The Accelerated M.S. degree is intended for current USD undergraduate students who would like to begin earning a course-based master’s degree while completing their undergraduate degree. Students in the Accelerated M.S. program should apply in the spring semester of their junior year, and would typically begin taking graduate-level courses the following fall (at the 500-level). Students can count up to 12 credits of 500-level courses towards both their B.S. and M.S. After completing their B.S. requirements, students will take an additional year of graduate courses to complete their M.S.

Admission Requirements

1. Completed Graduate Application and a non-refundable application fee of $35.

2. GPA: A minimum undergraduate cumulative GPA of 3.0, based on a 4.0 scale, on all undergraduate coursework is required for full admission.

3. TRANSCRIPTS: For students applying to the Accelerated M.S. program, the transcript should verify that at least 90 credits will be earned toward an undergraduate degree by their first semester in the program (typically by the fall of senior year). Official transcripts of all academic work at the undergraduate and graduate levels are required for all applicants.

4. STATEMENT OF PURPOSE: Applicants are required to submit 1-2 page statement of purpose that describes their motivation for applying to the Accelerated M.S. and how their academic background has prepared them to be successful in the program.

Additional Program Admission Requirements:

5. LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION: Three (3) professional letters of recommendation are required.

6. Applicants should have a minimum of the undergraduate equivalent of the Biology core curriculum.

7. Preferred application deadline for full consideration is January 15 for students applying for admission the following fall semester.

Subject to faculty approval, those who do not meet all of the criteria above may be admitted on a provisional basis. The GRE is not required.

Residency Requirements

USD has no specific residency requirements for students completing a M.S. degree.


Students will be continue to be advised by their undergraduate Biology advisor.

Program of Study

The program of study represents an agreement between the student and their advisor about courses to be taken by the student during their tenure in the graduate program. The program of study must be comprised of all undergraduate and graduate work, and at least 50% of the course work must be completed at the 700-course level or above. Up to 12 credits applied toward the B.S. program may also be used to satisfy graduate credit. However, those courses must be taken at the 500-level. The student will draft a proposed program of study during their first year. The proposed program of study may be amended from time to time to compensate for changes in course offerings. The final program of study form must be filed by at least the first week of the academic term before the student expects to graduate, i.e., the semester before they graduate. The Graduate School cannot accept the program of study until the student's advisor and biology department chair/graduate coordinator have signed it. The program of study form must be typed before submission to the Graduate School.

Annual Advising Meeting

Students should arrange an annual progress meeting with their advisor. These are designed for the student's benefit to ensure that they are making adequate progress toward completion of the degree, to identify any major problems (logistical or conceptual) in the classwork. The progress meeting should be held during the second semester, preferably before March 15th each year.

Application for Degree

Application for degree must be made no later than the first week of the session in which the student expects to complete degree requirements. The form is available by going to the following link: Application for Degree, which must be signed by your advisor.


Suggested time line for completion of the Accelerated M.S. requirements:

Spring of Junior Year

  • Apply to Accelerated M.S. program.

First Year in Accelerated M.S.

  • Begin taking graduate courses at the 500-level.
  • Complete courses and receive B.S. degree.

Second Year in Accelerated M.S.

  • Continue taking graduate courses at the 500/700 level.
  • Submit final program of study to Graduate School.
  • Submit graduation approval form.
  • File application for degree form (second semester).
  • Receive M.S. degree.