Biology (Biology and Society), MS
Accelerated Program

As a master’s student in this concentration, you will choose a set of courses and a research project specific to your interests at the intersection of biology and society. You will explore how the life sciences are shaped and how they are influenced by society. You may focus your studies in one of three tracks:

Bioethics, Policy, and Law (BPL)

This track focuses on pressing moral, policy and legal issues raised by biosciences and biomedicine, and on the methods needed to address them.

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS)

This track focuses on the conceptual foundations of science, including the epistemological and methodological assumptions that shape science.

Ecology, Economics, and Ethics of the Environment (4E)

This track focuses on the theory and empirical methods for understanding, analyzing, and shaping policy that steer us toward a more productive, equitable and sustainable ecological future.

Graduates of this research-oriented program have attractive career options. Some pursue professional degrees in fields such as:

  • law
  • medicine
  • education

Others enter doctoral programs such as:

  • biology and society
  • history and philosophy of science
  • science studies
  • history
  • philosophy
  • bioethics
  • science policy
  • life sciences

And some move into careers at the intersection of life science and social endeavors such as science writing or higher education administration. 

This master's research degree culminates in a thesis, which must draw on multiple disciplinary perspectives grounded in life sciences.

Degree requirements

Your program of study, committee, and thesis must focus on your concentration. Your advisory committee must approve all coursework.

Bioethics, Policy and Law (BPL) track

Core Courses

  • 3 hours – Ethics (as related to life sciences)
  • 3 hours – Science policy
  • 3 hours – Law (related to science or technology)

Additional courses related to life sciences

  • 9 hours


  • 6 hours – Research
  • 6 hours – Thesis

Total: 30 hours
Contact: BPL Director Karin Ellison

History and Philosophy of Science (HPS) track

Core Courses

  • 3 hours – History of Science
  • 3 hours – Philosophy of Science
  • 3 hours – Supporting coursework in history or philosophy (e.g. logic, decision theory, epistemology, environmental history)

Additional courses related to life sciences

  • 9 hours


  • 6 hours – Research
  • 6 hours – Thesis

Total: 30 hours
Contact: HPS Director Richard Creath

Ecology, Economics, and Ethics of the Environment (4E) track

Core Courses

  • 3 hours – Ecology
  • 3 hours – Environmental or Natural Resource Economics
  • 3 hours – Environmental Ethics or Environmental Policy

Additional courses related to life sciences

  • 9 hours


  • 6 hours - research
  • 6 hours - thesis

Total:  30 hours
Contact: 4E Director Charles Perrings

Application Deadline

Applications are accepted Oct. 1 - Dec. 15, with a preference date of Dec. 1.
The Biology and Society Master's program admits one group of students annually to start their program the following August.

There is no guarantee that applications received after Dec. 15 will be reviewed. 

Before applying, we encourage you to read our Tips for Applying.

We will notify you of your admissions status by April 15.  

Desired qualifications:

  • Research experience 
  • Undergraduate GPA minimum 3.0 (on 4.0 scale)
  • GRE scores: 50% Verbal and 70% Quantitative 
  • International students: TOEFL score of 100, or IELTS score of 6.5

Note: Your application is evaluated based on your entire application package.

To apply, follow the How and When to Apply link below.

 You will be asked to:

  1. Review the university standards, degree program timelines and application requirements
  2. Complete the graduate admission application
  3. Send official transcripts, general GRE scores (biology subject GRE not required) and language tests (international students only) to graduate admissions services
  4. Submit a writing sample
  5. Fill out the academic record form and upload it 
  6. Submit a non-refundable application fee


Degree Offered

Biology (Biology and Society), MS
Liberal Arts & Sciences, College of


Plan of Study

The Plan of Study is the required curriculum to complete the program.

View Plan of Study

Application Deadlines

Applications for Fall 2019 accepted:  Oct. 1-Dec. 15, 2018
Priority deadline:  Dec. 1, 2018



Financial Support for Graduate Education

 More information on financial support through the School of Life Sciences.

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