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Master of Chemical and Life Sciences, Online (CLFS)

MCLFS is offered through the Department of Entomology in the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. In 2019, the MCLFS was ranked 6th in the nation as best online master’s in biology programs.

Mentoring and advising are an essential part of the program. Students meet with faculty and the academic program director to ensure that educational goals and career learning and development goals are met. Should contact the program director, Dr. Marcia Shofner, via email:


The Master of Chemical and Life Sciences, Online (CLFS) a 30-credit, content-based, graduate program that provides in-depth knowledge of current research areas in the biological, biochemical, and biomedical science including genetic engineering and gene therapy to chemistry, ecology, and concepts of bio-complexity.

  • Features online instruction that is supplemented with an in-person learning element—see Practical Experience, below.
  • Designed for middle and high school teachers, successful completion will make a powerful difference in your teaching career.
  • Provides the flexibility teachers need to keep learning and stay current in the STEM disciplines of biology and chemistry.
  • Features online instruction that is supplemented with an in-person learning element.
  • Can be completed in eighteen months of continuous full-time enrollment. Part-time enrollment is welcome. See Designation of Full-time/Part-time Status.

Program Features

To satisfy the program’s requirements, students complete 30 credits of coursework within the following categories:

  • General Courses (20-22 credits)
  • Experimental Design and Statistics (2 credits of CLFS725)
  • Practical Experience, In-person Learning Element (3-4 credits)
  • Scholarly Paper (3-4 credits of CLFS608)

Practical Experience, In-person Learning Element

Students complete 3-4 credits of Practical Experience which is based on applications of research techniques to specific experiments. The Practical Experience, an in-person learning element, can be satisfied with pre-approved laboratory or field experience as follows:

  • Courses at local colleges, universities or field stations. To be acceptable, the course (i) must be offered for graduate credit, (ii) focus on biological or chemical techniques (rather than pedagogy), and (iii) have a credit level appropriate to the contact hours in the class.
  • Internship with established researchers at local colleges or universities. If internships have a grade and graduate credit assigned to them by the college or university, the internship can be transferred into the MCLFS program. If no graduate credit is assigned to the internship, credit and a grade still can be awarded in the MCLFS program after a written summary of the internship activities are evaluated by a member of the UMD faculty. As with classes and workshops, credits are awarded in compliance with UMD Graduate School regulations.
  • Independent research project with established researchers at local colleges or universities. Independent research requires collaboration between the student and a research committee consisting of the local researcher and two members of the UMD faculty assigned by the MCLFS Director. The committee is responsible for approving the research protocol and evaluating the final written description of the research. As with the other applications alternatives, credits are awarded in compliance with UMD Graduate School regulations.

Scholarly Paper

The Scholarly Paper (CLFS608) is the program's capstone experience, and often takes more than one term to complete. Students take 3-4 credits and no more than four credits of CLFS608 may be counted towards the required 30 credits. The Scholarly Paper allows teachers sufficient time to explore a subject in greater depth and breadth, critically evaluate articles in the primary literature, compare differing interpretations of these articles, and develop a consensus view on the state and future direction of their subject area. The Scholarly Paper is a mentored project done in consultation with a UMD faculty member. Students must first identify a topic of interest with the program's academic director. Once confirmed, you'll work on the project with the mentor who is responsible for guidance and assigning the final grade. There are 2 options to select a mentor:

  • Email with your topic information for assistance in locating a mentor.
  • Identify a possible topic and contact an MCLFS instructor (mentor). Upon agreement, email with the topic and mentor information. Make sure to copy the mentor.


Below is a listing of all program courses. For a detailed course description that includes pre-requisites or co-requisites, see The Graduate School Catalog, Course Listing as follows: CLFS Course Descriptions 

Term Type Course Number Title
All Scholarly Paper CLFS608 Scholarly Paper
All Scholarly Paper CLFS608A Independent Research
I General Course CLFS609A Food Safety and Genetically Modified Foods
II General Course CLFS609B The Biology of Reproduction
II General Course CLFS609C Emerging Infectious Diseases
IV General Course CLFS609D Microbiology
IV General Course CLFS609E Immunology
I, II General Course CLFS609F Principles of Paleobiology
IV General Course CLFS609G Biology of Cancer
IV General Course CLFS609J Evolutionary Biology
TBD General Course CLFS609K Current Topics in Biomedical Research
I, II General Course CLFS610 Natural Products Chemistry
I, II General Course CLFS619A Molecular Spectroscopy
I, II General Course CLFS619B Environmental Chemistry
III General Course CLFS619D Forensic Chemistry
I, III General Course CLFS620 Modern Molecular Genetics
II General Course CLFS630 Principles of Transmission Genetics
II, IV General Course CLFS640 Human Physiology
IV General Course CLFS655 Chemistry & Application of Electrochemical Cells
II, IV General Course CLFS660 Biodiversity and Conservation Biology
I, III General Course CLFS665 Ecology and Global Change
I, II General Course CLFS680 Chemical Ecology
III General Course CLFS690 Biochemistry
IV Practical Experience CLFS710 Experimental Biology
II, IV Experimental Design CLFS725 Experimental Design

Registration Overview

  • See the sample plan of study, below. Students should use this as a guide to develop a plan with the academic program director. 
  • Actual course offerings are determined by the program and may vary semester to semester. Students should note if a course has a pre-requisite or co-requisite. 
  • Specific class meeting information (days and time) is posted on UMD’s interactive web service services, Testudo. Once on that site, select “Schedule of Classes,” then the term/year. Courses are listed by academic unit.
  • The program uses specific section codes for registration, which are listed on the sample plan of study. 

Sample Plan

Term Year Course Number Section Code Credits
I (fall) 1 CLFS*** PLC* 6
II (winter) 1 CLFS*** PLC* 6
III (spring) 1 CLFS*** PLC* 6
IV (summer) 1 CLFS*** PLC* 6
I (fall) 2 CLFS*** PLC* 6


  • Features online instruction that is supplemented with an in-person learning element.
  • Features engaging and interactive learning.
  • Uses the term academic calendar with classes held in 12-week terms: I (fall), II (winter), III (spring), IV (summer). 
  • Instruction provided by University of Maryland faculty and professionals in the field. 

Online Learning

  • Using advanced audio and video technology, UMD’s online learning environment delivers dynamic and interactive content. 
  • Featuring convenience and flexibility, online instruction permits asynchronous or synchronous participation.
  • Lectures are video archived. Students who are unable to attend in real time can review the session through asynchronous participation.

In-Person Learning

  • The in-person learning element pertains to the Practical Experience requirement (see above) which can be satisfied with an approved laboratory or field experience.
  • For assistance, contact

Professional development for teachers of science requires learning essential science content through the perspectives and methods of inquiry. Designed for middle and high school teachers, MCLFS includes the following science learning experiences: 

  • Involve teachers in actively investigating phenomena that can be studied scientifically, interpreting results, and making sense of findings consistent with currently accepted scientific understanding;
  • Address issues, events, problems, or topics significant in science and of interest to participants;
  • Introduce teachers to scientific literature, media, and technological resources that expand their science knowledge and their ability to access further knowledge;
  • Build on the teacher’s current science understanding, ability, and attitudes;
  • Incorporate ongoing reflection on the process and outcomes of understanding science through inquiry, and;
  • Encourage and support teachers in efforts to collaborate.

Effective student mentoring is an essential component of the MCLFS program. The Statement of Expectations for Graduate Student Mentoring outlines the goals and policies that guide MCLFS faculty throughout practicum and scholarly paper requirements of the MCLFS program. 

Questions? Contact Us