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Information for Current Undergraduate Students

Effective Immediately: All 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 Services below. Please indicate that the question is for the BS/MS Program, and requests will be directed accordingly. Paper forms may be emailed to the Program Coordinator. Processing times may be delayed. Students are expected to plan accordingly.

Important Note:

The Contiguous BS/MS Program is open only to current UC San Diego Biology undergraduate majors and Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution (EBE) majors in the Environmental Systems Program (ESYS).

Students interested in this program should begin looking for a lab during the junior year in order to be ready to begin the research early in the senior year by applying for biology special studies courses (BISP 199 or 196). Students interested in completing the Specialization in Biology Education Research complete their undergraduate research through BISP 193 with a Biology faculty member holding the title of Teaching Professor.

The Division of Biological Sciences does not provide financial support for students enrolled in this program. See the Financial Costs and Support page.

Curricular Tracks

Explore options for an education or data science focused Masters.

Financial Costs and Support

Information on the costs of the BS/MS program and sources of financial support.

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]

Eligibility

Eligible applicants must be current UC San Diego undergraduates, with a declared major in one of the undergraduate degree programs offered by the Division of Biological Sciences or declared Ecology, Behavior, and Evolution majors in the Environmental Systems Program.

Admission to the Contiguous BS/MS program is not guaranteed for any applicant. Applicants will be considered for admission with a GPA of at least 3.300 in the major (upper division courses only) and a 3.000 overall UC GPA, as well as a minimum of one quarter of independent research via BISP199/196/193 with the proposed faculty advisor.

The following factors will significantly strengthen an application to the program:

  • A strong letter of recommendation from the faculty advisor which:
    • Confirms the length of time the applicant has conducted independent research with the faculty advisor (either as a volunteer or BISP 199/196/193 researcher), and that applicant is prepared for graduate level research
    • Outlines a plan that demonstrates the applicant will be supported academically and in their research while in the MS program
    • Note: all applicants must request a letter of recommendation from their faculty advisor. Letters including the information above are considered strong letters of recommendation. Strong letters of recommendation will significantly strengthen an application.
  • Significant research experience as an undergraduate

Applicants whose upper division GPA is below 3.300 and/or overall GPA is between 2.500-3.000 may be considered for admission as an exception to policy with the following:

  • A minimum of two "regular" (Fall, Winter, Spring) quarters of 199/196/193 research in the faculty advisor's lab. Alternatively, the following will be counted as one "quarter" of research experience:
    • Ten weeks of summer 199/196/193 research (completed by enrolling in SS1+SS2 or SS3) in the faculty advisor's lab
    • Ten weeks of volunteer or paid work in the faculty advisor's lab
  • A strong letter of recommendation from the faculty advisor which:
    • Addresses the applicant's GPA and explains why the applicant should be granted an exception to be admitted below the GPA requirement
    • Confirms the length of time the applicant has conducted independent research with the faculty advisor (either as a volunteer or 199/196/193 researcher), and that applicant is prepared for graduate level research
    • Outlines a plan that demonstrates the applicant will be supported academically and in their research while in the MS program
  • No more than two C grades (C+/C/C-) in upper-division major requirement courses.

Applicants whose upper division GPA is below 3.300 and/or overall GPA is between 2.500-3.000 who do not meet the above criteria or provide the letter from the faculty advisor addressing the issues above will not be considered for admission. Additionally, applicants with an overall GPA below 2.500 will not be considered. There are no exceptions.

Admission to the Contiguous BS/MS program is not guaranteed for any applicant. Admissions decisions are final.

Undergraduate Research Requirement

Prospective BS/MS students are responsible for selecting an eligible faculty member to serve as their faculty advisor and in whose laboratory they will complete at least 24 units of research over 6 consecutive quarters. Students must confirm that the selected faculty advisor will maintain their faculty title at UC San Diego throughout their scheduled BS/MS program.

Students receive credit toward the BS/MS research requirement by completing BISP 199, BISP 196, or BISP 193 as an undergraduate student and BGGN 271 as graduate student. Prospective BS/MS students must enroll in 199/196/193 with their faculty advisor in their final 1-3 undergraduate terms.

