Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Bachelor's/Master's Contiguous Pathway

The Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (EEB) Department offers a contiguous bachelor’s/master’s path program, which can be completed with an appropriate bachelor’s degree at UC Santa Cruz in five years. The program provides highly motivated undergraduate majors the opportunity to earn separate bachelor’s (B.A.) and master’s (M.A.) degrees. This pathway provides an additional level of preparation and experience to help students pursue careers in industry or government, or to increase their competitiveness for doctoral programs.

Students applying to the EEB Contiguous Bachelor’s/Master’s Path must be UC Santa Cruz undergraduates who are in the process of developing or conducting an independent research project with an EEB ladder rank faculty as their advisor or co-advisor. The undergraduate thesis advisor is the person who recommends applicants to the contiguous B.A./M.A. program and agrees to continue serving as their master’s advisor or co-advisor. Students applying to this program will either be completing an undergraduate degree in one of the majors administered by EEB (i.e., biology, ecology and evolutionary biology, marine biology, or plant science) or completing an undergraduate degree in a related field and have completed and done well in the EEB coursework relevant to their proposed research. The master's degree consists of 35 total credits, 15 credits from upper-level undergraduate courses and 20 credits in graduate-level courses.

Applications to the contiguous B.A./M.A path are completed in a two-step process. In spring of the undergraduate’s junior year, they will complete the EEB departmental application form as described in the checklist below. If approved for the additional-year Contiguous Bachelor’s/Master’s Path, students will go through the regular EEB master’s program application process in fall of their senior year. Admission to the program is not guaranteed; significant progress on the thesis research project combined with an excellent academic track record will indicate the preparedness of the student to undertake this accelerated master’s program.

Checklist for Bachelor’s/Master’s Students

  1. Read the program information on the Contiguous Bachelor’s/Master’s Path website, including requirements and deadlines. Note: The M.A. is a Plan I Thesis Track master's.
  2. To be able to take advantage of this program, by the middle of your junior year you will need to find an EEB ladder rank faculty advisor or co-advisor with whom you will design and complete your research project. If you choose to work with an adjunct or affiliated faculty, you must also have a ladder rank faculty as your co-advisor. At this point the research project may develop either into an undergraduate senior thesis project or a master’s research project.
  3. By spring of the junior year, submit your EEB departmental application for consideration to apply to the contiguous B.A./M.A. program. This must include:
    1. a letter from a ladder rank faculty in EEB who agrees to be your master’s advisor or co-advisor;
    2. a brief description (maximum one page) of your planned research;
    3. a curricular plan that has been reviewed by your proposed EEB faculty advisor and any other proposed faculty co-advisors, Biology Advising (or the appropriate advising for your undergraduate major at UCSC) and the EEB Graduate Program coordinator to ensure you can complete all coursework required for both degrees in five years.
  4. In the fall of your senior year, if your departmental application is approved and you and your advisor still believe the research project could develop into a master’s thesis, apply for admission through the UCSC Graduate Division portal to the M.A. Program (due date Dec. 10).
    1. Your statement of purpose must include a proposed research plan for your master’s thesis.
    2. You must include a letter of recommendation from a ladder rank EEB faculty advisor or co-advisor stating that they approve this plan and agree to serve as your advisor or co-advisor for your master’s research and thesis.
  5. By the end of senior year, complete all requirements for your bachelor’s degree from UCSC and submit an undergraduate thesis, which includes a section on your proposed research extension (for the master’s thesis), following the same guidelines as the existing Two-Year Master’s Program. This thesis must be read and approved by your EEB ladder rank faculty advisor. Recommendation: enroll in a graduate-level class at some time during your senior year and also attend EEB departmental seminars (BIOE 294). Entry-level graduate classes include BIOE 203, BIOE 215, BIOE 238, BIOE 239, and BIOE 245.
  6. During the master’s year, complete the graduate course and seminar requirements while working on your master’s thesis.
    1. You will enroll in BIOE 200A, BIOE 200B, BIOE 279, and attend EEB departmental seminars (BIOE 294) every quarter, and enroll in two quarters of BIOE 203 or one of BIOE 203 and one of BIOE 215. A student may take BIOE 203 and BIOE 215 during their senior undergraduate year as long as these courses are not used to meet course and credit requirements for their undergraduate degree. Establish a master's thesis committee consisting of your research advisor (chair) plus two other ladder rank faculty.
  7. Master's Thesis/Master's Thesis Defense
    1. At the beginning of your senior undergraduate year, develop a timeline with your adviser that includes deadlines for all components of the thesis; a complete draft should be submitted to your advisor by early April at the latest. There is usually an extensive revising process prior to giving the thesis to the other committee members.
    2. By Friday of week 10 of winter quarter schedule your defense and public seminar with your master’s thesis committee members through the departmental graduate coordinator.
    3. One month (30 days) before the thesis defense date (at the latest), email the thesis to your other thesis committee members.
    4. During your defense you will present your work to be reviewed by your committee. They may also ask general knowledge questions to test your mastery of the subject area. Corrections and/or additions to your thesis may be suggested.
    5. Next, a formal, public research seminar will be presented by the student. This seminar should be scheduled with the EEB Graduate Program coordinator for the regular time slot when possible, and may not be scheduled for less than a week after the closed defense meeting. It is important to leave enough time before the public seminar for the student to make changes to the thesis manuscript that are requested by the committee. The M.A. Thesis Reading Committee chair signs the title sheet only after the research has been presented in a public seminar.
    6. Submit the final version of your master’s thesis and complete your final appointment with the Graduate Division. In order to participate in the graduation ceremony, students must submit all documentation to the Graduate Division by the deadline as stated in the Academic and Administrative Calendar. This usually occurs during week nine of spring quarter.

If a student completes their UCSC bachelor’s degree and is admitted to the Contiguous Bachelor’s/Master’s Path, but does not successfully complete all requirements expected for this program, then they would revert to the existing EEB Master’s Program requirements. They must remain in good standing in the program and follow all existing guidelines of the EEB Master’s Program. The baseline assumption is that students admitted to the Contiguous Bachelor’s/Master’s Path will be self-funded throughout their enrollment in the master’s program.