Biological Sciences: Integrative and Organismal Biology (M.S.)

Biological Sciences: Integrative and Organismal Biology (M.S.)

student marking bird

Why get a master’s degree in integrative and organismal biology?

Integrative and organismal biologists study organisms from the molecular to ecological levels to gain a deep understanding of their functions and adaptations. This M.S. degree will let you focus on all aspects of organismal biology — physiology, neurobiology, behavior, cell biology, genetics, evolution, ecology and systematics — in both terrestrial and aquatic environments. Our program graduates are prepared for professional careers in animal and/or plant biology in academia, government, research and nonprofit organizations.

Why choose UNH for your degree? 

At UNH you’ll be supported by a productive and internationally recognized faculty and outstanding laboratory facilities as you advance toward either a professional career or doctoral studies. Our main campus in Durham is located near the White Mountains and the Atlantic Ocean with access to a diverse array of terrestrial, marine and freshwater field sites, and hosts several cooperative research institutes such as the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, the NH Agricultural Experiment Station, and the Leitzel Center for Mathematics, Science, and Engineering Education. We’re ranked among the nation’s highest performing research universities, having earned a Carnegie Classification R1. 

Potential career areas

  • Biological research
  • Biotechnology
  • Conservation biology 
  • Education (K12, college, university)
  • Genetics
  • Government research
  • Medical research
  • Neurobiology
  • Nonprofit organizations 
  • Veterinary research
  • Wildlife biology

Contact

Nathan Furey

Pronouns: He/him/his
ASSISTANT PROFESSOR
Phone: (603) 862-0675
Office: Biological Sciences, Spaulding Hall Rm 134, Durham, NH 03824

Department of Biological Sciences
University of New Hampshire
Spaulding Hall
38 Academic Way
Durham, NH 03824
(603) 862-4400

Request Information

We use text messages to communicate important event and application information (msg and data rates may apply).



  • From First-Gen College Student to Accomplished Scientist and Professor
    Easton White is an assistant professor in COLSA’s department of biological sciences, and he runs the Quantitative Marine Ecology Lab.
    From First-Gen College Student to Accomplished Scientist and Professor
    Easton White is an assistant professor in COLSA’s department of biological sciences, and he runs the Quantitative Marine Ecology Lab.
  • The Impact of Human-Induced Noise on Animals
    New research from Nicole Abate ‘20G that examines the effects of different types of noise on crickets’ movement and mating  was recently published in Metaleptea, the orthopterists’ society’s newsletter.
    The Impact of Human-Induced Noise on Animals
    New research from Nicole Abate ‘20G that examines the effects of different types of noise on crickets’ movement and mating  was recently published in Metaleptea, the orthopterists’ society’s newsletter.
  • UNH students play key role in COVID-19 fight
    A team of UNH students have stepped into vital positions to bolster UNH’s battle against the coronavirus. They put in 10-hour shifts this summer when tests needed to be administered and processed quickly, and they continue to administer weekly tests for faculty and staff.
    UNH students play key role in COVID-19 fight
    A team of UNH students have stepped into vital positions to bolster UNH’s battle against the coronavirus. They put in 10-hour shifts this summer when tests needed to be administered and processed quickly, and they continue to administer weekly tests for faculty and staff.
  • At work on the leading edge
    Alyssa Stasse, a graduate student in integrative and organismal biology, is working as a lab technician at UNH's state-of-the-art on-campus COVID-19 diagnostic lab.
    At work on the leading edge
    Alyssa Stasse, a graduate student in integrative and organismal biology, is working as a lab technician at UNH's state-of-the-art on-campus COVID-19 diagnostic lab.
  • Dept. Faculty Offer Cheers and Good Wishes
    The Department of Biological Sciences wants to make sure all its 2020 graduates know that the faculty are thinking of them as they celebrate their achievements and look forward to what's next.
    Dept. Faculty Offer Cheers and Good Wishes
    The Department of Biological Sciences wants to make sure all its 2020 graduates know that the faculty are thinking of them as they celebrate their achievements and look forward to what's next.

Curriculum & Requirements

The Integrative and Organismal Biology (IOB) option offers a home to students interested in basic organismal biology in all of its diverse aspects (physiology, neurobiology, behavior, 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. 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 non­profit organizations.

