Find out everything you need to know about Master of Biological Sciences prerequisites, degree requirements, plans B and C, and courses.


You will need to have completed general courses in science at the undergraduate level in biology and chemistry. These may be completed at the University of Minnesota or another educational institution.

  • Biology: One general biology course
  • Chemistry: Chemistry coursework through the first semester of organic chemistry, usually two semesters of general chemistry followed by one semester of organic chemistry.

As part of your degree requirements, you may need to complete additional coursework in molecular bioscience, cellular and organismal biology, or environmental and population biology. Talk to your academic advisor about which would work best for you.

For more information, check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Plan Requirements

You can choose to follow Plan B (Research with a Final Project) or Plan C (Coursework Only).

Courses Credits Plan B Plan C
MBS 6001 Introduction to Research in the Biological Sciences 1 Required Required
BIOC 6021 Biochemistry 3 With evidence of proficiency, may be substituted with another 3-credit course With evidence of proficiency, may be substituted with another 3-credit course
Final Project Course 3 MBS 6002 required MBS 6003 required
MBS 6110 Graduate Seminar Series 1 Optional Required
Core Courses 17-23 Will be selected with advisor help. May include directed research or directed study. Will be selected with advisor help. May include directed research or directed study. MBS 8110 credits count toward these requirements.
Elective Courses outside the Biological Sciences 0-6 May be taken to support career goals. May be taken to support career goals.
Total Credits   30 30


Capstone Projects

Master of Biological Sciences students either complete a research project under the guidance of a faculty mentor (Plan B) or write a scientific review paper where they explore, in depth, a topic in their area of concentration (Plan C). Take a look at some of the wide ranging capstone projects from our recent graduates.


  • Hemodynamic and sympathetic reactivity to isometric exercise in females: the influence of early menopause, menopause duration, and age – Miguel Anselmo
    Advisor: Dr. Manda Keller-Ross (Rehabilitation Medicine)
  • Students who experience CUREs that use a digital evolution platform frame their research in terms of evolution – Dhanya Attipetty
    Advisor: Dr. Anita Schuchardt (Biology Teaching & Learning)
  • The timing, abundance, location, and phenotype of SIV-producing cells in lymphoid tissues after release from suppressive antiretroviral drugs – James Berg
    Advisor: Dr. Pamela Skinner (Veterinary & Biomedical Sciences)
  • Reactivity of anthracyclines with abasic sites in DNA: A novel mechanism in chemotherapy – Kyle Brandt        
    Advisor: Dr. Robert Turesky (Medicinal Chemistry)
  • Exploring deep neural networks for image registration of whole mouse brain datasets: a comparative framework & challenges with state-of-the-art methods – Nadia Kane    
    Advisor: Dr. Thomas Pengo (Minnesota Supercomputing Institute)
  • An analysis of the size and surrounding land of USDA Conservation Reserve Program sites in Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota – Cathy Wiegand
    Advisor: Dr. Daniel Larking (Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology)


  • An exploratory study of oral microbiome signatures of smokers with head and neck cancers – Logain Elnimeiry
    Advisor: Dr. Andres Gomez (Animal Science)
  • Ecological responses to glacier retreat: bacterial communities in alpine springs across sourcing, geographic, and environmental gradients – Christopher Hansen
    Advisor: Dr. Trinity Hamilton (Plant and Microbial Biology)
  • Examining the neuroanatomical basis of bremelanotide, a drug for low sexual desire in women – Abigail Kohut-Jackson
    Advisor: Dr. Robert Meisel (Neuroscience)
  • Welcome to Sherburne – How the soil health was affected by the use of targeted cattle grazing to restore a remnant of degraded oak savanna at the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge – Hilary Major
    Advisor: Dr. Jessica Gutknecht (Soil, Water and Climate)
  • Formulation of a liquid product for oral intestinal microbiota transplantation – Michael Matson
    Advisor: Dr. Alexander Khoruts (Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition)    
  • The effects of gabapentin on epidermal nerve fibers and neuropeptides on scarring alopecia patients – Nasia Mead
    Advisor: Dr. Maria Hordinsky (Dermatology)
  • The study of diet and the gut microbiomes of traditional populations: perspectives and opportunities – Joseph Sabir
    Advisor: Dr. Andres Gomez (Animal Science)
  • Investigating the interactions between triple negative breast cancer cells and various types of macrophages in vitro – Carly Ulrich
    Advisor: Dr. Kaylee Schwertfeger (Lab Medicine and Pathology)


  • Physiological contributions to ACL injuries and reconstructive graft failure in female athletes – Victoria Adams
  • Working memory, the basal ganglia, and memory deficits in Parkinson’s Disease – Madeline Blumenfeld
  • Building the future of protein engineering on the back of SPINE – Taylor Christian
  • Mechanisms used by the gut microbiome to influence the brain via the gut-brain axis – Maeve Dowdle
  • Application of GWAS/GWAX for identifying novel Alzheimer’s Disease risk alleles – Ana Kostovic
  • The impact of corticosterone on the stress response of the HPA axis – Debra Kulhanek
  • Another watershed moment for mRNA technology: creating transient CAR-T cells in vivo – Katherine Mares
  • Precision base editing for point mutation correction in spinal muscular atrophy: advances and rescue strategies – Jennifer Yoo


