Jun 17, 2024  
2021-22 NSU Graduate Catalog 
2021-22 NSU Graduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Natural Science, M.S.

OSRHE Program Code: 150
CIP Code: 301801
Major Code: 7700


The Master of Science in Natural Sciences program provides students with multi-disciplinary training in the natural sciences beyond that of the baccalaureate degree. Students pursuing a traditional thesis-based M.S. degree will gain experience in the design, execution, and reporting of scientific research by completing an original research project, while non-thesis students take more formal coursework and complete a capstone project. The curriculum consists of formal courses in the natural sciences and incorporates the candidate’s background, goals, and objectives. Adequate classroom instruction is a critical part to broadening students’ understanding of science and enabling them to be successful researchers. In addition, the program also includes multi-disciplinary courses that provide exposure to a wider range of concepts and topics than are typically included in a more traditional, discipline specific graduate program.  Many of the issues our society faces today are multi-disciplinary in nature, and scientists who are comfortable with approaching these issues from a multi-disciplinary angle will be very valuable.  Thus, the coursework for this program is designed to provide students the skills they need to understand and appreciate multi-disciplinary approaches to problem solving in science, without sacrificing the deeper understanding of a specific discipline in science. A central goal of the program is to prepare students for doctoral programs and/or employment in the natural sciences or advancement in their current profession.

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Expand the breadth of knowledge in basic science content within the chosen field of emphasis.
  2. Enhance presentation skills in both writing and speech.
  3. Generate new scientific knowledge within the field of emphasis.

Admission, Retention and Graduation

Admission. Beyond admission requirements for the Graduate College, admission to the Natural Science, M.S. program requires:

  1. The student must have an overall GPA of 3.00 on a 4.00 scale for the last 60 hours of coursework. A student may be conditionally accepted with a GPA less than 3.00 and may remain in the degree program if their overall graduate GPA is 3.00 or higher for at least nine credit hours of graduate coursework taken in their first semester.
  2. The student must have an undergraduate background of at least 20 semester hours in the natural sciences and/or engineering, excluding Introductory Biology I and II, General Chemistry I and II, General Physics I and II, or Engineering Physics I and II lectures and labs. Additional coursework may be required for admission.

  3. The student must supply two letters of reference. Letters from faculty or other professionals in the field of study are highly encouraged.
  4. The student will submit an advisor selection form with their application. Conditional acceptance may be granted to students who have not identified a graduate faculty advisor from within the College of Science and Health Professions. However, the student must submit a completed and signed Advisor Selection Form during their first semester to gain full standing.

Admission to the program will be determined by the Program Admissions committee after reviewing the application documents.

Advisement. The Graduate College assigns students an advisor upon admission to graduate studies. Initially, each student will be advised by the departmental coordinator of graduate studies from the student’s emphasis area.  It is the candidate’s responsibility to make an appointment with the advisor prior to enrollment to discuss policies and procedures relevant to the degree program. Conferring with the student, the advisor develops the plan of study, assists in the selection of classes, and counsels the student.

Advisory Committee. Within the first semester, the student will select a graduate faculty member from that department to chair a graduate advisory committee consisting of at least three faculty members.  This committee will supervise the remainder of the student’s program and work with the student to structure the student’s individualized program. The academic background, professional experience, academic objectives, and personal needs will be considered in establishing the individual’s program.

Retention and Graduation. The candidate for the Master of Science in Natural Science degree must satisfy the following requirements:

  1. Continue to meet the Graduate College’s Retention Standards. See the Academic Information page for more information.
  2. Monitor degree progress using the degree audit system in the goNSU portal.
  3. Meet Graduate College policies detailed in Academic Information and Master’s Degree Requirements regarding GPA, minimum grades, coursework age, residency and institutional / state regulations governing degree conferral.
  4. Satisfactorily complete the comprehensive oral examination covering coursework and thesis OR comprehensive oral examination covering coursework and capstone sequence.

M.S. in Natural Science - 36 hours

Thesis or Capstone - 14 hours

Thesis Candidates

The student will give an oral defense of his/her research thesis. The thesis shall be approved by the advisory committee and by the Dean of the Graduate College before the degree is conferred. A maximum of six hours of thesis credit can be applied toward the minimum hours required for the master’s degree.

Capstone Candidates

The student will complete 8 hours of electives and the capstone sequence. Student must complete a comprehensive oral examination covering coursework and the capstone sequence.

Accelerated B.S. Chemistry to M.S. Natural Science Degree - Thesis Pathway

Note:  Please refer to Accelerated Bachelor’s to Master’s Degree Program  for complete information concerning the Accelerated Degree Program (ADP).  Refer to the current Undergraduate Catalog for bachelor’s degree requirements.


  • Students admitted to the Accelerated B.S. Chemistry: Biochemistry or Chemistry: Professional to M.S. Natural Science degree program will complete 6-9 hours of graduate level credit to apply toward both the undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • Students who do not follow the approved degree plan may become ineligible to continue in the accelerated degree program. 
  • Prior to completing the undergraduate degree, if the undergraduate GPA, graduate GPA and/or overall GPA fall below a 3.00, the student becomes ineligible to continue in the ADP.
  • Students may withdraw from an approved accelerated degree pathway.  Graduate credit hours completed prior to the student withdrawing or becoming ineligible to continue in the ADP apply toward the undergraduate degree only.

Accelerated Degree Required Courses for M.S. - 10 hours

Thesis - 14 hours