Master of Arts in Biology


This program is moving from The School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS) to a new home in Arts & Sciences (A&S). Consequently, CAPS is no longer accepting applications. For information about applying at A&S, please contact Michelle Rabe, director of academic initiatives and special projects in the Office of Graduate Studies:

The Master of Arts in Biology program helps students update and deepen their knowledge of the biomedical sciences, prepare for employment in related fields, and advance their professional standing while obtaining a graduate science degree on a part-time basis through evening, weekend and online courses.

The program is designed to be adaptable to each individual’s unique background and goals, and it provides a flexible curriculum and close individual advising for each student. Students include science and health professionals, teachers, technicians, and individuals in biology-related businesses.

Students in this program have the option of choosing a concentration in neurobiology for deeper, more focused study.

The MA in Biology program is co-sponsored by the Washington University Graduate School, the Washington University Department of Biology, and the School of Continuing & Professional Studies.

Note: the MA in Biology is a terminal graduate degree awarded on the basis of course work rather than research. Except in rare cases, it is not intended as preparation for a PhD degree. No more than 6 of the 30 credits may be earned in research courses. Those interested in graduate research or in earning a PhD should apply to the PhD programs offered by Washington University’s Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences.

Admission Requirements
Transferring Credit

A maximum of six units of related, comparable graduate-level course work may be transferred from another university or from a related graduate program at Washington University with the approval of the program director. These must be graduate-level units not used to fulfill undergraduate degree requirements. Transfer credit may be granted only for authorized courses for which the student received a grade of B or higher. 

Baccalaureate Degree

Qualified applicants should have completed previous undergraduate course work in biology, mathematics and chemistry and obtained a baccalaureate degree from an accredited institution.

Course Prerequisites

Prerequisites for this program include a year of general biology with labs, a year of general chemistry with labs, and a semester of calculus. Students who plan to take these courses through the School of Continuing & Professional Studies should complete U29 Bio 101 and 102, U05 Chem 105/106 and 151/152, and U20 Math 155. Some elective program courses will also require organic chemistry or other advanced biology course work. Please review course descriptions for details.

Application Requirements
Application Deadlines

Admission decisions are made on a rolling basis and typically take one to two weeks. An application is incomplete and will not be reviewed until all of the application requirements have been received or processed.  Applicants are encouraged to submit all materials by the following dates:

  • Summer 2024: April 30, 2024
  • Fall 2024: July 31, 2024
  • Spring 2025: Nov. 30, 2024
Completed Application Form

The online application is available on our Apply page. Applications are ready for review when all fields on the application form are completed and the required documents have been received.

Official Transcripts From All Previous College Work

Transcripts are required from each institution that you have attended and taken courses, received your bachelor’s degree, taken post-graduate courses, or where a higher-level degree was conferred.  Official transcripts must be sent directly from the school’s registrar to CAPS.  Electronic transcripts should be forwarded to  For transcript questions, please email

Non-United States course work transcript verification
If the transcript you submit for consideration is from a college or university outside the United States, a course by course transcript evaluation is also required. Evaluations will be accepted from World Education Services (WES), Spantran or another member institution of the National Association of Credential Evaluation Services (NACES). For Spantran evaluations, you must use this form

Personal Essay

Tell us about yourself in a brief essay (about 250 words). Why are you applying to WashU School of Continuing & Professional Studies? What are your goals, both academic and professional? Is there additional information we should know about you when considering your application?

TOEFL/IELTS Scores (if applicable)

All international students are required to submit TOEFL iBT or IELTS scores at the time of application. The TOEFL iBT and IELTS may be waived for applicants who, immediately prior to their application for admission, have done both of the following:

  • Lived for three years or longer in the United States or another country where English is the primary language of daily life (e.g. Canada or United Kingdom).
  • Completed three or more years of study at a college or university which is located in that country and where the language of instruction is English.

This policy applies to all international students, even those who have earned a degree from a United States college or university.

If an applicant moves away from an English-speaking country after living and studying there for three years or more, TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo scores are then required for admission. 

Changes to the English Language Proficiency Requirements (2022–23)
Effective March 23, 2022, if an applicant is unable to take the TOEFL iBT or the IELTS, they may document their efforts to take the tests, contact the CAPS Admissions, and request the Duolingo, TOEFL ITP Plus for China, or TOEFL iBT Home Edition as exceptions. 

International student application deadlines & fees

Additional TOEFL and IELTS information for international students adversely affected by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on the CAPS International Student Information webpage.

US Citizenship or Eligible Noncitizen

International students interested in undergraduate programs must hold a visa that permits part-time study (including F-2 and J-2 visas).  Students holding  F-1 visas are not eligible for these programs.  Students holding a B-2 visa may be eligible if the coursework is recreational or avocational in nature.

Three Letters of Recommendation

A college instructor or professional associate should complete letters of recommendation. If an instructor cannot be contacted, applicants may submit a waiver request to provide three professional recommendations. Letters can be submitted through the online application or mailed by the recommender.

Enrolling in the School of Continuing & Professional Studies (CAPS)

We are here for you every step. Getting started at CAPS is easy.

1. Meet with a Recruiter
2. Start Your Application
  • Applying is easy, and our advisors are here to help you find the path that fits your needs. Apply Today!
3. Plan Ahead

Take a course today. Apply later.

At CAPS, students can take courses without applying to a degree program. If you are interested in taking a class to get to know CAPS, to fulfill credits, for professional development, or to follow a passion, the non-degree option is for you. Learn more.

Course Work


Students have the freedom to select courses that match their own interests. Students must complete 30 units of graduate course work in the biological sciences, including a required capstone experience.


Students are eligible to complete the Capstone Experience once they have completed 21 units in the program. Options for the capstone are as follows:

  • Complete U29 Bio 401: Problem-Based Learning in Biomedical Sciences 
  • Complete a 3-unit independent study
  • Complete a 6-unit master’s thesis: students with appropriate backgrounds, interests and academic qualifications may, with authorization, write a master’s thesis based on original library or laboratory research.

Note: the above options cannot count as the capstone if taken before a student has completed 21 units toward the Master of Arts in Biology.

Learn more about the independent study and thesis options.


Admitted students have the option of choosing a concentration in neurobiology for deeper, more focused study. This optional concentration requires 12 units of course work.

School of Continuing & Professional Studies students who are admitted to the Master of Arts in Biology program may select an optional concentration in neurobiology for deeper, more focused study. Neurobiology is the study of the structure and function of the nervous system. This concentration helps prepare students for careers in biomedical fields, including research and clinical practice in medicine, neuroscience and cognitive science. The optional concentration requires 12 units of courses, selected from the list below:

Choose four of the following courses:

  • Neurobiology (U29 435)
  • The Neural Basis of Behavior (U29 436)
  • The Biology of Membranes (U29 4721)
  • Neuroscience: Sensory Systems (U29 478)
  • Synaptic Change in the Nervous System (U29 485)

Student Success Navigators

Every CAPS student is paired with a Student Success Navigator at the time of admission to help you navigate your path and needs. We will provide you with the tools to make each moment spent on your education as valuable as possible. Students will receive:

  • Individual appointments with an experienced Student Success Navigator;
  • Career planning services to prepare you for opportunities after graduation;
  • A partner throughout your journey to ensure success.

Student Success Navigators are available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday.

Still have questions?

Program Coordinator: 
Phil Osdoby

Director of Advising and Student Services
Elizabeth Fogt