  • BISP 199 offer students the opportunity to participate in independent/individual research for academic credit with, and under the direction of, a UC San Diego faculty member. Projects are expected to involve primary, experimental/analytical approaches that augment training in basic biology and that echo the curricular focus of the Division of Biological Sciences. Thus, projects should involve analysis of biological processes or systems at a molecular, biochemical, cellular, organismal, or ecosystem level. Offered P/NP. Students may enroll for 2 or 4 units.
  • BISP 196 offers students majoring in the Biological Sciences, the opportunity to participate in independent/individual research for academic credit with, and under the direction of, a UC San Diego faculty member. Projects are expected to involve primary, experimental/analytical approaches that augment training in basic biology and that echo the curricular focus of the Division of Biological Sciences. Thus, projects should involve analysis of biological processes or systems at a molecular, biochemical, cellular, organismal, or ecosystem level. Offered P/NP. Students may enroll for 2 or 4 units.
  • BISP 193 offers students the opportunity to participate in research for academic credit with, and under the direction of, a UC San Diego faculty member. Projects are expected to involve novel research that examine issues in biology education, such as the science of learning, evidence of effective teaching, and equity and inclusion in the classroom. Offered P/NP. Students may enroll for 2 or 4 units.
    • BS/MS Students completing their undergraduate research through BISP 193 will apply to the BS/MS Program with a Specialization in Biology Education Research. 

Students must apply for 199/196/193 by the stated deadline. Please review the Research for Academic Credit website for additional information and current deadlines.

Students may apply 1-3 quarters of 199/196/193 toward the BS/MS Program if:

  • All quarters are consecutive
  • All quarters are with the same faculty advisor
  • The student is enrolled in 199/196/193 in their final undergraduate term
  • BISP 199/196/193 is not being used to satisfy a student's major requirements
    • Note: 199/196/193 units will be included in the total units required for BS graduation

Although the BS/MS program does not require students to enroll for the summer, 1 or 2 terms of 199/196/193 can be completed during the summer prior to official BS graduation provided that the faculty advisor approves. Graduate level courses, including BGGN 271, are not offered during the summer.

Faculty Advisor Eligibility

A student's faculty advisor serves as their primary research and thesis advisor throughout the BS/MS program. The faculty advisor must be involved with biological research at UC San Diego.

Students pursuing the BS/MS program through BISP 199 or BISP 196 must find a faculty advisor with one of the following titles:

  • Professor Emeritus
  • Distinguished Professor
  • Professor
  • Associate Professor
  • Assistant Professor
  • Adjunct (any rank)
  • Research Scientist with Lecturer appointment

Interested students may confirm their faculty advisor's title through the UC San Diego Profiles website.

Students interested in pursuing the Contiguous BS/MS Program with a Specialization in Biology Education Research must enroll in BISP 193 with a Biology faculty member holding the title of Teaching Professor. Biology faculty and their faculty title can be found in the Biology Faculty Directory.

Questions about faculty advisor eligibility may be directed to the BS/MS Coordinator through the Virtual Advising Center.

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 199/196/193 BISP 199/196/193 BISP 199/196/193 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271
Plan #2 BISP 199/196/193 BISP 199/196/193 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271
Plan #3 BISP 199/196/193 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271 BGGN 271

Application Information

Students apply to the BS/MS program through the Graduate Studies Application. The Graduate Studies Application MUST be submitted by the stated deadline of the student's final undergraduate term. Application deadlines for the upcoming Academic Year can be found in the "Application Deadlines" section of this webpage. 

Please note: As part of the Graduate Studies Application, students must upload their Master's Thesis Research Plan form [PDF] and a statement of purpose into the Graduate Studies application.

The Master's Thesis Research Plan:

  • May be completed (and signed) electronically
  • Must be completed by the student, the student's faculty advisor, and a second faculty member who will serve on the student's thesis committee.
    • The second faculty member must be a tenure-track faculty member with the Division of Biological Sciences. Please review the application instructions (linked below) for a list of eligible titles.
    • Students are encouraged to consult with their faculty advisor on potential committee members.
    • If the faculty 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.
    • Students are encouraged to contact the BS/MS Coordinator through the Virtual Advising Center to confirm their proposed second committee member is eligible.

The Statement of Purpose

  • No more than 2 pages, single spaced
  • Must describes the student's motivation to join the BS/MS program
  • May describes previous research experience
  • May explains personal circumstances that have impacted the student's educational trajectory (and if applicable, low GPA)

View detailed application instructions

Application Deadlines

Undergraduate
Graduation Term
MS Start Term Application Opens
Application Closes/Deadlines Estimated Decision Release Start Application Link
Fall 2021 Winter 2022 August 4, 2021 October 20, 2021 
@ 11:59PM
Late November 2021 Application Closed
Winter 2022 Spring 2022 November 3, 2021 January 19, 2022
@ 11:59PM
Mid February 2022 Not Open
Spring 2022 Fall 2022 February 16, 2022 April 20, 2022
@ 11:59PM
Mid May 2022 Not Open
Summer 2022 Fall 2022 May 18, 2022 July 6, 2022
@ 11:59PM
Late July Not Open

MS Degree Requirements

Program requirements for the MS Degree are described in the General Catalog and on the Division's web pages.

 

Questions?
Current UCSD students: Please submit your questions via the VAC. An advisor will respond in 1-3 business days.
Drop-in Advising times are posted on the Advising Calendar.