• Apply By
    Fall: March 15 | Spring: Oct 15
  • Admission GPA
  • Total Credits
  • Format
    In person
  • Time to Complete
    2.5-3 years (average)
  • Cost
    $1,400 per credit

Customize a Biology Master's Degree

In the Master of Biological Sciences (MBS), you can build a degree plan around the area of modern biology that feeds your curiosity and fuels your career. Want to pursue an in-depth research project? This program can help connect you to the right lab and mentor. Want the latest information in your current field? Take courses from departments across the University that fit your busy schedule.

We created the MBS degree with working adults like you in mind. We'll help you choose coursework that interests you the most and fits into your schedule. You could study:

  • Biotechnology
  • Biomedical science
  • Microbiology
  • Environmental science
  • Ecology
  • Molecular biology

Why Choose Our Master's in Biological Sciences?

The MBS program is:

  • Career-focused. With your advisor, you’ll design a program of coursework and research to prepare for your next professional step.
  • Integrated. Your classmates will be PhD and other graduate students just like you.
  • Welcoming. You’ll be part of one of the most diverse and inclusive colleges on campus.
  • Attainable. Many students complete their degree in under three years.
  • Flexible. You can concentrate on coursework only (Plan C) or add a research project (Plan B) in a biological science area of your choice.

Career Outlook

  • $73KMedian income*
  • 10%
    Expected employment growth in Minnesota in the biological sciences between 2019-29*

With a master of biological sciences degree from the U of M, the sky’s the limit! Lay the foundation for an exciting career in industry, health care, or business.

MBS graduates have roles such as:

  • Forensic scientist
  • Researcher
  • Medical school student
  • PhD student
  • Quality engineer
  • Scientist
  • Conservation specialist

They have gone on to work for:

  • Masonic Cancer Center
  • BioTechne
  • Takeda Pharmaceuticals
  • Medtronic
  • Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
  • Beckman Coulter
  • Minnesota Zoo
  • Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation
  • Pace Analytical
  • 3M
  • Cargill
  • Boston Scientific
  • Mayo Clinic
  • University of Minnesota
  • J.R. Simplot Co.
  • Loam Bio

* Burning Glass Technologies: Program Insight™, accessed 08/5/21

Pick Your Plan

Compare each plan and its requirements to decide which will help you reach your goals.

Plan B – Research with Final Project Plan C – Coursework Only
Great for students interested in a research-based career, or in pursuing an advanced degree in a PhD or professional biological sciences program. Benefits working professionals who may not be able to fit an intensive master biology research project into their degree program.
Have an intensive master of sciences research experience in a particular area of the biological sciences, under the direction of a faculty member. Completion requirements include a paper and an oral defense of the project. Get up-to-date, graduate-level knowledge in one or more areas of the biological sciences. This is a good choice for students who don’t need research experience to reach their goals.
MBS 6002 Final Project
Write a final paper under the direction of a faculty mentor and defend your Plan B project to a committee.
MBS 6003 Capstone Course
Write an intensive capstone paper and defend it in front of your peers and the program staff. Students take this course in their final term.


Now that you’ve decided on a plan, you’ll want to learn more about MBS Requirements and Courses. You can pick from a wide range of offerings across the University.


In the Master of Biological Sciences, you can choose from a wide range of courses offered at the University of Minnesota to fulfill your degree plan. Coursework may come from multiple colleges within the U of M, including the College of Biological Sciences; the Academic Health Center; the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences; and the College of Continuing and Professional Studies.

You can specialize in biotechnology, computational biology and genomics, environmental biology, biomedical sciences, and much more!

Find out more about MBS Requirements and Courses.

Faculty and Staff

As an MBS student, you may consider all bioscience faculty at the University of Minnesota as potential faculty mentors.

Your first step to making a connection is to meet with an MBS advisor to discuss your interests and goals. Our advisors are not only experienced academic advisors, they are scientists with PhDs. They're here to answer your questions about the MBS program.

Meet MBS Staff


Fall Semester Application Deadline | March 15
Spring Semester Application Deadline | October 15

We strive to be fair in the admissions process. Our program thrives when we have students from different backgrounds and cultural experiences. The admissions committee completes a holistic review of all required application materials to ensure that you will be successful in the program. We do not require standardized test scores from the Graduate Record Exam (GRE).

