Biology (Biology and Society), MS

At a Glance: program details

Do you need more than a foundation in biology? Do you want to take your training into society and bring about change? Within this multidisciplinary program, you can develop knowledge and skills for tangible action and prepare for employment, a PhD or other professional studies.

Program Description

Degree Awarded: MS Biology (Biology and Society)

In the biology and society concentration of the MS program in biology, students examine topics in which biology intersects with society.

The concentration tailors individual plans of study to individual needs and interests, with a solid grounding in the life and related sciences and with a rigorous analytical and interdisciplinary education. The program offers suggested courses for those wishing to focus on these areas: bioethics, policy and law; biology education research; ecology, economics and ethics of the environment; and history and philosophy of science.

Bioethics, policy and law --- Students are trained in the pressing moral, policy and legal issues raised by the biosciences and biomedicine and in the disciplinary methods necessary to address these issues.

Biology education research --- This focuses on using education research to identify ways to improve undergraduate biology education broadly.

Ecology, economics and ethics of the environment --- This area trains students in the theory and empirical methods for understanding, analyzing and shaping policy for coupled human-natural systems.

History and philosophy of science --- Students are trained in the conceptual foundations of science, especially the epistemological and methodological assumptions that shape science and its progress.

Application and admission information

Applications open September 1 for admission in Fall of the following year. The application deadline is December 1. We accept applications for Fall semesters only. We cannot guarantee that applications received after the December 1 deadline will be considered for admission.

All applicants must apply by filling out ASU's Graduate Admissions application. All application materials must be submitted through the application or to Graduate Admissions directly. Please do not mail or email any documents to the School of Life Sciences. 

Required materials and information include the following:

  • 1-2 page personal statement
  • An up to date CV or resume
  • Writing sample
  • The names of relevant SOLS faculty you have been in touch with who you might be interested in being supervised by
  • Unofficial transcripts and English proficiency test scores (if applicable)
  • The names and emails of at least 3 recommenders to write you letters of recommendation

Following the December 1 deadline, faculty will begin reviewing applications. Applicants should monitor their My ASU priority tasks to ensure there are no missing materials in their application. Admission decisions will begin in March, and applicants typically receive final decisions by April 1.

Minimum requirements for admission include the following:

  • Cumulative GPA of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
  • International applicants must satisfy university minimum requirements for English proficiency (TOEFL, IELTS, Duolingo, PTE). There are other ways to demonstrate English proficiency beyond the tests, so please refer to ASU's English proficiency webpage to review how you might satisfy requirements.

Desired qualifications typically seen in competitive candidates:

Please note that the GRE is not required.

There is a unique process for eligible ASU undergraduate students to apply to an accelerated BS/MS program in the School of Life Sciences, involving a two-phase application process students initiate when they have about 75 credit hours of their bachelor's completed. Please see details about accelerated BS/MS programs and our application process by reviewing the Accelerated Bachelor's and Master's of Science webpage.

In the School of Life Sciences, there is no funding guarantee for students admitted to a master's degree. If admitted, master's students are able to request teaching assistant positions each semester. However, positions may only be assigned on a first come, first serve basis pending position availability. Research assistant positions are uncommon for master's students but ultimately depend on the student's faculty research supervisor. Teaching and research assistant positions for master's students come with a salary for the semester assigned, but do not include tuition or health insurance assistance.

Given the lack of position guarantee, master's students should ensure they understand the tuition costs they will be responsible for. Tuition varies depending on a student's residency status. To review anticipated tuition costs, please utilize ASU's tuition estimator.

Degree Requirements

Curriculum Plan Options

  • 30 credit hours and a thesis

Required Core (1 credit hour)
BIO 610 Introduction to Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in Life Sciences (1) or BIO 611 Current Topics in Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) in the Life Sciences (1)

Concentration (2 credit hours)
BIO 615 Biology and Society Lab (1), taken two times

Electives or Research (21 credit hours)

Culminating Experience (6 credit hours)
BIO 599 Thesis (6)

Additional Curriculum Information
The open electives or research section allows an individual student program to be developed in consultation with the student's advisor and committee.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must fulfill the requirements of both the Graduate College and The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

Applicants are eligible to apply to the program if they have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution.

Applicants must have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of their first bachelor's degree program, or a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

All applicants must submit:

  1. graduate admission application and application fee
  2. official transcripts
  3. academic record form
  4. personal statement
  5. curriculum vitae or resume
  6. writing sample
  7. three letters of recommendation
  8. proof of English proficiency

Additional Application Information
An applicant whose native language is not English must provide proof of English proficiency regardless of their current residency.

Students are expected to have completed the equivalent of core requirements for an undergraduate major in biology or a related discipline (typically evolution, genetics and other courses appropriate to the student's particular interests). Students without an undergraduate-level competency in the sciences may be considered for conditional admission to the biology and society concentration.

Flexible Degree Options

Accelerated program options

This program allows students to obtain both a bachelor's and master's degree in as little as five years.
It is offered as an accelerated bachelor's and master's degree with:

BS - Biological Sciences

Are you captivated by the variety and wonder of life? Are you curious about how organisms grow, interact and affect each other? Build a strong foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will launch your career in science, health care and research.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Biological Sciences (Genetics, Cell and Developmental Biology)

Are you fascinated by how genes can affect change in organisms at the cellular level? Are you curious about how genetic information is organized and transmitted across generations? Experience the excitement of scientific discovery and gain the critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will launch your career.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Biological Sciences (Conservation Biology and Ecology)

Are you concerned about environmental challenges such as climate change and habitat destruction? Are you curious about how organisms interact with one another and their physical surroundings? Dive in and apply a biological approach combined with human perspective to develop a deep understanding of the complex problems threatening our world.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Biological Sciences (Biology and Society)

How does science shape the way we understand our world? Explore the social context of science while developing the skills needed to navigate the ethical complexities of scientific discovery. Discover how policy decisions are shaped by biological research, and investigate the significance of the sciences in understanding our complex world.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Biological Sciences (Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior)

Are you fascinated by animal behavior? Are you interested in making scientific discoveries at the laboratory bench and in the field? Dive in and build the strong foundation you need to launch your career in neuroscience, health care, veterinary medicine or biomedical research.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

BS - Biological Sciences (Biomedical Sciences)

Are you passionate about health care and biomedical research? Are you eager to experience groundbreaking research and understand the process of scientific discovery? Build a strong pre-health foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills and key lab techniques that will give you a valuable edge in your career.

Website | Locations: TEMPE,ONLNE

Acceptance to the graduate program requires a separate application. During their junior year, eligible students will be advised by their academic departments to apply.

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Learning Outcomes

  • Able to contribute to original biology and society research in scholarly writing.
  • Able to communicate biology and society research results in presentations.
  • Able to articulate an understanding of current literature on scientific developments and their relevance to society in scholarly writing.

Career Opportunities

Those who have earned a Master of Science in biology with a concentration in biology and society are prepared for academic careers. Their skills and knowledge are also valuable for government careers in federal and state agencies responsible for management and conservation and for careers in industry and nongovernmental organizations.

Career examples include:

  • food, agriculture and health care scientists in academic, private and industrial labs
  • instructors at community colleges and research universities
  • researchers and policy developers in government labs and nonprofit organizations
  • science teachers in elementary and high schools
  • wildlife, animal and conservation scientists

Program Contact Information

If you have questions related to admission, please click here to request information and an admission specialist will reach out to you directly. For questions regarding faculty or courses, please use the contact information below.