Biology, MS

Master of Science Degree in Biology

University of Nebraska at Kearney

  • Fully Online
  • 36
    Credits
  • $315.00
    In-State
  • $562.00
    Out-of-State

Program Overview

The online Master of Science in Biology equips students with foundational knowledge in biology, with elective courses that can be customized to career interests. With the breadth and depth of course options, the program helps students get to where they want to go.

The online Biology, MS allows students to:

  • Earn their degree fully online with no on-campus requirements.
  • Conduct their own hands-on independent research with faculty guidance.
  • Pick times convenient for them to log-in to classes.
  • Choose from over 50 elective course offerings.
  • Customize the program to fit their goals and interests.

Past students have used the program to:

  • Gain classroom content or teach at a community college.
  • Develop advanced knowledge in their roles as fisheries, wildlife or conservation biologists.
  • Advance their careers in pharmaceutical and health care professionals.
  • Prepare for professional schools or doctoral programs in biology fields.

Students choose this program because:

  • The Department of Biology at the University of Nebraska at Kearney has established itself as a nationwide leader in the successful delivery of its online biology graduate degree program.
  • Faculty members are energetic and willing to explore a wide variety of research interests.
  • An interdisciplinary study emphasizes collaborations aimed at solving modern biological problems.
  • Extensive course offerings including physiology, genetics, cellular and molecular biology, ecology, evolution, environmental and organismal biology and biological tools and applications.
  • A low student-to-faculty ratio assures the individual guidance necessary for positive individual experiences and successful completion of the program.
  • This program is typically structured as a non-thesis program, which is generally considered a terminal degree. For students considering continuing their education into a doctoral program, the Biology adviser will work with you to develop a program of study to suit this goal. Graduates of this online Biology, MS program have successfully gone on to Ph.D. programs at other institutions.

Non-thesis Only: This program is typically structured as a non-thesis program, which is generally considered a terminal degree. For students considering continuing their education into a doctoral program, the Biology, MS adviser will work with you to develop a program of study to suit this goal. Graduates of this online Biology, MS program have successfully gone on to Ph.D. programs at other institutions.

Career Outlook: The field of biology is varied, and so are the career opportunities.

The Biology, MS program prepares students for many different career fields including:

  • Teaching
  • Science outreach and education
  • Environmental science
  • Health-related fields
  • Wildlife biology
  • Genetic research
  • Pharmaceutical research
  • Conservation biology
  • Food science research
  • And more

Admissions and Requirements

To be accepted to this program, you must have:

  1. A Bachelor's degree

    Bachelor's degree in Biology. If the bachelor's degree was not in biology, applicants must have completed at least 24 undergraduate credit hours of biology coursework.

  2. 2.75 GPA or above on a 4.0 scale

  3. A written personal statement

    The letter of intent should be a concise essay (one to two pages) concerning career goals and identification of the means by which the student proposes to achieve these goals. Accomplishments toward these goals should be included.

  4. Official transcripts from all previous schools

  5. If applicant has an undergraduate GPA of less than 2.75 a GRE score of 290 combined verbal/quantitative may use in substitution

NOTE: This program is authorized, exempt, or not subject to state regulatory compliance and may enroll students from all 50 states

To apply to this program:

