Frequently asked questions about PLNU's Master's Program in General Biology

How long does it take to complete the program?

It is possible to complete the program in 2 years and 3 summers, although some students choose to complete requirements at a slower rate.

Is the program based on a cohort model, with a group of students starting and finishing together?

No, to maximize flexibility, the program is designed so that students can finish courses on a schedule that they develop with the program director.

Will all students take two summer courses each summer?

No, students may choose to take one course each summer, but this will obviously extend the length of the program.  In order to finish the program in a two-year time frame, students will need to take two summer modules each summer.

What is the estimated cost for the program?

The 2015/2016 tuition rate is $690/unit.   Since the program is 34 units, the cost at the 2015/2016 rate would be $23,460. The actual cost would depend on how long a student takes to complete the program.  Financial aid in the form of loans is available to cover the entire cost of the program if needed, as long as the student is registered for at least 3 units each semester.  Teachers at low-income schools may seek loan forgiveness government-funded options.

Do students need to decide on the thesis or non-thesis option when they apply?

No, this decision does not need to be made until the second year of the program.

Elective Coursework Options
Thesis Guidelines

What time of day will the summer classes be offered?

The three-week summer courses will be held in the afternoons Monday through Thursday, with no class on Friday.

What types of internships are offered?

PLNU has working relationships with a number or organizations, such as museums, research institutes, community colleges and biotechnology companies, so internships can be arranged in a variety of settings. This is a very flexible option that can be specifically tailored to the needs of the student.  If a student has a particular interest, we will do our best to find an internship that will coincide with their interest.

If I have years of experience teaching biology or working in a biological field, why is a test score (GRE biology test or MFT in biology test) required as part of the application?

Students in the program should have a basic understanding of all areas of biology.  These assessments provide a means for PLNU faculty to evaluate applicants’ knowledge of many areas of biology.  The score will be considered as part of the overall application, but we do not have minimum scores.

Is there housing on campus available during the summer classes?

We anticipate that most students will commute, but we do have a limited number of one and two-bedroom apartments available on campus for students to rent (families are welcome).

How large will the classes be?

Class size is estimated to be 20-24 people.

I am not available when the MFT is offered at PLNU.  What should I do?

Contact Dr. Anderson to arrange a 2-hour block of time.

What types of electives are offered?

Students choosing the thesis option will need 6 units of electives, while the non-thesis students will need 12 units.  These units fall into several categories:

  • Graduate-level or upper division biology courses
  • PLNU internships
  • Perspectives on Science seminar with additional assignments (extra fee)

What courses may I transfer in?

Graduate-level or upper division biology courses may be transferred in from an accredited university, as long as they were not used toward earning another degree.  All transfer courses must have been taken within 8 years of the request for acceptance.  Up to 6 units may be transferred from another university.  Units taken at other universities as electives DO NOT count towards the 3-unit minimum per semester to qualify for financial aid. 

Do the summer classes include lab experiences?

Yes, the summer courses will be a combination of lecture/discussion and lab experiences, both in the field and in a traditional lab setting as appropriate to the topic.

Are the online courses completely online?

No, the online courses offered during the fall and spring semesters will involve online distribution of materials and use of threaded discussions, but each class will also meet in person once a month during each semester at a day and time agreed on by the students and the professors.

PLNU is a Christian university, but I am not a Christian.  Would I feel out of place in this program?

PLNU’s Mission Statement:

“Point Loma Nazarene University exists to provide higher education in a vital Christian community where minds are engaged and challenged, character is modeled and formed, and service is an expression of faith. Being of Wesleyan heritage, we strive to be a learning community where grace is foundational, truth is pursued, and holiness is a way of life.”

We welcome and encourage people of all backgrounds as students in our programs.  Issues that relate to science and faith will be discussed in some classes, and engaging in discussion with individuals with alternative points of view will be encouraged as learning opportunities.  Students will work within a learning community that is supportive academically, spiritually, and emotionally.

Contact Information:

All specific questions about the general biology program should be directed to:
MS in General Biology Program Director
Dianne L. Anderson, Ph.D.
T: (619) 849-2705

Questions about the application process should be directed to:
Graduate Enrollment Counselor
Megan Fausz
T: (619) 563-2821

Questions about financial aid should be directed to:
Student Success Advisor
Susy Iribe
T: (619) 563-2808