Graduate Biology Program (M.S. Degree)

The Department of Biological Sciences offers a Masters of Science degree in biology for students who wish to prepare for careers in research and teaching or continue their education through a Ph.D., subsequently entering careers in research or college and university teaching.

The main emphasis during this two-year program is the development and completion of a research thesis under the supervision of a student's major professor. The program of research and course work developed for each graduate student takes into account the academic background, present interests, and future goals of the student. 

Program highlights

  • Focused thesis research on topic, area of interest
  • Dedicated major professor
  • Rosario Beach Marine Laboratory
  • Teaching assistantships available to cover tuition and provide a stipend
  • No GRE required

Application deadline

  • Application processing and acceptances will begin on February 15th for the following academic year
  • All admission documents must be completed 30 days prior to the quarter in which you are enrolling.

Expectations of applicants to the graduate biology program

  1. A strong biological background. Almost all of our graduate students received a B.S. or B.A. degree in biology. 
  2. A cumulative bachelor's GPA of 2.75 or higher. This 2.75 is the bare minimum; a higher GPA certainly will be more impressive!
  3. Good written and oral communication ability (you will need to provide a formal written statement of your Objectives and Goals). Biologists need good communication skills. Download guidelines for goals and objectives on the essay >
  4. Evidence of a strong commitment to excellence. We want you to succeed as a graduate student (and beyond) and we will do everything we can to help you, but ultimately it's up to you.

Length: 2 years
Format: On-campus
Credits required: 45

Financial aid, Stafford Loans and ‘pay-as-you-go’ plans are available if you are not able to secure a teaching assistantship position

Learn more about finances for graduate students

Most of our graduate students receive a Teaching Assistantship. Responsibilities typically include working 12-20 hours per week teaching or assisting in biology labs. In return we pay for all of your tuition, which comes out to be about $4,400 per quarter, or almost $13,200 a year. You also receive a monthly stipend of approximately $825.00. While you won't get rich, the stipend is usually enough to pay rent in the Walla Walla area (especially if you have a roommate).

Application information

New students may start at the beginning of any academic quarter. A complete application must be received at least 30 calendar days before the first day of the quarter in which you want to enroll. Any applications completed after this date will be reviewed as soon as possible, and accepted students will be allowed to begin their programs the following quarter. Application processing and acceptances will begin on February 15 for the following academic year. Early application is advised as space is limited (we typically can handle a maximum of 10 graduate students). Accepted students will take Graduate Comprehensive Exams during the first spring break after enrollment in the graduate program. A complete application consists of: 

  1. The application form
  2. Three letters of recommendation (unless you are a WWU biology major, in which case we already know you)
  3. Official transcript showing a conferred bachelor’s degree and transcripts of any graduate-level coursework
  4. Personal statement including areas of interest for research (Download guidelines for goals and objectives on the essay)

View the Graduate Program Steps to Enrollment for a detailed outline of how to enroll.


Joan Redd
Graduate Program Director
Department of Biological Sciences