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Information for Prospective BS/MS Students

Important Note:

The Contiguous BS/MS Program is open to UCSD Biology undergraduates only.

Students interested in this program should begin looking for a lab during their junior year so that they will be able to begin their research early in their senior year by applying for biology special studies courses (BISP 199/196). The Division of Biological Sciences does not provide financial support for students enrolled in this program. See the Tuition, Fees & Funding page.

Please visit the Info Sessions & Workshops webpage to see when the next BS/MS information session will be held.

Download the Checklist for Prospective Students (PDF)


Eligible students must be UCSD Biology undergraduates and have a GPA of at least 3.3 in their major (upper division courses only) and a 3.0 overall UC GPA. Students must demonstrate excellent performance in upper-division biology core courses during their undergraduate program to be eligible to enroll in biology graduate core courses.

Prospective BS/MS students are responsible for selecting an eligible faculty member to serve as their thesis advisor and in whose laboratory they will complete at least 24 units of research over 6 consecutive quarters. Students must confirm that the selected thesis advisor will not be on sabbatical leave during any quarter of the scheduled BS/MS project.

The thesis advisor must be involved with biological research and must have one of the following titles at UCSD: Professor Emeritus, Distinguished Professor, Professor, Associate Professor, Assistant Professor, Adjunct, or Research Scientist with Lecturer appointment.  Teaching Professors are eligible to be 3rd Committee Members. 

Interested students must contact the BS/MS Coordinator prior to beginning their BS/MS research to verify that their selected thesis advisor is eligible.

NOTE: Thesis advisors without an appointment in the Division of Biological Sciences are expected to participate actively in the Division of Biological Sciences' BS/MS education program by contributing teaching and be willing to serve on MS Thesis committees for students other than those they advise.

Application Information

Interested students must submit the on-line Statement of Interest form (SI) before the start of their final undergraduate quarter but are encouraged to submit as early as possible. This allows the Division of Biological Sciences to provide early advice to those students who may not qualify for admissions. Students may receive credit for BISP 199/196 courses completed prior to submitting the SI form provided they meet the BS/MS enrollment criteria.

Submit the Statement of Interest Form

Students who have submitted the SI will be e-mailed the link to the online UCSD Graduate Studies Application for the BS/MS program at the start of their final undergraduate quarter. The UCSD Graduate Studies Application MUST be submitted by the end of the fourth week of that quarter. The fee for the UCSD Graduate Studies Application is currently $105 for U.S. citizens and permanent residents and $125 for international students.

SI Submission Schedule

If your final undergraduate quarter is: Fall Winter Spring Summer
Submit your SI no later than: Previous Spring Previous Fall Previous Winter Previous Winter

Please note: As part of the Graduate Studies Application, students will upload their signed Master's Thesis Research Plan form and a statement of purpose into the Graduate Studies application. The Master's Thesis Research Plan form has separate sections that must be filled out and signed by the student, their Thesis Advisor, and a second member of the student's thesis committee who is a tenure-track faculty member with the Division of Biological Sciences. The student's Thesis Advisor will serve as Chair of the thesis committee. If the Thesis Advisor is not a tenure-track faculty member with the Division of Biological Sciences, the second committee member must serve as Co-Chair of the thesis committee.

Sample Plan

Shaded cells indicate undergraduate enrollment. BGGN 271 cannot be taken during the summer.

Quarter 1 Quarter 2 Quarter 3 Quarter 4 Quarter 5 Quarter 6
Plan #1 BISP 199 BISP 199 BISP 199 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271
Plan #2 BISP 199 BISP 199 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271
Plan #3 BISP 199 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271

MS Degree Requirements

  • Completion of at least 36 units of course work during the MS portion of the program. This includes research units (BGGN 271) and at least 12 units of relevant formal class work. BGGN 297 and BGGN 299 may not be used to satisfy any of these requirements. The course of study must be approved by the thesis advisor.
  • Course Work: 12 of the 36 units must be in courses other than BGGN 271. Eligible course work must be graduate level (200-level or higher) or approved upper division courses. Graduate level courses offered by related departments (BIOM, CHEM, MED, NEU SIO, etc.) can be used to satisfy this requirement.
  • During the MS portion, maintenance of a grade-point average (both overall and in the major) of at least 3.0 for all course work, both cumulatively and for each quarter of enrollment. If the student's GPA falls below 3.0, (for either the overall or major) he or she may be dropped from the program.
  • Completion of a thesis, with an oral presentation to, and approval of, a 3-member Thesis Committee. Students should meet with their committee members throughout the masters year to discuss the proposed research project.
  • At least three complete, separate, and consecutive quarters of residency as a graduate student which will commence immediately following the quarter in which the BS degree is awarded. (Note: The Summer Session is not considered an official quarter of the master's year.)

Undergraduate Research Requirement

BS/MS students must complete at least 24 units of research over 6 consecutive quarters with the same thesis advisor to fulfill the research requirement of the program. Students receive credit towards this requirement by completing BISP 199 or BISP 196 as an undergraduate senior and BGGN 271 as graduate student. The BISP 199/196 application and research plan must be submitted prior to each quarter of undergraduate research (see below for link). Please visit the undergraduate student section of the Division of Biological Sciences website for information about BISP 199/196. A maximum of 3 quarters of BISP 199/196 can be applied towards the BS/MS program. At least 3 quarters of BGGN 271 must be completed at the graduate student level.

BISP 199s taken as part of the BS/MS program can be taken for 2 or 4 units per quarter. BGGN 271 can be taken for 4 to 12 units per quarter. BISP 199/196 is taken for the Pass/No Pass grading option. BGGN 271 is taken for a letter grade. Although the BS/MS program does not require students to enroll for the summer, 1 or 2 quarters of BISP 199 can be completed during the summer prior to official BS graduation provided that the thesis advisor approves. Graduate level courses, including BGGN 271, are not offered during the summer.

BISP 199/196s applied towards the BS/MS program requirements cannot also be applied towards any coursework requirements for the BS degree. However, the BISP 199/196 units will be included in the total units required for BS graduation. Because BISP 199/196 are taken for the Pass/No Pass grading option, students must be careful not to exceed the limit for such courses. Each student should check with their college to determine their Pass/No Pass eligibility.

BISP 199/196 Application