BS/MS Degree in Biology

The BS/MS program in the School of Biological Sciences is tailored to students interested in a focused and accelerated graduate degree program, combining graduate level coursework with research. The program allows advanced students to complete both their B.S. and M.S. degrees in five years, one year earlier than if the degrees were done separately. This gives students an advantage in the job market by providing them with more training, an advanced degree, more research experience and increased earning potential, or an advantage for entry into professional schools or Ph.D. programs. Students are accepted into the BS/MS program in the fall of their junior year.

Contact Denise Brenes for undergraduate degree questions or Shannon Nielsen for graduate degree information.


  • February 21, 2020: Application due date, must be EMAILED to Shannon Nielsen
  • March 16, 2020: Notices of acceptance sent.
  • Senior Year (Fall):
    • Students begin graduate coursework, in consultation with Program Directors (Richard Clark and David Blair) and Undergraduate Advisor (Denise Brenes).
    • Students choose a research advisor before August 30th of their senior year or the semester after being admitted into the program.
    • Students choose an Advisory Committee before October 1 of their senior year.  The commitee will consist of two faculty members in Biology (advisor + one other faculty member).
  • Senior Year (Spring):  Submit a detailed research plan to Advisory Committee on or before May 1 of the 4th year of the B.S. course of study, or within one year of acceptance into the program.
  • Summer following Senior Year:  Research
  • Year 5 (Fall): Graduate coursework + Research
  • Year 5 (Spring): Complete coursework
  • Spring Semester, Year 5 (typical timeline; variance possible): Students submit a thesis detailing their project in the format of a scientific paper to the Advisory Committee.
  •  Spring, Year 5 (typical): Students present and defend their thesis project.

Requirements for Admission

Students must be enrolled as a Biology major at the time of application for the BS/MS Program. Please email the following documents to Shannon Nielsen in PDF format no later than February 21, 2020. DO NOT submit an application on-line or it will not be reviewed.

  • GPA of 3.0 or better
  • Three letters of recommendation (at least one from a Biology faculty member).  Letters should be emailed to Shannon Nielsen.
  • Essay explaining the reason for applying to the BS/MS Program.
  • Official copy of U of U transcript
  • Curriculum Vitae - must include UNID, home address and phone number (example)
  • Graduate School online application and fee required for students approved for the program only

Please contact Shannon Nielsen for further information.

International applicants should contact Shannon Nielsen regarding visa requirements for the BS/MS program


  • Students will take the normal course load for a B.S. degree in biology (122 credit hours) and 30 credit hours for the M.S. degree.
  • M.S. biology degree requires a minimum of 19 credit hours of biology graduate level courses, which must differ from the 122 credits taken for the B.S. degree.  As many as six of these graduate credits may be completed while in their fourth year of undergraduate study (and are not counted towards the B.S. degree).  
  • Biology 7810 (Research in Progress) - 2 credits
  • Biology 6950 (Independent study) - up to 3 credits
  • Biology 6970 (Thesis research) - at least 6 credits
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take Biology 6500 (Advanced Statistical Modeling for Biologists), as well as one course from the Business School relevant to career goals.  Recommended courses are:
    • BUS 5500 - Business Analytics Practicum: Tech Ventures (3)
    • ACCTG 6000 - Financial Accounting (3)
    • MGT 6051 - Managing and Leading Organizations (1.5-3)

Research Requirements

  • Students are required to take at least 6 credits of biology 6970 (Thesis Research) with a faculty member in Biology.
  • Students will present and defend a thesis project, typically near the end of their 5th year.
  • Students will submit/publish a thesis through the University of Utah Thesis Office, room 302 Park Building.  An additional electronic copy is required by the School of Biological Sciences.