Jan 20, 2022  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
    
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [Not Current Academic Year. Consult with Your Academic Advisor for Your Catalog Year]

Biology, MS


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College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics  > Department of Biology and Biochemistry  > Biology, MS

The Department of Biology and Biochemistry offers programs of research and study leading to MS degrees in Biology.

For more information, please see http://www.uh.edu/nsm/biology-biochemistry/graduate.

Admission Requirements


In addition to the College of Natural Science and Mathematics admission requirements , applicants should have a Baccalaureate Degree (BS) in Biology, Biochemistry, or an equivalent discipline. Evaluation of applicants involves a broad range of criteria including undergraduate preparation, GRE scores (or MCAT scores for the Biomedical Sciences Certificate track), three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and relevant scientific experience.
International students should visit http://www.uh.edu/graduate-school/admissions/international-students/ for information on additional requirements, including the application fee.

Degree Requirements


Plan Selection


The Master of Science (MS) degree will be awarded after students have successfully completed the requirements specified in one of the two following plans:

Plan I: Thesis Option


Students may satisfy the degree requirements by completing at least 30 approved semester hours; satisfactorily completing the formal graduate level course requirements including seminars; enrolling in at least three semester hours of thesis courses, and completing and defending a thesis acceptable to the thesis committee. All students must be continuously enrolled full time until the degree requirements are completed.

Plan II: Non-Thesis Option


Students may satisfy the degree requirements by completing at least 30.0 approved Credit Hours; satisfactorily completing the formal graduate level course requirements including seminars. All students must be continuously enrolled full time until the degree requirements are completed.

Cell and Molecular Biology Degree Track


Course Requirements

All MS students are required to successfully complete the following courses at the first opportunity.

Additional Course Requirements

In addition all MS students are required to successfully complete at least one seminar course per year (either fall or spring semester). The departmental seminar (BIOL 6110) does not apply to this requirement. MS Plan I students must successfully complete at least one other graduate level course and Plan II students three other graduate level courses, to be decided in conjunction with the student’s thesis committee. MS Plan I and Plan II students may petition the Division graduate committee (DGC) for modification of required courses, but a minimum of 8 and 14 hours of formal (letter-graded) graduate lecture courses are required for the MS Plan I and Plan II degrees, respectively.

Course Transfers

  • Transfer credits for electives are limited to 2.0 approved Credit Hours toward an MS Plan I or II.
  • A grade of a B or better is required for transfer of course credit.
  • Transferred courses must be at the graduate level but not have been taken in the context of an earned degree.
  • Transferred courses must not be older than 5 years by the time of graduation at UH.
  • Moreover, credits cannot be transferred to replace a core course without the approval of the CMB advising committee and will be limited to one 2-credit module.
  • Students may appeal this process by submitting course information and a written statement justifying the transfer of specific course credits to the CMB Divisional Leader and the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs.
    • Course information should include a syllabus that covers course material and a letter from the course instructor that addresses course content and student performance.
    • A successful appeal will require a 2/3rds majority vote by the primary CMB faculty.
Scholastic Requirement

  • Graduate students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.0 in all course work to be considered in good standing.
  • Students not in good standing cannot receive a graduate degree and can be declared ineligible for support with a graduate assistantship (IA, TA or RA).
  • Graduate students who receive grades of C+ or lower in 12 or more semester hours of course work attempted for graduate credit are ineligible for any advanced degree at this institution.
  • Semester hours of “U” grades in S/U-graded courses apply toward the above 12-hour total.
Courses Taken Outside the Department

  • Courses that do not promote the student’s academic development in Biology & Biochemistry, or do not contribute directly to the current research program of the student, will not be allowed.
  • Students who wish to take courses outside the Department need the approval of their thesis or dissertation committee.
  • Students may not pursue another degree program concurrently with a M.S. in Biology
  • Students taking approved courses at other institutions need to notify the Graduate Coordinator prior to the start of the semester in order for the appropriate paperwork to be processed in time by the Office of the University Registrar and the Graduate School.
Graduate Student Rotations

The CMB faculty requires that all graduate students enrolled in an MS Plan I program complete at least two rotations in research labs during the first year, and prior to selection of the Major Professor.

  • Rotation periods are flexible but must last at least six weeks.
  • At the end of each rotation, students will submit a short report to their rotation advisor, which will include the initial goals, the procedures used and techniques learned, and the results achieved.
  • A written evaluation of each rotation will be completed by the rotation advisor and submitted to the Division Graduate Committee (DGC).
  • Rotation reports and evaluations must be submitted to the DGC before the next rotation can begin.

