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Master of Arts in Biology

The Master of Arts in Biology program helps students update and deepen their knowledge of the biomedical sciences, prepare for employment in related fields, and advance their professional standing—while obtaining a graduate science degree on a part-time basis through evening, weekend, and online courses.

Designed to be adaptable to each individual's unique background and goals, the program provides a flexible curriculum and close individual advising for each student. Students include science and health professionals, teachers, technicians, and individuals in biology-related businesses.

The MA in Biology program is co-sponsored by the Washington University Graduate School, the Washington University Department of Biology, and University College.

Note: the MA in Biology is a terminal graduate degree awarded on the basis of course work rather than research. Except in rare cases, it is not intended as preparation for a PhD degree. No more than 6 of the 30 credits may be earned in research courses. Those interested in graduate research or in earning a PhD should apply to the PhD programs offered by Washington University's Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences.

Admission Requirements

Transferring Credit

A maximum of six units of related, comparable graduate-level course work may be transferred from another university or from a related graduate program at Washington University with the approval of the program director. These must be graduate-level units not used to fulfill undergraduate degree requirements. Transfer credit may be granted only for authorized courses for which the student received a grade of B or higher. 

Baccalaureate Degree

Qualified applicants should have completed previous undergraduate course work in biology, mathematics and chemistry and obtained a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.

Course Prerequisites

Prerequisites for this program include a year of general biology with labs, a year of general chemistry with labs, and a semester of calculus. Students who plan to take these courses through University College should complete U29 Bio 101 and 102, U05 Chem 105/106 and 151/152, and U20 Math 155. Some elective program courses will also require organic chemistry or other advanced biology course work. Please review course descriptions for details.

Application Requirements

Application Deadlines

Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis and typically take four to six weeks. An application is incomplete and will not be reviewed until all of the application requirements have been received or processed. Applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by the following dates:

  • SPRING 2022: DEC. 31, 2021
  • SUMMER 2022: APRIL 30, 2022
  • FALL 2022: JULY 31, 2022
Completed application form

The online application is available online on our Apply page. Applications are ready for review when all fields on the application form are completed and the required documents have been received.

Official transcripts from all previous college work

Transcript from the institution where you received your bachelor's degree or a higher-level degree was conferred. Official transcripts must be sent directly from the registrar to University College. Electronic transcripts should be forwarded to ucollege@wustl.edu. For transcript questions, please contact our Admissions Coordinator, Patricia Agnew, at paagnew@wustl.edu.

Non-United States course work transcript verification
If the transcript you submit for consideration is from a college or university outside the United States, a course by course transcript evaluation is also required. Evaluations will be accepted from World Education Services (WES), Spantran or another member institution of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). For Spantran evaluations, you must use this form


Personal Essay

Tell us about yourself in a brief essay (about 250 words). Why are you applying to University College? What are your goals, both academic and professional? Is there additional information we should know about you when considering your application?

TOEFL/IELTS scores (if applicable)

All international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores at the time of application. The TOEFL, IELTS and Duolingo requirement may be waived for applicants who, immediately prior to their application for admission, have done both of the following:

  • Lived for three years or longer in the United States or another country where English is the primary language of daily life (e.g. Canada or United Kingdom).
  • Completed three or more years of study at a college or university which is located in that country and where the language of instruction is English.

This policy applies to all international students, even those who have earned a degree from a United States college or university.

If an applicant moves away from an English-speaking country after living and studying there for three years or more, TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores are then required for admission. 

Changes to the English Language Proficiency Requirements (2022–23)

Starting January 1, 2022, University College will cease using the temporary testing options that the University added in 2020. The TOEFL ITP Plus and the TOEFL iBT Home, will no longer be accepted. The traditional TOEFL and IELTS exams will continue to be accepted. Also, the Duolingo exam will be accepted as an official option.

For international student application deadlines and fees, please click HERE.

Additional TOEFL and IELTS information for international students adversely affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on University College’s International Student Information webpage.

Three Letters of Recommendation

A college instructor or professional associate should complete letters of recommendation. If an instructor cannot be contacted, applicants may submit a waiver request to provide three professional recommendations. Letters can be submitted through the online application or mailed by the recommender.

Enrolling in University College

We are here for you, every step of the way. Getting started at University College is easy.


Step 1Meet with an Advisor
Schedule an appointment with an advisor online.

Step 2Start Your Application
Applying is easy, and our advisors are here to help you find the path that fits your needs. Apply Today!

Step 3Plan Ahead
Explore ways that can help you afford your education such as tuition payment methods, scholarships and financial aid.  


Take a course today. Apply later.

At University College, students can take courses without applying to a degree program. If you are interested in taking a class to get to know University College, to fulfill credits, for professional development, or to follow a passion, the non-degree option is for you. Learn more.

Our advisors go the extra mile to help you navigate your path and needs. We will provide you with the tools to make each moment spent on your education as valuable as possible. Students will receive:

  • individual appointments with an experienced advisor;
  • career planning services to prepare you for opportunities after graduation;
  • a partner throughout your journey to ensure success.



Student advising is available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.


Schedule an appointment


Students have the freedom to select courses that match their own interests. Students must complete 30 units of graduate course work in the biological sciences, including a required capstone experience.



Students are eligible to complete the Capstone Experience once they have completed 21 units in the program. Options for the capstone are as follows:

  • Complete U29 Bio 401, "Problem-Based Learning in Biomedical Sciences." 
  • Complete a three-unit independent study.
  • Complete a six-unit master's thesis: students with appropriate backgrounds, interests, and academic qualifications may, with authorization, write a master’s thesis based on original library or laboratory research.

Please note—the above options cannot count as the capstone if taken before a student has completed 21 units toward the master’s in biology.

Learn more about the independent study and thesis options.



Admitted students have the option of choosing a concentration in neurobiology for deeper, more focused study. This optional concentration requires 12 units of course work.

Neurobiology is the study of the structure and function of the nervous system, helps prepare students for careers in biomedical fields, including research and clinical practice in medicine, neuroscience, and cognitive science.

Choose four of the following courses:

  • Neurobiology (U29 435)
  • Neural Basis of Behavior (U29 436)
  • Biology of Membranes (U29 4721)
  • Neuroscience: Sensory Systems (U29 478)
  • Synaptic Change in the Nervous System (U29 485)
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