Joint B.S.-M.S. FAQs for Admitted Students

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. In the final year of the program, may I enroll as an undergraduate student or must I be a graduate student?
  2. If I have chosen to remain an undergraduate throughout my entire time in the program, how do I graduate with an M.S. at the end of the final year?
  3. When do I file my plan of study?
  4. How do I determine what should go on my plan of study?
  5. A required course for the M.S. degree is not being taught next semester. Can I substitute a different course instead?
  6. Who should be on my graduate committee? What does the committee do?
  7. What “counts” as an appropriate internship?
  8. What “counts” as an appropriate research experience?
  9. What should I expect in my final exam? What do I need to do to prepare for it?
  10. When does the exam happen? Who organizes it?
  11. Is there any paperwork that needs to be filled out for the exam?
In the final year of the program, may I enroll as an undergraduate student or must I be a graduate student?

You must be enrolled as a graduate student to earn the M.S. portion of the Joint B.S.-M.S. Degree.

When do I file my plan of study?

The B.S. plan of study should be filed according to regular department procedures for EEB majors. For questions about the B.S. plan of study contact Sharyn Rusch, Academic Advising Coordinator in the Biology Advising Center, who is in charge of undergraduate advising in EEB. Ideally, the M.S. plan of study should be submitted during the first semester you are enrolled as a graduate student. Because some of the required graduate courses are only taught in alternate years, we strongly advise you to develop a draft plan of study for the M.S. program when you finalize your B.S. plan of study, or before you enter the program. If you have questions about your M.S. plan of study talk to your advisor.

How do I determine what should go on my plan of study?

This will be largely determined by the program course requirements Where there is flexibility you should talk with your advisor and committee about which of the options are most likely to benefit you in achieving your career goals.

A required course for the M.S. degree is not being taught next semester. Can I substitute a different course instead?

Under most circumstances substitutions cannot be made. Students are expected to plan ahead in order to complete the program in a timely manner. If events beyond the student’s control make it impossible to take a required course in the expected semester, then a substitute course may be permitted by the advisory committee. Permission for substitution can be granted only in response to unforeseeable events (e.g., a course is cancelled at short notice), cannot be granted in cases of failure to plan ahead, and is at the discretion of the advisory committee.

Who should be on my graduate committee? What does the committee do?

Your committee should consist of your major advisor and two others, at least one of whom must be a member of the Graduate Faculty at UConn. Committee members may be faculty in departments other than EEB. You should select people who have interests and experience that will help you get the most from your degree. Remember that these are the people on the faculty who you are likely to get to know best, and who you are most likely to turn to for letters of reference and advice on how to find a job. The more their interests overlap with yours, the easier it will be for them to help you.The committee’s main function is to advise you throughout your M.S., and it should be in place before you start taking courses that will apply to your graduate degree (i.e. in your fourth year, and no later than the beginning of the fifth year). This committee will sign off on your M.S. Plan of Study and give your final exam.

What “counts” as an appropriate internship?

This decision up to your advisor and the advisory committee, and you should consult with them before committing to an internship. Internships are intended to give you “real-world” experience applying your training in biodiversity and conservation biology in an organization outside of the university. You are expected to do the internship for at least two months.

Guidelines and procedures on internships are available here. Note that you may enroll in a zero-credit course (EEB 5881) for a summer internship, and then enroll during the subsequent academic year in a for-credit internship course (EEB 5891) for which you might write a paper on the internship. You should prepare an “internship contract” in consultation with your advisor and internship host. The purpose of this document is to describe the terms of the internship so that everyone is clear on what is expected. We provide a B.S./M.S. Sample Internship Contract.doc which should be used as a template.

 

What “counts” as an appropriate research experience?

As for internships, the decision about what constitutes an appropriate research experience rests with your advisory committee, and you should consult with your advisor and other committee members before committing to a given project. The goal of the requirement is to give you experience working in a research setting and you are encouraged to obtain this experience off-campus, perhaps in association with your internship. You are not expected to develop your own research project and no formal thesis is required, but you should be able to talk about your research experience in an informed way appropriate to a Master’s-level student. You are required to write a short paper describing your experience and you can expect to be asked questions about the research during your final exam. Research experiences are arranged by the student in consultation with their advisors. Unlike the internship, students are required to take at least 4 graduate research credits. More information is given on the M.S. requirements page.

What should I expect in my final exam? What do I need to do to prepare for it?

Every student in the program must pass a final oral exam before their M.S. can be awarded. These exams are administered by the student’s graduate committee and the exact format is determined by the student’s major advisor. Usually, they take the form of a round-table question and answer session that lasts for approximately 2 hours.

The final exam will be based on the core knowledge that the department and your committee considers important for all students graduating with a degree in Biodiversity and Conservation Biology. So, everyone can expect to get at least some basic questions about biological diversity and some about conservation biology. Generally questions will be based on the courses you have taken and the areas in which you have focused in your internship and research activities. Specific questions about the research you were involved with can be expected. You should also review material from all of your M.S. courses. The members of your committee, however, decide what questions you are asked and you should talk to each committee member about what they will expect from you well in advance of the exam. It will probably also be helpful to you to talk to your advisor about how they intend to run the exam, and to finishing students about their experiences. Simply knowing what to expect during the exam can help reduce anxiety considerably.

When does the exam happen? Who organizes it?

The exam should be taken towards the end of your final semester. It is your responsibility to organize it. This means you are responsible for the following:

  1. Finding time when your committee members are all available.
  2. Reserving a room (talk to someone in the EEB main office).
  3. Letting the program coordinator know the date and time.
Is there any paperwork that needs to be filled out for the exam?

Yes. Your advisor needs to complete the “Report on the final examination for Master’s degree” and send it to the graduate school right after the exam. It can be accessed from the graduate school’s website.

If you have questions that are not answered here, please email the program coordinator [bsms_coordinator].