The Department offers a combined BS/MS degree program in which well-prepared undergraduates can complete their B.S. and a research-based masters degree in five years. Undergraduates enrolled in the biochemistry bachelors degree program at Colorado State University and who have completed at least 75 credits of course work toward their degree, including 15 credits in upper division courses, with a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above, may apply for admission to our combined bachelors/Plan A masters degree program.

The Master’s degree will be a Plan A Master’s, which requires the completion of an original
research thesis. While performing the thesis research, a Master’s candidate must be enrolled as a full-time student. Completion of this program will provide a student with intensive didactic instruction and research experience in a specific area of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. Students that are enrolled in the Master’s Program and subsequently wish to transfer to the Ph.D. Program must submit a completed application for review to the Graduate Recruitment Committee. However, students who obtain both their bachelors and masters degree from Colorado State University should consider pursuing their Ph.D. degree elsewhere if at all possible.

Students will need to discuss their plan to participate in the combined BS/MS program with their academic and research advisors as early as possible in their undergraduate career. The student works out a schedule for completing this program with their research advisor.

A literature-based senior thesis (BC499B-D) is required for the B.S. and should be based on literature relevant to the research project. Once admitted, BC563/BC565 will be substituted for BC463/BC465. Students will substitute 6 credits of undergraduate research (BC495 or BC475) for the BC463 and BC465 requirements for the B.S. degree. An additional 10 credits of research (16 total) may be used to fulfill the B.S. degree requirements in lieu of coursework, if deemed appropriate by the academic advisor. Application information for graduate school is available online at:
http://www.graduateschool.colostate.edu/

Application Process

The deadline for completing the application falls on the Add/Drop deadline for each semester and you must have less than 120 completed credits at the time of application. The following items are required for your application and should be submitted to the department office:


BS/MS Intent to Apply Form (Link)

An intent to apply form must be filed with the BMB graduate program assistant as soon as you are sure you would like to participate in the BS/MS program. You should declare your intent for the combined degree program in the fall or spring semester of your junior year, before you have registered for BC463 or BC465. Otherwise, additional course work will be required for the MS degree that might make it difficult to complete the program within the five years.


BS/MS Coursework Plan Form (Link)

  • Plan all courses for your junior, senior, and graduate years (typical semesters are shown in grey).
  • Clearly mark how many credits you have at the beginning and end of each semester.
  • In “Code” column, indicate courses that will be excluded (X) from your undergraduate records, research credits that will substitute (S) for the courses, and any courses that are required (R) for some other non-Biochemistry degree.
  • Page 2 of the form is a checklist to ensure all requirements are met.
  • In conjunction with your research metor, identify proposed members of your student advisory committee.

Three letters of recommendation.
The letters must be written by an individual in each of the following categories:

  • Applicant’s undergraduate advisor
  • Applicant’s instructor in at least one course within his/her major who is not his/her advisor.
  • Applicant’s instructor in a course outside of his/her major field of study

Mentor Letter of Support.
Letter from your mentor stating willingness to support your research project
A written “statement of purpose” that contains:

  • A summary of long-term professional or personal goals
  • A statement regarding the applicant’s educational goals
  • A statement explaining how this program will contribute to the applicant’s long-term goals

A completed resume that contains the following:

  • Record of all professional employment including dates of service (including military)
  • List of any special skills or competencies (including certifications or licensures)
  • List of publications, exhibitions, prizes, awards, or other recognition
  • List of service activities (including community and charitable)

 

BS/MS financial implications
The BS/MS student will not become a graduate student until they have reached 120 total credits, including any advanced placement or transfer credits. At that time they will start paying graduate level tuition and fees. Once a student is admitted as a graduate student they may become ineligible for undergraduate financial aid scholarships and grants. However, they may be eligible for other graduate scholarships.


Stipend: There is no guarantee of support in the BS/MS combined degree program. However, students may be considered for graduate stipend support after they have completed a minimum of 120 credits that would be acceptable toward their biochemistry bachelors degree.

GRE Exam: No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is required for BS/MS applicants.

