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


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

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 (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 Applied Biostatistics II (Experimental Design & Analysis (BIOL 811)), and the second is Design, Analysis and Interpretation of Experiments (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 (Scientific Communication (BIOL 950)) is usually taught in spring. A course in Grant Writing (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, along with the program’s graduate handbook, which includes expectations, guidelines, and detailed policies.


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

Campus: Durham

New England Regional: No

Accelerated Masters Eligible: No

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.


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 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.

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.

International Applicants

The University of New Hampshire recommends that international applicants who are living outside of the United States, and are planning on pursuing a research based degree, submit a preapplication form before submitting a full application. Your preapplication request 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

take the next step

Undergraduate Student


A view of T-Hall on the UNH campus.


A female student at UNH gets help on her resume