UHV to start first Master of Science in natural sciences

Jeffrey Di Leo

The University of Houston-Victoria will offer its first natural sciences graduate degree this fall.

The new Master of Science in biomedical sciences – professional science degree recently was approved by the UH System Board of Regents and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. It will include three tracks in emerging fields – biomedical, bioinformatics and forensics.

“The UHV School of Arts & Sciences is always looking to expand our degree offerings, and we are excited about this new graduate program,” said Jeffrey Di Leo, dean of the UHV School of Arts & Sciences. “It is our first graduate program in the natural sciences, and it already has a lot of prospective student interest.”

The professional science degree is a fairly new concept that merges science knowledge with business and technology fundamentals. It is designed for students who want an advanced degree before joining the workforce and for those wanting a boost on their applications for medical or dental school, said Richard Gunasekera, professor of biology and director of biomedical sciences graduate programs in the UHV School of Arts & Sciences.

The degree can lead to careers as a crime lab analyst, DNA analyst, genetic engineer, cancer researcher, laboratory manager, forensic science researcher and technology innovator, such as a smartphone app designer, and more.

Richard Gunasekera

“We want our students to be both business and technology smart,” Gunasekera said. “We want them to be good stewards who are knowledgeable in sciences and have a better understanding of how business works, such as how to market their products, apply for patents and get grant funding. We also want them to be smart in various types of technology, not just biological sciences alone.”

UHV students previously had the option to earn a Master of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in the biological sciences.

Students in the new Master of Science degree program will be able to take classes in Victoria or Sugar Land. The degree will include 30 credit hours, plus an option of six hours of internship with industry employers. It will combine a mix of face-to-face, online and interactive TV classes.

Siva Somasundaram

“The new graduate program is excellent news for our undergraduate students who want to further their education toward any heath professional school,” said Siva Somasundaram, an associate professor of biology and director of undergraduate biology studies. “Since this program has an internship component, our students will get an additional benefit not offered in other programs.”

The program was designed by Gunasekera with the support of Di Leo; Jeffrey Cass, UHV provost and vice president for academic affairs; and UHV President Phil Castille

“They recognized the importance of having a professional Master of Science degree at UHV,” Gunasekera said. “They understand the significance of this emerging degree field.”

Graduate classes offered this fall in the new degree plan include “Principals in Biomedical Science and Bioengineering,” “Forensic Biology and Criminalistics” and “Applied Bioinformatics.”

“Many Master of Science degrees tend to focus on research,” Gunasekera said. “The great thing about this degree at UHV is that it will focus more on the students and the interdisciplinary skills they will need in their future careers.”

For more information about the new degree, contact the UHV School of Arts & Sciences at or 361-570-4201.

The University of Houston-Victoria, located in the heart of the Coastal Bend region since 1973 in Victoria, Texas, offers courses leading to more than 80 academic programs in the schools of Arts & Sciences; Business Administration; and Education, Health Professions & Human Development. UHV provides face-to-face classes at its Victoria campus, as well as an instructional site in Katy, Texas, and online classes that students can take from anywhere. UHV supports the American Association of State Colleges and Universities Opportunities for All initiative to increase awareness about state colleges and universities and the important role they have in providing a high-quality and accessible education to an increasingly diverse student population, as well as contributing to regional and state economic development.

Katy Walterscheidt 361-570-4342