May 22, 2024  
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog 
2019-2020 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

College of Science and Mathematics- Department of Biology

Department of Biology

Dr. Todd Ashby, Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics
Dr. Melinda Walker, Chairperson of the Biology Department
Dr. Peter Jenkins, Director of the Master of Biology Graduate Program

Faculty: Dr. Virginia Baker, Dr. James Brooks, Dr. Todd Heldreth, Dr. Peter Jenkins, Dr. Joshua Kerns, Dr. Amy Nolan, Dr. Lawton Roberts, Dr. Charlotte Song, Dr. Imelda Tirtajaya, Dr. Sam Vetro, Dr. Melinda Walker, Dr. Lauren Wills, Dr. Amy Albrecht, Dr. David Perry

Purpose, Goals and Outcomes


The Master of Science in Biology degree is designed to provide an advanced understanding of the knowledge of biological theory, lab techniques, and experimental design.  This nonthesis master’s degree program is intended to enhance professional development for those currently working in the life sciences discipline while providing advanced skills and knowledge to those seeking employment in the field. This program is appropriate for individuals in careers that value advanced technical and conceptual training in biology.  The foundation of this program is a commitment to the development of individuals with the highest ethical, intellectual and social values who will integrate Biblical principles and truths while serving as leaders in the life science field.

Goals and Outcomes

Upon completion of the program, students shall:

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of current research, trends, and literature of the discipline and the understanding and application of these to further their career and/or obtain an advanced degree.
  2. Exhibit a proficiency and capability in both written and oral communication skills of conveying biological information to both professional scientists and the lay public.
  3. Critically and competently evaluate peer‐reviewed publications in biology.
  4. Enhance their understanding of experimentation, observation and data analysis, and their application to defined questions in biology.
  5. Recognize the need for lifelong learning and cultivate skills for acquiring knowledge in the life sciences, both for matriculation and life-long learning.
  6. Develop a Biblically based decision making process employing an advanced understanding of information from a broad range of core biological concepts that will serve as a foundation for Christ-like leadership in the biological or medical field.
  7. Effectively practice and defend their profession ethically and recognize societal and global needs from a Christian worldview perspective.

Program of Study

The Master of Science in Biology nonthesis degree program will require a minimum of 12 months to complete.  Required in this track are a minimum of thirty (30) credit hours which are as follows: 4 core courses totaling twelve (12) credit hours and a minimum of an additional eighteen (18) credit hours of biology elective courses.

Levels of Instruction

Graduate courses are numbered at the 500 and 600 level and are all formatted in a traditional classroom design. Graduate students must perform at a substantially higher level of academic rigor to receive graduate credits. This higher performance involves additional practical and/or research activities approved and supervised by the assigned faculty member.

Curriculum Outline: Click here to view the program requirements for the Master of Science in Biology  

Total Hours Required for Degree:

A minimum of thirty (30) credit hours is required for the Master of Science in Biology degree of which twelve (12) hours are core courses and eighteen (18) hours are biology electives.

Graduate Biology Core Courses (12 credit hours):

  • BIOL 520        Cell & Molecular Biology                                            3 credit hours
  • BIOL 521        Laboratory Studies in Cell & Molecular Biology    3 credit hours
  • CHEM 502      Biochemistry                                                               4 credit hours
  • BIOL 525        Seminar in Biology I (Scientific Research Methods)    1 credit hour
  • BIOL 625        Seminar in Biology II                                                   1 credit hour

Graduate Biology Elective Courses (18 credit hours):

  • BIOL 501        Human Anatomy                                                         5 credit hours
  • BIOL 502        Pathophysiology                                                          3 credit hours
  • BIOL 503        Pharmacology                                                              3 credit hours
  • BIOL 504        Human Genetics                                                          3 credit hours
  • BIOL 505        Histology                                                                     4 credit hours
  • BIOL 506        Biology of Neoplasia                                                   3 credit hours
  • BIOL 511        Embryology                                                                 3 credit hours
  • BIOL 512        Food Microbiology                                                      4 credit hours
  • BIOL 513        Infectious Disease Epidemiology                                 3 credit hours
  • BIOL 514        Invertebrate Zoology                                                   3 credit hours
  • BIOL 515        Medical Microbiology                                                  3 credit hours
  • BIOL 516        Nutraceuticals                                                              3 credit hours
  • BIOL 531        Ornithology                                                                 4 credit hours
  • BIOL 532        Paleobiology                                                                4 credit hours
  • BIOL 533        Plant Development                                                      3 credit hours
  • BIOL 534        Plant Molecular Biology                                              3 credit hours
  • BIOL 535        Teaching Strategies & Mentoring                                 3 credit hours
  • BIOL 536        Toxicology                                                                  3 credit hours
  • BIOL 537/437 Immunology                                                                3 credit hours
  • BIOL 541        Vertebrate Natural History                                           4 credit hours
  • BIOL 542        Vertebrate Zoology                                                      4 credit hours
  • BIOL 543        Virology                                                                      3 credit hours
  • BIOL 545/345 Nutrition                                                                      3 credit hours
  • BIOL 551        Biological Independent Research                                 3 credit hours