  1. Complete and submit the online application for admissions
  2. Pay the $45 non-refundable application fee

Courses You’ll Take

Core Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
BIOL 820Intro to Graduate Study3
An introduction to graduate study and requirements at UNK with emphasis on research methods and biological techniques for the professional teacher and biologist. Students will gain an appreciation for the scientific method by formulating good scientific questions including sound null and alternative hypotheses, design experimental methods addressing the hypotheses and propose appropriate statistical tests for evaluation and results. Students will practice the art of locating and understanding scientific literature. In addition, students will engage in scientific writing which will include the submission of a research proposal. The student is encouraged to take this course during his/her first nine hours of graduate work in Biology. Prerequisites: Biology Majors or permission. The student is encouraged to take this course during their first 9 hours of graduate work in Biology.
BIOL 827Biological Statistics3
This class is divided into two main areas. The first is biological statistics: the collection and analysis of scientific data. The second area is experimental design: how an experimental hypothesis is built and what are the pieces and procedures needed to conduct a successful experiment. The class is not mathematically intensive and relies on the power of computers beyond a few examples done by hand. The class includes both parametric and non-parametric statistics with continuous and categorical variables.
BIOL 881Current Issues in Biology1
This course will expose the student to many different biological research topics, stimulate discussion on these topics, promote awareness of current issues in biology, help students critically analyze relevant and contemporary primary literature and ensure students are able to prepare appropriate presentations for scientific meetings. (3 credits needed in total).
BIOL 802Organic Evolution3
This course is an overview of the basic concepts in evolutionary biology with a focus on pattern and process through the use of examples. Molecular and organismal data will be examined.

