College of Science

Program for the Master of Science in Biology

You should complete the PROGRAM FOR THE MASTER OF SCIENCE DEGREE IN BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES form by the end of your first year in the program. This form is commonly referred to as the "contract" or “GS-101” (this is an old name for the form).

What is the purpose of the form?

The program form is the graduate equivalent of a "curriculum sheet." As an undergrad, you may have had a "curriculum sheet" which detailed the courses and other requirements for your degree. Since the courses required for the MS degree are determined on an individual basis, there is no standard "curriculum sheet". Instead, this form is used to determine the curriculum for each student.

When should I complete the form?

By the end of your first year in the program. The university requires you to complete the form by the 4th quarter in the program, or a hold will be placed on your registration. You can not graduate without having filed this form.

An excellent time to take care of this form is when you do your thesis proposal (BIO 693). All the members of your thesis committee must sign the form, so it's convenient to do this at your proposal because all of your committee is there. It is not required that you complete the program at your thesis proposal, but it will save everybody (including you) time and trouble.

Where do I get the form?

The form is printed from an Excel file (worksheet) below. You should complete the appropriate worksheet, print it, and have your thesis committee examine it. When the committee is satisfied, then you can print the final version of the form and collect the required signatures.

  • For graduate students who began the program after Fall 2011 and are continuing through Fall 2018 or later (i.e., taking both quarter-based and semester-based courses), and have not yet submitted a Graduate Contract (GS101), you must submit Transitional Contract (XLS)
    • Instructions for the Transitional Contract:
      • NOTE:  If you have already filed a Graduate Contract (GS101), then you should not file a new one.  If you wish to amend your current contract you must submit a Graduate Academic Petition (see forms page).
      • Fill in the one page excel worksheet. It should automatically adjust semester units to quarter equivalent units (i.e., 2 semester units = 3 quarter unit equivalents).
      • BIO 580 (Introduction to Instructional Methods in Biology) can NOT be used for degree credit. Do NOT list it.
      • Courses with a lab component may be listed as BIO XXXX/L to include both lecture and lab on the same line (e.g., BIO 4450/L, 4 units). Be sure to include the total quarter equivalent units (lab and lecture combined).
      • You should include your grades for courses already taken.
      • For section I. REQUIRED SUBJECT-AREA COURSES, You must include one course each from Areas A, B, and C. You must have a total of 10 quarter equivalent units (or more) in section I.
    • For a list of Subject area courses see:
      • Sections I and II combined must include between 32 and 37 quarter equivalent units.
      • Sections I and II must include a minimum of 11 quarter equivalent units taken at the BIO 500+ level (or BIO 5000+ level for courses taken during semesters).
      • Section II may include 3 quarter equivalent units of any combination of BIO 500, 691, or 692 (BIO 5000, 6910, or 6920 for courses taken during semesters).
      • For special topics courses (e.g. BIO 499; BIO 575) make sure the title of the course on the program matches exactly the title on your transcript. Check your unofficial transcript on BroncoDirect, if necessary.
      • The total number of quarter equivalent units must be between 45 and 50 quarter equivalent units.
      • Save the completed form.
      • Once completed, please bring a hard copy to the Graduate Coordinator, Dr. Robert Talmadge for review. Talmadge is available during his posted office hours or by appointment.  If necessary, please email ( to make an appointment.
      • If there are any issues in either downloading or filling out the form, please contact Dr. Talmadge immediately at

What if I need to change courses in my program?

This is a common occurrence, and is easy to do. Do NOT file a new Program. The Graduate Student Academic Petition is specifically designed to allow deletion and addition of courses to the Program. If your additions/deletions change the total number of units in your program, be sure to indicate the change in the total units in the "Statement of Action other than Course Substitution" section. The Graduate Student Academic Petition (and other graduate forms) are available at the forms page.


REQUIRED SUBJECT-AREA COURSES and PROGRAM ELECTIVE COURSES: These is the most important sections. BE CAREFUL! You need to list at least 32 units, and should list no more than 37 units combined (REQUIRED SUBJECT-AREA COURSES and PROGRAM ELECTIVE COURSES sections). You must take at lease one class from each of the Subject-Area Lists (A, B, & C). You must have at least 11 units of 500 and 600-level courses overall. These are the courses that your thesis committee wants you to take for your degree. THIS IS NOT A TRANSCRIPT. DON'T LIST COURSES YOU TAKE (OR PLAN TO TAKE) IN EXCESS OF THE REQUIREMENTS. THIS ALMOST ALWAYS LEADS TO TROUBLE. Fill in the units column, and if you have already taken the class, go ahead and fill in the Quarter/Year and Grade columns. If you have not yet taken the class, do NOT fill in the Quarter/Year or Grade columns. You can fill these in as you take the classes to insure that you take all of your required classes and to insure that your program GPA is at least 3.0.

You may not list more than 13 units of transfer courses. This includes units taken at another school, units taken as an undergrad for graduate credit, units taken while in another degree program, units taken as an unclassified graduate students, and units taken through the Open University.

For special topics courses (e.g. BIO 499; BIO 575) make sure the title of the course on the program matches exactly the title on your transcript. Check your unofficial transcript on BroncoDirect, if necessary.

Follow all the instructions you'll find on the worksheet.


What about transfer courses from another university?

Courses taken at another university may be included on the program, subject to the following considerations:

  • The course must be allowed for graduate credit at the institution where the course was taken. Check the transcript from that institution. Transcripts include an explanation of the course numbering system that will indicate what courses are allowed for graduate credit.
  • The course must be approved by the major professor and thesis committee.
  • Courses taken at another institution are considered out of residence, and are subject to the 13 unit maximum (see below).

When including transfer work on a Master's contract, or filling out a petition to substitute a CPP course for a transfer course at another University, please indicate the following information:

  • Name of University where transfer work was taken
  • Course number of transfer work
  • Course title of course taken at the University
  • Units earned

If you have not already submitted official set of transcripts of transfer work to the Registrar's office, please include official set of transcripts with petition, or contract, when submitting to the Graduate Studies Office.

No more than 13 units total can be taken "out of residence". This includes transfer courses as well as courses taken for graduate credit while you were an undergraduate.