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Biology Department Graduate Program

The UNF Masters Degree Program in Biology was initiated in the Fall 2003 semester. Currently students can choose between a Master of Science in Biology (M.S.) or a Master of Arts in Biology (M.A.).

Master of Science in Biology is a thesis-based degree centered on original student research. The biological sciences are progressing rapidly; and by interacting with researchers in the classroom, field, and laboratory, graduate students will better understand the principle values of science and the ethical requirements of scientific pursuits.

  • Requirements for this program are 30 credits of which a minimum of 18 credits must be graded coursework and 1 credit of thesis defense. The rest of the credits can come from research or seminars.

Master of Arts in Biology is designed primarily to provide K-12 science teachers or people already employed in local environmental agencies with advanced course work in biology. Oftentimes people require advanced degrees in biology to get promoted in their career or may want to increase their knowledge and understanding of biological principles but do not require or desire research experience. The Master of Arts program would be perfect for people in the aforementioned situation since it requires advanced coursework in biology but there is no requirement of completing a thesis.

  • This program requires 36 credits of course work.

The program seeks to provide graduate students with high quality advanced training in the biological sciences. Graduates of the program will fill diverse needs requiring advanced biological skills; furthermore, graduates are expected to contribute to industry growth in biotechnology, environmental biology, and improvement in primary and secondary education.

While these fields represent a wide diversity of employment opportunities and biological disciplines, all graduates are expected to meet general criteria that will define a high quality graduate program in biology, as well as successfully complete coursework in a specific area of concentration. The MS program in biology at UNF has three areas of concentration to choose from including the Ecology/Environmental Biology track, the Microbiology/Molecular Biology track and the Coastal and Marine Biology track.

Each of these concentrations will train graduate students in current biological theories and techniques while encouraging them to discover and create original scientific knowledge that is relevant to the current job market and also capable of addressing future biological challenges. Examples of topics covered in these concentrations can be found on the Biology Graduate Program Areas of Concentration tab below.

  • The Ecology/Environmental Biology track will learn the latest ecological/environmental sampling techniques with a secondary emphasis on experimental design and statistical analysis.
  • The Microbiology/Molecular Biology track will receive training on the latest techniques in molecular biology including various methods of genotyping, quantifying and manipulating gene expression, and assaying enzymatic activity.
  • The Coastal and Marine Biology track will receive training in techniques specific to working with organisms in near-shore and marine environments.

Biology Graduate Programs

Biology, MA Biology, MS Biology - Biomedical Sciences Non-Thesis, MS

Areas of Concentration

The below track listings are subject to change.

Download a copy of the Graduate Matrix which describes the projected schedule for each course offered. It is subject to change as faculty availability changes each semester.

  • Ecology/Environmental Biology
    • Advanced Entomology
    • Advanced Evolution
    • Advanced Herpetology
    • Advanced Ichthyology
    • Advanced Limnology
    • Advanced Parasitology
    • Advanced Physiology
    • Biometry
    • Community Ecology
    • Ecology of Wetlands
    • Environmental Physiology
    • Marine Ecology
    • Population Genetics
  • Microbiology/Molecular Biology
    • Advanced Biochemistry
    • Advanced Biology of Cancer
    • Advanced Evolution
    • Advanced Histology
    • Advanced Microbial Biology
    • Advanced Physiology
    • Advanced Techniques in Molecular Biology
    • Advanced Virology
    • Cellular Biology
    • Molecular Genetics
    • Pathogenic Bacteriology
  • Coastal and Marine Biology
    • Advanced Limnology
    • Quantitative Ecology
    • Advanced Evolution
    • Estuarine Ecology
    • Coastal Invertebrate Biology
    • Advanced Marine Mammals
    • Advanced Ichthyology
    • Advanced Marine Botany
    • Marine Ecology
    • Aquatic Toxicology
    • Ecology of Wetlands
    • Advanced Fisheries Management
    • Advanced Coastal Fisheries Lab
    • Environmental Physiology

Admissions Information


As a state-funded institution of higher education, the University of North Florida requires graduate students to have a baccalaureate degree from an institution accredited by an acceptable institutional accreditor and a minimum of a 3.0 grade point average for the final 60 hours of their undergraduate degree. Applicants that do not have an undergraduate degree in biology can still apply to the graduate program in biology but will need to have a minimum of 12 credit hours of upper-level undergraduate biology courses before they can be considered for admission.