Elective Courses

Course NumberCourse NameCredits
BIOL 801Principles of Immunology3
An in-depth discussion of the principles of modern immunology. Major topics of discussion will include: cellular components of the immune system; antibody structure, function and synthesis; function of cytokines and complement; MHC structure and function; and the immune system and disease. A competent background in cell biology and/or biochemistry and microbiology is strongly recommended. Offered online, every Spring.
HORT 842BPlant Physiology3
Life processes of plants, with an emphasis on water relations and hormonal and stress physiology. Includes fundamental concepts underlying the science of crop physiology, including crop phenology, canopy development and light interception, photosynthesis and respiration, and dry matter partitioning. The course is taught by faculty from the University of Nebraska-Kearney, and will be offered in the fall semester of even-numbered calendar years. To enroll, students must be accepted into the horticulture graduate certificate program or get permission.
BIOL 804Evolution of Epidemics3
Through videotaped lectures, reading and writing assignments, and online discussions, students will develop an understanding of the origin and the evolution of plagues. We will illustrate the techniques humans have to defend against epidemics and will speculate about their role in shaping humanity and our futures. Offered online, Spring of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 805PRange and Wildlife Management3
Basic principles of range and pasture management for use by domestic livestock and wildlife.
BIOL 806PPlant Ecology3
A study of plants in relation to their environment. Offered online, Spring of even-numbered years.
BIOL 811Scientific Illustration3
An introduction to the discipline of scientific illustration. Students will learn the fundamental principles of creating effective illustrations for the purpose of communicating science. A limited set of media types, both traditional and digital will be explored. The main focus will be on creating the best images for use in research, teaching, journal publications, presentations, and other applications. Copyright and other legal issues will also be discussed. A basic knowledge of biological concepts is useful; artistic ability not required. Offered online, every Spring.
BIOL 812Microbial Diversity3
Microbes are the most abundant and diverse organisms on Earth. Collectively, they play critical roles in biogeochemical cycling, human health, and food production. This course will explore the evolutionary and ecological processes that generate and maintain microbial diversity. Students will also be exposed to molecular and bioinformatic approaches that are used to study microorganisms in a variety of habitats, including freshwater, marine and terrestrial. Offered online.
BIOL 813Issues in Bioethics3
Bioethics is the study of ethical controversies in both biology and medicine. Science has progressed significantly in the last century and with this progress has come ethical questions. The intent of this course is to focus on a variety of issues that have arisen, including, but not limited to, assisted reproductive technologies, sex selection, cloning, and stem cell research to name a few. Offered online, every Spring.
BIOL 814Plant Pathology3
The course focuses on the biology of plant pathogen interactions. Students will gain an in-depth knowledge of the disease processes of a large variety of plant diseases at both the whole plant and the molecular level. Emphasis is also placed on current issues and topics in plant pathology in independent research review projects. Offered online, Spring of even-numbered years.
BIOL 823Environmental Biology3
Environmental biology focuses on the interface of human activity and the natural biological world. The impacts of humans on biogeochemical cycles, ecosystems, and individual species are examined. The role of governmental policies and politics is a part of this discipline and is reviewed. Recent scientific research and reports are used to predict what the future challenges are to humans and organisms in the face of the rapid changes brought about by human activity. Offered online, Fall of even-numbered years.
BIOL 824Principles of Ecology3
Ecology is the study of how species interact with each other and with their abiotic environment. There are many disciplines within ecology that we will touch on, including marine ecology, ecological physiology, population biology, and community ecology. This class will summarize current ecological knowledge, and students will read a number of classic papers in the field. Offered online, Spring of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 826PHuman Dimensions3
Various approaches to understand humans’ attitudes and behaviors toward wildlife, fisheries, and nature. The course is organized around three major sections: psychology, sociology, and economics.
BIOL 828Human Evolution3
Human evolution has been an interest of humans probably ever since people could think about the idea. This course examines the current state of scientific knowledge of human origins. The class will focus primarily on anthropological evidence, but also include genetic and behavioral information. The class is primarily a reading and discussion course. Offered online, Spring of even-numbered years.
BIOL 830PAnimal Community Ecology3
This course examines the concepts and controversies in modern community ecology emphasizing aquatic and terrestrial animals. Covers the community concept, diversity and stability, null models, relative importance of competition and predation, food webs, disturbance, metapopulations, biogeography, and new directions through a combination of video lectures, reading scientific papers, and discussions.
BIOL 830PAvian Life History3
