Dear Prospective Graduate Student,
Thank you for your interest in our graduate program in Biological Sciences. Our faculty have designed a program that will provide students advanced knowledge and training in biology. Graduates with an M.S. in Biological Sciences will be prepared to continue study at the Ph.D. level, to pursue careers in private industry, biotechnology or government affiliated labs, and/or to teach at the college level. In addition to course work, the student will participate in original research culminating in a written thesis, a thesis written defense, and a public presentation. Detailed information regarding the program is available in the graduate student handbook.
We are very excited about our program and are pleased that you are interested in joining us. Some of the special features of this program include:
Because our degree is research based, each student is paired with a faculty advisor in the area of their interests. Prospective students are highly encouraged to contact faculty members directly before applying to the program to discuss research opportunities. The ability of a faculty member to take on new graduate students changes frequently, and space may be limited in the program. You can submit your application without the commitment of a major professor, but the Admissions Committee will not recommend admission to the program until a major professor has agreed to accept you as a student. In this case, when applications are reviewed by the Admissions Committee, the committee will try to match qualified applicants with potential mentors listed on the candidate’s application. Interested mentors will then reach out to the candidates for interviews prior to acceptance into the program.
In order to pursue the Master of Science Degree in Biology, you must be accepted by both the University and the Department. Applications can be found at Cal State Apply and information on the University admission requirements can found at the Global Programs and Services website.
In addition to the prerequisites for entrance to CSUSM as a graduate student, our program requires the following: 1) a bachelor's degree in the biological or related sciences with minimum coursework similar to that required for our minor in Biological Sciences at CSUSM; 2) an undergraduate GPA in all completed science and math courses of at least 2.75 or a GPA of at least 3.0 in the last 35 semester units of science and math; and 3) Scores from the General GRE test (Verbal Reasoning, Quantitative Reasoning, Analytical Writing) submitted by the application deadline.
*For students applying for the 2021 academic year, the GRE is not required.
The Departmental application deadline is March 1 for the following Fall Semester. The Biology Department does not have an open Spring admissions period, however exceptional requests for Spring admission will be reviewed by the Biology Department's Graduate Studies Committee. Contact the Graduate Program Coordinator, Dr. Julie Jameson for instructions.
Holistic Review of Applicants
The CSUSM Biology Master’s program uses holistic review to identify people who are likely to be successful in biology research, regardless of what research opportunities may have been available to them prior to their application. You can increase your likelihood of being admitted by specifically addressing any of the following criteria in your application’s Statement of Purpose, letters of recommendation, resume/CV, experiences, and academic history. Criteria considered include:
English Language Exam Scores
All international students not having English as a first language, or who have not studied at an institution where English is the language of instruction, must submit an official TOEFL or IELTS score.
You will be required to submit (1) official transcript and (1) unofficial transcript from each college or university attended in order to be considered for admission. However, CSUSM students are not required to submit an official transcript. All applicants who attended and/or earned degrees from colleges or universities outside of CSUSM, must send their official transcripts to the Office of Admissions & Student Outreach, CSU San Marcos, 333 S. Twin Oaks Valley Road, San Marcos, CA 92096.
Beyond GPA, the caliber of curricular rigor, the wider context of the academic record, and trajectory of performance will be considered. Transcripts are used as one metric of academic merit within the holistic review. You are encouraged to use your other application materials to frame your grades in a context that best reflects you. For instance, working full time to support yourself or your family may have lowered your grades, but it also demonstrates work ethic, adaptability, and perseverance in the face of life challenges, so would be a welcome topic in your personal history statement, your statement of purpose, or your letters of recommendation.
Letters of Recommendation
The application requires two or three letters of recommendation. The online application will require the submission of two or three names of recommenders and their email addresses. The recommenders will automatically be contacted with instructions on how to submit their letters through the application portal. Writers of recommendation letters may reflect a mix of backgrounds (e.g., academic or employment). You should seek to include at least two who are qualified to evaluate the quality of your scholastic achievements and academic training as well as your ability to carry out independent research. This is especially important if you have previous research experience. It is helpful to ask your references to address those characteristics that are important to your admission (e.g., the traits outlined above that are considered in our holistic review).
General and/or Biology GRE scores will be considered, if you wish to submit them, but there is no minimum score for acceptance. GRE scores are not required for admission and will only be used to support the applicant’s overall academic preparedness. For example, if other aspects of academic preparedness suffered due to jobs or other responsibilities during the undergraduate years, the GRE score may be included as a supportive measure to bolster the application.
Statement of Research Interests
The purpose of this essay is to get to know you as an individual and potential graduate student. In this 2 page essay, you should describe:
When discussing your specific research interests, be sure to explain what motivates them. When describing your preparation/training, be sure to highlight any prior research experiences, leadership roles, employment/internships, or academic coursework that make you a competitive applicant. Describe your long-term goals and what you intend to do with your Master’s degree, beyond CSUSM.
Describe why you are pursuing a master’s degree and take the opportunity to describe instances where you have shown commitment, passion and perseverance. You may wish to explain how your personal background informs your decision to pursue a graduate degree. You may include any educational, familial, cultural, economic, or social experiences, challenges, or outreach activities relevant to your academic journey. Please describe how the M.S. degree from CSUSM biology program will help you achieve your ultimate career goal.
Resume or Curriculum Vitae
Include a resume or CV that describes your education (including certificates and workshop attendance) and experiences. Include both scientific and nonscientific employment if it speaks to your ability to be a leader, team player, and/or innovative. Highlight any oral or poster presentations at scientific conferences or manuscripts you have co-authored. Include any scientific techniques and skills that you are proficient at performing. Be sure to include awards, scholarships, and external funding you have obtained to date. For resume tips and examples: https://www.csusm.edu/careers/careerservices/2019careerguide.pdf and for CV tips and examples: https://www.csusm.edu/otres/puentes/curriculumvitae.html.
Application for admission to the Master of Science Degree in Biology requires the following:
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. For a list of answers to frequently asked questions, please visit the Admissions website.
Graduate Program Coordinator