Application Deadline - June 1, 2017. You still have time to apply - request info, call or complete and send the application today!
Washington University in St. Louis faculty created and piloted this degree with 90 biology teachers as a National Science Foundation teacher institute. Barbara Schaal, Mary-Dell Chilton distinguished professor in biology, and Victoria L. May, assistant dean in Arts & Sciences, used a blend of current research in life sciences and in education to design the program.
Using the NSF program as its benchmark, the M.S. in Biology degree is now available and open to teachers nationwide.
Schaal, a leading researcher in the nutrition and evolution of plant crops, is also the vice president of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). Her interest in helping all students understand the interconnectedness of living systems led to her involvement with the program.
Biology faculty who teach in the program use their own and related current research in the courses to demonstrate importance of scientific issues to the global community.
The two-year program is designed to fit the schedules of working teachers. It consists of two summer institutes, three weeks each, in residence at Washington University. The remaining coursework during the academic years will be completed online. Summer housing is available for out of town students and included in the cost of the program.
Teachers in the program continue working together throughout the summer and online courses, using social media to develop a professional networking group.
“Working with colleagues is an especially powerful support for teachers, who can feel isolated in the classroom,” says May. “The M.S. in biology program facilitates interaction among teachers, which we know can encourage change in classroom practice and growth as a professional.”
Official transcripts of all previous college work must be submitted with your application. University College can request transcripts on your behalf if a completed transcript release form is in your file.
Earn a Master of Science in Biology from Washington University in two years while continuing to work at your current job.
Learn from leading researchers in St. Louis and top-notch faculty at Washington University, one of the most prominent research universities in the country.
Gain skills to build your department as a team and acquire nationwide contacts with colleagues who are working to strengthen biology education.
Spend two three-week summer sessions at Washington University’s main campus, participating in courses with renowned faculty. Housing and on-campus meals are included in the program cost.
Participate in professional networks to keep in touch with colleagues and to provide support when writing papers and conference proposals.
Develop leadership skills for curriculum innovation at the district, local and national levels.
Tuition and Fees:
The pricing for this 30-credit program varies between Residential and Non-Residential (commuting) participants. For reference purposes only:
Residential pricing (Summer 2017) is $12,575/year.
Commuter pricing (Summer 2017) is $11,475/year. Per credit hour rate is $710 (SU2017 - SP2018) plus summer courses have a $875 lab fee.
Washington University will bill tuition each semester. Students will be enrolled in at least 4.5 credits per semester, making them eligible for federal financial aid (loans). Pricing does not include books.
Parsons Blewett funding is available for St. Louis Public School Science Teachers.
Course of Study (30 units)
Summer Courses 2017
Plants and People (BIO 523) This course provides a rigorous introduction to plant sciences and biotechnology, including basic plant physiology, plant systematics, and agriculture. The course will also cover such applied topics as genetically modified plants, conservation, secondary compounds, plant-derived medicines, and food and nutrition in the developing world.
Matter and Energy Transformations (BIO 5925) Using the processes of photosynthesis and respiration as fundamental models, this course will examine energy transformations occurring within organisms and between communities of organisms and their abiotic environment. Topics will include the observations and measurement of energy transformation in living organisms and abiotic fuel cells, the effect of burning fossil fuels on the health of local environments, global climate change, and the effect of alternative fuel options on global environment and health.
Molecular Basis of Heredity (BIO 5924) This course provides advanced study in molecular genetics, a field central to the study of biology in the 21st century, with an emphasis on human health issues. The course examines the structure of DNA, its assembly into chromatin, and the organization of eukaryotic genomes. The course content explores concepts underlying epigenetic phenomena, metagenomics, and personal genetics. The course builds on and/or provides a foundation on the themes of biochemistry and molecular biology introduced elsewhere in the Masters in Biology program. A computer lab will introduce databases and search protocols used to extract genomics information, exploring evolutionary relationships.