This course is an investigation of the major life history stages of birds. We will discuss topics including: evolution of birds, reproduction, migration, flight, and a variety of current topics in ornithology. Assigned readings from the scientific literature, exams, inquiry based activities/assignments, and online discussions will be used to explore these topics. Plan to spend several hours each week on reading, writing, responding to topic discussions, and participating in activities.
BIOL 830PComparative Vertebrate Anatomy3
Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy studies the diversity of vertebrate morphology with a focus on structure-function relationships. Differences in the vertebrate form will be examined by comparing primitive traits to derived traits in modern and extinct vertebrate animals.
BIOL 830PDesert Biology3
From plants to animals, from rivers that flow through arid lands to desert oases, from plant-animal interactions to ecosystem functions, from exotic species to keystone species, from climate to precipitation, we will survey different topics related to desert biology. I will select some topics but others will be of your interests. We will discuss potential topics in the first weeks of the class.
BIOL 830PEvolutionary Medicine3
This course is an introduction to evolutionary medicine. It will consist of three parts: an overview of basic principles of evolutionary biology, application of these principles to understanding human disease, and finally a discussion of the application of evolution to medical practice and public health.
BIOL 830PGrassland Ecology3
Broadly defined, grassland ecosystems occupy approximately 40% of the terrestrial surface of the Earth. These systems evolved and have been maintained by interactions between periodic droughts, recurrent fire, and herbivory. They also have a long history of use by humans for production of food and, more recently, energy. This course is intended to provide you with an understanding of the physiological, population, community, and ecosystem processes that characterize grassland systems, as well as the roles of fire and grazing in their maintenance. You will also learn about current issues in grassland ecology dealing with land use change, species invasions, and climate change.
BIOL 830PHuman Microbiome3
The human microbiome can be described as the catalog of human-associated microorganisms and their genes. The microbiome has been implicated in a wide array of human traits – from susceptibility to disease to mental health. In this course, we will explore the characteristics of the human microbiome, with an emphasis on the connection between the microbiome and human health. This will be explored through lectures, readings and discussions.
BIOL 830PThe Predator Paradox3
Stories of cat-eating coyotes and backyard bears are becoming increasingly common. Farmers trying to protect their livestock from wolves aren’t the only ones concerned, as city dwellers and suburbanites are also having more contact with mammalian predators. As the edge between animal habitat and humans fades, preventing human-wildlife conflict depends as much on changing our own attitudes, perceptions, and actions as on changing animal behavior. This course focuses on the facts and presents a variety of tools for consideration, while arguing for the possibility of coexistence: between ranchers and environmentalists, wildlife managers and animal-welfare activists, and humans and animals.
BIOL 830PQuantitative Fish and Wildlife Analysis3
Review of study designs and statistical analyses commonly used in field- and laboratory-based wildlife and fisheries research.
BIOL 830PVaccines: Concepts and Controversies3
In this course, we will cover the basic and advanced concepts related to vaccines and immunizations and how the immune system mounts responses to vaccines to establish protective immunity. We will discuss the different ways society views vaccines, paying attention to the current anti-vaccination movement, and how social media has impacted the spread of anti-vaccine propaganda. Importantly, we will investigate strategies on how to promote vaccination as an important tool to protect our society against disease. To obtain a deeper understanding of concepts and controversies related to vaccines, we will investigate the current pandemic and the future of vaccines.
BIOL 831A-FBiological Research 1 - 6
The goal of this course is to acquaint a student with research associated with the biological sciences. After completing six hours, a student will have a thorough literature review, have designed a novel set of experiments, created research materials and methods, collected and analyzed data, and a written final report in a format agreed upon by the student and the advisor. This course requires permission to register. Offered online, every semester.
BIOL 834Conservation Biology3
An overview of conservation biology and its importance. Special emphasis is placed on ecological, economic, and social issues relevant to biological rarity. Offered online, Spring of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 836Biology of Size3
This class examines the importance of size for biological organisms from bacteria to blue whales, microcosms to large-scale communities. Often in biology we fail to consider the importance of physical laws which determine rates of diffusion and heat transfer, transfer of force and momentum, the strength of structures, the dynamics of locomotion and more. This class attempts to rectify this oversight with readings and lectures examining the impacts of being a given size. Offered online, Summer of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 837Reproductive Physiology3
This course discusses the role of hormones in regulating reproduction in mammals, with an emphasis in humans. Topics to be covered include: 1) sexual differentiation of the brain, 2) spermatogenesis and oogenesis, 3) pregnancy, parturition, and lactation, and 4) fertility and sexually transmitted diseases. Background in anatomy and physiology is recommended. Offered online, every Summer.
BIOL 838Essential Human Anatomy3
Human anatomy including essential aspects of functional morphology will be covered. Topics covered may include the integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, urinary, digestive and reproductive systems. Detailed discussion of specific anatomical regions will be required. Offered online, every Fall and Spring.
