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Accelerated Bachelors/Masters of Science Degree

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The Department of Biochemistry offers a route to earn a Master of Science in the Life Sciences for students currently enrolled in our B.S. program in the form of an accelerated B.S./M.S. degree combination. 

The accelerated M.S. degree gives students the ability to engage in substantial M.S. research with a faculty mentor, while completing the M.S. at the end of year 5. The department works closely on career planning with each B.S./M.S. student by making travel support to scientific conferences available, and guiding students in completion of an NIH-style Individual Personal Development Plan.

Benefits of the program

  • Completion of a B.S and M.S in Biochemistry in 5 years
  • Free tuition during the final year (year 5) of the M.S. degree (Year 4, the final year of B.S., is paid for by the student)
  • A $4k stipend in the final year of the M.S. degree

Requirements to apply

  • Must have an expected overall GPA of 3.0 or higher upon graduation with a B.S in Biochemistry
  • Must have taken or be taking BCHM 4115 in the fall of their junior year, receiving a B or better grade by the January application date
  • Must already actively be performing research in the laboratory of a faculty member in the Department of Biochemistry that is willing to mentor them during their Master's degree

How to apply

The first step for admission to the program is to fill out a pre-inquiry form and send it to Dr. Daniel J. Slade (dslade@vt.edu, Engel Hall 207) , the Graduate Committee Chair, to see if you meet the requirements described above. Dr. Slade will then encourage students who fit our program to submit an official application to the Graduate School by January 15th of the Junior year of the student through Virginia Tech’s online system. Students will be admitted under a competitive process by April of the spring semester.

The application to the Graduate School includes the following documents:

  • A scanned copy or pdf version of college transcripts (an official copy to be sent to the Graduate School after the issuance of an offer of admission in late April of the Junior year) 
  • The names, affiliations, and email addresses of three references (the applicant to request the letters to be submitted directly by the references online) 
  • A statement of motivation and career objectives 
  • A résumé that includes experience and qualifications
  • Completion of the Accelerated Undergraduate/Graduate Degree and Course Designation Form, which is to be returned to Sheila Early (smearly@vt.edu, Engel Hall Room 111), the Graduate Coordinator in the Department of Biochemistry 

What to expect during the pursuit of your B.S/M.S. degree

In the first semester of their accelerated program (Fall of senior year), the selected students will enroll in the courses that will be used for meeting the requirement for the M.S. degree as outlined in our Graduate Handbook. Although the schedule stated above considers Fall entry to the accelerated program, an entry in the Spring semester may be considered on a limited basis at the discretion of the Graduate Committee.

Since most Biochemistry students complete the B.S. in Biochemistry in four years, and take ~20 elective credit hours in year 4, most B.S./M.S. students begin taking graduate courses in year 4. 12 credits can be double-counted towards your undergraduate and graduate degrees (up to 6 credits at the 4000 level; the rest from graduate-level coursework). For each of these courses, the grade must be at least B, and these courses must not be taken on a pass-fail basis.

Upon acceptance, the student will form a graduate advisory committee with the aid of their faculty mentor one semester prior to completion of their senior year or their first year in the graduate program (typically December) and this committee will continue to advise the student through the graduation with an M.S. degree.

Students will follow the requirements stipulated for the Master of Science in Life Sciences (MSLS) degree from the Department of Biochemistry. Review the MSLS Program Curriculum found here.

Every MSLS student enters the program with the expectation that they will complete a thesis. However, if circumstances dictate that completing a thesis is not feasible, the student may be allowed to graduate without submission of a formal thesis. This option is only available with the agreement of the Major Professor and Advisory Committee.