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Master's of Science -- non-thesis

Program description

This program offers a flexible path to the MS degree over three or more semesters.  Online and in-person courses are offered in biomedical, cell/molecular, ecology/evolution, and pedagogy.  Details can be found below or in the university catalog:  http://unco.smartcatalogiq.com/.

Learn about the cost of attendance

Who to contact

Biology Graduate Admissions Manager
Dr. Lauryn Benedict

Master's Non-Thesis Academic Advisor
Dr. Gregory DeKrey

General degree information

Degree program options

  1. On-campus: This option is offered at the Greeley, Colorado, main UNC campus.  
  2. Online: This option is offered through UNC Extended Studies.

How does this degree program work?

This M.S., non-thesis, degree program is designed to provide post-baccalaureate training in any area of biology, primarily through the completion of traditional lecture and laboratory courses. This degree program can be completed in as little as one calendar year, but typically is pursued over two or more academic years.  Formulation of a plan of study is accomplished with the guidance of a faculty advisor who will help you to tailor a program of study to match your educational needs.

Who is this degree program for?

This degree is appropriate for talented students who already possess an undergraduate degree in the sciences and who want to strengthen or broaden their biology knowledge. Moreover, it can be used as a path to career advancement or as a stepping stone on the way to other graduate or professional programs.

Degree requirements

This degree requires completion of 30 credits of study.  The UNC catalogs contain the official descriptions and requirements of all programs at the university. 

Applying to the program

In addition to information about yourself and your academic history, applicants are asked to provide letters of recommendation, a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume, and a letter of intent. The following sections offer advice on how to maximize the impact of those documents.

Letters of recommendation for your application

What letters should include

Letters of recommendation (also called letters of reference) are extremely important to your application. Choose the people that you ask to write these letters thoughtfully. Letter writers should be able to comment on your potential for successful graduate work from a position of experience. Typically, they will be academic faculty or work supervisors that have knowledge of your academic or scholarly performance and other attributes relevant to success in graduate school.

A good letter of reference will be printed on letterhead stationery and include the following:
  • A statement of how the person knows you and for how long
  • An indication of the person's professional expertise
  • Comments on your intellectual strengths, motivation, creativity, time-management skills, work ethic, collegiality, and ability to handle stress and work independently
  • Comments on your writing and verbal communication skills
  • An assessment of your potential and abilities relative to others at your level of education and experience
Some tips on how to make it easy for your recommender to write the best possible letter:
  • Ask each potential recommender if they are willing to act as a professional reference on your behalf.  If they decline your request, move on. 
  • Be sure to let each potential recommender know the deadline for submission of the recommendation, and allow sufficient lead time for them to write and submit a strong letter.
  • Provide your recommender the list of expectations (above) for what should be included in the letter.
  • Supply a copy of your curriculum vitae or resume to each recommender to refresh their memory about your past education and achievements. This is particularly important if you haven't been in touch with them for a while.
  • Supply a copy of your letter of intent to each recommender. This will help them to understand why you are applying to graduate school and what you want to do with your advanced education.

Your curriculum vitae (CV) or resume

You may choose to provide either a curriculum vitae or a resume. This document should summarize your preparation and experience relevant to graduate study in biological sciences. A curriculum vitae is most appropriate for applicants with career goals in academia, while a resume might be more appropriate for currently working professionals. CVs and resumes will be reviewed equivalently and with reference to the career goals that you outline in your letter of intent. Find specific advice about what to include on a CV or resume here.

Your letter of intent

At a minimum, your letter of intent should include the following:

  • Your academic experience, interests and preparation
  • Background qualifications for the program
  • Your career goals and how this degree will help you to achieve those goals

In addition to the required components of the letter of intent (listed above), you may choose to add more information that you believe is important for the Graduate Committee who evaluates applications to consider in reviewing your application.  For example, some applicants may feel it is useful to explain anomalies in their transcript that co-occurred with significant life events.

In addition to communicating your goals and qualifications, your letter of intent also serves as an example of your communication skills. Prepare your letter carefully, editing it for logical flow, grammar and spelling, and succinct prose.