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Combined Bachelor’s / Master’s Program

A Unique Combination

The BS/MS program 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 bachelor’s and master’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 Bachelor’s/Master’s Program in the fall of their junior year.

Undergraduate Degree Information
Undergraduate Advising


Graduate Degree Information
Shannon Nielsen



Applications Due

February 16, 2024: Application due date, must be EMAILED to Shannon Nielsen


March 15, 2024: Notices of acceptance sent

Senior Year (Fall)

Students begin graduate coursework, in consultation with the Graduate Program Director (Kent Golic) and Graduate Advisor (Shannon Nielsen). Students are encouraged to identify a research advisor prior to entering the combined program but no later than August 30th of their senior year. Students choose a Supervisory Committee before October 1 of their senior year. The committee will consist of three faculty members in biology (advisor+ two other tenure-track faculty members in the School of Biological Sciences).

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.

Spring Semester, Year 5

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. Application documents and requirements are as follows:

  • 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

For any questions please contact Shannon Nielsen




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 and in consultation with the faculty advisor and supervisory committee.

Research Requirements

  • Students are required to take at least six 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.

Research Interest Areas