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Current Students

Important: For updated information regarding advising services and amended policies during this time of social distancing due to COVID-19, visit our COVID-19 updates page.

In-person advising services have been suspended until further notice. Students who need assistance can contact the Program Coordinator through the Virtual Advising Center or refer to Advising Hours below. Paper forms may be emailed to the Program Coordinator. 

Advisor Contacts

BS/MS Program Coordinator

Jeannette Fox

General BS/MS information, program requirements, degree progress, application to candidacy, degree completion, and student status inquiries.

For general questions or to schedule an appointment, please send a message through the VAC. If you are requesting an appointment, please provide a summary of the information you want to discuss. For walk in advising, please review the calendar in the "Advising Hours" drawer below.

BS/MS Program Faculty Advisor

Dr. Ashley Juavinett

BS/MS research and MS thesis requirements.

Office Hours:

  • Tuesdays 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM, via Zoom

Advising Hours

Fifteen (15) minute drop-in advising sessions are available to all students in real time to address simple inquiries via Zoom. 

Drop-In Advising (Online) days/times are noted on the advising calendar below. When Drop-In Advising (Online) is open students will be able to meet with an advisor by signing in to the Drop-In Advising (Online) Queue in the Meet with Advisor area of the Virtual Advising Center (VAC).

Availability is subject to change


MS Degree Requirements

  • Complete 6 consecutive quarters of research between the undergraduate and graduate programs.
    • At least three complete, separate, and consecutive quarters of residency must be completed as a graduate student.  These will commence immediately following the quarter in which the BS degree is awarded. Note, graduate students may not receive credit during the summer for research.
    • All research must be completed within the same lab, with the same thesis advisor.
    • Undergraduate research is measured through enrollment in BISP 199, BISP 196, or BISP 193.
    • Graduate research is measured through enrollment in BGGN 271, in which the student must enroll during every quarter as an MS student.
    • Research work will be credited toward the BS/MS program requirements only if it is completed while a student is officially enrolled at UC San Diego and has paid tuition for that quarter.
  • Complete at least 36 units 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.
    • Remaining units may be completed through enrollment in BGGN 271 and BGRD 200.
  • Complete at least 12 units of eligible course work :
    • The course of study must be approved by the student's thesis advisor.
    • Eligible course work must be graduate level (200-level or higher)
    • Students may apply a maximum of four approved upper-division units (100-199 level) toward this requirement.
    • Graduate level and upper division courses offered by related departments (BIOM, CHEM, MED, NEU SIO, etc.) may be used to satisfy this requirement.
    • Four units must come from graduate-level courses within the student's area of research.
    • Four additional units may come from any graduate-level course.
    • All course work must be taken for a letter grade, unless the course is only offered S/U or P/NP.
    • Courses taken while an undergraduate student may not be repeated for credit during the graduate program.
    • For an overview of graduate courses offered in the current academic year, visit Biological Sciences Course Offerings.
  • Maintain a grade-point average of at least 3.000, both cumulatively and for each quarter of enrollment in the graduate program. If GPA falls below 3.000, the student may be dropped from the program.
  • Establish and schedule the initial meeting with the MS Thesis Committee. The committee is selected by the student in consultation with the thesis advisor, who also serves as Chair.
    • The committee must include at least three faculty members, including the Chair.
    • The committee must include at least 2 tenure-track faculty from the Division of Biological Sciences and no more than 1 adjunct faculty member.
    • If the BS/MS thesis advisor is not a member of the Division of Biological Sciences, or is an adjunct faculty member with the Division of Biological Sciences, another member of the committee who is a tenure-track faculty member with the Division of Biological Sciences must serve as Co-Chair.
    • Students are encouraged to form and begin meeting with their Thesis Committee by the end of their first graduate quarter.
    • Students are encouraged to communicate regularly with their committee throughout the master's program to discuss the research project.
  • Submit a completed Application for Candidacy to the BS/MS Coordinator in the first two weeks of the student's final quarter of the master's program.
    • Information about the candidacy process will be communicated by the BS/MS Coordinator, as applicable.
    • If a student's intended quarter of graduation changes, they must contact the BS/MS Coordinator to ensure receipt of candidacy information in their final quarter.
  • Complete a written thesis with an oral defense subject to the approval of the Thesis Committee. MS students must contact the BS/MS Coordinator at least 3 weeks prior to the defense in order to obtain the required paperwork.
  • Enroll and pay relevant fees during any quarter in which the student is using university resources (ex. working in lab or taking courses).
    • Students must be enrolled full time while in the graduate program, unless approved for half time enrollment.
    • To be eligible for half time, students must either be entering their 7th quarter of research or be requesting half time for health, family responsibilities, or occupation reasons. Students must meet with the BS/MS Coordinator prior to requesting half time status to confirm eligibility.
    • Note:  Students receiving financial support or employment at UC San Diego (such as a paid Instructional Assistant) must be enrolled in at least 12 units of graduate or upper division course work.

Any deviation from this plan, such as a break in enrollment for one or more quarters, may cause the student to be dropped from the program.

