Masters Program Details


The mission of the M.S. Degree Program in the Department of Biology at the University of West Georgia is to provide graduate students the knowledge and training necessary to pursue advanced graduate education, professional studies, or employment. In pursuit of this mission, the Department of Biology offers a M.S. Degree Program via either a thesis and non-thesis track.

Program Description

The Department of Biology at the University of West Georgia will provide opportunities for personal and professional development to students, faculty, staff, and the broader university community through excellence in teaching, research, and service. Teaching: The Department of Biology will implement and maintain a rigorous curriculum which facilitates an understanding of the major principles and concepts in the biological sciences, promotes critical-thinking and communication skills, and fosters a continuous interest in learning. Research: The Department of Biology will provide and maintain student-oriented research opportunities which will facilitate a comprehensive understanding of biology and the scientific process, enhance the quality of instruction, promote professional development, and further the state-of-knowledge in the biological sciences.

Method of Delivery

Courses are 100% face-to-face.


The University of West Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACCSCOC).

Credit & Transfer

Total semester hours required to earn a degree: 36
Maximum Hours Transferable into program: 6

Tuition & Fees

For the most up-to-date and accurate cost information, see the Bursar's Office website at


A combination of 5000-level and 6000-level courses may be used to complete graduate degree requirements, but a substantial portion of the degree program should be at the 6000 level. A topic for thesis research should be identified before the end of the second semester of the degree program. The degree candidate should submit a brief thesis proposal to the advisory committee at this time and should schedule qualifying exams before the end of the third semester. The advising committee may approve up to two course substitutions from departments other than biology if such substitutions are appropriate to the research interests or career goals of the student.

These are not all required courses. For Thesis, 7 3-hour BIOL courses must be taken at the 5000/6000 level. BIOL 6984, 6983, and 6999 are always required as well.

For Non-Thesis, BIOL 6984 and 6995 are required on top of ten three hour 5000/6000 level courses.


Entomology - BIOL-5241

Description: The study of insects. This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of insect taxonomy, morphology, physiology, behavior, and evolution. The relationships between insects and humans, other animals, and plants will be examined. The influences of insects on culture, religion, art, history, and colonization will be discussed. The laboratory will be devoted primarily to developing an understanding of insect identification.

Invertebrate Zoology - BIOL-5242

Description: This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of taxonomy, morphology, physiology, and evolution of the more common invertebrate phyla. The distribution and interspecific relationships among invertebrates and other forms of life will be presented and discussed. The laboratory will be devoted primarily to developing an understanding of insect identification.

Ichthyology - BIOL-5245

Description: The biology, systematics and taxonomy of fishes with an emphasis on the biodiversity/biogeography of fishes in the state of Georgia.

Molecular Ecology - BIOL-5266

Description: This course examines the use of molecular genetic data to the understanding of ecological and evolutionary processes in natural populations such as genetic diversity, dispersal, gene flow and phylogeography. This course will also examine how molecular genetic data is utilized to study behavioral mechanism such as mate selection and foraging. Application of molecular ecology principles to conservation will also be explored.

Bacterial Genetics - BIOL-5315

Description: Bacterial Genetics is an advanced microbiology course which focuses on the molecular genetics of the bacterium Escherichia coli. Topics addressed include the nature of the bacterial chromosome, the multi-step process of DNA replication, DNA damaging agents and mutations, DNA repair systems, mechanisms of gene transfer and antibiotic resistance, and the regulation of gene expression. The laboratory component reinforces concepts learned in lecture and familiarizes students with modern techniques used in genetic engineering and biotechnology.

Applied and Environmental Microbiology - BIOL-5321

Description: The applied and environmental microbiology course is designed to expose students to the importance of microorganisms in industry and in the environment.

Advanced Medical Microbiology - BIOL-5325

Description: Advanced medical microbiology is designed to inform students of current developments in the areas of clinical and medical microbiology. The course will focus on mechanisms of pathogenesis and host defense. Discussion of new and emerging infectious agents will be addressed.

Wildlife Habitat Ecology - BIOL-5424

Description: This course is designed to familiarize biology graduate students with the ecology and management of terrestrial wildlife habitats. Ecological concepts and principles relevant to wildlife habitat structure and function will be evaluated from the individual, population, community, ecosystem, and landscape levels of organization. Management practices that affect the structure and function of wildlife habitats will be evaluated for agriculture and forest ecosystems. Concepts will be synthesized and reinforced by investigating the habitat requirements for a variety of wildlife species in the southwestern United States.

