Biology Graduate Program

The Department of Biology offers a Master of Science (M.Sc.) program, which is described in this webpage.
Note about Ph.D. studies:
StFX does not have its own Ph.D. program in Biology. However, Ph.D. students can do their thesis entirely in the lab of a StFX Biology professor as long as such students are formally registered in the Ph.D. program of another university. These students eventually obtain their Ph.D. degree from that university.  Currently, StFX has an agreement with Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN) that allows MUN Ph.D. students to do their thesis entirely at a StFX lab.  In recent years, Ph.D. students have already obtained their Ph.D. degree at another university based on theses fully conducted at StFX. If you are interested in doing your Ph.D. with a StFX Biology professor (see Faculty/Staff), contact him/her to discuss ways to make it possible.

Application to Our M.Sc. Program

The submission deadline for M.Sc. applications is February 15th of every year.

Applicants to our M.Sc. program should have a B.Sc. degree with a grade point average of 70% or better.

An M.Sc. student must have a supervisor, who must be a professor in our department (see Faculty/Staff). Before applying to our program, a prospective student must contact a professor working on the student's discipline of interest to ensure that such a professor would accept to be the student's supervisor. The applicant must state the name of the proposed supervisor in the application package.

To apply, please visit the MSc - Biology program page.

Funding Sources for M.Sc. Students

M.Sc. students are required to pay a tuition fee (non-Canadian M.Sc. students must pay an international fee in addition to the regular tuition fee). The subsistence cost for an M.Sc. student is $ 16,000 per year. Such an amount may come from any combination of a student scholarship (e.g., Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship), a Teaching Assistantship, personal funds from the student, or a research grant (e.g., NSERC) from the supervisor. If the student has no external funding, the supervisor must provide a stipend of at least $5,000 per year from a research grant. The proposed funding scheme must be specified in the application letter.

Description of Our M.Sc. Program

  • The M.Sc. program lasts for 2 years when taken on a full-time basis.
  • The student's Supervisory Committee will consist of the supervisor and two other members, one of whom must be a StFX faculty member. This committee should be struck soon after the student has started the program. The purpose of the committee is to ensure that appropriate courses will be taken and that the student's Thesis Proposal is sound. The Supervisory Committee must meet annually to monitor the progress of the student towards the completion of the thesis.
  • The Thesis Proposal must be submitted by the student to the Supervisory Committee within 8 months after starting the program. The proposal (max. 20 pages) should include an abstract, an introduction including a pertinent literature review and the research hypothesis/es, the methods to test the hypothesis/es, and relevant references. The proposal should be orally presented (20 min.) and defended before the Supervisory Committee.
  • The student must earn 36 credits during the two-year program by completing two elective BIOL5XX courses (selected from those listed below), BIOL596 (Research Methods in Biology), BIOL594 (Thesis Proposal), and BIOL598 (Research) in the first year and BIOL599 (Thesis) in the second year.
  • The passing grade in each course is 60%, but an average of 70% is required for graduation.
  • The thesis format should conform to standards set by the Canada Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (CISTI).
  • An unbound paper version and a PDF version of the thesis must be submitted to the university's Angus L. MacDonald Library and an unbound paper copy to the Department of Biology.

Completion of M.Sc. requirements

  • The Examination Committee should include the three members of the Supervisory Committee, the Chair of the Biology Department, a member of StFX's Committee on Graduate Studies, and an external examiner selected by the Supervisory Committee. The external examiner cannot be a StFX employee, must have professional knowledge of the general topic of the thesis, and should receive a thesis copy for examination (via mail or email) no less than one month before the date proposed for the thesis defense. The external examiner is to be paid $200 for making the review.
  • The final examination consists of an oral defense, which includes a public presentation of the thesis (30 min.) and a public or in-camera (as decided by the Examination Committee) questions period. The external examiner may be present at the exam, participate through an online mechanism, or submit a written evaluation of the thesis (including questions for the student) to be read to the student during the question period. The Chair of the Biology Department chairs the final examination.

M.Sc. Courses

Elective Courses (3 credits)
BIOL501 Advanced Biomechanics
BIOL502 Advanced Topics in Membrane Biology
BIOL504 Topics in Vertebrate Physiology
BIOL511 Advanced Marine Ecology
BIOL515 Topics in Microbiology
BIOL517 Topics in Molecular Biology
BIOL523 Bioinformatics
BIOL525 Advanced Cell Biology
BIOL533 Advanced Topics in Biometrics
BIOL535 Topics in Microscopy
BIOL545 Topics in Phycology
BIOL551 Advanced Population Ecology
BIOL571 Advanced Topics in Ecology
BIOL575 Winter Ecology
BIOL581 Special Topics
BIOL586 Advanced Topics in Animal Behaviour
BIOL587 Advanced Topics in Neuroethology
BIOL590 Topics in Botany
BIOL595 Topics in Cell Biology 

Required Courses

BIOL596 Research Methods in Biology (3 credits)
BIOL594 Thesis Proposal (3 credits)
BIOL598 Research (6 credits)
BIOL599 Thesis (18 credits)

Outstanding Graduate Student Research Award winners

2024 - Nicole M. Cameron (supervisor: Ricardo A. Scrosati)
2022 - Ella A. Maltby (supervisor: Russell C. Wyeth)
2019 - Alexander P. Young (supervisor: Russell C. Wyeth)