M.S. Degree Requirements

Graduate School requirements for graduation with an MS degree (Plan A):

  • At least 30 total credits are required
  • A minimum of 24 credits must be earned at CSU (before or after admission into the graduate school)
  • A minimum of 21 CSU credits must be earned after admission into the Graduate School
  • A minimum of 16 CSU credits must be in 500-level or higher courses (before or after admission)
  • A minimum 12 credits of these 16 CSU credits must be in didactic courses (numbered X81 or below)
Biochemistry Core Course Requirements for MS students
BC563 Molecular Genetics (replaces BC463) 4 credits
BC565 Molecular Regulation & Cell Function (replaces BC465) 4 credits
BC512 Principles of Macromolecular Structure (taken concurrently with BC411) 1 credit
BC601 Responsible Conduct in Biochemistry 1 credit
Plus Approved Elective Course (500-level or above) 2 or more credits

 


Substitutions for BC563 or BC565
BS/MS students will substitute six credits of undergraduate research (BC495 or BC475) for the BC463 and BC465 requirements for the BS degree. They will enroll in BC563 and BC565 for graduate credit toward their MS degree. In addition, a literature-based senior thesis (BC499B) is required and should be based on literature relevant to the research project as it will become the introductory chapter of the MS thesis..

Students who enter the program after they have enrolled in or completed either BC463 or BC465 will not have to take the equivalent 500 level class (BC563 or 565). However, they will have to complete an additional 4 credits of approved graduate electives (500 level or above) in didactic course work for each of these classes taken at the undergraduate level.


Courses excluded from BS degree

500 level courses taken as an undergraduate may be applied toward the MS degree, but must be formally excluded from counting toward a student’s BS degree. To formally exclude a course, an exclusion form must be submitted during the semester that course is being taken.

If the student will be completing courses for the bachelor’s degree after they have been admitted to graduate school, a Request to Exclude Courses for the Bachelor’s Degree (Reverse Exclusion) form should be completed and filed with the Graduate School at the same time as the GS6.


Honors students and Awarding of BS degree: Students who wish to use their MS thesis to complete their undergraduate Honors Program requirements, and other students who wish to spread out their undergraduate electives during their 5 year program may complete both the BS and MS degrees the same semester. The MS thesis will be accepted as a substitute for the undergraduate thesis required for the Honors Program participants. Under no circumstances will the MS degree be awarded prior to completing the BS requirements.

Additional Department Requirements


BC793 Seminar 
Enrollment in BC793 is required each semester a student is in residence. Although all BS/MS students are required to enroll in BC793, they are not required to give a presentation in this course.

Seminar presentation: Each M.S. student will present a public seminar as part of their thesis defense. This is typically done during the spring semester of their fifth year.


Electives: 
A student must also complete a minimum of two credits in Biochemistry or other approved elective science courses at the 500 level or above. Courses will be selected in consultation with the student’s advisor and Student Advisory Committee.


Enrollment Requirements:
While performing the thesis research, a Master’s candidate must be enrolled as a full-time student. Completion of this program will provide a student with intensive didactic instruction and research experience in a specific area of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.


Transfer to Ph.D. program
Students that are enrolled in the Master’s Program and subsequently wish to transfer to the Ph.D. Program must submit a completed application for review to the Graduate Recruitment Committee. However, students who obtain both their bachelors and masters degree from Colorado State University should consider pursuing their Ph.D. degree elsewhere if at all possible.


Waivers & Substitutions 
Required core courses can be waived by the Graduate Affairs Committee if a student has completed an equivalent course with A/B grades within the previous two years. The credit requirements previously described must still be met.


Grading Policy 
In courses such as BC793, BC695 and BC698, for which there are no formal evaluative procedures, grades will be assigned by the faculty member responsible on the following basis. A satisfactory level performance will be graded as S and performance which is unsatisfactory will be graded as U.

Plan A Master’s Degree Procedures


Selection of Thesis Advisor 
The selection of a thesis advisor will be part of the application process for admission into the BS/MS program. The selection of an advisor must be approved by the GAC.


Student’s Advisory Committee (SAC):

Composition
The SAC will be composed of three members, including the student’s advisor, who will serve as chairperson, one additional departmental faculty member, and one faculty member from outside the department.
The student, after consultation with his/her advisor, will submit a list of possible candidates for the SAC. Formal appointment will then be made by the department chairperson after consultation with the student’s advisor. The committee will be formed during the fall semester of the 5th year. If circumstances so warrant, later changes in the composition of the SAC can be made.

Responsibilities of the SAC
The SAC shall be responsible throughout the remainder of the student’s graduate career for advice on the student’s course work program and evaluation of progress therein. The committee will advise, counsel, and guide the student in the planning and execution of a research program. The first meeting of the student with his/her SAC should be held promptly after the SAC is formed.

GS6 Plan of Study form
The GS6 form listing a recommended course of study should be filed with the Graduate School during the first semester in the Master’s program.

Performance Evaluations by SAC
The SAC should meet early during the first semester the student is in the graduate program. This meeting should include a discussion of the GS6, the project, and plans for the defense of the thesis.

