Graduate Coordinator

Sean Lema, PhD, Associate Professor
805-756-1419 FAX

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Graduate Degrees

Cal Poly Biological Sciences offers two graduate degree programs at the Master's level. 

Click here to see how to apply for the graduate program.

Master of Science in Biological Sciences

This degree program is designed to prepare students for many types of biological work that require advanced training beyond the bachelor's degree, including careers in industry and/or civil service, teaching biological sciences at the elementary, secondary, and community college levels, independent research in the field of specialization, or continued graduate work at other institutions. A research thesis is required.

Master of Science in Biological Sciences — Specialization in Regenerative Medicine

This new degree program accepts 10 candidates per year in Biological Sciences, Biomedical Engineering, or Animal Science. It is a two-year program offering candidates a year of training. In place of the thesis as a culminating experience, students are required to complete a non-traditional Comprehensive Exam that includes a 9-month internship in a stem cell research laboratory, a quarter-long project course at Cal Poly, a written report of their internship research, a written report of their quarter-long project course, and an oral presentation of their internship research. This degree prepares candidates to go into industry at laboratories conducting research in regenerative medicine and stem cells, or to pursue a further advanced degree such as a doctorate.

Read more at about the Regenerative Medicine Program

Application and Admission

Application deadline is the 1st of February annually.
This deadline is a departmental policy and differs from the university deadline listed in the current catalog. Admission is for Fall quarter only.

Admission Requirements

In addition to Cal Poly university-wide admission requirements, admission into the graduate program in the Biological Sciences Department requires the following:

  • A minimum G.P.A. of 3.0 in the last 90 quarter units (60 semester units) taken as an undergraduate. Candidates with lower GPAs are considered only with extenuating circumstances.
  • Satisfactory scores on the General Graduate Record Examination Aptitude Test (GRE). Scores should be at least 150 in each of the verbal and quantitative sections and 4 for the essay. (Note that the Biology GRE Subject Test is not required for admission.) Candidates with lower GRE scores are considered only with extenuating circumstances.
  • Prerequisite courses: one year of majors' introductory course work in biology and one course in each of the following areas: general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, calculus, genetics, evolution. NOTE: If you have not taken one or more prerequisite courses, you may still be admitted with conditional status, and will be required to take the course at Cal Poly.
  • At least two letters of reference from persons familiar with recent academic or work performance of the applicant. You may submit additional letters if you would like.
  • A typed statement of purpose describing your research experience and your goals.  (If you are applying to multiple CSU campuses, you should upload a general statement here, and also upload to the “Additional Transcripts” section a statement specifically describing your reasons for applying to Cal Poly and identifying in the first sentence the name of the faculty advisor or program for which you would like to be considered. There is no word limit for the Cal Poly statement.) 
  • Curriculum vita with email address, phone number, previous education, experience, and employment, and contact information for references
  • Applicants to the regular MS program are strongly encouraged to contact prospective advisors. Admission to the regular MS program requires that an advisor agree to supervise an applicant. Faculty research interests can be found by browsing faculty profiles.

Application Checklist:

Application to Cal Poly’s graduate program in Biological Sciences requires completion of the following steps at two different websites:

  1. Apply to Cal Poly via Cal State Apply by Feb 1. Extensions beyond Feb 1 are not possible. 
  2. Arrange to send official transcripts from all colleges and universities attended and an official GRE General Exam score report to Cal Poly Admissions (code 4038).
  3. On Cal State Apply, the following materials MUST be uploaded by the Feb 1 application deadline (Note: If there is no designated location to upload any of these documents, please upload them to the “Additional Transcripts” field)
  • Unofficial transcripts (be sure to submit official transcripts to Admissions as described above)
  • Unofficial GRE General Exam score report (be sure to submit official score report to Admissions as described above)
  • Statement of Purpose (see note above)
  • At least two letters of reference
  • Curriculum vita

Graduate Coordinator: Dr. Sean Lema, Biological Sciences, Cal Poly, 1 Grand Ave., San Luis Obispo, CA; phone: 805-756-2802; fax: 805-756-1419.


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