Thesis and Terminal M.S.

Master of Science in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology


Overview of the program.

The Thesis MS degree program is a 2-year program, in which a student will take 24 graduate credit hours of coursework and write a thesis. The program is well suited to students considering or planning on applying to Ph.D. degree programs in EEB and related areas. The program is also useful for students planning to enter more advanced professional degree programs (e.g., law, public health, medicine, veterinary medicine, natural resources management). It can be useful for students interested in seeking employment with environmental agencies of federal, state, and municipal government; non-governmental organizations; education; and in private industry, including environmental consulting firms.

Degree Requirements


General course requirements. All students must complete 24 graduate credit hours in order to obtain the degree, over the course of 4 semesters.
  • Thesis MS students can transfer up to 12 credit hours from previous graduate-level coursework to the degree. The Chair of the Department must approve all transfer credits.
  • Students hoping to transfer graduate credits should prepare and submit the paperwork at the start of the Spring semester. The graduate school will only transfer credits when the student has completed one semester (it is at that point that a Tulane transcript is available).  
  • A total of 9 credits (typically 3 courses) can be academic graduate electives from other departments (see approved courses list here); the remainder of the credits must be earned within the EEB department via a combination of independent study and coursework. External electives not already approved can be petitioned for approval prior to enrollment if the course content is directly relative to the course of study. (International Students should note that any language courses required by Tulane are not counted as a part of the academic program.)
  • Note that thesis MS students typically do NOT register for any credits over the summer (Ph.D. students must due to health insurance reasons, but not MS students).
  • An annual report is due by April 15 of each spring semester; a form is provided by the department for this report.

Independent Study. At least 2 courses (6 credit hours total) must be Independent Study. Students should speak with the graduate studies committee if they want to take more than 6 credit hours in a single semester.

Masters Research Credits. Students must enroll in 3 credits of Masters Research over two successive semesters (6 credits total). Typically, students do this is the 3rd and 4th semesters. The student may register for more Masters Research credits if desired in previous semesters; however, these credits do not count toward the 24 course credits necessary for the degree. Masters Research credits are an additional and different type of credit, and they bring the total credits up to 24+6=30. Note that if all other credit requirements are met, the student can enroll in ONLY 3 hrs of Masters Research to maintain enrollment, i.e. this maintains full time enrollment (because course credits are costly this can save money).

Journal Club. Students must complete one semester of Journal Club (EBIO-6810).

Foundations Course. Students must complete Foundations in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO-6777).

Internship/Research Experience credits. A thesis MS student may register for an internship or research experience. The options for internships and research include one of the two following sequences of courses. Students are expected to complete both semesters if pursing either one of these options.
  • EBIO 7150-7160 – Problems in Environmental Biology (3 credits each) – Directed independent study applying field and laboratory methods.
  • EBIO 7660-7670 – Internship in Environmental Biology (3 credits each) – Experiential learning in cooperation with federal, state, municipal, or private agencies and industry.
Quality of Work Requirements.
  • Students must maintain a GPA > 3.0 in order to complete the program. Any students with a GPA below this threshold will be placed on academic probation.
  • Students must earn a grade of B- or better in any individual class for the class to count toward the 24 hour credit requirement. If a grade below B- is received, the course will not count toward the requirement.

Benchmarks by semester. Spring semester benchmarks must be met by April 15.

By 1st semester:
  • Complete the Entrance Interview within the first week of the semester. The student should arrange a meeting with advisor & at least one faculty member, who will complete and sign the Entrance Interview Form. A copy of this form should be deposited in the departmental file for the student.
  • Complete Foundations in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EBIO-6777)
  • Complete one semester of the one-credit Journal Club course (EBIO-6810). It is generally offered each Fall and Spring semester.
By 2nd semester:
By 3rd semester:
  • Register for 3 credits of Masters Research (EBIO-9980).
By 4th semester:
  • Register for 3 credits of Masters Research (EBIO-9980).
  • Students should complete and submit an “Application to Graduate” form early in their fourth (Spring) semester (typically this is due in February and a reminder is sent out from the SSE graduate school).
  • Thesis defense, includes submission of a written thesis and a closed defense meeting with their committee.

For any inquiries or more information, please contact Graduate Studies Coordinator Dr. Sunshine Van Bael.


Masters of Science in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology (Terminal, Non-Thesis)


In order to earn this degree, students must have been admitted to the EEB graduate program through the regular Tulane University admissions process. Students admitted to the program must have completed the requirements for a baccalaureate degree in any discipline that includes course work in Chemistry (General Chemistry, and either Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry) and Biology (Genetics, Ecology, and Evolution). Additional coursework may be required to make up deficiencies. Students will meet with the graduate advisor prior to the beginning of his/her first semester to discuss appropriate course work for this degree.

All students seeking this degree must complete 30 credit hours of approved, graduate level coursework in EEB or other relevant departments. A maximum of 6 credits at the graduate level may be transferred to this degree program, at the discretion of the Chair of the Department.