School of
Integrative Biology

Master of Science in IB

Front of Natural History Building from the north-west The Master of Science in Integrative Biology (MS in IB) program provides students with a non-thesis, course-based advanced degree opportunity. In this way, students in the MS program have the ability to enhance their skill sets within IB upper-level courses without having to invest in a required timely research component for the degree. Students will thus be able to graduate in one year with a degree making them more competitive for employment and future research opportunities.

About the MS in IB Degree

This is a course-based Master of Science degree program in Integrative Biology (MS in IB). This degree program will include both face-to-face and online course options and is directed toward students who want advanced preparation for professional school or future careers in industry, government, or academia. The purpose of this degree program is to provide an educational option for advanced study in the field of integrative biology without requiring a research thesis component.

Becky and student researching in Boneyard Creek

This program can serve students who are in a gap year between undergraduate programs and either employment or future graduate-level programs. With the ability to hone skills in critical thinking, communication, laboratory practices, and scientific knowledge this program affords students the ability to make the most effective use out of such a year.

The MS in IB program offers advanced coursework in fields such as organismal biology, behavioral ecology, anatomy and physiology, environmental science, bioinformatics, pathology, genomics, and mathematical modeling to name just a few. With a world-class advanced degree from the University of Illinois, our students are better prepared to enter the workforce and thus have higher earning potential.

Course Selection

The MS in IB program degree requires a minimum of two full-time semesters. Students may take up to two years to complete their degree. See this MS in IB Program Document for a general overview and list of all approved courses. You can also view the current MS in IB Course Planning Tool.

Student Advising Services

The School of Integrative Biology considers quality student instruction as one of its highest priorities as we continue to welcome new students to be actively part of the discipline. We thus build in support for MS in IB students in multiple ways:

students researching in green wetland

Academic Advising

Specific to the MS in IB program, all academic advising (such as applications, course-selection mapping and career-readiness counseling) will be performed by the MS in IB Director.

Career Advising

As part of the MS in IB program, students will take a course, IB 592: Career and Skill Development in IB, which will include more tailored mentoring, with course goals of building confidence to find and secure a career, making connections in the field of integrative biology, and applying resources learned to aid in job searches and applications. IB 592 will serve to connect students with IB alumni and mentors in helping them to better plan their next steps and career growth through connections with our community here at Illinois. These volunteer and mentoring opportunities help to create more well-rounded applications to professional schools or employment opportunities for MS in IB students. IB 592 will also serve to help students make informed decisions about the next steps in their career development along with building skill sets such as how to interpret scientific literature effectively, how to construct successful grant proposals, and the methods of successful scientific writing.

Tuition and Financial Aid

Like many professional degree programs, the MS in IB program is self-supporting and does not offer or accept tuition waivers. Financial aid is available to students accepted into the program. For more information on financial aid eligibility and requirements see the Office of Student Financial Aid. There are also additional financial opportunities including:

  • Graduate hourly positions offered on-campus (e.g. graders, research) that are willing to support an hourly position instead of providing a waiver or stipend
  • On-campus or off-campus employment (also see Job Boards from the Graduate College)
Students smiling and talking about schoolwork

Enrollment for this program requires a minimum of two full-time semesters. Credit hours will range from 6–16 (or more) each semester, depending on course availability, international/domestic status, and student goals. International students are required to register for at least 12 credit hours to maintain F-1/J-1 student status.

For the most up-to-date tuition and fees information and the helpful Illinois Cost Calculator tool, see the Office of the Registrar’s Tuition and Fees page. Students in the MS in IB program will use the Chemistry and Life Sciences base rate when calculating tuition rates. Below is a sample tuition and fees schedule for the current Academic Year.

Sample Tuition and Fees Schedule 2022/2023 Academic Year (Fall & Spring)

  Residents Nonresidents/
Chemistry and Life Sciences Tuition Rate
(see Office of Registrar’s Tuition Rates page for current rates)
$18,178 $33,772
Campus Fees
(see Campus Fees page for fee breakdown)
$5,072 $5,072
Total* for 2 semesters
(fall & spring)
$23,250 $38,844
*Does not include additional expenses such as room, board, books, supplies and other common living expenses. See a further breakdown of these costs on the Office of the Registrar’s Estimated Additional Expenses page.

Application and Admissions

Students entering the MS in IB program are expected to have a completed Bachelor’s degree from an accredited 4-year college or university with undergraduate coursework in biology, chemistry, physics, calculus and English composition. Applicants must have completed the last 60 hours of coursework with grades of B (3.0 on a scale of 1 to 4) or better. Deficiencies in these areas will require additional coursework, as necessary, for successful completion of the degree. Courses, or their equivalents, taken prior to admission to this program may not be counted toward the requirements for this program.

All applications must include:
  • The applicant’s CV
  • At least three letters of reference, preferably from recommenders in academic or professional positions
  • An Academic Personal Statement where applicants provide a brief background of their academic interests and background and explain their ultimate goal for participating in this program
  • A Supplemental Personal Statement where applicants further detail how their background shaped their interest in this program as well as insight on the applicant’s potential to contribute to a community of inclusion, belonging, and respect in which scholars with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, abilities, and experiences can learn and collaborate productively and positively together
  • The GRE is NOT required
  • For admission to the program, the Graduate College also requires official transcripts from every post-secondary institution you have attended (once admitted)

Applications for Fall 2023 are due July 1, 2023.
Applications for Spring 2024 are due November 15, 2023.
Applications for Summer 2024 are due May 1, 2024.

To begin your application process see the Graduate College Application page. The program code for MS in IB is 1PKS6936MS.
Contact with any questions.

Contact Us

Please contact us if you have any questions about the MS in IB degree program.

School of Integrative Biology
  • 286 Morrill Hall
  • MC-120
  • University of Illinois
  • 505 S. Goodwin Ave.
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • U.S.A.

phone: 217-300-5039

A note from the MS in IB Program Director, Allison O’Dwyer:

Allison O'Dwyer framed by fall leaves I welcome your application to the MS in IB program! Please email me at if I can help in your application process. In addition to directing the MS in IB program, I am an Instructor in the School of Integrative Biology. My background includes research in algal ecology as well as serving as a K-12 Biology educator. I am a native gardening enthusiast and enjoy digging in the dirt with our two daughters. I look forward to mentoring you in this program.