Any exceptions to the rotation policy must be approved by the DGC.

  • Exemption from a second rotation may be granted by petition to the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs and will require justification and approval by the student’s advisor.
  • If a student has applied to our Graduate Program with the explicit goal of working with a specific advisor and does not wish to carry out the second rotation, he or she may request an exception, outlining the rationale for declining the second rotation. This request must be accompanied by a letter from the prospective major professor explaining why the decision not to participate in a second research rotation is in the best interest of the student.

MS Plan II students are not required to complete rotations.

First Year Evaluation

At the end of the second semester in residence (not counting summers) all MS Plan I students will undergo a first year evaluation administered by the DGC. A positive evaluation must be received for the student to remain in good standing. The evaluation will consider the student’s progress and take into account the following:

  • Courses taken and grades.
  • Seminar class performance.
  • Attendance at departmental seminars.
  • Reports from rotation advisors.
  • Student’s acceptance into a research lab.
  • Other information as required by the DGC.
Committee Meetings

All MS Plan I students must form and meet with their thesis committee no later than the third semester following admission (not counting summer sessions). The first committee meeting will focus on their research plan. In addition, all students must convene a meeting of their committee, at which a majority of the members are present, at least once per calendar year to discuss their progress until graduation

Thesis Research, Preparation and Defense

Each student whose objective is the MS Plan I degree is expected to commence graduate research as soon as possible. It should be recognized that research is an integral component of the degree requirements and that failure to maintain an adequate program of research constitutes unsatisfactory progress toward a degree.

The laboratory research thesis submitted by an MS Plan I candidate must give evidence of the ability to conduct an independent and original investigation on a defined research problem. All students (MS Plan I and II) will be expected to be knowledgeable of contemporary methods and concepts in cell and molecular biology.

Each MS Plan I student must submit and defend a thesis when it is in final form. Part of the defense will include the presentation of a seminar open to the public. Following this seminar, a formal defense/examination will take place, which is open to any faculty member of the University community. Despite the open nature of the defense, the thesis committee has sole responsibility in deciding whether or not the examination is passed. In order for a student to pass the examination, an affirmative vote by the major professor and no more than one negative vote by other committee members must be recorded.

Ecology and Evolution Degree Track


Major Professor and Dissertation Committee

  1. During the first year, each student is required to select, by mutual agreement, a tenured or tenure-track member of the faculty of the Division of Ecology and Evolution as a major professor who, with the thesis (MS Plan I) or study (MS Plan II) committee, will supervise the student’s graduate studies. The student’s choice of faculty advisor must be approved by the graduate committee chair. If a student wishes to work jointly with more than one professor, an understanding as to who is primarily responsible for supervision of the student’s graduate studies should be reached.
  2. In consultation with the major professor the student shall select, by mutual agreement, faculty members to serve on their committee. The committee shall be chosen before the end of the second semester of residence. Details on the committee composition are given in the Academic Policies section below.
Course Requirements

  • MS students are advised to take or have taken a course in Biostatistics or equivalent.
  • Students must take at least one formal graduate level course during their first year, and a total of at least 3 formal graduate level courses for at least 8 hours of credit.
  • All students are required to take at least one seminar course per year in addition to the departmental seminar (typically, BIOL 7367 Population Biology Seminar).
  • Additional courses may be required by the committee.
  • Transfer credits for electives are limited to 4 approved credit hours toward an MS degree (Plan I or II).
    • For transfer of course credit, a grade of B or better is required, the credits must not have been taken towards a prior degree and they must be have been taken within 5 years of the time of graduation at UH.
    • Students may initiate the transfer process by submitting course information and a written statement justifying the transfer of specific course credits to the E&E Division Policy Leader and the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs.
      • Course information must include a syllabus that covers course material.
    • A successful transfer will require unanimous support by the Associate Chair for Graduate Affairs, the E&E Division Policy Leader, the E&E members of the Graduate Committee and the student’s thesis/dissertation committee if it has been formed.
  • The minimum cumulative grade point average in course work, exclusive of thesis, research hours, and special problems, must be 3.00.
  • No grades lower than a B will count towards course requirements.
  • Courses that do not promote the student’s academic development in Biology and Biochemistry, or do not contribute directly to the current research program of the student, will not be allowed.
  • Students who wish to take courses outside the Department need the approval of their thesis committee.
  • Students may not pursue another degree program concurrently with an MS in Biology and Biochemistry.
  • Students taking approved courses at other institutions need to notify the Graduate Coordinator prior to the start of the semester in order for the appropriate paperwork to be processed in time by the Office of the University Registrar and the Graduate School.
First Year Evaluation

During the second long term, all students will undergo a first year evaluation administered by faculty in the division (typically, division members of the Graduate Committee). A positive evaluation must be received for the student to remain in good standing. The evaluation will consider the student’s progress and take into account the following:

  • Courses taken and grades.
  • Seminar class performance.
  • Attendance at departmental seminars.
  • Research progress.
  • Report from research advisor(s).
Committee Meetings

All MS Plan I students must form and meet with their thesis committee no later than the third semester following admission (not counting summer sessions).