Admission to either MS program (thesis or non-thesis track) requires a student to have identified and communicated with a graduate faculty member in the Department of Biology (or partnering institutions for the non-thesis MS in biomedical sciences) that has agreed to act as their research advisor. Since the MA program does not include a research component a research advisor is not required for admission.

In addition to their GPA, applicants will be judged on their personal statement, and a minimum of three letters of recommendation from previous faculty or employers that can speak to the applicant’s ability to succeed in graduate coursework and research in biology. The personal statement should include information on the applicant’s research interests and goals, previous research, teaching or work experience in biology or other scientific field, identification of the graduate faculty member they hope to work with, and whether they are interested in obtaining funding through a teaching assistantship. While submission of GRE scores is not required, inclusion may strengthen applications of those that have borderline undergraduate GPA and little or no research experience.

Admission to both the MS and MA programs is offered to eligible students in both the fall and spring semesters. Those students without the necessary prerequisite coursework may enroll at UNF as a non-degree seeking post-baccalaureate student to complete the foundational courses. Students who wish to enroll as a non-degree seeking post-baccalaureate student may apply for any semester. The program coordinator may allow non-degree seeking post-baccalaureate students to enroll in select graduate courses on a case-by-case basis, but permission to take graduate level courses does not guarantee admission to the program, nor does it guarantee inclusion of those courses into an official program of study.


Application Requirements

Apply Today

Graduate Forms

The following forms are for Biology graduate students and graduate faculty mentors. If you have any questions about these forms please contact Dr. Matt Gilg, Graduate Coordinator for the Biology Graduate Program.

Forms for Graduate Students

Forms for Graduate Faculty

Graduate Assistantships & Fellowships

The Department of Biology has several different potential avenues of financial support for graduate students in the thesis-based MS program. These fall into two broad categories, including assistantships and fellowships.  In general assistantships are awarded from the Department itself while fellowships are awarded from entities outside the university.


Teaching Assistantships: Many of our graduate students each year are supported by teaching assistantships. In this situation students will typically teach two laboratory sections of an undergraduate course each fall and spring semester. In return the student receives a tuition waiver and a competitive stipend. Applicants interested in being considered for a teaching assistantship should state this within their personal statement.

Research Assistantships: Graduate students can also potentially be supported on a research assistantship. In this situation, students will be paid directly from their faculty mentor to do research related to a grant or contract the mentor has been awarded. The amount of the stipend, whether it includes a tuition waiver, and the length of the employment period are all decided by the faculty mentor.



Van Vleck Fellowship in Coastal Biology


Friends of GTM Fellowship

The Friends of GTM fellowship provides two years of funding to a graduate student at a rate of $20,000 per year. This is approximately equivalent to our teaching assistantships that award students a $12,500 stipend and a 75% tuition waiver, so it is a nice award. The student must be doing their thesis work within the GTMNERR and it needs to be aligned with the management objectives of the NERR listed in the attached.

If you are interested in this fellowship, please contact your faculty mentor to find out if your research would be a good fit for the program. For more information and to apply for the fellowship click on the link above.


Jacksonville Zoo Fellowship

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens (in partnership with UNF) offers a two-year, graduate student fellowship in zoological research approximately each fall to a student accepted into the biology or psychology master's program.  Funding is awarded each fall and spring semester ($10,000 per semester totaling $40,000).  Through the fellowship, the student will work directly with the Animal Wellness and Research team and gain experience working with the Zoo's highly diverse animal collection.  In addition to applying to one of the master's program, interested students should send a resume or CV, a letter of interest, and contact information for three references to  If you have questions or would like more information please email


Accelerated BS-MS in Biomedical Sciences

The combined B.S.-M.S. degree program allows students to complete both degrees within five years.  Undergraduate students apply during their junior year and complete 12 credits of graduate coursework in their senior year. Those credits are used to satisfy both degrees. Students must secure a research mentor from the list of faculty researchers in the Biomedical Sciences Program prior to acceptance to the program. If the research is done outside the Biology Department, the student must identify a Biology faculty member as a co-advisor. Speak with an academic advisor for more information about the program.

LINK to COAS-BIOLOGY, Accelerated BS-MS in Biology