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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences
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Department of Biological Sciences
1W14 Jonsson-Rowland Science Center
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth Street
Troy, NY 12180-3590

Phone: (518) 276-6446
Fax: (518) 276-2344

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Co-Terminal Degree Program

The Office of Graduate Education recently made a change to the co-terminal program policy to allow for applications through the first semester of a student’s senior (fourth) year.

Because of this change, the Biology Department has made the following revisions to the co-terminal application deadline:


The application deadline for Fall submission (juniors and seniors)will be October 15

The application deadline for Spring submission (juniors only) will be April 15.

Below is a full description of the department requirements for applying to the Co-terminal Program in Biology:


Information about the Biology Co-Terminal BS/MS Program for Students

Types of Co-Terminal degrees

o   Co-Terminal without thesis

o   A combination of courses and a Professional Project (BIOL 6970). The project requires a faculty member to be the instructor, i.e. read and grade the project.  Student must register for BIOL 6970 (Professional Project) for 1-2 semesters (2-9 credits).

o   Co-Terminal with thesis (recommended only for exceptional cases). A combination of courses, Research Project and written Thesis. Includes a formal written document approved by a thesis committee and submitted to the Graduate School following all the MS thesis rules. Student must register for BIOL 6990 (Master’s Thesis) for 1-2 semesters (4-9 credits).

Course Requirements

o         At least half of the 30 credits for the MS degree must be at the 6000 level (may include research and readings).

o         No more than 15 credits may be from 4000 level courses.

o         At least 15 credits must be BIOL or BCBP courses.

o         Cannot repeat a course at the graduate level that was already taken at the undergraduate level.

o         Students must take a minimum of 12 credits a semester.

o         At least 21 credits must be from course work (including readings courses).

o         Courses below 4000 level are not allowed.

o         Student must complete the usual 128 credits for the Biology BS.

o         The Biology Core Courses are meant for Ph.D. students. Permission from Dr. Swank or Dr. Barquera is required to take a Biology Core Course.

Grade Requirements

o         Students must maintain an overall average of B (3.0) or higher for their MS courses. They must pass each course with a C- or higher.

Additional Information

o         Students must still pay tuition.  

o         Students can still receive financial aid from RPI.

o         Student may get a MS in Biology and a BS from another major.

o         Students graduate their 5th year. However, they may petition, in person, at the registrar to walk with their class.

o         Co-terminal students are not allowed to be a graduate RA or TA and receive an RA or TA stipend.

 Student Requirements to Apply

o         GPA of 3.2 or above

o         Completed 90 credits of Coursework (AP, transfer and courses in progress count)

o         Complete the Co-Terminal Application form from the Office of Graduate Education.  (

o   This must be signed by the student’s Undergraduate Advisor and Graduate Advisor(s). Note that the undergraduate and graduate advisors may be the same faculty member or may be different faculty members. Dr. Gilbert’s (Graduate Program Director) signature is not required at this time. She will sign it if the application is accepted by the Biology Department.

o         Complete a Plan of Study (POS) (

o   See “Course Requirements” above for information on completing the POS

o   Graduate advisor’s signature must be on the form. Dr. Gilbert (Graduate Program Director) will sign it if the application is accepted by the Biology Department.

o         Complete the 4th and 5th year planner (last page of application form)

o   Must have at least 128 credits applied to BS, and at least 30 for MS.

o   Student must take a minimum of 12 credits of courses each semester.

o   Student may take both BS and MS courses in a single semester

o         Submit a copy of their CAPP report.

o         Submit a written 1-2 page statement of purpose. This must include how this program will benefit him/her and why he/she should be admitted. The statement will be important for determining acceptance into the program. It should include possible ideas for independent research or a plan for their program project.

o         Submit 2 letters of support. One from their graduate advisor and a second from another faculty member. The graduate advisor must state that he/she will be responsible for advising the student and will help the student identify a program project instructor.

General Application Process

Completed application must be received in the Biology Office by October 15 for students in their junior or senior year, and by April 15 for students in their junior year only.

1.       Student obtains application and information from biology office or downloads application from the graduate office web site.

2.       Student identifies a graduate advisor to help develop Plan of Study (POS), and completes the Fourth and Fifth Year Planner. Student should also identify a faculty member to be the program project instructor.

3.       Both the graduate advisor and undergraduate advisor must sign the application form.

4.       Student submits complete application (see above) to Jody Malm by the October or April 15 deadline.

5.       Graduate Admissions committee reviews applications during the week after submission deadlines.

6.       Applications accepted by the committee are signed by Dr. Ligon and applications are sent to the graduate office for approval. Students are notified if they are not accepted.

7.       Accepted students receive admission notice from Graduate Admissions Office.

 See the Office of Graduate Education web page: for additional information about the Co-Terminal program. Note that the Biology program has additional requirements not listed by the Office of Graduate Education.


Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Department of Biological Sciences