science in Biological Sciences.


Fall Semester applications: March 1 of the preceding Spring Semester

Spring Semester applications: October 15 of preceding Fall Semester


Current Students

  • All students should read through the section of the website for Current Students
  • Graduate level supervisory courses (BIO 5000, 6910, 6920, 6930, 6940, 6960) are not offered during Summer Semester.  Please plan your schedules accordingly.
  • Other important deadlines (University Graduate Studies Office)

Status Reports



  • The Biological Sciences Department offers Student Awards and Scholarships every year. For more information, view the scholarship application information.