Here’s a student’s guide to MS/M.Phil in Biological Sciences from one of the top universities of Pakistan.
“Molecular Virology” my copy of prospectus read as I excitedly ran my fingers under the heading MS in Department of Biosciences. Old memories rushed through me as I thought about taking admission in the CIIT system again. The 4 years of BS had passed by like a dream, every memory as clear as the water in Islamabad once was.
Let me tell you MS/M.Phil is no easy task especially if you are planning it to do it from one of the top Pakistani universities (COMSATS, NUST, Quaid-e-Azam, LUMS). First of all, this degree is not the ‘I am bored at home and not getting a job’ type. It most probably will NOT help you get a better job because it is a research degree. If you want to pursue a career in research and are really, I mean really interested in research, then go for this degree, otherwise you are just wasting your time and organizations resources. Research requires you to put your heart and soul into it. If you are not willing to do this or have the right temperament for this job, you may get the degree but you can never be a good researcher. Another important thing to keep in mind is that MS/MPhil is a professional degree in itself, so it is useless if you focus on rote learning and not work towards getting your concepts clear. It will help you not only in your research but your whole life ahead.
Having said that, the admission process is not difficult; all you need to do is to score more than 50% in your GAT (Graduate Aptitude Test) and your name will be included in the interview list. Revise your BS thesis and some previous concepts and you will get an admission. But again, it is important that you know the core concepts of the field you are applying in, because merit is different for different fields, and your BS result, GAT score and interview all contribute to your final score.
MS degrees offered
The MS degrees offered in CIIT are Bioinformatics, Biosciences, Molecular Genetics and Molecular Virology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Microbiology and Immunology. Now I expect half of the readers to inbox me and ask me the scope of these individual degrees in Pakistan. If so kindly read my second paragraph again.
Good news for students in Sahiwal. MS in Biosciences is also being offered in COMSATS Sahiwal. Cheers!
Campus life (or should I call this the MS life?)
I am sure you have heard this story before so I will get over this quickly. You have to take at least 8 courses of which 2 are core, which are specific for each degree, and are necessary for its completion. All courses are of 3 credit hours and one has to choose from a pool of courses under your degree’s scheme of studies. This scheme of studies comes from HEC (so you can’t really blame the university if you don’t like yours). The coursework is expected to be completed in the first year of your MS leaving one year for thesis and research (total of 2 years).
MS degree is miles apart from your ‘chill’ BS degree. Classes are hectic though you can sleep through them if you wish. Teachers teach well and you will find them mostly in their offices and ready to help outside the classroom. Student’s weeks are fun if you don’t have your mid-term exams in it (happened to us once). Most MS students manage jobs and co-curricular activities well with the studies.
Sounds like a nightmare? It is. In some universities DI is when one gets 2Cs (less than 70%) in 2 courses in a semester or gets 2Cs in two semesters in two different courses (Yes it’s a mouthful). As a result your admission is canceled and you have to readmit yourself to continue. But the good news is that there are more ways of not getting DI than getting one. In other universities, they do not give a MS/M.Phil degree if one scores less than 3.0 cGPA. In any case this can be avoided by keeping in mind the following study tips.
- Study from first day (sounds impossible, I know) revise lectures, ask questions from the instructor
- Give good quizzes even if your mid-term exam didn’t go that well. Mid-term exams are of 25 marks and quizzes, assignments and presentations (mostly one per course) combined have 25 marks. This gives you a chance to get 50 marks before the final exam
- In case you messed up the final exam you need to score at least 25 in it to not get a C in that course
- Aim to not get a C in any course
- Aim to get an A in every course, just give it your best shot
- Do NOT cheat. May sound irrelevant in this section but 25-40 year olds cheating to get a degree is cheating one’s own self and tells us more about our moral character than anything else.
Couldn’t do MS in first attempt? No problem, do not give up if this your dream. Get readmission as soon as you find out and study hard the next semester.
Have a question or you think something is missing? Feel free to comment below!