Ecology and Environmental Sciences (BIO 524) This course is designed to teach students about important concepts in Ecology and Environmental Science and how to relate these concepts to global environmental issues. Potential topics include species interactions, spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and global climate change. The topics will increase in biological scale during the course, from the individual organism, through populations and communities. The format of the course will be a combination of lecture, computer labs and field labs.
Biological Evolution (BIO 525) This course provides an introduction to the field of evolutionary biology and covers microevolutionary processes that occur within species and macroevolutionary patterns among groups of species. Topics include natural selection, adaptation, pathogen evolution, origin of species, and the evolution of major lineages. The course is primarily concerned with the theory underlying evolutionary biology, but it will also include empirical examples that illustrate these evolutionary principles.
Neuroscience and Behavior (BIO 5926) This course explores how organisms respond to environmental stimuli, with a special emphasis on the impact of recent advances in neuroscience research on our understanding of the inter-and intra-communication systems of organisms. Topics will include information processing systems of plants and animals, the effect of brain chemistry on the behavior of animals, and current research on the mechanisms influencing the biological clocks of animals.
Academic Year / Online Courses
Tropical Marine Biology (BIO 4080) Tropical Marine Biology examines the biological and ecological processes that influence ecosystem dynamics and biodiversity within coral reef, seagrass, shoreline, and mangrove communities. We discuss the threats to coastal and marine ecosystems worldwide.
Program Capstone I (BIO 521) Year 1 students The course will include applications of advanced level life science content to the teachers’ local biological setting. The course will also include applications of new content to teachers’ classroom setting. The instructional format will be project-based and delivered using an online learning environment. Students will be expected to conduct action research on a topic relevant to life science learning in their classrooms.
Chemistry for Biology Teachers (BIO 509) This course will emphasize those areas of contemporary biology that involve complex molecular structures and interactions that require knowledge of chemical and biochemical principles including bonding and molecular structure in important biological molecules, chemical reactions for biological processes such as respiration and photosynthesis and cellular energy conversions. Teachers will explore topics with a global societal impact, such as pharmaceutical development, bio-energy sources, nutrition, the role of bio-molecules in diseases and genetic testing.
Case Studies in Biology (BIO 529) A prerequisite to critical scientific thinking is seeking reliable knowledge. Many people are fooled by pseudoscientific claims in the popular press. Case study learning humanizes the study of biology and makes science relevant to current events. This course will use an online format to present biology-based case studies that will prompt teachers to make critical assessments of scientific information.
Anatomy and Physiology (BIO 5322) This course examines all major organ systems in the human/mammalian body. The emphasis is on understanding normal function and processes at the gross, cellular, and molecular levels as well as discussion of pathology and disease. The semester covers principles of cellular physiology, histology, digestion, bone, muscle, and nervous systems.
Conservation Biology and Biodiversity (BIO 5432) We will explore and discuss real-world examples of issues involving threats to biodiversity, ecological economics and nature conservation, habitat degradation and loss, habitat fragmentation, overexploitation, species invasions, biological impacts of climate change, conservation genetics, species and landscape approaches to conservation, ecosystem approaches to conservation, restoration of damaged ecosystems, and sustainable development.
Applications of Biology to Global Health Issues (BIO 563) This course challenges participants to observe and solve problems relating to world health issues while teaching basic biology concepts and developing 21st century skills. Participants will investigate barriers to solving problems of: 1.) Infectious disease, 2.) Diet and nutrition, and 3.) Environmental factors that prevent progress of global communities. Participants will research new technologies being developed that could potentially provide solutions, create an ideal lesson using global health issues as the focus, and generate policy statements from an educational point of view.
Program Capstone II (BIO 5771) Year 2 students The course includes: 1.) Applications of advanced level life science content to the teachers’ local biological setting, 2.) Applications of new content to teachers’ classroom setting, and 3.) Implementation of a leadership project at the teachers’ local setting. The instructional format will be project-based and delivered using an on-line learning environment.