  • The first meeting will focus on the student’s initial research progress and plans for future research.
  • After the first meeting, all students will meet with their committees (from which no more than one committee member may be absent), at least once per calendar year to discuss their progress towards completion of the degree. 
  • At any time the committee may decide that additional meetings should take place.
  • At least one week before every committee meeting, the student will distribute a 2-3 page progress report to each committee member.
  • After the first meeting, the student will bring a copy of the Committee Status Report from the previous meeting.
  • At the end of each meeting, the chair of the committee will summarize the meeting and make recommendations to the student using a Committee Status Report form.
  • If a committee member is absent from a meeting, the student will meet him/her within two weeks of the meeting.
Final Examinations

Each student must submit and defend a thesis/report when it is in final form.

  • MS Plan I candidates must defend a thesis.
    • The examination will emphasize research achievements.
    • In addition, competence in the candidate’s field of research will be expected.
  • MS Plan II candidates shall present and defend a formal report to a study committee composed of the advisor and at least one other tenured or tenure-track faculty member.
    • The candidate will critically evaluate and summarize a problem of interest and will be expected to be knowledgeable of general concepts in the fields of ecology and evolution.

Biomedical Sciences Certificate Track


Course Requirements

This track has only a non-thesis option. All students seeking the graduate certificate in Biomedical Sciences must be pursing concurrently a non-thesis MS in Biology, under the Biomedical Sciences Certificate track. All MS students in this track are required to successfully complete the following courses for a total of 30 credit hours.

Practicum

6.0 Credit Hours

Electives

12.0 Credit Hours

Students choose four graduate courses from the list of courses below.

Practicum

The practicum is carried out across two academic terms for a total of 6 credit hours (3 credit hours over 2 terms, one of which must be the summer term). Students will have the choice of selecting either 6 credit hours of internship, or 6 credit hours of laboratory research, or 3 credit hours of each.

The internship is selected from an approved list of options. Laboratory research projects are performed under the guidance of a faculty member in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry. Students performing a practicum are expected to devote 9-10 hours per week to the practicum. Fewer than 8 hours per week will not be permitted. Satisfactory completion of the practicum will require a report from the faculty or supervisor overseeing the student’s practicum. Students enrolled in the practicum course in the Fall or Spring term will have to meet with the practicum instructor of record once a week at the time assigned to the practicum course.

Other Requirements

Students will be required to meet with the co-directors of the certificate in Biomedical Sciences program prior to the beginning of the Fall and Spring terms to establish a course plan for the coming terms and review progress towards the completion of the degree.

Transfers

Students will not be permitted to transfer courses towards the 18 hours of certificate (core courses and practicum). They may be allowed to transfer no more than 6 hours of courses towards the electives, only if the courses were taken at the graduate level and not in the context of an earned degree, as per University policies. All transfer requests will need approval by the co-directors of the certificate program.

Program Academic Policies


Whether they follow the Cell and Molecular Biology degree track or the Ecology and Evolution degree track, students in the Biology MS plan I program must specify a thesis committee and have the names on file in the Office of the Dean at least one semester before their graduation. The committee must consist of at least three members, to include two faculty members who have their primary appointment in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry and one approved member external to the department.

Further details on committee composition can be found here . Additionally, specific requirements for each degree track apply as follows.

Cell and Molecular Biology Degree Track


  • At least half of the committee members must have their primary appointment in the Cell and Molecular Biology Division.
  • Research faculty may serve on the committee in addition to the core of three committee members who are tenured or tenure-track faculty

Ecology and Evolution Degree Track


  • The committee must consist of at least four members. 
    • These shall include the student’s major professor(s) and three other members.  
    • At least three of the committee members (advising or non-advising) must be tenured or tenure-track faculty members with a primary appointment in the Department of Biology and Biochemistry.
    • The three non-advising members must include one member with a primary appointment in the Ecology and Evolution Division of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry and one member from outside the Department of Biology and Biochemistry. 
    • At least two of the committee members (advising or non-advising) must have their primary appointment in the Ecology and Evolution Division. 
  • Committee decisions can only involve one dissenting vote from a committee member.

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