College of Arts & Sciences

Office of Dean - College of Arts & Sciences
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg PA 17257
(717) 477-1151

Department of Biology

Franklin Science Center
142 Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA
(717) 477-1401
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Office of the Provost
OM 308
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257
(717) 477-1371 

The School of Graduate Studies
Shippensburg University
1871 Old Main Drive
Shippensburg, PA 17257
Phone: (717) 477-1148
Fax: (717) 477-4016 

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Biology - Master of Science

 Bio.Kesslak   “I chose Shippensburg because of the wide variety of course and research opportunities. I like how well-connected the department is; everyone is very welcoming here. I also had the opportunity to design my own thesis with the help of faculty.”
~ Lauren Kesslak

Degree Requirements  Special Resources   Internship / Theses 
Career Opportunities  Admission Requirements  Faculty 

The biology master’s program 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.

Master of Science in Biology
Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Biology program is 31* semester hour credits. BIO 515 - How to Research, Write & Publish a Scientific Paper and BIO 593 - Biometry are required. The remaining 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 credit hours may count towards this total. A maximum of 12 credits must be earned in 400 level courses. 

Elective Courses:
(Other 400 and 500 level courses may be taken as electives with advisement.)

  • BIO 408 Principles of Virology
  • BIO 409 Immunology
  • BIO 410 Mammalogy
  • BIO 412 Ichthyology
  • BIO 417 Herpetology
  • BIO 418 Molecular Biology
  • BIO 419 Ornithology
  • BIO 425 Biota of Florida
  • BIO 430 Principles of Evolution
  • BIO 442 Aquatic Ecology
  • BIO 444 Conservation Biology
  • BIO 448 Field Botany & Plant Taxonomy
  • BIO 450 Endocrinology
  • BIO 461 Techniques in Biotechnology
  • BIO 485 Biological Microscopy & Imaging
  • BIO 494 Field Research Technique(s)
  • BIO 514 Aquatic Entomology (s)
  • BIO 520 Plant Ecology
  • BIO 541 Ecosystems Ecology
  • BIO 547 Wetland Ecology (s)
  • BIO 555 Comparative Environmental Physiology
  • BIO 558 Microbial Ecology
  • BIO 559 Evolutionary Ecology
  • BIO 577 Ecomorphology
  • BIO 594 Selected Topics (1-3 cr.)
  • BIO 605-608 Graduate Research (3-12 cr.)
  • BIO 609 Internship
  • BIO 612 Thesis I (taken upon completion of a thesis proposal)
  • BIO 613 Thesis II (taken within one year of thesis defense) 

Special Resources

The Department of Biology maintains:

• an animal care facility, a greenhouse, herbarium, and environmental growth chambers
• a vertebrate museum with diverse holdings affiliated with The Pennsylvania State Museum
• a biotechnology lab with state-of-the-art equipment and other labs with research grade instruments
• a scanning electron microscope for class work and independent research
• a computer and video imaging laboratory
• laboratory areas for those who are engaged in independent research
• a stream, restored wetlands, and two-acre pond for research and classroom use

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.

The Ezra Lehman Memorial Library, located at the center of campus, 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


 Topics of recent theses included the following:
• Defining regal fritillary habitat in South Central Pennsylvania
• Effects of invasive rusty crayfish on the predator/prey relationship between tessellated darters and largemouth bass
• Environmental correlates of macro-invertebrate communities of vernal pools in the central Appalachian region
• Natural history of the eastern box turtle In an anthropogenically altered area of South Central Pennsylvania

Career Opportunities

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, college professor, entomologist, water quality control technician, environmental planner, teacher, natural resource manager, field ecologist, researcher, environmental impact analyst, toxicologist, museum or zoo curator, conservation biologist, fisheries biologist, etc. 

Admission Requirements

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

  • Have a baccalaureate degree from a regionally accredited college or university.
  • Present an official transcript showing at least a 2.75 cumulative grade point average for your undergraduate studies.
  • Have completed at least 33 semester hour credits of undergraduate biology or biology related courses (e.g. forestry, horticulture, environmental studies), and have taken at least three chemistry courses with labs, including both inorganic and organic chemistry or biochemistry.
  • Please write a 400-500 word summary of why you would like to be admitted to the Biology Master’s program at Shippensburg University, 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 sent to Please include your full name, date of birth, and reference that you would like this attached to your application.
  • In addition, it is recommended that applicants have completed math through Calculus I and two lab courses in physics.


Timothy J. Maret, Ph.D., chair, Arizona State University, Population and community ecology.

Sherri Bergsten, Ph.D., Princeton University, Eukaryotic genetics, Drosophila behavior.

Pablo Delis, Ph.D., University of South Florida, Herpetology, vertebrate ecology, population biology, conservation.

Lucinda H. Elliot, Ph.D., University of Kentucky, Immunology of primary intracranial tumors (gliomas).

Todd M. Hurd, Ph.D., State University of New York - Syracuse, Ecosystem ecology, the effects of biotic and abiotic processes on plant species distribution, and nitrogen cycling.

Larry H. Klotz, Ph.D. (Emeritus), Cornell University, Botany, plant structure and diversity, vegetational studies, field surveys of rare plant species.

Marcie L. Lehman, Ph.D., University of Maryland at Baltimore, Environmental microbiology, marine molecular microbial ecology.

Theo S. Light, Ph.D., University of California - Davis, Aquatic ecology, conservation biology, invertebrate zoology.

David R. Long, Ph.D., Texas Tech University, Morphology and reproductive biology of amphibians and reptiles.

Michael R. Marshall, Ph.D., University of Nebraska, Host parasite physiology of plant diseases infected by fungi.

Michael J. McNichols, Ph.D., Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Comparative animal physiology and endocrinology.

William J. Patrie, Ph.D., Cornell University, Cell biology, molecular biology, and protein structure and function.

Gregory S. Paulson, Ph.D., Washington State University, Applied insect ecology, electron microscopy and imaging.

Heather F. Sahli, Ph.D., Michigan State University. Pollination biology, floral evolution, plant population differentiation.

Richard L. Stewart, Jr., Ph.D., The Ohio State University, medical entomology, acarology, parasitology, science education.

Nathan E. Thomas, Ph.D., University of South Dakota. Ornithology, avian physiology.