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As a master's student in this biology concentration, you can explore how the life sciences are shaped and influenced by the world around us. You'll pursue original, interdisciplinary research at this compelling intersection of science and society.
Our students develop critical thinking and analytical skills and are able to draw from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. You can combine a rigorous academic program with marketable skills in science writing and publishing as a writer or editor with the Embryo Project Encyclopedia.
You’ll have a wide range of research options to choose from including working on projects in cutting-edge centers:
This robust master’s program is one you’ll find only at ASU — led by award-winning and accomplished faculty in the fields of biology, philosophy and history of science, and bioethics. Our faculty are renowned for their excellence in research, teaching and mentoring and you’ll work alongside them on a variety of projects.
Graduates of this research-oriented program have attractive career options. Some pursue professional degrees in fields such as law, medicine or education. Others enter doctoral programs including biology and society, history and philosophy of science, bioethics, science policy and life sciences. Careers at the intersection of life science and social endeavors, such as science writing or higher education administration are also exciting options.
This 30-hour program includes coursework and a thesis, which draws on multiple disciplinary perspectives grounded in life sciences. Undergraduates can combine this master’s degree with their undergraduate studies in the accelerated (4+1) program.
Prospective students should have a relevant background in the area they intend to study. Admitted candidates without relevant preparation in the life sciences may complete this work early in the program.
You may focus your studies in one of four 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.
Biology education research (BER)
This track focuses on using education research to identify ways to improve undergraduate biology education broadly.
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.
The biology and society master's program admits one group of students annually to start their program the following August. Before applying, we encourage you to read our Tips for Applying.
To apply, follow the Apply Now link on the left of this page.
Applications are accepted Oct. 1 - Dec. 15, with a preference date of Dec. 1. There is no guarantee that applications received after Dec. 15 will be reviewed. We will notify you of your admissions status by April 15.
Note: The admissions committee reviews scores on the general GRE scores and English language exams (for non-native speakers) and considers these scores in the context of the entire application package.
In the biology and society program, I do research in history and philosophy of medicine that is unlike the lab research of many of my peers applying to medical school. The excitement and value of presenting my undergraduate research in a poster session at the annual AAAS Conference compelled me to expand the project and my skills as a master's student. The program supports my work toward a career in medicine.
~Rainey Horwitz, ASU MS student
Training in biology and society follows an apprenticeship model. Students work closely with a faculty advisor and committee to complete required coursework and thesis. The program prepares students to become independent and creative researchers.
Total hours required
Training in biology and society combines seminars with an individualized set of electives that introduce students to a broad variety of fields. These fields provide the necessary background for students to be successful in completing major research projects.
Biology and society concentration core courses (9 hours)
Concentration core courses combine to provide broad, basic competency in biology and society. Students chose among a variety of courses to meet this requirement. You will follow a recommended track and take the following as core courses.
Track 1: Bioethics, policy and law
Ethics, as related to life sciences (3 credit hours)
Sample courses include:
Science policy (3 credit hours)
Sample courses include:
Law, as related to science or technology (3 credit hours)
Sample courses include:
Quantitative methods or statistics (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
Learning, educational or psychological theory (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
Discipline-based education research (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
History of science (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
Philosophy of science (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
History of science or philosophy of science (3 credit hours)
Ecology (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
Environmental or natural resource economics (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
Environmental ethics or environmental policy (3 credit hours) Sample courses include:
Additional courses related to life sciences (9 credit hours)
These courses provide expertise in the student’s individual research area. Any courses offered under one of the SOLS prefixes (BIO, ELS, EVO, HPS, MCB, MIC and PLB) or any courses taught by biology and society graduate faculty members fulfill the requirement. Sample courses include:
Research (6 credit hours)
As part of the thesis, students register for at least 6 hours of BIO 592 Research.
Thesis (6 credit hours)
Students complete exactly 6 hours of BIO 599 Thesis.