Evaluation of performance in BC698, Research.
The SAC can make recommendations to the thesis advisor concerning an appropriate grade for BC698. Persistent lack of progress is grounds for dismissal from the M.S. program. The results of such evaluations, as well as the committee’s recommendations for furthering the student’s progress, will be submitted by the SAC in written form to the GAC to be included in the student’s file.


Performance Evaluation:

Annual student evaluations – The overall performance of each graduate student is evaluated by the entire faculty at an end-of-semester faculty meeting. This evaluation will include a review of the student’s academic record, participation in seminars, progress in laboratory research (Plan A), and performance on the comprehensive oral examination. Possible outcomes are: a) clear approval to continue in the M.S. program, b) academic probation, or c) dismissal from the graduate program.


Academic Probation: BS/MS (Track III) students in combined BS/MS degree programs who fail to maintain a 3.0 GPA in either their undergraduate courses or their graduate courses, including 600 and 700 level courses not listed on the GS6 form, will be placed on probation by the Graduate School and will have one semester in which to improve their cumulative grade point average to 3.0 in both undergraduate and graduate courses. A student who is placed on academic probation must be re-evaluated by the entire faculty at the end of each semester for a decision as to his/her continuation in the program. Failure to bring both cumulative averages to 3.0 will result in dismissal from the graduate school with no re-enrollment permitted prior to completion of the bachelors degree. BS/MS (Track III) students who are dismissed from the graduate school, and are still in good standing within their undergraduate program, will be permitted to complete their undergraduate degree. These students can petition the registrar to reinstate courses below the 600 level that have been completed with a grade of C or better to be applied toward their undergraduate degree. *Please note that courses taken after admission to graduate school will count in the graduate cumulative GPA, even if these courses will be used toward the bachelor’s degree and vice versa.

Teaching Obligations

Unless they have incurred a previous commitment, candidates for the Master’s degree are not required to teach in the department. However, Master’s candidates who wish to gain teaching experience are encouraged to participate in the department’s teaching efforts. For each semester the student teaches, he/she may register for an appropriate number of credits in BC784 – Supervised College Teaching.

Defense of Thesis – Plan A Master’s

Eligibility
The thesis advisor must agree that the thesis is of such quality and completeness as to warrant setting a date for the defense. The student must have completed a typed draft of the thesis and submitted a copy thereof to each committee member at least two weeks prior to the examination.

Examining committee
The SAC will be the examining committee with the student’s advisor serving as chairperson. The defense of thesis, however, is open to the public and the chairperson has the prerogative of allowing non-committee members to ask questions of the candidate.

Procedures
The student will present a formal seminar presenting their thesis research. Following the presentation, the committee will probe in detail the student’s comprehension of, approach to, and solution of the thesis research problem. The committee, in executive session, shall determine if the thesis and its defense were satisfactory. In the event of an unsatisfactory performance, the committee may allow one re-examination and may require the student to complete further work. The defense constitutes the final examination for the MS graduate degree.

Submission of Thesis

After passing the Defense of Thesis, the thesis will be prepared in final form following all of the rules of the Graduate School for its preparation. Two printed copies of the thesis are required by the department (one for the department, and one for the advisor) in addition to any copies required by the graduate school or library.

BS/MS Sample Curriculum

Below is a sample curriculum for a typical student who completes the BS degree at CSU with minimal AP and transfer credits. Using this as a guide, students should complete the BS/MS Coursework Plan and submit it as part of their application to the program.

Junior Year

Fall Semester
Spring Semester
Course# Name Credits Course# Name Credits
BC401 Comp Biochemistry I 3 BC403 Comp Biochemistry II 3
BC404 Comp Biochemistry Lab 2 BC493 Senior Seminar 1
Bioscience Electives 3-4 Bioscience Elective 3-4
BC475
BC495
Research var. cr. BC475
BC495
Research var. cr.
Electives/Category III 6 Electives/Category III 6

Senior Year

Fall Semester
Spring Semester
Course# Name Credits Course# Name Credits
BC563 Molecular Genetics 4 BC565 Molec reg/cell function 4
BC512 Principles of Macromolecular Structure 1 Bioscience Elective 3-4
BC411 Physical Biochemistry 4 500-level elective 3-4
BC475 BC495 Research var. cr. BC698 Research var. cr

Graduate Year 

Fall Semester
Spring Semester
Course# Name Credits Course# Name Credits
BC601 Resp. Conduct in Research 1 BC698 Research ~13
BC698 Research ~13 BC699 Thesis 1
BC793 Seminar 1 BC793 Seminar 1