Admissions Process and Requirements of the Master of Science in Biology

Preferred Application Deadlines

Charleston Southern University’s graduate programs have a rolling admissions policy. While an applicant may plan to begin in the summer semester, he or she may be admitted to begin coursework in any term. Deadlines for admission are flexible, but for full consideration, applicants are encouraged to ensure that all materials required for the application process are received at least two weeks prior to the first day of the semester in which they intend to begin. If an applicant has particularly strong credentials, it is possible that he or she may be processed more quickly, and for that reason, applicants will be accepted until classes begin.

Preferred deadlines are as follows:

Fall: August 5

Spring: December 5

Summer: April 25

The Admissions Committee

The Master of Science in Biology Admissions Committee is composed of the Director of Graduate Biology Program and two other graduate biology faculty members who will serve one year terms.  Under the guidance of the Director, the committee will be involved in the decision-making process for applicants. In consultation with The Graduate School, the Committee will typically set admission guidelines for the year, based significantly upon such factors as program capacity and volume of applications received, but always keeping the primary focus on maintaining program quality. The Committee will apprise the graduate recruitment associates of the guidelines for acceptance, rejection, and further consideration. The Committee will then evaluate in detail the individual applications for those candidates who merit further consideration, and at times meet with prospective students to evaluate their potential for success at Charleston Southern University.

Students accepted into the Biology Master’s program must meet the requirements for regular or provisional admission.  Provisional students are classified as follows: nondegree, undergraduate, and international. The following admission requirements apply to all candidates:

Regular Admission

Regular admission requires that the student has met ALL of the following requirements:

  1. The applicant has submitted a completed Application for Admission to the Graduate School with the required fee payment.
  2. Cumulative undergraduate GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale

3.   The applicant has taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE examinations within the last five years, and the scores have been received by the Graduate School).* An undergraduate GPA of 3.5 conferred in the last 5 years may be substituted for the graduate school entry examination.

4.   The student has earned a baccalaureate degree in biology or related field from an accredited senior institution.

5.   The student has provided the Graduate School with official transcripts from ALL institutions where undergraduate or graduate courses have been taken.

6.   The student has provided the Graduate School with three letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the student’s work or academic record. Recommendations from family members are NOT acceptable.

7.   The student has provided the Graduate School with a personal letter of work experience no more than 500 words outlining his or her academic and career goals.

No single criterion will be decisive.  Each item will be considered in relation to the applicant’s total qualifications by the Admissions Committee.  Although Charleston Southern University has preferred levels for such criteria, each application is evaluated on an individual basis.

After preliminary review of the application and submission of all required documents, an applicant may be requested to complete an evaluative admission interview conducted by the Director of the Biology Graduate Program and members of the Biology Graduate Program Admissions Committee.  This interview may be completed either in person or by telephone, and will assist in evaluation of the applicant’s level of maturity, interpersonal skills, career focus and motivation.

Provisional Admission

Provisional admission into the Biology Master’s program may be granted to a student who has a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution but has not met all requirements for regular admission. Requirements for provisional admission are as follows:

  1. Provisional admission can be given only upon the specific recommendation of the Director of the Biology Graduate Program once the appropriate documents have been received by the Graduate School.
  2. A student may take a MAXIMUM of nine (9) graduate hours toward the Biology Master’s program under provisional admission. Once the student has taken nine graduate hours, no further graduate coursework may be undertaken until the student has met the following criteria:
  1. The student must have a completed admissions file in the Graduate School.
  2. The student must show a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 on the first nine (9) credit hours of graduate course work at Charleston Southern University.
  3. The Director of Graduate Studies in Biology must recommend the student for regular admission.

Note: Financial Aid is not available to students under Provisional Admission.

Probationary Admission

Probationary admission into the Biology Master’s program may be given only upon the specific recommendation of the Director of the Biology Graduate Program, once the Graduate School has received the completed application.  A candidate who does not meet the appropriate admission standards for required course work, required GPA, and/or for test scores (GRE or MCAT) will be informed of their standing and may be admitted with “probationary” status.

  1. A candidate may take a MAXIMUM of nine (9) graduate credit hours in any semester toward the Biology Master’s program under the probationary admission status.
  2. A candidate admitted on a probationary basis must show a Grade Point Average (GPA) of at least 3.0 for the first nine (9) credit hours of graduate course work at Charleston Southern University.Failure to do so will cause the implementation of the “Probation and Suspension” policy shown below.
  3. Upon successful completion of the probationary admission requirements and the recommendation by the Director of Biology Graduate Program, the probationary admission status will be withdrawn.