Aquatic Ecology - BIOL-5440

Description: A study of biological, chemical, and physical components and interactions in freshwater systems. Field labs include a study of reservoirs and streams in west Georgia. A three-day field trip to the Georgia coast or the Okefenokee Swamp is required.

Animal Behavior - BIOL-5441

Description: A study of the mechanisms and adaptive functions of behaviors. The genetics, development, physiology, and ecology of behaviors are investigated with an evolutionary approach.

Marine Biology - BIOL-5445

Description: The biology, systematics and taxonomy of marine organisms with an emphasis on the ecological principles that influence their biogeography and distribution.

Terrestrial Ecology - BIOL-5450

Description: Terrestrial ecology is designed to give the student an overview of the structures and functions of populations, communities, and ecosystems in the major terrestrial biomes on Earth. Emphasis will be placed on ecological analyses and disturbance impact assessments in the dominant terrestrial ecosystems of the southeastern United States.

Developmental Biology and Embryology - BIOL-5520

Description: A course combining the fundamentals of embryology with the genetic and molecular analysis of embryonic development.

Comparative Physiology - BIOL-5539

Description: This course is designed to study the similarities and differences in how various animals have solved a wide variety of physiological problems imposed by the natural world in which they exist. The student will investigate the functions of the different organ systems in invertebrates and vertebrates. The main goal of this class is to focus on the observation of how problems in nature are solved by various organisms. A complete understanding of the physiology of the human is an absolute prerequisite for this course as this will be the point of reference for most discussions.

Plant Physiology - BIOL-5541

Description: Plant Physiology is intended to give students an overview of the processes which allow plants to function as living organisms. Emphasis will be placed on how plants interact with their environments.

Eukaryotic Molecular Genetics - BIOL-5631

Description: This course thoroughly examines the molecular aspects of nuclear structure and function. A special emphasis will be placed on understanding the experimental methods and interpretation of data on which current understanding is based.

Evolutionary Genomics - BIOL-5666

Description: This course covers the techniques by which genome sequences and genome functions are analyzed. This course also examines topics in evolutionary genomics such as comparative genomics, evolution or duplicate genes, evolution of genome structure and organization, evolution of protein function, and evolution of gene expression.

Essentials of Immunology - BIOL-5727

Description: Essentials of immunology is designed as an introduction to the immune response. The student will obtain a broad, comprehensive understanding of the principles of immunology. The course will focus on a detailed study of antigen-antibody interactions, humoral immunity, and cell-mediated immunity. Medically important syndromes, including AIDS, will be discussed to reinforce the principles of immunology.

Medical Virology - BIOL-5729

Description: Medical virology is designed as an introduction to viruses that are involved in human disease. The student will obtain a broad, comprehensive understanding of the principles of virology using specific medical examples. The course will focus on a detailed study of the viral structure, replication, gene expression, pathogenesis, and host defense.

Emerging Pathogens - BIOL-5730

Description: The emerging pathogen course is designed to inform students of the dramatic changes and current developments in the area of infectious disease. The course will focus on the evolving microorganisms and the reasons that the pathogens emerged. Also the course will include discussions on the mechanisms of pathogenesis and the host defense.

Introduction to Toxicology - BIOL-5731

Description: The primary objective of the course is to present students with the concepts and practical applications of the science of toxicology. This course is designed to provide students with a basic understanding of the principles of toxicology, focusing on the biochemical, physiological, and ecological effects of various toxicants. The use of toxicology in biomedical, pharmaceutical, agrochemical, and environmental research will be examined and discussed.

Biology of Aging - BIOL-5732

Description: Course will focus on some of the ideas about aging put forward by early alchemists to modern molecular biologists. Will discuss the biological principles behind anti-aging and aging intervention agents, as well as life-style options.

Special Topics In Biology - BIOL-5985

Description: Specific titles will be announced for each term in class schedules and will be entered on transcripts.

Scientific Integrity and Propriety - BIOL-6150

Description: A course designed to inform students of the ethical and professional obligations of scientific investigation and communication. Students will be instructed in proper methods for record keeping and for reporting scientific discoveries. Topics such as scientific integrity, authorship, peer review, ethical use of animals in research, conflict of interest, ownership of data, and intellectual property will also be addressed. Case studies will be used heavily as teaching tools. This course is recommended for all graduate students conducting research in the department, and is required for all students who are supported from federal funds for their research or degree program.

