Western Kentucky University

Biology Graduate Degrees and Requirements

A Five–Year Plan

For highly motivated students, especially those planning to pursue graduate study, the department offers a five-year program leading to both B.S. and M.S. degrees in biology. Typically, students will also participate in the University Honors Program as undergraduates. Completion of the M.S. portion of the program requires enrollment in summer terms during the fourth and fifth years. A key component of this program is early and sustained involvement in undergraduate research, beginning in the sophomore year. As such, interested students must work closely with their undergraduate advisor early in their freshman year to design their five-year plan and identify a faculty mentor and area of research.

Graduate Degree Programs

Students interested in graduate study in biology should consult the University’s Graduate School Catalog for detailed information concerning the various programs available. The department offers: (1) M.S. degree with research thesis for students interested in a career in biology or in preparation for Ph.D. studies; (2) M.S. degree without research thesis; (3) M.A. degree in Education (major or minor in biology) which places less emphasis on specialization and research and more on breadth in biology; 4) Peace Corps Master's International (http://www.peacecorps.gov/index.cfm?shell=learn.whyvol.eduben.school_detail&coll_prog_id=10992&program=M).

For further questions regarding:

  • Biology graduate program, please contact Dr. Carl Dick, Biology Graduate Program Coordinator, at carl.dick@wku.edu or 270-745-2043. 
  • Biology non-thesis graduate program including the online option, please contact Dr. Michael Collyer, On-line Non-Thesis Graduate Program Director, at michael.collyer@wku.edu or 270-745-8765.
  • Biology MAE program, please contact Dr. Cheryl Davis at cheryl.davis@wku.edu or 270-745-6524.
  • Peace Corps Master's International Program, please contact Dr. Lawrence Alice at lawrence.alice@wku.edu or 270-745-7029.

An academic semester is considered a 15-week fall or spring term in residence.  If a student is conducting research away from WKU and not enrolled full-time, or if the student takes a leave of absence for some reason, then these would not count as an academic semester.

M.S. Thesis Student Expectations & Timeline

Academic Semester 1

  • Establish 3-member Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC)
  • Thesis proposal draft reviewed by major advisor and presented to GAC
  • Meeting with GAC to discuss thesis proposal and Form B/C
  • Form B/C approved by GAC and The Graduate School (GS)

Academic Semester 2

  • Revised thesis proposal submitted to GAC for approval (internal form)
  • Meeting with GAC
  • Oral comprehensive exams attempted by week 12; Form E filed in biology office if successful

Academic Semester 3

  • Form D submitted to GS by end of week 2
  • Meeting with GAC; progress report and scheduling of comps

Academic Semester 4

  • Meeting with GAC
  • Completion of all courses and paperwork
  • Submission of thesis to GAC at least 3 weeks before Ogden College reader deadline
  • GAC shall have at least 2 weeks to review thesis prior to public seminar and thesis defense
  • A minimum of 1 week shall be provided to the department to announce the seminar and defense
  • Graduation

All TAs will be required to enroll and complete the FaCET Basic Skills for College Teaching Program (BSCT).

A comprehensive examination is required of all degree candidates (Plan A or B).  Thesis students (Plan A) have oral exams with their committee; Non-thesis students (Plan B) may take an oral examination in person or via distance media.  For Plan B students, arrangements for the type of exam will be make with the advisor and faculty with whom the student has taken courses in lieu of a steering committee.  Exams should be taken in the semester prior to expected semester of graduation (BEFORE and NOT during the final semester). 


 Last Modified 7/18/14