M.S. Program Policies
Graduate School guidelines and requirements for M.S. degrees are provided on the Graduate School webpage. All M.S. students are expected to be aware of these requirements. Many of the forms that need to be submitted to the Graduate School are available on this page.
The School of Biological Sciences has adopted the following policies affecting graduate students in our M.S. program:
- All M.S. students are assumed to have sufficient background in biology and chemistry to meet the prerequisites of our graduate courses. The responsibility for determining deficiencies rests with the major professor.
- All master’s degree students in Biological Sciences are required to maintain academic good standing as defined by the University. In addition, the School of Biological Sciences requires that M.S. students form a M.S. thesis committee that is chaired by a member of the Illinois State graduate faculty in the School of Biological Sciences, and complete and submit a M.S. thesis proposal by the specified deadlines Graduate School. Students who obtain course grades lower than a B in graduate courses, who perform inadequately as teaching assistants or research assistants, or who fail to meet other university or school requirements can be denied assistantship support or be dismissed from the program by the graduate studies committee.
- Seminar Requirements: M.S. students are required to enroll for two credits in Seminar 420 (see below). Attendance at official seminars (4:00 PM each Thursday during the academic year) is required as part of Seminar 420 unless the student is officially excused because of course or teaching conflicts.
- M. S. thesis committees consist of the major professor and at least two additional faculty members. At least two of the committee members (including the thesis advisor) must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the School. The School Chair or Director of the Graduate Program must approve all thesis committees prior to their official appointment.
- M.S. students must complete a minimum of 30 credit hours including at least 15 credit hours of 400-level coursework. (exclusive of BSC 499 hours). The 30 credit hours must include 4-6 credit hours of BSC 499 and 24-26 credit hours of course work.
- M.S. students must follow the School Check-List for the M.S. program (below), which details the major requirements and the usual sequence of events that a student should follow.
Check-List of the Requirements for the Degree of Master's of Science in Biology
Be sure to read the graduate catalog or Graduate School website and comply with all University requirements. The following requirements are listed in the order in which they should be met. If you have any questions regarding these requirements, contact either the School Director or the Director of the Graduate Program. Graduate School forms and deadlines referred to below.
- If you have not yet selected a faculty member who agrees to direct your thesis research (i.e., your ‘major professor’), contact the Director of the Graduate Program to discuss your graduate course program. The Director of the Graduate Program will serve as your academic advisor until your major professor has been selected.
- To select a major professor, consult with faculty members in the area of biology in which you wish to conduct research.
- When you have identified the specific area in which you wish to carry out research and have identified a faculty member who agrees to serve as major professor, email the Director of the Graduate Program naming your major professor, and cc the Biological Sciences office (currently Ms. Barbara Cox) who will add that email to your folder. This email should be received no later than the end of your first semester as a graduate student.
- In consultation with your major professor, select the remaining members of your thesis committee. M. S. thesis committees consist of the major professor and at least two additional faculty members. At least two of the committee members (including the thesis advisor) must be tenured or tenure-track faculty in the School. Qualified scientists from outside the university may serve as supernumerary members of committees. Submit these names via email to the Director of the Graduate Program for approval by the graduate studies committee. Also cc Ms. Barbara Cox in the Biological Sciences office, who will add that email to your folder. A copy of the email listing your thesis committee composition will be placed in your file in the Biology Office.
- With your major professor, call a meeting of your thesis committee to plan the remainder of your graduate course requirements.
- You must write a Thesis Proposal, in a format approved by your major professor and committee, and complete a Proposal Approval Form .
- You will meet with your thesis committee to discuss your plans and obtain thesis committee approval, as indicated by submitting the signed proposal approval form to both the graduate school and to the School of Biological Sciences. You should provide hard copies of the proposal approval form and of the proposal itself to Ms. Barbara Cox in the Biological Sciences office, who will add these copies to your folder. Send one copy of your signed Proposal Approval Form to the Graduate School. Proposal Approval Forms should be filed by the end of your first year of residency.
- For students admitted beginning summer 2017, you must have on file in the Biology Office copies of your Proposal Approval Form and your Thesis Proposal no later than the end of your second semester in the M.S. program. If you were enrolled before the 2017 summer semester, copies of your Proposal Approval Form and your Thesis Proposal must be on file in the Biology Office no later than the end of your third semester in the M.S. program. Exceptions to these policies are by petition to the Director of the Graduate Program.
