Union to offer new biology master’s degree in fall 2017
By Amanda Vernon (’17)
JACKSON, Tenn. — Union University’s biology department will begin offering a one-year Master of Science in Biology degree in the fall of 2017, transitioning from the current graduate certificate in pre-professional biology.
“We have a number of applicants already, and we’re hopeful it continues to grow,” said Marc Lockett, associate professor of biology and director of graduate programs in biology. “When we initially began, our thought was that our undergrads here on campus would be the majority, and we certainly still welcome them to apply. The reality, though, has been folks off campus showing interest in the program.”
The degree requires 30 credit hours, 13 in the fall and spring and four in January. Students will attend lectures and labs with undergraduate students and also take on additional work and projects, including separate exams. Master’s students will also work with a faculty mentor to complete a year-long non-thesis project.
“I expect them to perform at a higher level,” Lockett said. “For my classes, I have them meet with me personally, in addition to attending lectures. They get a heavier dose of the content and then I talk to them about how to approach problems within the field.”
Lockett said the certificate program has been running for two years and started as a means of transitioning students from undergraduate work into future-directed careers. The competitiveness of the field meant “solid students were having difficulty progressing,” Lockett explained. Discussions with students involved in the program led the department to decide a master’s program could be made available to provide a more tangible result for students’ efforts.
“I’d like to think on some level a master’s will raise our profile as a science department at a Christian school,” Lockett said. “It shows everyone we’re serious about biology.”
The master’s program will be limited to eight graduate students.
“I’m not sure we have the resources currently to get much bigger,” Lockett said. “It’d be great if this really drives some growth, but the ultimate goal is to help improve the students’ foundation in biology.”
The program will offer two tracks: pre-professional and general biology. The pre-professional track is designed for students seeking to be better prepared for their particular health-related professional program. The general biology track is a broader, more customized program for students seeking to further their education or career opportunities through advanced training in biology.
For more information, visit www.uu.edu/msbio.