Immunology This course covers molecular and cellular aspects of the vertebrate immune system emphasizing specific and nonspecific host defense against disease, the nature of immunological specificity, and its underlying molecular genetics. We also cover immunochemistry and its use in immunoassay systems, the nature of cell activation, cytokines, tolerance and autoimmunity, allergic reactions, blood groups, transplantation reactions, immunodeficiency, and complement systems.
Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of housing is available? Apartment style accommodations comprised of 3-4 single rooms in each apartment. Each apartment has two bathrooms, a full kitchen, and a living room. The lower level has a laundry room and vending/ice machines. There are common areas on each floor. Village East rooms contain a full bed, dresser, desk and chair, closet, and telephone. The furnishings provided vary between buildings. Linen packages are provided and include a pillow, a lightweight blanket, two sheets, two towels, two washcloths, and a bar of soap.
What is the class schedule like? The classes will be full university graduate school classes. Summers will be compacted into three weeks with each course worth two credits. During the academic year, an on-line course will be delivered each semester worth three credits and a capstone course worth three credits will be spread over the entire academic year. During the summer, you should expect to work for a couple of hours per night on each class. The online course loads vary.
Do I need any special clothing? If you plan to stay on campus during the summer, pack what you need for a three week stay (unless you plan on going home on the weekends). Apartments have laundry facilities. During July, the weather in St. Louis is often very hot and humid. The dormitories have air conditioning as do the classrooms. Ecology and Environmental Science is conducted at an outdoor biological research park owned by the university. Our classes for those days will be held partly outdoors and there will be some hiking (light hiking of a mile or less, but in hot/humid weather). While this will be a fun few days, you should wear clothing that is light, but protective against ticks. This includes sturdy shoes, long socks, hats, long pants and long-sleeved shirts. We will provide various tick sprays and recommend that you bringsunblocklotion. You may also bring along something to change into once we leave the field and go into a classroom.
Should I bring a computer? A laptop is suggested as we will be putting all of the presentations and labs on line for you to reference. If you do not have one available, let us know in advance and we can make arrangement for you to borrow one while you are here.
What is St. Louis like? Learn more about St. Louis by visiting some of these sites:
What if I have special needs? If you have special health needs or reasons that would compromise your participation, please let us know prior to your arrival. The Washington University campus has a large international student body, so a wide variety of foods are usually available and vegetarian needs are accommodated.
Institute faculty are all members of Washington University’s Biology Department, Chemistry Department, and Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences, which includes researchers from the top-ranked Washington University School of Medicine. Experts from the Missouri Botanical Garden and Danforth Plant Science Center are also engaged in our courses to bring the latest research and their expertise to our courses.
Sarah Elgin, Professor of Biology, studies gene regulation, gene silencing, and the aging process in fruit flies. She is a dedicated advocate for teaching innovations across K-12 and higher education life sciences, including active undergraduate involvement in research. She has served on numerous editorial boards, including as editor in chief of the journal Cell Biology Education. She has been broadly recognized for her commitment to teaching and learning, and received the Janet Andersen Lecture Award from the Midstates Consortium for Math and Science in 2010.
Erik Herzog, Professor of Biology, studies the cellular and molecular bases for circadian rhythms in behavior and psychology. He is a member of the steering committee for the Neuroscience Pathway graduate and postdoctoral program at Washington University, and has twice received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award. Herzog is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science nominating committee in neuroscience.
Kenneth Olsen, Associate Professor of Biology, studies the genetic bases of evolution in crop and wild plant species, including weedy rice, coconuts, and white clover. He is a research associate of the Missouri Botanical Garden, and a reviewer for the National Geographic Society, National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and other societies. Olsen’s father is a high school biology teacher in St. Louis, and Ken regularly mentors middle and high school teacher summer researchers in his lab.
Sophia Hayes, Professor of Chemistry, research interest, is focused on the unique combination of optical irradiation with solid-state NMR studies. The goal of her research is a basic understanding of the structure and properties of different types of inorganic systems, including semiconductors and other optically and electronically active materials.