Biology & Marine Biology

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Where can I get an application? Is there an application fee?

You can go to the Graduate School's website and apply online. There is a $75 non-refundable application fee.

2. Do I need to take the GRE? 

The GRE is currently waived as a requirement due to the pandemic. The Biology subject GRE is not required. 

3. What are the differences between the Master of Science in Marine Biology and the Master of Science in Marine Science?

The Master of Science in Marine Biology is a graduate program designed to offer students advanced training and research experience in the biology sub-disciplines as they apply to marine organisms or ecosystems. Core courses include biological oceanography, physiology, ecology and molecular biology. The expectation is that students entering the program have a solid background in the major sub-disciplines (e.g. ecology, genetics, etc.) within biology. The Master of Science in Marine Science is an interdisciplinary program that includes training in both the Biological and Physical Sciences. Core courses include biological oceanography, chemical oceanography, marine geology and physical oceanography. Students may do research with a mentor or mentors from the faculties of biology and marine biology, chemistry, physics, earth sciences, or mathematics. Students entering this program may have an undergraduate background in any of the contributing disciplines.

4. Who should I contact for information regarding UNCW's Master of Science in marine science program?

You should e-mail Dr. Steve Skrabal to request information regarding the Master of Science in marine science program. You may also visit the Master of Science in marine science website for information.

6. Will I be notified if items are missing from my application?

No. Applicants may self-monitor their application status using the Graduate School's "How to Check your Graduate School Application Processing Status" page. Gmail users: Please see the special note regarding spam/junk mail folders.

7. How will my application be evaluated?

When your application is complete, the Graduate School will forward it to the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. At that time, it will be given a composite score based on four criteria:  1. A weighted undergraduate grade point average; 2. Any acadmic honors, awards, professional affiliations, etc. you include; 3. Letters of recommendation; and 4. Research and work experience. If your composite score exceeds the cut-off, you will be notified by e-mail or letter that your application has been received by the Department of Biology and Marine Biology. Applications will then be made available to the graduate faculty who may then contact you.

In order to be accepted into the graduate program, you must be sponsored by a graduate faculty member. Applicants should not just rely on being contacted by a faculty member, but should also take the initiative to contact faculty members with whom they might wish to work. Students who are not selected by a faculty member for a position in thier lab will not be accepted into the program.

8. What courses can best prepare me for graduate course work?

While course offerings vary widely from campus to campus, a curriculum containing the following should adequately prepare you for graduate course work:

  • Two semesters of introductory physics
  • Two semesters of introductory chemistry
  • One or two semesters of organic chemistry
  • Mathematics up through at least one semester of calculus
  • Introductory biology
  • Animal or plant biology
  • Cellular and molecular biology
  • Physiology
  • Genetics
  • Ecology

9. My application was received by the Department of Biology and Marine Biology, but the faculty member I am interested in working with is not taking new students. Can my application be resubmitted for the following semester? If so, what are the steps involved in having my application resubmitted for the following semester?

Yes, your application may be resubmitted for the following semester. Please see the Instructions to Reapply (PDF).


11. What is UNCW's institutional code for reporting TOEFL scores? If I am an international student but will be graduating from a university in the United States, do I need to submit TOEFL scores?

UNCW's institutional code is 5907. If you are graduating from a university in the United States, you do not need to submit TOEFL scores.

12. I decided to take a year off to gain some research experience. Will taking a year off decrease my chances of being accepted into your program?

A year off should not affect your application, particularly if you have gained some experience in the field during that year (see question 8). Your eligibility is based on your GPA, letters of recommendation, and research and work experience.

13. Are there any stipends, graduate assistantships or scholarships available? Who do I contact about student loans? How do I apply for Financial Aid?

The Department of Biology and Marine Biology offers teaching assistantships to students enrolled in the Biology Master's and Marine Biology Master's and Ph.D. programs based on the continued availability of funding. Students must request these assistantships (see application), and selection will be based on an evaluation of academic records, recommendations, experience, and relevant criteria. Teaching assistantships are currently valued at $13,000 for the 9-month academic year for Master's students and $21,000 for the 9-month academic year for Ph.D. students but are paid over 10 months. The deadline for applying, if you wish to have a teaching assistantship, is February 15. Additional stipends, including summer support, and research assistantships are also available through grant funds awarded to graduate faculty members. Details about requirements and duties associated with these sources should be discussed with the individual graduate faculty member. Information on scholarships available can be found on the Graduate School's webpage. For information regarding Financial Aid and for an application, please visit UNCW's Financial Aid webpage.

14. If I visit UNCW, who should I contact about a campus tour?

You first should set up appointments with those graduate faculty members with whom you might be interested in working. In addition, the Admissions Office gives campus tours Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., except on holidays. Persons interested in taking a tour should register online.

15. I have an undergraduate degree other than biology (e.g. environmental sciences, chemistry, English, etc.). Is it possible for me to be accepted into a biology, marine biology master's or marine biology Ph.D. program?

While it is not mandatory that one have a degree in biology, an examination of the admission criteria (see questions 7 & 8) clearly indicates that extensive background in the biological sciences is required.