BIOL 839Human Physiological Systems3
General human physiology will be studied with an emphasis on systems. The integumentary, skeletal, muscular, nervous, endocrine, circulatory, lymphatic, respiratory, urinary, digestive, immune and reproductive systems will be discussed. Salient mechanical, physical and biochemical processes of organs, tissues and cells will be covered. Anatomy will be included at a level necessary to make sense of the system's function. Offered online, every Fall and Spring.
BIOL 840Infectious Diseases3
This course is an introduction to medical microbiology with coverage of viral, bacterial, fungal, and protozoan disease causing microorganisms. It will cover the basic mechanisms of infection, disease progression, and immune response. It is strongly suggested that students have taken an introductory microbiology course before taking this class.
BIOL 841Virology3
An in-depth discussion of the principles of modern virology. Major topics of discussion will include: virus replication strategies, virus structure, virus infection and disease, and host resistance to disease. Offered online, every Spring.
BIOL 824PWildlife and Fisheries Laws and Policies3
Evolution of laws relating to fish and wildlife with a particular focus on major federal legislation, federal versus state jurisdiction, fishing and hunting rights, and other topics.
BIOL 843Cell Structure and Function3
This course will cover current topics in eukaryotic Biology including functions of the membrane, cell organelle functions, cell signaling, cell cycle, and cell movement. This course will also cover the involvement of specific cell organelles and cell functions in human diseases. Offered online, Spring of even-numbered years.
BIOL 844Molecular Biotechnology3
The course will consist of a short review of pertinent principles in protein structure and function, enzyme mechanisms and kinetics, and the basics of the genetic dogma and recombinant DNA technology. The bulk of the course will be made up of a topical consideration of subjects in bio­technology such as: the production of protein pharmaceuticals, genetic engineering of animals and plants, and cloning of organisms. Special consideration will be given to the molecular mechanisms behind the processes discussed. Offered online, Spring of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 845Forensic Biology3
This course will be a wide consideration of all aspects of Forensic Biology ranging from general considerations to the latest in molecular techniques. We will also review current literature, discuss case studies, and look at some mass market publications on crime scene investigation. Offered online, every Summer.
BIOL 846Cancer Biology3
This course is designed as a survey of the current state of knowledge in the cellular and molecular biology of cancer processes. The students will also review current literature in cancer biology by analyzing and critiquing current articles. Offered online, every Fall.
BIOL 854Biological Application of GIS3
This class introduces students to Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and associated concepts and technologies. The class curriculum includes an introduction to (and temporary license for) the ArcGIS GIS software package, cartographic principles, online GIS data sources, and the functioning of Global Positioning System (GPS). Particular attention will be paid to organizing GIS data into appropriate data structures and the completion of independent research projects. The independent projects have been found to be a crucial component for becoming familiar with much of the material covered in the class. No prior experience with GIS or GPS software or GPS receivers is expected. Offered online, Fall of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 857Human Histology3
Histology is also called micro-anatomy. This course examines animal bodies on the tissue and cellular level. Most examples will be from human anatomy. Basic tissue types will be studied as well as organ structure and function. As a distance class, micropictographs will be used (not glass slides) from the web, as well as from an assigned textbook. No prior experience with histology is expected. Offered online, every Summer.
BIOL 858Physiology of Stress3
An examination of how living organisms cope with short- and long-term exposure to extreme environmental conditions related to nutrient and water availability, temperature, and pressure. A basic understanding of organismal physiology is required. Offered online, every Summer.
BIOL 859Biology of the Brain3
This course will focus on the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and will include gross anatomical features and landmarks of the cerebral hemispheres, diencephalons, brainstem, cerebellum and spinal cord. Physiological aspects will include the generation and modification of action potentials as well as normal functions of the specific regions of the central nervous system. Selected abnormal functions will also be studied. The interdependency of the central nervous system to itself (various pathways between the spinal cord and within the brain) as well as to the peripheral nervous system and select organ systems will complete the focus of the course. It is recommended that students have taken anatomy and physiology before enrolling in this course. Offered online, Fall of even-numbered years.
BIOL 860Concepts of Genetics3
Application based course covering the classical and molecular principles of inheritance. Concepts covered include various historical concepts surrounding transmission, molecular, and population genetics, current state of the discipline, and the future outlook for the field. Students are required to demonstrate their knowledge and critical thinking skills through quizzes, tests and writing assignments. Offered online, Fall of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 861PHuman Genetics3