Final Administrative Steps

  • Schedule a date, time, and location for the thesis defense. The date and time must work for all members of the thesis committee. 
  • Inform the BS/MS Coordinator of the defense date and time through the VAC so the defense paperwork can be prepared. The research lab or the BS/MS Coordinator can reserve a conference room or classroom for the defense.
  • Schedule the “preliminary appointment” with the UC San Diego  Graduate Division to review the MS thesis formatting requirements. The preliminary appointment should be at least a week prior to the thesis defense. Students must not schedule the preliminary meeting until they have fully formatted a complete draft of their thesis according to the requirements in the Dissertation and Thesis Manual [PDF]. Use the Graduate Division's calendar for scheduling preliminary appointment
  • Email the MS committee a brief ( no more than two pages) summary[PDF] of the most important findings of the student's research, including key 1-2 figures or tables at least 6 weeks prior to the scheduled defense. The last part of the summary will be completed by your Chair, who will verify that you have obtained sufficient data to make s significant contribution to a research paper that will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Email the final thesis draft to the MS committee before the thesis defense. Students must send this draft as soon as possible to ensure the committee has time to review the thesis before the defense.
  • Defend the thesis and receive approval signatures from the MS committee. After the MS Committee approves the thesis and defense, all paperwork must be returned to the BS/MS Coordinator in order to be approved by the Division's Graduate Chair. This must be completed before the final appointment with the Graduate Division.
  • Attend the final appointment and complete the Graduate Division's checklist for graduating MS students. This checklist will be provided by the Graduate Division at the preliminary meeting.
The MS thesis, once approved by the MS committee and Graduate Division will be submitted electronically to eScholarship. In digital form, the MS thesis is made available not only to the UC community but also to scholars worldwide. The Division of Biological Science requests all students receive a 2-year embargo, to provide students and labs an opportunity to continue the research or submit the research for publication. If an embargo extension is required, it is the responsibility of the faculty advisor to contact the Graduate Division to request the extension.


Graduate Division began using DocuSign in May 2020 for processing Academic Affairs forms.  It is the responsibility of students and faculty to take note of DocuSign emails and to sign documents in a timely manner, to avoid unnecessary stress in missing University deadlines.

Kinds of forms that will now be signed via DocuSign:

  • General Petition
  • Final Report of the Thesis for Master of Arts or Science (Plan I Thesis)

Some suggestions:

  • DocuSign emails may look like spam or may go to junk folders; please check that DocuSign (specifically: is in your and your faculty’s, ‘known sender’ list.
  • Instructors must use UCSD Active Directory (AD) credentials (, when logging into
  • Students in Salk or labs outside the Division should double check that their advisors/committee members are aware of the need to use UCSD single sign on credentials. Information about DocuSign has been emailed to all Biology/Salk faculty and BS/MS advisors, but it is not possible to email all committee members, so it would be wise to confirm with all committee members that they are aware of how DocuSign works.
  • DocuSign emails have links to the forms, but faculty can always log in to to check their ‘action required’ list. Some forms may not appear until previous signatories have dealt with them.
  • For further inquiries about initiated forms or form reminders, students may contact the BS/MS Coordinator through the VAC. Before requesting forms be resent, ensure that required signers first check their email spam folders and log in to DocuSign directly to access the "action required" list.
  • For technical issues, contact the DocuSign help desk at

Updated Thesis and Graduation Requirements

The following includes updated requirements for Biology Master's students in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Changes to the original requirements are italicized.


The research requirements of the program can be accomplished either as bench- or field-based research,   data analysis, a literature-based research, or co-writing a research proposal with the PI. Students must complete at least 24 units of research over a two years period that includes both the BS and the MS parts of the program (BISP193/196/199 and BGGN 271). This research needs to span six consecutive quarters, with at least three quarters at the graduate level.   The student's faculty advisor will determine the need for modifications in the original research plan and the specific way in which a student will complete his or her research requirements (e.g., decrease in bench research and increase in data analysis or literature research).

Continuous Enrollment

Eligible graduate students may apply for a Leave of Absence for 1-3 quarters. Requesting an official Leave of Absence will not negatively impact a BS/MS student's progress toward completing the 6 consecutive quarters of research required for the BS/MS program. Leave of Absence policy and eligibility requirements can be found on the Graduate Division website.

Students interested in a Leave of Absence should contact the BS/MS Coordinator through the Virtual Advising Center.


The total number of units students must take in their graduate year is 36, including research (BGGN 271). The number of coursework units (not BGGN 271 course) should be no less than 12,   but can be increased, as long as the total number of research units (BISP193/196/199 and BGGN 271) is no less than 24. The course of study must be approved by the faculty advisor.

Thesis preparation and defense

In addition to completing the required coursework, students will write and defend their thesis.   In lieu of completing their experiments and obtaining sufficient data to make a significant contribution to a research paper, students can provide a more extensive literature review in the Introduction section of the thesis or a more extensive and detailed proposal of future experiments in the Discussion section of the thesis. The student's faculty advisor, in consultation with the student's thesis committee, will determine the appropriate way for the student to complete his or her thesis if the completion of experiments is not feasible.