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Master of Science in Life Sciences Program

Virginia Tech biochemistry student working on a computer in a computational lab

The M.S. Program in Biochemistry at Virginia Tech provides graduate training options to students who are exploring careers related to Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and students who have yet to commit to a Ph.D. program.

Students may either integrate graduate-level biochemical and molecular training with existing strengths within the Department of Biochemistry in areas such as microbiology, vector-borne infectious diseases, plant, and nutritional biochemistry, drug discovery, and computational and systems biology, or the graduate experience can be tailored to student career goals with diverse options of experiential learning in research, teaching, and industrial biochemistry.

These tracks prepare students for a wide diversity of career options including employment by the biotech or pharmaceutical industry, employment as a research technician in government or academia, a teaching career, science communication, entry into Ph.D. programs, or professional programs in the medical sciences.

Benefits of the program

  • Receive your Master of Science in Life Sciences in 2 years
  • Free tuition for the duration of the 2-year degree
  • A $31,404 annual stipend


The Master of Science in Life Sciences (MSLFS) merges the efforts of the departments of Biochemistry, Entomology, Food Science and Technology, and Plant Pathology, Plant Physiology, and Weed Science. Students in basic and applied disciplines in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences share common experiences that prepare them for careers in which interdisciplinary interactions become increasingly valued. At the same time, discipline-specific education and research experience, which characterizes the MSLFS program in each department, prepares students for unique positions and career development. For graduation, students must complete a minimum of 20 graded credit hours and 30 total credit hours.

Every MSLFS student enters the program with the expectation that he/she will complete a thesis describing the results of an original research project, however, if circumstances dictate that completing a thesis is not feasible, the student may be allowed to graduate without submission of a formal thesis and will result in a non-thesis master’s degree designation. This option is only available with the agreement of the Major Professor and Advisory Committee.

Suggested tracks and elective courses

CS/GBCB 5045-5046: Computation for the Life Sciences I and II

PPWS/GBCB 5314: Biological Paradigms for Bioinformatics

BCHM 5024: Computational Biochemistry for Bioinformatics

MATH/GBCB 5415, 5416: Continuous Models in Biological Applications

CS5424: Computational Cell Biology

CS5854: Computational Systems Biology

BIOL 4824 Bioinformatics Methods

BSE 3154: Thermodynamics of Biological Systems

BSE 3504: Transport Processes in Biological Systems

BSE 4564: Metabolic Engineering

BSE 5964: Advanced Metabolic Engineering

CHEM 4554: Drug Chemistry

CHEM 6504: Chemistry of Natural Products

NANO 4314: Nanomedicine

NEUR 3044: Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience

BIOL 4554 (ALS 4554): Neurochemical regulation

NEUR 4034: Diseases of the Nervous System

BMVS 5324: General Neurochemistry

BIOL 4624: Microbial Genetics

BIOL 4634: Microbial Physiology

BIOL 3454: Introductory Parasitology

BIOL 4164: Environmental Microbiology

BIOL 4674: Pathogenic Bacteriology

BIOL 4704 Immunology

BIOL 4664: Virology

BIOL 4734: Inflammation Biology

BIOL 4804: Prokaryotic Diversity

BIOL 4724: Pathogenic Bacteriology Laboratory

BIOL 4644: Microbial Genetics & Physiology Laboratory

BIOL 4714: Immunology Laboratory

PPWS 4114: Microbial Forensics and Biosecurity

CEE 5194: Environmental Engineering Microbiology

CEE 5124: Fundamental of Environmental Toxicology

ENT 3254 (BIOL 3254): Medical & Veterinary Entomology

ENT 5324: Genomics of Disease Vectors

ENT 5624(BMVS 5624): Molecular Virology

BMVS 5224 (BMES 5024): Biomedical Engineering and Human Disease

BMVS 5005 (VM 9085): Emerging Infectious Diseases - fully on-line,

BMVS 5006 (VM 9086): Emerging Infectious Diseases - fully on-line,

PHS 5984 SS: Principles of Infectious Diseases

PHS 5304: Zoonoses and Infectious Diseases Common to Humans and Animals

PHS 5314: Infectious Disease Epidemiology

PHS 5334 SS: Modeling Infectious Diseases

ENT 5324: Genomics of Disease Vectors

ENT 6004 Insect Behavior and Ecology

ENT 6004: Advanced Topics in Entomology

ENT 6154: Insect Physiology

FST4405,4406: Food Processing

FST 4414: Fermentation Process Technology and Instrumentation

FST4504: Food Chemistry

FST 4524:  Food Quality Assurance

FST4604 (BIOL 4604): Food Microbiology

FST4634: Epidemiology foodborne diseases

FST 4644: Fermentation Microbiology

FST 5614: Food Safety and Security

FST 5624: Applied Food Microbiology and Sanitation

FST 5634: Epidemiology of Foodborne and Waterborne Disease

FST 5664: Flavor Chemistry

BSE 5504: Advanced Bioprocess Engineering

BSE 5544: Advanced Protein Separation Engineering

BSE 5604: Advanced Food Process Engineering

BSE 5614: Advances in Protein Production and Engineering

BSE 5644: Biobased Industrial Polymers

BSE 4604: Food Process Engineering

PPWS 4504: Fundamentals of Plant Physiology

PPWS 5204: Principles of Plant Disease Management

PPWS 5214: Diseases of Crop Plants

PPWS 6004: Plant Disease Epidemiology

PPWS 6004: Molecular Weed Science

PPWS 5454: Plant Disease Physiology and Development

PPWS 5524 and PPWS 5534: Advanced Plant Physiology and Metabolism I and II

PPWS 5304: Plant Stress Physiology

HNFE 5144: Molecular Aspects of Nutrition and Disease

HNFE 5204: Translational Science in HNFE

HNFE 5724: Epidemiology


  • Advanced coursework
  • Seminar presentations
  • One semester of serving as a graduate teaching assistant
  • Annual committee meetings
  • Written thesis and oral thesis defense to be awarded a degree

How to apply

To apply to our Master of Science in Life Sciences Graduate Program, you need to submit an application electronically. Instructions and forms for applying online are available here. Applications should be completed and submitted by January 15, 2022, for Fall semester admission.

Students who are most successful in our program have earned a B.S. degree in an area of the life sciences. If you have questions concerning specific requirements, please contact our Graduate Program Chair, Justin Lemkul ( A complete application includes the following:

  1. Online application for admission.
  2. Three letters of recommendation. Names and e-mail addresses of the individuals providing letters should be included with the online application to facilitate electronic submission and review of the letters.
  3. Official transcripts from all institutions previously and presently attended. To expedite review, official transcripts should be sent directly to:

    Department of Biochemistry
    111 Engel Hall
    Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061

Although interviews are not required for admission, we welcome and will help to coordinate visits from interested applicants.