Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions Image

Q. What are the differences between the thesis and the non-thesis options?

A. These are compared in the below.


  • Time to complete: 1½ to 3 years. Variation in time to completion is due mainly to the unpredictability of research projects.(Assuming full time study)
  • Credit Hours: 36
  • Research Component:
  • Extensive. Requires 9 credit hours on research (BIOL 6365, 7100, 7101), a research project developed in consultation with committee, and a written thesis
  • Supervisor Committee Required?:
    • Yes
  • Appropriate for student who...
    • Intend to continue on to a more advanced degree (e.g., Ph.D.)
    • Seek an entry level position in a technical or research career


  • Time to complete: 2 years.
  • Credit Hours: 36
  • Research Component
    • Moderate, Requires 3 credit hours in research (BIOL 6365).
  • Supervisor Committee Required?
    • Yes
  • Appropriate for student who...
    • Have a career and intend to continue in it (e.g., K-12 teaching)
    • Seek to enrich their background knowledge in biology

Q. What GRE scores are required?

A. The UTRGV Graduate College requires that any GRE general test have minimum scores of 150 Verbal, 141 Quantitative, and 4.0 Analytical. GRE test scores are valid for 5 years.

Provided the Graduate College scores are met, GRE scores are among many factors taken into consideration when the department reviews graduate applications. For example, if you have a high undergraduate GPA and strong recommendation letters, the GRE becomes a little less important in the review process. In contrast, if you have only a fair undergraduate GPA and weak letters of recommendation, the GRE score can make or break an application. Obviously, higher GRE scores make for stronger applications.

Q. Is financial support available?

A. The main mechanism of graduate student support is through teaching assistantships, particularly for teaching labs in General Biology and Anatomy and Physiology. For information on these opportunities, please contact Liza Vela, our senior lab coordinator.

Research assistantships are occasionally available, and are awarded on a competitive basis.

Q. Are tuition waivers available?

A. Not of the sort you're probably thinking of, no. Unfortunately, this matter is determined by the state of Texas, which forbids tuition waivers for graduate students. There is a tuition reduction (which the state of Texas calls a "waiver"): out-of-state students who meet certain conditions (e.g., full time status, teaching assistantship) are allowed to pay in-state tuition rates, which are substantially lower.

Q. How many students are accepted into the program?

A. There is no set number of "slots" in the program. The number of students accepted varies with the quality of the applications and the willingness of faculty members to supervise particular students.

Q. Is my application competitive?

A. We do not review application material prior to receiving the completed application. Sorry.

Q. Can I take the GRE after the application deadline or after I start the program?

A. No

Q. I will be writing the GRE after the application deadline for the semester I want to begin, but before the semester begins. Can I be accepted into the program with my GRE scores pending?

A. No. You must write the GRE before the application deadline for your application to be considered complete