Why Study Biology

The MS in Biology at Shippensburg University has an emphasis in ecology and environmental biology, with expanding opportunities for study in other sub-disciplines. Successful students are poised to seek new fields of endeavor, advance in their current professions, or prepare themselves for continuing academic training or educational opportunities through thesis or non-thesis degree options. Our faculty have diverse research and academic backgrounds, which provides students the opportunity to work closely with professionals in their chosen fields.

Why Study Biology at Ship

As a charter member of the Marine Science Consortium, Shippensburg University, in cooperation with other member institutions, offers a variety of marine science studies and research opportunities at Wallops Island, Virginia, during the summer. The consortium maintains a fleet of small boats outfitted specifically for marine studies in the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, Chincoteague Bay, and the tributaries to these waters.

The campus is ideally located for ecological field studies. In the scenic Cumberland Valley, we are only a short drive away from State Forest lands, the Appalachian Trail and a variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. Within two and one-half hours from campus, you can visit federal, state and regional headquarters of agencies related to ecological and biological studies.

Located at the center of campus, the Ezra Lehman Memorial Library contains more than 400,000 bound volumes, 1.5 million microfilm pieces, 60,000 government documents, and 40,000 maps and audiovisual materials. In addition, the library provides access to electronic databases and Internet resources.

A variety of internship opportunities are available including state and federal agencies, scientific societies, and non-profit organizations such as:

  • Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
  • Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  • Pennsylvania Game Commission
  • United States Department of Agriculture/Forest Service
  • United States Department of Agriculture/Natural Resources Conservation Service
  • United States Geological Survey
  • The Nature Conservancy

Career Opportunities and Salary Estimates

The growing need to understand the natural world and manage our impact on it has resulted in a growth in demand and job opportunities for people with ecological/environmental backgrounds. Shippensburg University graduates have been successful at finding employment with state and federal agencies, non-profit organizations, private consulting firms, and secondary schools. Many go on to graduate schools to receive advanced degrees.

Potential opportunities for students with an interest in ecology and the environment include:

  • Research technician
  • Park naturalist
  • Outdoor educator
  • Wildlife biologist
  • Forester
  • Environmental consultant, planner, or impact analyst
  • Entomologist
  • Water quality control technician
  • Teacher (K-12 and Higher Ed)
  • Natural resource manager
  • Field ecologist
  • Toxicologist
  • Museum or zoo curator
  • Conservation biologist

The salary range for biologists in PA is $35,000 to $76,000.

To be eligible for admission to the MS in Biology, you must:

  • Have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Present an official undergraduate transcript showing at least a 2.75 cumulative GPA.
  • Have completed at least 33 credits of undergraduate biology or biology related courses (e.g. forestry, horticulture, environmental studies), and have taken at least 3 chemistry courses with labs, including both inorganic and organic chemistry or biochemistry.
  • Submit a 500-word statement of purpose describing your long-term goals in regard to this field, and how those goals will be influenced by this degree. You may submit this as a PDF or Word document to
  • Have completed math through Calculus I (including a statistics course) and two lab courses in physics.
  • International Students: must provide a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 or TOEFL score of 80.

The Master of Science in Biology is a 31-credit program. There are two required courses:

  • BIO 515 How to Research, Write & Publish a Scientific Paper
  • BIO 593 Biometry

All other courses are chosen with advisement. At least 21 credits must be earned in biology courses (including courses offered by the Marine Science Consortium at Wallops Island). The remainder may be selected, with advisement, from courses in chemistry, physics, math, education, computer science, or geography/earth science. Up to 9 transfer credits may count towards this total. A maximum of 12 credits must be earned in 400-level courses.

See the Graduate Catalog for a complete list of required courses.

The Department of Biology maintains a number of unique resources for student research including:

  • Animal care facility, a greenhouse, herbarium, and environmental growth chambers
  • Vertebrate museum with diverse holdings affiliated with The Pennsylvania State Museum
  • Biotechnology lab with state-of-the-art equipment and other labs with research grade instruments
  • Scanning electron microscope for class work and independent research
  • Computer and video imaging laboratory
  • Laboratory areas for those who are engaged in independent research
  • Stream, restored wetlands, and two-acre pond for research and classroom use

142 Franklin Science Center, 1871 Old Main Drive, Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1401
Department Website