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Morrissey College of Arts and Sciences

Bachelor of Science/Master of Science Program

biology department

The B.S./M.S. (five-year combined) degree program in biology is open for current BC undergraduates only.


This program allows Boston College students involved in undergraduate research to apply to the Biology Department Graduate Program during their Junior year, for entry into the 5YBS/MS before the beginning of their Senior year. The two degrees will be conferred as requirements are completed (see Schedule and Time Limitations below). The program will result in a terminal M.S. Degree with no avenue to switch to the Ph.D. Program and no commitment to Ph.D. Program admission for the student (in fact, 5YBS/MS students will be strongly discouraged from continuing past the M.S. at Boston College).


Plan of Research and Timing within Program

Students would normally be expected to stay in the same lab as their undergraduate research lab to complete their M.S. thesis research, so research rotations would not be required. Under special circumstances, students may switch laboratories following receipt of the B.S. degree, for example if there had been a close collaboration between faculty members. The idea is that the graduate research is an extension of the student’s undergraduate’s research and thus does not require the typical “ramp-up” training, etc. required for a newly entering student. The student still must complete sufficient work as a graduate student to make an original contribution to scientific knowledge.

M.S. thesis committees for 5YBS/MS candidates should be formed and meet during fall of the Senior year, to frame the plan for M.S. thesis research. This committee would also review the student’s progress over the Senior year and the students tenure in the graduate program, if some of research formed the basis for a Senior Thesis or a Scholar of the College thesis, to ensure sufficient original work was completed to merit completion of the undergraduate thesis and the master’s thesis.


B.S./M.S. Requirements and Typical Program Schedule

A minimum of 17 graduate credits is required for the Master of Science degree as part of the combined 5 Year, B.S./M.S. program in Biology—including four Graduate Core courses (BIOL 6110 Advanced Genetics, BIOL 6120 Graduate Biochemistry, BIOL 6140 Graduate Molecular Biology, and BIOL 6150 Advanced Cell Biology) and three additional Biology-approved Graduate Elective Courses (e.g., BIOL 5000+, BIOL 8000+).


Example of a Program for 5YB.S. /M.S. Students

Attendance at Departmental Colloquia is expected of all full-time students throughout their program participation.

Senior year: Begin Graduate Core coursework and/or take one or two Graduate Seminar(s), and begin M.S. thesis research

Summer 1: Research

Fall: Research, remaining fall Graduate Core modules plus Graduate Seminar(s)/Elective(s)

Spring: Research, remaining spring Graduate Core modules plus one Graduate Seminar(s)/Elective(s)

Summer 2: Research, thesis defense, submission of thesis to Dean's Office by August 1st.


Thesis and Defense

A research thesis is required for completion of the M.S. degree. While there are no specific format requirements, the requirements of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences must be followed.

The completed M.S. thesis will be submitted to the student’s major advisor for preliminary approval. Once approved, the thesis will be given to the all members of the Thesis Advisory Committee, which will also serve as will serve as the M.S. Thesis Defense Committee. The Chairperson of this committee will normally be the major advisor. The thesis will be given to all committee members no later than 14 days prior to a meeting at which the student will present, and be examined regarding, the thesis. The M.S. Thesis Defense Committee must consist of a minimum of 3 members, the students P.I. as well as two other faculty-appointed members (one of which may be from outside the Biology Department).

The thesis examination will consist of questions related to the thesis, but should also test the student’s breadth and comprehension of knowledge in the area of biology in which the thesis work was completed. Once the examination is completed, the chairperson of the committee will communicate the results on the appropriate forms to the Department Chairperson and the Dean of the Graduate School. As stated in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences regulations, a candidate who fails the thesis examination may take it only one more time.

5YBS/MS students are expected to publish peer-reviewed manuscripts, although publication of such work will not be a prerequisite for award of the M.S. component of the 5YBS/MS degree.


Schedule and Time Limitations

A student entering the Combined Program is required to pass the M.S. Candidacy Examination within five academic years plus two summers. If a student fails to graduate within the specified time, he/she would be given the option to switch into the 2YM.S.

After four years of work and after fulfilling the requirements for the B.S. degree, students would be awarded the B.S. degree. After one and one-half years of graduate work and after fulfilling the coursework and credit requirements for the M.S. degree, students would be awarded the M.S. degree.


Applying to the Program

The application for the B.S./M.S. program consists of the following materials:

  • Application Form
  • Abstract of Courses Form
  • Official Transcript
  • General GRE Test
  • Personal Statement
  • Two letters of recommendation (Ph.D. applicants must supply three letters)

Note: Application fees are waived for the B.S./M.S. program Application materials and deadlines can be found on the general Graduate Admissions Website.


B.S./M.S. Funding

There is no guarantee that the University or Department will supply funding or tuition remission to B.S./M.S. students. Students who are interested in applying should be able to secure funding through either personal funds, federal financial aid, or other outside funding.