All master's degree students are required to complete a research thesis and 30 semester hours, which must include at least 2 semester hours of BSC 420 Seminar. The School of Biological Sciences will determine additional coursework specific to each individual's plan of study.
Students may design with advisors an individual plan of study or elect to pursue a sequence within the M.S. program in:
- Behavior, Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics (BEES)
- Bioenergy Sciences
- Conservation Biology
- Neuroscience and Physiology
Each sequence includes specific requirements (see below). Students will graduate with an M.S. in Biological Sciences. Sequence titles appear on the transcript but not on the diploma.
Discover what life as a Illinois State graduate student is like with an Online Graduate Student Information Session.
University Admission Requirements
A student applying to a master's program must:
- have earned a four-year bachelor's degree or its equivalent from a college or university that is accredited by the appropriate regional accrediting association, or do so within one academic year
- present unofficial transcripts from each college or university other than Illinois State at which graduate, undergraduate, or non-degree credit was earned. The unofficial transcript should be easily readable and clearly indicate degree(s) awarded, courses and course grades for each term. If accepted, official transcripts can be emailed from the university to GraduateAdmissions@IllinoisState.edu or mailed in a sealed envelope to: Graduate School, 209 Hovey Hall, Campus Box 4040, Normal, IL 61790-4040.
International students can learn more about specific application requirements by visiting the Office of Admissions.
Additional Program Admission Requirements
The first step in the application process is to ask about working in a lab. We do not admit graduate students unless they have at least one faculty member who is willing to have them in their lab.
Contact a member of our faculty who works in your area of interest. Discuss whether they are taking new students, whether your interests sufficiently overlap with theirs, and what research topics are being pursued in their labs.
You must have a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale for the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework or any previous work in a master’s program.
Curriculum Vitae or Resume
Submit your vita in the application system. It should include any information that will help assess your potential as a student in our graduate program. Also include:
- your educational background
- previous employment or positions related to science and your current status
- research activities, including publications
- memberships in professional societies
- any honors and awards you have received
Statement of Academic and Professional Goals
Write a one-to-two page statement of your academic and professional goals and submit it in the application system.
Your statement should include:
- area of research in which you are interested
- faculty member(s) with whom you have corresponded in regard to serving as your possible dissertation advisor
- your plans after completing graduate school
Letters of Recommendation
Provide three letters of recommendation. Your letters should be from faculty members or others who are familiar with your academic record and can evaluate your potential for graduate study.
You must have a 150 or better on both the GRE quantitative and verbal test. A score of 4.0 or higher on the analytical writing test is also required. Use school code 1319 to submit your scores to Illinois State University.
International students required to take an English proficiency test must have a TOEFL score of 90 or greater. The IELTS equivalent is approximately 6.5.
- Fall (August) Term — February 1
- Spring (January) Term — Not accepting applications
- Summer Term — Not accepting applications
The University provides graduate assistantships as a means of financial support. They are intended as a way to facilitate a student's progress to degree while providing important professional development.
To be eligible for an assistantship a student must, generally,
- be admitted unconditionally as a degree-seeking student into a graduate academic program, or have a minimum of 120 undergraduate hours if in an integrated degree program
- be in good-standing
- be enrolled full-time (typically at least 9 credit hours during the fall or spring semesters, or at least 6 hours during the summer session).
Graduate assistants receive
- monthly wages paid in the form of either a stipend or an hourly wage
- a waiver for 100% of tuition during a semester of appointment
- a waiver for up to 12 credit hours of tuition for the summer term immediately following a fall or spring appointment
Most graduate students in the School of Biological Sciences are supported by Teaching Assistantships (TAs) or Research Assistantships (RAs), which include a stipend and a tuition waiver.
Everyone admitted to our M.S. program is provided a TA or RA. However, you should not attempt to complete the online TA application form until after you have been admitted into our graduate program.
Research Assistantships (RAs) are arranged through the faculty member directing your thesis.
TAs in the M.S. program currently receive $1,150/month for 9 months plus tuition waivers. Opportunities for up to 3 months/year of additional support are available.
See Student Accounts for information on tuition and fees. Funding for graduate students is available from several different sources. Students who have been admitted from contiguous states including Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, and Wisconsin will receive in-state tuition.