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Graduate Course Catalog 2016-2017

Graduate School


Biological Sciences (BSCI)


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Faculty Listing: For a list of current faculty please visit the Biological Sciences website.

See below for descriptions of courses available to students in the Biological Sciences program:

Animal and Nutritional Science
Earth, Oceans and Space
Natural Resources
Plant Biology

Degrees Offered: M.S., Ph.D.

The Biological Sciences Graduate Program offers M.S. and Ph.D. degrees with options in Agricultural Sciences, Integrative and Organismal Biology, and Marine Biology.

Agricultural Sciences (AS). This option is intended for students interested in careers in agriculture and aquaculture-related fields, particularly in linking the diverse components of agricultural production systems. The option centers on basic and applied research on agriculturally relevant plants, microbes and animals, both terrestrial and aquatic, spanning genetics, physiology, biotic and abiotic stresses, environmental interactions, production systems, and cultural practices. Students in agricultural sciences will acquire a broad knowledge of agricultural production, with strong emphasis on improving productivity and overall sustainability while minimizing environmental impacts. Within this overarching theme, students will conduct focused research in one or more of the following areas: controlled environment agriculture; integrated agricultural production systems; agricultural nutrient capture and reuse; aquaculture of freshwater and marine plants and animals; agroecology; dairy nutrition and reproductive management; equine management; crop production; integrated pest management; agricultural biotechnology; plant breeding, genetics, and genomics; and/or plant pathology. The agricultural sciences option prepares students to become experts in professional fields related to agriculture, and leaders in collaborative and interdisciplinary efforts to address local, regional, national and/or global agricultural issues. Students may pursue careers in teaching and/or research in federal, state, and private organizations.

Integrative and Organismal Biology (IOB). This option offers a home to students interested in basic organismal biology in all of its diverse aspects (physiology, neurobiology, cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology, systematics, etc.), in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. Modern biology employs approaches and tools ranging from molecular to ecological levels to gain a deep understanding of organismal functions and adaptations. Students in IOB approach their studies with a focus on organisms, and apply whatever tools are necessary to answer thematic and specific questions. Students interested in combining hands-on biological projects with research on teaching and learning biology at the post-secondary level should choose this option, unless their intended projects have a specifically agricultural or marine focus. Students completing degrees in IOB will be prepared for a wide range of professional careers in animal and/or plant biology, whether in academia, government, research, or non-profit organizations

Marine Biology (MB). This option is intended for students interested in marine, coastal, and estuarine ecosystems, and the organisms that inhabit them, at all levels of inquiry. Some faculty at UNH study/use marine organisms as model systems for learning about molecular phylogeny, cellular metabolism, cancer and neurobiology, and others are more interested in the structure and function of marine ecosystems. Some faculty members focus primarily on basic research; others work in more applied areas such as aquaculture and fisheries; many combine the two. Students who have earned advanced degrees at UNH have gone on to lead agencies involved in managing valuable marine resources, teach marine biology at other universities and colleges, own their own aquaculture companies, or earn a living conducting research in marine sciences. In addition to on-campus facilities, UNH owns the Coastal Marine Laboratory and the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory, and a range of vessels associated with each laboratory. UNH has an excellent SCUBA diving program for students interested in becoming certified to dive as part of their research. The Marine Biology option is also affiliated with UNH’s School of Marine Sciences and Ocean Engineering (

Related programs. Students interested in fields of investigation such as molecular biology and genomics should also review the graduate programs in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Biomedical Sciences, including Genetics and Molecular & Evolutionary Systems Biology (; those interested in Ecosystems, Wildlife and Forestry should review graduate programs in the Department of Natural Resources (, including Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science (NRESS) (

Admission Requirements

Applicants ordinarily will have completed an undergraduate major in biology or a related field. A basic array of courses including general biology, development, ecology, genetics, morphology, and physiology is recommended; applicants should have completed organic chemistry and a semester each of calculus and physics. Applicants whose preparation does not meet these criteria can be admitted to graduate status, but may need to remedy any deficiencies via courses that do not give graduate credit. Applicants must submit scores from the general test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), taken within the past five years. The GRE subject test is not required.

All applicants are strongly encouraged to communicate with potential advisors as part of the application process. Identifying an advisor is normally a prerequisite for admission.



M.S. Biological Sciences

Students plan a program of study in conjunction with their advisor and Master’s Thesis Committee, including the required core courses and competencies. Completion of at least 30 credits, including research credits, is required. A thesis proposal is developed within the first year. Students complete thesis research for 6 to 10 credits; the degree is completed when results are acceptable, a formal thesis presentation and defense has occurred, and the thesis is approved by the Master’s Thesis Committee and accepted by the Graduate School.