Procaryotic Biology - BIOL-6325

Description: This course is intended to introduce graduate students to the complexity and diversity of procaryotic organisms, including the eubacteria and archaea. The course will involve both lecture and laboratory learning, will engage problem solving skills, and will require extensive written and oral communication components.

Biological Perspectives: Biochemistry - BIOL-6503

Description: This course is designed to study the interactions of biochemical pathways and the control systems that function to regulate cell and whole body metabolism. This course emphasizes the regulation of biochemical pathways as opposed to the mechanisms involved in each enzymatic step within a given pathway.

Human Physiology - BIOL-6513

Description: A survey of the mechanisms involved in the function of the human body. Study is approached from the organ system level to address muscular, neural, hormonal, cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, renal, and reproductive functions. Correlation will be made to the similarity between the demands placed on living systems regardless of whether the organism is multicellular or a single cell.

Histology - BIOL-6526

Description: A microanatomical study of cell and tissue structure. Emphasis is on the complex nature of tissues and how the cellular associations within the tissue contribute to the overall functions of the tissues. Laboratory is devoted to preparation and interpretation of tissue samples.

Graduate Independent Study - BIOL-6981

Description: Independent study of topics not offered in the current term. Independent study is only available for topics addressed by current courses if the topical course will not be offered during the academic year, or if the scheduling of the topical course is such that it will require a delay in timely completion of the degree for the student.

Directed Readings - BIOL-6982

Description: Directed readings are available for graduate students who need to conduct an independent review of the literature in a topic not addressed by the curriculum of the department. Students must complete a statement of understanding and expectation and must have the topic approved by their major professor and either the graduate coordinator or the department chair. Selected readings are appropriate for topics related to thesis research or for topics that provide a foundation for comprehensive examinations for non-thesis track students.

Graduate Research - BIOL-6983

Description: The research course is designed to teach students methods for biological research. Student will conduct research under the supervision of a faculty mentor and will learn proper methods for record keeping and report writing. Each student will work on a unique research project to be selected by the faculty mentor and the student. The research conducted is expected to provide the basis for the thesis for students in a thesis track degree program.

Graduate Biology Seminar - BIOL-6984

Description: Graduate seminar will meet each term. Each offering will have a different topical focus, to be determined by the faculty discussion leader. All students will select an area to present that is consistent with the topic for the term. Students are also expected to fully participate in the discussions generated by student presentations. Graduate students should enroll in graduate seminar each term.

Graduate Special Topics in Biology - BIOL-6985

Description: Specific titles will be announced for each term in class schedules and will be entered on transcripts.

Thesis - BIOL-6999


Guidelines for Admittance

  • All graduate applicants must complete the online Grad Application. A one-time application fee of $40 is required.
  • Applicants should also review the Graduate Studies Website for individual program specific requirements and tasks that must be completed prior to admission. See Graduate Studies Application Process.
  • International applicants are subject to additional requirements and application deadlines. See Procedures for International Students.
  • Official transcripts from a regionally or nationally accredited institution are required and should be sent directly to the UWG Admissions Office.

Program-specific Admittance Guidelines

A student entering this program is normally expected to have an undergraduate degree in biology. Students without a degree in biology or students lacking certain background courses in biology and related sciences may be expected to complete undergraduate courses to compensate for deficiencies. All students must take the GRE general test.

Graduate students must select an advising committee by the first pre-registration period following admission on any basis, or one will be selected for them by the Department Chair.

Application Deadlines

Fall – June 1

Spring – November 15

Summer – April 1

Admission Process Checklist

The Graduate Studies Application Process checklist is available here:

One exception: If you will not ever be traveling to a UWG campus or site, you may apply for an Immunization Exemption. Contact the Immunization Clerk with your request.


Dr. Greg Payne, Director

Phone: 678-839-4040


Specific dates for Admissions (Undergraduate Only), Financial Aid, Fee Payment, Registration, Start/End of Term Dates, Final Exams, etc. are available in THE SCOOP at

Specific Graduate Admissions Deadlines: 

Learning Objectives

  • Students will communicate scientific information through the acquisition, organization, or presentation of scientific informaiton in written or oral form.