The course focuses on contemporary human genetics with emphasis on genetic diseases. A study of the genetic basis and frequency of genetic defects in man and genetic counseling. Offered online, Fall of even-numbered years.
BIOL 862PAnimal Behavior3
An introduction to the science of ethology. The course will examine behavior genetics, physiology of behavior, ecology of behavior, and the evolution of behavior. Offered online, Summer of even-numbered years.
BIOL 863Biological Perspectives3
A review of the major advances in biology from the ancients to the present, with emphasis on paradigm shifts and science as a human endeavor. Offered online, every Summer.
BIOL 866Functional Morphology3
A study of structure, form, and function of morphological adaptations in plants and animals as examined through mechanical, ecological, and evolutionary perspectives. This course will investigate the form and functions of organisms largely by examination of the scientific literature. Offered online, Spring of odd-numbered years.
BIOL 869Conservation of Birds and Mammals3
"Wildlife" is defined as wild birds and wild mammals. It does not include other vertebrates (fish, amphibians, or reptiles), nor does it include invertebrate animals. This is a course about the Principles of Wildlife Conservation, and is not specifically about wildlife management, or even wildlife ecology. However, both these latter subjects will be examined briefly. Wildlife conservation usually involves as much if not more of the following disciplines than it involves biology: history, sociology, and politics. It is recommended that you have taken a course in ecology and statistics before enrolling in this course.
BIOL 870Insect Biology3
An introduction to insects and related arthropods. Emphasis is placed on morphology, physiology, taxonomy and ecology of insects.
BIOL 876Natural Science Curriculum3
For practicing science teachers. Emphasis on scientific literacy and the alignment of K-12 science curricula with state and national standards and benchmarks. Offered online on demand.
BIOL 877Writing in the Sciences2
Academic writing in the sciences can be a daunting solitary endeavor. It is the hope of this course to take away the fear of the blank page and help to engage the class with a sense of community that is inherently beneficial to the writing process. This course is particularly geared towards students who have been away from academic writing for many years, or perhaps decades. This will be an introduction into this type of writing, complete with an overview of the materials available to you as a distance student. The primary purpose of this course is to improve your written communications skills. We will focus on your ability to prepare and write technical papers in a professional scientific format. A crucial part of learning to write technical papers is reading them and practicing writing them yourself. Plan to spend at least several hours each week on reading, writing, and practicing the skills we cover in this course. Offered online, Fall of even-numbered years.
BIOL 883Aquatic Trophic Ecology3
This course was developed to provide a thorough examination of the interactions between abiotic and biotic components of freshwater ecosystems incorporating both theoretical and applied aspects of aquatic food web management. Major themes of the course will include nutrient cycling, trophic state and eutrophication, predation and food webs, and fisheries ecology. Selected scientific literature and text readings will stress professional differences of opinion during discussion of topics, which is intended to guide students toward an understanding that ecological principles rarely are simple and that current dogma can at times be incorrect or incomplete. Finally, this course is directed at improving student communication (written and electronic information/technology based) and critical thinking skills. Offered online, Spring of even-numbered years.
BIOL 884Freshwater Management Techniques3
Through videotaped lectures, reading and writing assignments, and on-line discussions, students will be introduced to both freshwater ecosystems and fishery management. Students will learn to analyze freshwater management problems using multiple techniques, to suggest alternative approaches, and to identify consequences of those approaches. Offered online, Fall of even-numbered years.
BIOL 887Fisheries Ecology3
This course was developed to provide a thorough examination of both theoretical and applied aspects of fisheries ecology. Major themes of the course will include individual ecology (feeding, growth, and reproduction), population ecology, and community ecology (predation and competition). Selected scientific literature and text readings will stress professional differences of opinion during discussion of topics, which is intended to guide students toward an understanding that ecological principles rarely are simple and that current dogma can at times be incorrect or incomplete. Finally, this course is directed at improving student communication (written and electronic information/technology based) and critical thinking skills. Offered online, Summer of odd-numbered years.

Tuition & Fees

Nebraska Residents

Per Credit Hour

Tuition
$315.00
Fees
$52.25
Total
$367.25

3 Credit Hours

Tuition
$945.00
Fees
$156.75
Total
$1101.75

Out of State Residents

Per Credit Hour

Tuition
$562.00
Fees
$52.25
Total
$614.25

3 Credit Hours

Tuition
$1686.00
Fees
$156.75
Total
$1842.75
Austin S. Nuxoll, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Austin Nuxoll’s research interests include microbial pathogenesis and recalcitrant infections. Specifically, lab studies regarding antibiotic tolerance in Staphylococcus aureus with a focus on the underlying role the metabolism plays in these bacteria tolerating antibiotics and components of the innate immune system. Nuxoll’s research has been published in mBio, Nature Microbiology and Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy.

Application Deadlines
  • Fall SemesterJul 10
  • Spring SemesterNov 10
  • Summer SessionsApr 10