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Graduate Programs and Courses

Students pursue broad, individually-designed training in biology leading to a Master of Science (M.S.) degree. Most students are enrolled in the M.S. thesis option degree program comprising 30 credit hours of work in biology beyond the baccalaureate, including research and thesis. The M.S. non-thesis degree program requires 36 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate, including an independent research course.  Read more about degree requirements for the thesis and non-thesis options.

There are about 20 faculty members in the department who teach nearly 50 graduate level courses and guide graduate students' research. Training and research interests of the faculty are broad, including ecology, physiology, genetics, molecular biology, taxonomy, behavior, and developmental biology of a wide variety of organisms. Descriptions of faculty research can be found by clicking the "Faculty" tab above.


Admission Requirements| Application Deadlines| Application Submission| Application Guide

Admission Requirements
Biology coursework. Applicants will have 24 credit hours of biology coursework. The 24 credit hours will include a sophomore-level or higher course in Genetics, a junior-level or higher course in Ecology, and a junior-level course in Molecular Biology or Cell Biology. Can I apply if I have not taken all of these courses?

Supporting sciences coursework. Applicants will have successfully completed these four courses in supporting sciences: a course in inorganic or introductory chemistry with laboratory, a course in organic chemistry or biochemistry with laboratory, a course in introductory physics with laboratory and a course in mathematics (college algebra, trigonometry or calculus) or statistics. Can I apply if I have not taken all of these courses?

GRE scores. All applicants must take the General Test of the GRE, and the scores must be received on or before the application deadline. A minimum combined score (verbal and quantitative) of 297 and a minimum analytical writing score of 3.5 is required on the General Test for unconditional admission (a combined score of 1000 is required for GRE tests taken prior to 2012).  What if my GRE scores are lower than these guidelines?

GPA. The applicant's GPA in undergraduate biology coursework will be determined and must be 3.0 or above for unconditional admission. Will my application be considered if my Biology GPA is less than 3.0?

Will my application be considered if I do not meet an admission requirement?

International Students
Applicants for whom English is not their language of nurture should have a minimum TOEFL of 550 (or 213 on the computer-based; 95 if internet-based); a IELTS score with a minimum of 7, or the Pearson Test of English with a minimum score of 65 . If applying for financial support as a Graduate Teaching Assistant, the applicant should take the internet-based TOEFL or the IELTS or the Pearson Test of English (see Financial Support section below)  

Application Deadlines
Application deadlines for the receipt of all materials for both admission and graduate teaching assistantships are February 15th for the following Summer and Fall semesters, and October 15th for the Spring semester.

Application Submission
Submit the online application available on the UNO Graduate Studies website. In addition to the online application, the Biology Department requires the following for a complete application. All of these are submitted to the Office of Graduate Studies.

    1. Graduate Record Examination (GRE)
    2. Official course transcripts
    3. Three letters of recommendation.  Who should I ask to write me letters of recommendation?
    4. A Personal Statement of Goals.  What should be in a Personal Statement of Goals?
    5. International Applicants only: scores from TOEFL or IELTS or Pearson Test of English

Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact appropriate faculty some time during the application process in order to assess whether their needs can be met by our department. A list of faculty and their research interests may be found on the department’s web site. 

Financial Aid
Graduate teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis for the academic year with stipends of at least $12,775 (paid equally over ten months). (Download PDF of application.) Applications are due on February 15 for Fall assistantships and October 15 for Spring assistantships. Additional summer stipends may be available. Appointments may be (and usually are) renewed for a second year. Exemption from non-resident tuition is available for non-resident students. Resident graduate assistants are exempt from tuition payment for nine credit hours per semester. For information regarding the stipend, see Graduate Assistant policies.The teaching assistantships require 20 hours per week of teaching and/or other assignments. The internet-based TOEFL, the IELTS, or the Pearson Test of English is required for all Graduate Assistant applicants for whom English is not the language of nurture. Other forms of financial aid such as scholarships and loans are also available for graduate students. Read more about UNO Graduate Student Scholarship and Fellowships.

For questions about applying to the Biology Graduate Program, please call the Department of Biology at 402-554-2641 or email the Chair of the Graduate Program, Dr. John McCarty – If you have questions about the online application process, please contact the Graduate Studies Office (