You will receive an admission decision four to six weeks after the application deadline. Learn more about the application process in the video below. If you have questions about admission requirements, or would like advice on how to gather your application materials, please contact admissions advisor Steve Wicks.

Read the transcript here.

Admission Requirements

We welcome applications from students who have:

  • a bachelor's degree from an accredited post-secondary US institution or its foreign equivalent
  • an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0*
  • an undergraduate major in science OR completed science coursework at the undergraduate or graduate level, including organic chemistry
  • work experience*

* If you have a GPA below 3.0, please submit an extenuating circumstances statement.

If you're ready to take the next step, visit the MBS Application Instructions page for details on how to submit each piece of your application.

Prepare Application Materials

Admissions Advising

Graduate enrollment advisor Steve Wicks is happy to answer your questions about the MBS program and the application procedure.


Or you can give Steve a call at 612-301-6127.

Do you have a more detailed question or want to tell us a little bit about yourself before the meeting? Fill out this brief questionnaire.

Meet Steve in person at these upcoming events

Frequently Asked Questions

The term “biological science” refers to a number of fields related to the study of living organisms, such as botany, zoology, morphology, physiology, and microbiology. These categories can be further broken down into areas that intersect with a biological science, like environmental science and biotechnology.

A professional degree like the MBS focuses on meaningful career development for individuals seeking to advance their expertise in a particular field.

Graduate students can pursue industry-driven careers in fields such as health and medical research, biotechnology, quality control and assurance, conservation, and many more. You can also prepare for admission to a professional program like medical, dental, or pharmacy school.

A graduate degree in the biological sciences can build on your undergraduate studies and enhance your career. You can branch into a new discipline or advance in your current role or field.

At the U of M, you can self-design a flexible graduate program in the sciences. You can customize your learning experience to align with your career goals through an option to focus on coursework only or add a research project. Plus, you’ll have an entry point to many world-class facilities and faculty across U of M departments.

CCAPS Graduate Education programs do not provide living stipends, research assistantships, or teaching assistantships as might be expected in a typical PhD program.

  • US based students: CCAPS offers modest financial need-based scholarships to eligible students, and a limited number of merit-based scholarships. However, in most cases students work while going to school in order to cover living expenses and pay tuition out of pocket, including health insurance. 
  • International students: Are not eligible for federal financial aid or CCAPS scholarships and must show financial evidence showing that they can cover tuition, living expenses, and the Student Health Benefit plan health insurance during their period of study. To learn more about planning for these expenses, visit Plan Your Expenses or make an appointment with International Student and Scholar Services (ISSS).

Students interested in Plan B do not need to contact a faculty member before applying to the program. Sometimes it is useful for students to take a few graduate-level courses and solidify their interests and goals in the MBS program before contacting a mentor. If you are interested in working with a specific mentor only, then it might be worth contacting them ahead of time. Otherwise, there is no need to do so before applying.

Rather than being matched with a mentor, we will support you in taking the initiative to find a mentor on your own. You will select a potential mentor based on mutual interests and ability to work together (schedule overlap, space available in the research lab, etc.). Then you will reach out to the faculty member to inquire about doing a research project in their lab. We will guide you on how to approach a potential mentor and can help you draft an inquiry about working with them.

Yes! The MBS degree could improve your competitiveness by:

  • Providing an opportunity to gain research experience. Consider whether the research focus option (Plan B) might be right for you.
  • Showing that you can handle rigorous courses that are as difficult as the courses you would take in medical or dental school or a PhD program.
  • Boosting your GPA, which will make you a more competitive applicant.

Students need to complete 30 credits within 5 years in order to graduate. If you take courses full-time (6 credits per semester) you could complete the degree in five semesters. How fast students complete the degree depends on many factors. Often, students working full-time will register for one course per semester (3-4 credits). Based on experience, more than 50% of MBS students will complete their degree in three years.

Completing the MBS degree may:

  • place you into a higher pay category
  • open opportunities for promotion due to more in-depth expertise
  • Make you a more competitive applicant for new jobs
  • Provide the opportunity to gain research experience
  • Help you meet peers in other companies


Your classmates will be other graduate students from different majors across the University of Minnesota. Some may be in the MBS program, but many may not. You will be among master's and PhD students doing graduate-level work in biology related research and theory.

Student and Alumni Stories

Hear from students who followed their dreams to create fascinating careers with their Master of Biological Sciences degree from the University of Minnesota.

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