Note: Financial Aid is available to students under Probationary Admission.

Nondegree Graduate Student

Admission as a nondegree graduate student may be granted when the student has earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution but does not desire to work toward a graduate degree or is enrolled in another university and desires that credit for courses taken at CSU be transferred to the graduate school in which the student is seeking a degree. Financial Aid is not available to nondegree students.

Regulations Governing Nondegree Graduate Students: A nondegree student must present a transcript demonstrating an earned baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution. Even though a nondegree graduate student has been admitted to the university, the student has not been admitted to any department or to any degree program. No more than nine (9) credit hours earned while classified as a nondegree graduate student will be accepted toward a Master of Science in Biology degree at Charleston Southern University. A student must, therefore, gain regular admission to the program before completing more than nine (9) credit hours of study for additional hours to be counted toward a master’s degree. Regular admission is based on criteria above.

Transfer Credit

Graduate credits accepted for transfer from other accredited institutions must be completed within the (6) year period allowed for a master’s degree. Only coursework completed with a grade of “B” or better will be considered for transfer credit.  Only nine (9) hours are accepted as transfer credit.  The Director of Graduate Studies in Biology will evaluate the merit of the courses that are to be considered for transfer credit approval.  A student desiring to take a graduate course at another accredited institution must secure permission to do so in advance from the Director of Graduate Studies in Biology and the Dean of the College of Science and Mathematics.

Student Progress

Each student admitted to the program is assigned an academic advisor.  Prior to registration, the advisor will discuss with students the upcoming course offerings and determine the program of study.  Graduate students are eligible to complete online registration once this advising conference is completed.  The conference may be in person or via the internet or telephone to facilitate advising for students who are not in the Charleston area.  Graduate students are provided with a course checklist and are responsible for degree progress checks with their advisor.

Satisfactory Progress

The student must maintain an overall 3.0 GPA. To graduate, the student must have a minimum GPA of 3.0.

Probation and Suspension

A student is automatically placed on probation if the student’s GPA falls below a 3.0. If the GPA is not raised to 3.0 upon completion of the next full semester (summer, fall or spring) in which the student attempts coursework, the student shall be suspended from the program and may reapply for admission one year from the date of suspension. The GPA is calculated only on graduate work completed at Charleston Southern University.

Whenever three (3) grades below a “B” are earned, the student shall be suspended from the program. A suspended student may reapply for admission one year from the date of suspension. Any student who is suspended from the program may appeal to the Admissions Committee of the Graduate Council.

Failing Grades

If a student earns a grade of “F” in any core course, (1) that course must be retaken at Charleston Southern University, (2) a grade of “B” or better must be earned upon completion of the retaken course, and (3) a student may take courses in addition to the failed course at the time the failed course is retaken.

If a student earns a grade of “F” in any elective course that is not offered again within two regular semesters of the term in which the F was earned, the student must apply to repeat this course as an Independent Study and is responsible for the additional costs of an Independent Study.  Such requests must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies in Biology one semester in advance.  The course must be retaken at Charleston Southern University and a grade of “B” or better must be earned upon completion  of the Independent Study.  A student may take courses in addition to the Independent Study.

After earning one “F,” regardless of the GPA, the student is notified that he/she is on academic probation and that a subsequent grade below a “B” shall result in expulsion from the program.

Attendance Policy

1. The graduate student is responsible for all course work including any electronic submissions and requirements.

2. The student is obligated to attend classes regularly and punctually. The fourth absence will result in a grade of “FA” (Failure for Absence) for fall and spring semesters. Summer session courses’ attendance requirements will be weighted accordingly.

3. The student is expected to complete all assignments in a timely manner and will adhere to both classroom and online submission deadlines established in course syllabi.

4. In the event of unforeseen circumstances, the student is responsible for contacting faculty members promptly.

Graduation Requirements

The Master of Science in Biology student must have completed the program with an overall 3.0 GPA in all core and elective coursework. Students must apply for graduation according to the deadline date for each term see the Academic Calendar. A graduation fee applies for all graduates.

Comprehensive Examinations (BIOL 625)

All Master of Science in Biology degree students must successfully pass a written comprehensive examination.. The exam may not be taken until the student has successfully completed all core course requirements for the degree. The exam is administered only in the spring semester.  The comprehensive examination may be attempted only twice.   If a student attempts the comprehensive examinations twice without passing, the student will be expelled from the program. Additional information regarding the comprehensive examination is available from the Director of Graduate Studies in Biology and the Master of Science in Biology Graduate Student’s Handbook.

Validation of Credit

All credits earned at Charleston Southern University or accepted by transfer will remain valid if the master’s degree is completed within six (6) calendar years from the time the student registers for the first course that applies toward the degree.