M.S. Degree Requirements

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.

A common set of policies and guidelines applies to both Biological Sciences degree options (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 Master's Thesis ). The Biological Sciences Program specifies 2 credits’ worth of required coursework (BIOL 901 Introductory Graduate Seminar); most students use 6 more credits to satisfy the competency requirement in experimental design/analysis (BIOL 811 Experimental Design & Analysis or ANFS 933 Design, Analysis, and Interpretation of Experiments, 4 credits) and recommended coursework in writing/communication (BIOL 902 Writing and Publishing Science or BIOL 950 Scientific Communication, 2 credits). Other graduate coursework approved by the student’s committee can substitute for any of these courses except BIOL 901 Introductory Graduate Seminar.

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.

Students admitted via the Accelerated Master's (AM) process may apply up to 12 credits of prior upper-level UNH coursework in accordance with AM policies.

Required Courses, Competencies, and Electives

All students in the Biological Sciences Graduate Program are required to take Introductory Graduate Seminar (BIOL 901 Introductory Graduate Seminar) and fulfill all applicable competency requirements (these may vary by option). Those with teaching assistantships (TAs) must enroll in College Teaching (LSA 900 College Teaching) before or concurrent with their first teaching assignment.

  1. Core Course: 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.
  2. Competency in experimental design and analysis. This may be fulfilled by previous graduate coursework (as determined by the student’s advisor and committee), or by taking one graduate-level course. Two advanced courses in experimental design and analysis are offered, normally in alternate years. The first is Experimental Design & Analysis (BIOL 811), and the second is Design, Analysis, and Interpretation of Experiments (ANFS 933). Either course, or an equivalent approved by the student’s advisor and committee e.g. Analysis of Ecological Communities and Complex Data (NR 909), 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. Recommendations often include coursework in professional writing and communication: Scientific Writing - Writing and Publishing Science (BIOL 902) is taught fall semester, and open to students at any stage of the program. Scientific Communication (BIOL 950) is usually taught in spring. A course in Grant Writing (NR 905) is offered by the Department of Natural Resources.

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 https://colsa.unh.edu/biological-sciences/program/ms/biological-sciences-integrative-and-organismal-biology, along with the program’s graduate handbook, which includes expectations, guidelines, and detailed policies.

  • Students will demonstrate expertise in quantitative skills including (a) basic math and statistics; (b) spreadsheet software; (c) graphical presentation of quantitative data.
  • Students will demonstrate writing skills that enable them to prepare a scientific research paper in standard format for their field.
  • Students will demonstrate competency in experimental design, including the ability to articulate a testable hypothesis and design an appropriate experiment to test it.
  • Students will demonstrate communication skills including the ability to clearly explain scientific information to both professional and general audiences.
  • Students will demonstrate broad understanding of fundamental areas of biology, especially areas relevant to their research project.

Deadlines

Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: January 15 (priority*); August 1 (final) *Applications completed by Jan. 15 will be given priority consideration for admission and financial support. Applications completed after Jan. 15 will be considered based on openings and funding.
  • Spring: Open only for Accelerated Masters students, deadline is December 1
  • Summer: Must have permission by department to apply for summer. Those with approval have a deadline of December 1.
  • Special: Note that spring admission is for accelerated masters only and that summer admission is on a case-by-case basis and requires department approval. Contact the department directly for details.

Application fee: $65; Underrepresented U.S. minority applicants to this program may be eligible for an application fee waiver. Please contact Dr. Dovev Levine (dovev.levine@unh.edu) for more details

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.

Transcripts

If you attended UNH after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester and UNH Non-Degree work. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must request one official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. International transcripts must be translated into English. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts are required for any school you earned a degree from, attended for at least one year, or attended for 2 or more semesters. Exceptions to this rule may be approved at the discretion of the program you are applying to and the UNH Graduate School Admission’s office.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program specific application questions.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to apply early if they wish to be considered for financial and priority consideration.

Accelerated Master applicants must identify and communicate with a potential graduate advisor prior to applying to the program.