Ph.D. Biological Sciences

Students work with their advisor and their Doctoral Guidance Committee to plan a program of study including the required core courses and competencies, and develop a viable research proposal. The Guidance Committee is normally established by the end of the first semester, and should meet by the end of the second semester. The student presents to the Guidance Committee a preliminary research proposal in which the soundness, originality, and feasibility of the planned research are clearly described. The Guidance Committee is responsible for approving the proposal, and also oversees the qualifying examination through which the student is admitted to doctoral candidacy. The Doctoral Dissertation Committee is established at this point. To earn the Ph.D. degree, students must complete an original dissertation project, present the results at a public seminar, pass an oral dissertation defense consisting of questions from members of the Dissertation Committee, and have the dissertation approved by the Dissertation Committee and accepted by the Graduate School.

Degree Requirements

A common set of policies and guidelines applies to all three Biological Sciences degree options (AS, IOB, and MB). Additional option-specific course recommendations or requirements may be established by the faculty within each option.


Number of credits required:

The M.S. degree requires completion of a minimum of 30 credits, 6-10 of which may be earned for thesis research (BIOL 899). There is no specific credit requirement for the Ph.D., though students must take all required core courses. The Biological Sciences Program specifies 4 credits’ worth of required courses (BIOL 901 and 903, 2 credits each); most students use 6 more credits to satisfy competencies in experimental design/analysis (BIOL 811 or 933, 4 credits) and in writing/communication (BIOL 902 or LSA 950, 2 credits), though these competencies may also be fulfilled by other graduate coursework approved by the student’s committee.

Up to 8 credits of graduate credit from another institution may be transferred, provided the credits were not counted toward another degree, and the course grade was a B or higher. Petitions requesting transfer credit must be supported by the advisor and graduate committee, and approved by the UNH Graduate School.

Required courses, competencies, and electives:

All students in the Biological Sciences Graduate Program are required to take both core courses and fulfill the two competency requirements.


1. Core Courses.

a. Introductory Graduate Seminar (BIOL 901). This first-semester course focuses on key information and skills for a successful transition into the graduate program, familiarizing students with program requirements and faculty and providing an opportunity to meet others in their cohort.

b. Graduate Research Techniques (BIOL 903). Normally taken in the second semester, this course introduces students to diverse research approaches, tools, and facilities within the program. Content will vary to align with the needs and specializations of each cohort of graduate students.


2. Competencies in (a) experimental design and analysis, and (b) scientific writing/communication. These may be fulfilled by previous graduate coursework (as determined by the student’s advisor and committee), or by taking one graduate-level course in each area.

a. Two advanced courses in experimental design and analysis are offered, normally in alternate years. The first is Applied Biostatistics II (BIOL 811), and the second is Design, Analysis and Interpretation of Experiments (BIOL 933). Either course, or an equivalent approved by the student’s advisor and committee, can be used to fulfill this competency requirement.

b. Scientific Writing (BIOL 902) is taught fall semester, and open to students at any stage of the program. Scientific Communication (LSA 950) is usually taught in spring. Either course, or an equivalent approved by the student’s advisor and committee, can be used to fulfill this competency requirement.


3. Electives. Students will work with their advisor and committee to identify additional courses appropriate for their area of specialization and their career objectives.


Additional information/requirements

All students in the Biological Sciences Program are expected to present their research in public seminars (including the UNH Graduate Research Conference), and acquire teaching and/or mentoring experience.

A summary of M.S. and Ph.D. degree requirements is available at , along with the program’s graduate handbook, which includes expectations, guidelines, and detailed policies.

Research and Facilities

The Biological Sciences graduate program is enhanced by research in other departments and institutes across the University.


These include the School for Marine Sciences and Ocean Engineering ( and its associated programs and facilities: N.H. Sea Grant Program (; the Center for Collaborative Science (; the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS) (; the UNH Center for Coastal and Ocean Mapping (CCOM) (; the Joint Hydrographic Center (; and the Ocean Processes Analysis Laboratory (OPAL) ( There are five marine laboratories: Jackson Estuarine Lab (, Judd Gregg Marine Research Complex (, Anadromous Fish and Aquatic Invertebrate Research Lab (AFAIR) (, the Aquaculture Research Center (ARC) (, and the Shoals Marine Laboratory (SML) ( The Center for Freshwater Biology (CFB) ( jointly administers (with the UNH Cooperative Extension) the Lakes Lay Monitoring Program (, which is dedicated to the preservation and sound management of lakes through citizen-based monitoring and research.

The New Hampshire Agricultural Experiment Station ( supports a range of basic and applied research – including graduate student assistantships – as part of its mission “to [generate] knowledge and technology to support a highly diversified agricultural and natural resource system that produces, processes and delivers food, fiber, forest products, and myriad environmental services for our the context of protecting environmental quality, and helping to maintain the viability of rural communities.” ( facilities include the Keener Dairy Research Building, Fairchild Dairy Teaching and Research Center (, Burley-DeMerritt Organic Dairy Research Farm (, Woodman Horticultural Research Farm ( and Kingman Farm ( along with other outlying fields and forests. Additional research in plant biology and agriculture is carried out in the Macfarlane Research Greenhouses ( and the Hogdon Herbarium ( ).

The Hubbard Center for Genomic Studies ( provides training and research in comparative and environmental genomics, with a special emphasis on novel model species. It provides expertise in constructing DNA libraries, DNA sequencing, fragment analysis, and the analysis of gene expression.

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