5-Year MS

OEB offers a 5th Year Masters Program exclusively for BS graduates from UMass or any other of the Five Colleges. This accelerated program is open to students who have already begun undergraduate research in the lab of an OEB Graduate Program faculty member prior to their senior year and intend to develop that project into a Master's degree.

The program is designed to augment the research and academic training of academically strong students in preparation for the workplace or additional professional studies.

Students who are interested in this program should meet with their academic and research advisors to discuss this option before the end of their junior year. Admission will require the consent of the research adviser, and in most cases, an undergraduate research project will be modified to provide the basis for the Masters Degree Project.

Application Process

Students must apply for the program directly through the Graduate School using the standard graduate school application. Three letters of recommendation, including one from the students intended research advisor are required.


The OEB Program does not guarantee funding to 5th year MS students, though faculty advisors may have research funding and teaching assistantships are sometimes available.

Course Requirements

Thirty (30) credit hours are required for a Master of Science degree. All OEB MS requirements and all Graduate School MS requirements must be met. Fifth year MS students will find they have an easier time meeting the course requirements if they enter with OEB-eligible credits that were not needed to fulfill their undergraduate major’s course requirements.

OEB course requirements:

  • Ecology Core Course (4 credits). This is offered in the fall of odd-numbered years
  • Evolution Core Course (4 credits). This is offered in the fall of even-numbered years
  • Biology 891A Grad Program Seminar-OEB section (1 credit). This is offered every semester. Students must register for 2 semesters.
  • ORG&EVBI 697B Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (1 credit). Students must register for this Proseminar in their 1st semester
  • ORG&EVBI 697Y Graduate Student Seminar Symposium (1 credit). Students should plan to complete this requirement in spring of their 1st year. Between 1 and 10 credits of ORG&EVBI 699 (MS thesis credits)
  • At least 1 course in statistics

All OEB students are required to take two core courses: Ecology and Evolution, offered in alternating falls. Thus incoming 5th yr MS students must develop a plan with their faculty advisor to meet the core course requirement that is not offered in the fall that they enter. The plan must be approved by the OEB Graduate Program Director.


It is anticipated that qualified students should be able to complete the B.S./M.S. program within 5 years, including two summers.