- Prior to the semester in which you plan to graduate, obtain the detailed calendar of events prescribed for the semester in which you will actually graduate (available on the Graduate School website). Important details are specified each semester on this calendar, such as when you must apply for graduation, pay your fees, hold your thesis defense, when the thesis must be deposited in the Graduate School, and so forth. These calendars are always available in the Graduate School website.
- Complete your graduate research, course requirements, and correct any deficiencies identified by your major professor or your graduate committee.
- Early in your final semester file your Master's Degree Audit Form (formerly known as your Plan of Study). It is completed electronically and emailed as an attachment to the Graduate Director who will forward it to the Graduate School. Note that in some cases, syllabi of courses you took may be required. Note also that the Graduate Director will seek the approval of the coordinators of any graduate sequences.
- Before you begin to write your thesis, consult the formatting guidelines for theses/dissertations which provides information on issues of format. However, with prior approval of your thesis committee, you may use the Alternative Format (*see Appendix 1, below) of writing thesis chapters in the form of manuscripts that are ready for submission to journals.
- Consult the Graduate School website for the exact sequence of events that must occur between you and the Graduate School, who ultimately must approve your thesis and give permission for you to take the Oral Thesis Defense Examination.
- You must present a School research seminar prior to the Oral Thesis Defense Examination. Before the beginning of the semester in which you expect to graduate, schedule your seminar through the appropriate seminar coordinator. This seminar can be presented as part of a Brown-bag seminar program or as a specially scheduled seminar.
- Before you schedule your Oral Thesis Defense Examination, you must have your thesis draft authorized to be defended by (1) your thesis committee and (2) the Graduate School. A copy of the Right to Defend form is available on the Graduate School website. The Graduate School must issue to you the Right to Defend form no less than one week (seven days) prior to the date you intend to take your oral examination. The examination must be scheduled on or before the date that the Graduate School has specified as the date for final submission of theses/dissertations.
- Make sure your major professor has scheduled your Oral Thesis Defense Examination for a time that satisfies the requirement in #15, above. The Biology Office must be informed of both the time and place of the Oral Thesis Defense Examination. The Biology Office in turn notifies the Graduate School and the Biology faculty.
- After passing their oral defense, students should make any corrections required by their committee and upload the final version of their thesis to ProQuest. After the final version is uploaded, the student should submit the Outcome of Defense form and the Final Deposit checklist (both are available on the Graduate School website.) The Graduate School requires the original Outcome of Defense form. Final upload of thesis and submission of forms must occur on or prior to the Final Deposit Filing Deadline listed on the Graduate School website.
- If you possess any keys to University facilities, equipment, or furniture, these must be returned before you leave the University.
- IMPORTANT: If you have satisfied all of the requirements for your M.S. degree (including completing 4-6 credit hours of thesis research BSC 499) except completing your thesis, you must register each semester for one credit hour of 499.01 and pay the appropriate fees until the approved thesis has been submitted to the Graduate School. If the aforementioned conditions have not been met, you must register each semester for one hour of BSC 499..
ALTERNATIVE THESIS FORMAT
- A thesis may be formatted according to the specifications of the journal(s) to which it has been or will be submitted. Accordingly, separate chapters may be formatted differently. A copy of the "Instructions to Authors" from each relevant journal publisher, and a sample journal article which illustrates figures, tables, schemes, etc. needs to be included with your thesis when delivered to the Examiner for the format check.
- Each chapter must be preceded by a page containing the chapter (Roman) numeral and title of chapter, e.g.,
DO POLYANDROUS HOUSE WRENS GAIN INDIRECT GENETIC BENEFITS FOR SOME OF THEIR OFFSPRING?
- An optional introductory first chapter and/or summary last chapter may be included.
- Pagination must be continuous throughout the document and may be placed at the bottom center of all pages.
- A separate Literature Cited may be given in each chapter using the specific journal format of that chapter.
- Current Graduate School regulations regarding page margins remain in effect.
- All theses must have the following first pages:
- page 1: Abstract page
- page 2: Title page
- page 3: Copyright page (optional)
- page 4: Committee page
- page 5: Acknowledgments page (optional)
- page 6: Table of Contents
- page 7: List of Tables Page
- page 8: List of Figures Page