At the time of admission thesis students are paired with a faculty advisor with whom they work to identify a thesis research project. Students take a foundational course in their first semester, which prepares them to develop and carry out research. Our program typically has about 20 students with individual faculty members supervising one to two students at a time. This allows faculty to work closely with students to help them select courses and develop projects which best fit their interests and career goals. The thesis option provides students with excellent preparation to continue their training in Ph.D. programs or professional schools which emphasize research and for careers at research institutions. Most thesis students complete the program in two to two-and-a-half years.
The nonthesis option emphasizes breadth of training, with students taking advanced coursework across the full range of biology subfields. Most nonthesis students carry out a one-semester project with a faculty member to gain research experience. Nonthesis students leave the program well-prepared to continue on to professional schools, to enter biologically-oriented professions in research or government, or community college-level teaching. The nonthesis option is designed to allow students to complete the program in two years.