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Biological Sciences Graduate Programs

The Biologicial Sciences graduate program is designed to allow students, with the guidance of their advisors, to mold and focus their program of study on professional interests and specific needs. Our students can draw from a broad range of graduate courses and select from a diverse and well-trained group of faculty for direction in research


Trafton SouthThe Department of Biological Sciences is located in Trafton Science Center, one of the best science buildings in the state university system. Trafton presents an open, collaborative atmosphere for graduate study and research, and includes well-equipped research and classroom laboratories. Our proximity to other science departments, whose faculty members provide opportunities for multidisciplinary study in chemistry, mathematics, computer science, physics and electrical engineering.

Our modern facility is equipped with 18 research laboratories, plus support areas including: a media kitchen, environmental chambers, an animal-housing complex, a greenhouse, a dishwashing facility, a herbarium, an animal museum and a garage for field equipment. Our equipment is suitable for biological investigations ranging from ecosystem analysis to subcellular physiology.

Graduate Faculty:

The current members of our graduate faculty are listed below along with brief description of their research interests. It is highly recommended that applicants identify and contact a potential research mentor prior to applying.

  • Dr. Michael Bentley - image analysis of kidney vasculature and circulation, in hypertension and other disease conditions
  • Dr. Rachel.Cohen - behavioral physiology
  • Dr. Bradley Cook - wetland ecosystem ecology including the effects of hydrologic connectivity and invasive plants
  • Dr. Shannon Fisher - Aquatic Ecology, Fisheries Biology, Watershed Management, and Biotic Relationships with Water Qaulity Impairments
  • Dr. Geoffrey Goellner - polyglutamine proteins and neurodegenerative disease
  • Dr. Penny Knoblich - physiology of blood flow as it relates to hypertension
  • Dr. John Krenz - Ecology, evolution and behavior of animals
  • Dr. Bethann Lavoie - Science Education: Professional development, assessment, diverse cultures and problem solving
  • Dr. Alison Mahoney - evaluating taxonomic races of plants using field observations, garden experiments, and chromosome counts
  • Dr. Gregg A. Marg - fermentation of lactic acid and its use as industrial feed stock
  • Dr. Steven Mercurio - toxicology of paraquat and prooxidant-induced inflammation; pesticide runoff determination
  • Dr. Beth Proctor - assessing surface water quality and sources of pollution, using chemical and biological monitoring
  • Dr. Christopher T. Ruhland - effects of global climate change on Antarctic ecosystems and the effects of UV light on plant production
  • Dr. Timothy Secott - molecular mechanisms used by mycobacteria to initiate and establish intestinal infections in mammals
  • Dr. David Sharlin - developmental biology, anatomy
  • Dr. Robert Sorensen - ecological and evolutionary interactions between animal parasites and their hosts
  • Dr. Daniel Toma - behavioral genetics
  • Dr. Dorothy M. Wrigley - food borne pathogens; biofilms; development of immunological defenses
  • Dr. Brittany Ziegler - biology education


Approximately 35 graduate teaching assistantships (TA) are available each year to qualified applicants. A minimum 3.0 GPA in undergraduate courses in math, chemistry, biology and physics and a qualifying TOEFL score are required for consideration as a Teaching Assistant (minimum acceptable scores are given below in the Admission Requirements section). Research Assistantships are also offered, depending on external funding. Preference is given to assistantship applications submitted to the Department of Biological Sciences by March 1st. However, applications will be accepted any time for review.

Admission Requirements:

Admission to the Biology MS Program requires that applicants satisfy the minimum requirements for admission to the College of Graduate Studies and Research. In addition, qualified applicants should satisfy the following three requirements for acceptance in the Biology MS Program. It is highly recommended that applicants identify and contact a potential research mentor prior to applying.

  1. Demonstrate proof of meeting the academic requirements for the program by satisfying ONE of the following criteria:
    1. Submit an official transcript signifying that you received a bachelor's degree in Biology or a closely related discipline with a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.00 AND minimum Biology GPA of 3.0; OR
    2. Submit official transcripts showing that you possess a bachelor's degree in a discipline other than Biology but have satisfactorily completed one year of general biology for majors and one course at the 200-level or above in three of the following areas: Genetics, Ecology, Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Physiology (5 courses total). The minimum average GPA for these classes is 3.00; OR
    3. Submit your official scores for the Biology Subject GRE with an overall ranking in the 70th percentile, as a minimum; OR
    4. The graduate committee may consider applicants, who do not meet criteria a-c, on an individual basis with the support of a member of the Graduate Faculty in the Department of Biological Sciences.
  2. Submit a letter to the Department of Biological Sciences describing your interest in our Biology MS program. This letter should succinctly identify your career goals, your research interests, and identify the faculty member(s) with whom you are most interested in pursuing a thesis research project.
  3. International students from a country where English is not the primary language must submit an official internet-based TOEFL (iBT) score with minimum scores of:
  4. •  26 in the speaking component, and
    •  24 in the writing component, and
    •  22 in the reading component, and
    •  22 in the listening component.

    Similar scores from an equivalent English-language competency exam can also be considered.


Students who do not meet the admission requirements, or that do not have an equivalency (a grade of "C" or better) in the core courses required for admission, have a scholastic deficiency (listed on your acceptance letter). Deficiencies can be corrected by

  1. Formal coursework, OR      
  2. Approved examination (with a grade of "C" or better) given by the instructor responsible for the course related to the deficiency.

Undergraduate courses taken to correct a deficiency will not count toward the graduate degree. 

Any graduate course designated as a deficiency may be applied toward the graduate degree, provided it is first approved by the student's advisor, the Biology Graduate Committee, and the Biology Department Chairperson.

Your application will not be considered complete until all required items have been received.

 All application materials should be sent directly to: 

    College of Graduate Studies & Research
     Minnesota State University Mankato
     Alumni and Foundation Center Room 115
     Mankato, MN 56001

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