  • SARS-CoV-2: a curveball in the oral–cardiac connection – Sophie Bell
  • Bacterial immunotherapy: discussing the mechanism of an age-old treatment – Claire Casey
  • Novel therapeutics for preventing the onset of heart failure after myocardial infarction – Brody Bien
  • Ketamine may treat Substance Use Disorder through its modulation of impulsivity – Steven Briskin
  • Understanding the central nervous system lymphatics to improve radiation therapy outcomes – Benjamin Grosberg
  • The multifaceted contributors driving triple-negative breast cancer disparities in African American women – Amna Hussein
  • New strategies improve CAR T-cell effectiveness against blood cancers – Thomas Jaakola
  • Disrupting cellular senescence to extend healthy lifespan – Susan Kupcho
  • Multiomic approach and QTL analysis can find core genes and alternative drug targets – Paige Marsolek
  • Turning susceptibility into strength: how editing plant genes improves resistance – James Nesbit
  • Enhanced CRISPR-Cas9 delivery for the treatment of malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumors: modulating tumor-associated extracellular matrices with siRNAs – Ethan Novacek
  • Peptide alarm therapy as potential treatment for glioblastoma multiforme – Eyob Weyu

Sample Specializations

One of the MBS program's strengths is its flexibility. The program allows you to take courses across a variety of disciplines, like biotech, biomedical, and environmental specialties. The program areas described below are suggestions. Pursue your own interests and objectives and talk with your academic advisor to map out your plan.

Female student with microscope and headphones


For students who want to learn more about how biology can be applied in industry, like the production of biologics, brewing, or biofuels.


Woman working at computer in office space

Computational Biology and Genomics

For students interested in large-scale data analysis. You'll learn to apply these skills to genomics, proteomics, and evolutionary biology, and in clinical trials.


Male student looking at a plant in a forest

Environmental Biology

For students who want to learn about biology on the level of ecosystems and populations, with an interest in conserving our natural world.


Man in modern facility wearing medical hair net

Biomedical Sciences

For students interested in biomedical biology: physiology and neurobiology, pharmacology, epidemiology, immunology, and cancer biology.

Course Options

The core of the MBS program is biology, broadly defined. The following lists are just a sampling of the courses you can apply to your degree. For detailed course information, visit the U of M Schedule Builder.

BIOL 4004 – Cell Biology
GCD 4151 – Molecular Biology of Cancer
GCD 5036 – Molecular Cell Biology
MICA 8002 – Structure, Function, and Genetics of Bacteria and Viruses
MICA 8003 – Immunity and Immunopathology
MICA 8004 – Cellular and Cancer Biology
NSCI 5101 – Neurobiology I: Molecules, Cells, and Systems
NSC 5461 – Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience
NSC 5661W – Behavioral Neuroscience
PHCL 8026 – Neuro-Immune Interactions
PHSL 5700 – Cell Physiology
PHSL 5444 – Muscle
VPM 4131 – Immunology

BIOL 5272 – Applied Biostatistics
CSCI 5465 – Introduction to Computing for Biologists
EEB 5371 – Principles of Systematics
EEB 5409 – Evolution
EEB 5534 – Biodiversity Science
EEB 5601 – Limnology
EEB 5609 – Ecosystem Ecology
ESPM 5575 – Wetlands
FW 8452 – Conservation Biology
MICE 5035 – Personal Microbiome Analysis

BIOC 6021 – Biochemistry
BIOC 5309 – Biocatalysis and Biodegradation
BIOC 5351 – Protein Engineering
BIOC 5361 – Microbial Genomics
BIOL 4003 – Genetics
CSCI 5465 – Introduction to Computing for Biologists
GCD 8008 – Mammalian Gene Transfer and Genome Engineering
GCD 8073 – Genetics and Genomics in Human Health
GCD 8131 – Advanced Molecular Genetics and Genomics
NUTR 5625 – Nutritional Biochemistry
MICE 5355 – Advanced Fermentation and Biocatalysis Laboratory
PHCL 5110 – Introduction to Pharmacology
PHCL 5111 – Pharmacogenomics

BBE 5608 – Environmental and Industrial Microbiology
ENT 5361 – Aquatic Insects
ENT 4251 – Forest and Shade Tree Entomology
FW 5401 – Fish Physiology and Behavior
MICA 8002 – Structure, Function, and Genetics of Bacteria and Viruses
FSCN 5122 – Food Fermentations and Biotechnology
PHSL 5115 – Clinical Physiology I
PHSL 5116 – Clinical Physiology II
PHSL 5510 – Advanced Cardiac Physiology and Anatomy
PMB 5212 – Fungi – A Kingdom of Their Own
PMB 5111 – Microbial Physiology and Diversity

ASCL 6313 – Data for Decision Making
ASCL 6314 – Leading Projects and Teams
ASCL 6315 – Legal and Ethical Issues in Business Sciences
BTHX 5100 – Introduction to Clinical Ethics
GRAD 8101 – Teaching in Higher Education
PUBH 6320 – Fundamentals of Epidemiology
PUBH 7415 – Introduction to Clinical Trials
STAT 5021 – Statistical Analysis