GRE Not Required:

The GRE (general or topical) is NOT REQUIRED for admission by any of the programs in the Department of Biological Sciences.

International Applicants

Some academic departments recommend that international applicants, living outside of the United States, and planning on pursuing a research based degree, submit a preapplication form before submitting a full application. If your desired program is not on the form, departments prefer a full application be submitted. Preapplication requests will be carefully reviewed and a decision usually provided within 3 weeks. If your preapplication is approved then it is recommended you then submit a full application. If you are currently living in the United States (on a H1B visa, etc.), or you plan on pursuing a professional master’s degree, then you do not need to submit a preapplication.

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

Explore Program Details

If you are interested in a MS or PhD program within UNH’s Department of Biological Sciences (options of Integrative and Organismal Biology or Marine Biology), it is important to contact potential thesis mentors (professors) before applying to our program. You can find a directory of relevant mentors in the “FACULTY DIRECTORY.” It is never too early to contact potential thesis mentors, but we suggest contacting them between August and October of the year before you expect to start your degree (for example, contact a mentor in September 2020 if interested in applying by January 2021 for full consideration to begin as a graduate student in Fall 2021). However, you should never be afraid to reach out to a prospective mentor as graduate opportunities can open throughout the year.

How do you contact potential advisors? After identifying professors whose interest align with yours, send them an email to introduce yourself and your interests. This email should contain the following:

  • A brief introduction of who you are and your current status
  • Your interests broadly
  • Why you are interested in this professor’s work and how it aligns with your own interests
  • Attachments of CV or resume, and unofficial transcripts

Still intimidated? Use the text below labeled “Email Template” to help you contact a professor.

Can I contact more than one professor in the Department of Biological Sciences or at UNH? Absolutely! Graduate positions are very competitive, and often a professor can only take on one or two students each year (if any). Thus, it’s important to contact as many professors as possible, provided that their research aligns with your interests. You can let professors know who else you are contacting within the department or university when you contact them (see template below).

What if I don’t get a response? Try again! Professors are very busy, and can receive hundreds of emails a day. Sometimes this results in slow reply times, or simply emails getting missed or lost. Wait at least a week, and then try to send again. If after three tries you still do not get a response, this likely means the professor is not taking on any graduate students in the near future.

Other general tips and advice for applying to graduate school: Take time to think about why you want to go to graduate school and conduct research (and communicate this clearly when reaching out to prospective mentors). Before contacting prospective mentors, take some time to learn about their research (either via webpages, their publications, or other resources). Get help from advisors, your university career centers, and others for updating your resume or CV, ensuring that you highlight any research or scientific experiences, important courses taken, skills, and awards received.

 

Email Template

If you are potentially interested in working with one or more professors towards a MS or PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of New Hampshire, you can use this template email to introduce yourself to these potential advisors.

Please note that you should contact each professor individually (it’s okay to contact more than one faculty member in our department!); individualize your responses to each professor, particularly paragraphs #2 and #3). Also know that this is simply a template; prospective students do not need to follow these instructions exactly when reaching out to prospective mentors. We just hope this helps you get started and give you confidence in contacting faculty!


Dear Dr. [insert professor’s full name here]:

Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself! State your name, educational status and history (including GPA and major and/or degree. If you have graduated, include when you graduated and your current position.), and what semester and year you are aiming to start your graduate studies.

Paragraph 2: Discuss your relevant qualifications and experience that make you an ideal candidate for our graduate program. This may include specific skills you have, research experiences, internships, publications or presentations, and relevant coursework.

Paragraph 3: Describe your specific interests within the field of Biological Sciences? How do these interests align with this professor’s work? What about this professor’s work excites you? Be specific when possible, demonstrating your own efforts to understand this professor’s research.

Thank you for your time in reading this email and your consideration. I have attached my [resume/CV; make sure to attach!] and unofficial transcripts [attach]. I would enjoy an opportunity to chat with you further about potential opportunities as a graduate student in your research group.

Sincerely,

[Insert your full name here]

take the next step

Undergraduate Student

LEARN HOW TO APPLY

A view of T-Hall on the UNH campus.

SCHEDULE A VISIT

A female student at UNH gets help on her resume

REQUEST INFORMATION