The Biological Sciences Department offers a major in biological sciences with optional concentrations in dance science, and secondary education with certification in biological sciences; a minor in biological sciences; and dual-degree programs in chemical and bio-molecular engineering, environmental engineering, mechanical engineering and materials science engineering. A related major in biochemistry and molecular biology is available.

The goal of the biological sciences major is to promote scientific curiosity, critical thinking, and intellectual maturity. Biology is not merely a collection of facts, but a process of discovery, and students are encouraged to participate actively in this process. Each course provides a framework for examining the scientific process as a means to master current knowledge and to provide a basis to address problems of the future. The biological sciences core curriculum explores the major disciplines in biology and examines both the diversity of life and the functional aspects of living systems. The core courses encompass the wide spectrum of biology from molecules and cells to populations and ecosystems using evolutionary adaptation as a recurrent theme. Advanced courses allow students to pursue areas of special interest and stress independence and initiative. Many students participate in research, either in collaboration with a faculty member on campus or at an off-campus research setting. This provides an unusual and valuable opportunity for growth in intellectual and scientific maturity beyond the usual undergraduate courses. Results of these studies are occasionally published in scientific research journals. Off-campus internships provide valuable practical experience in a work setting that often leads to informed career choices.

Many students elect internships at community hospitals or at medical or biological research laboratories. Others seek experience at ecological or agricultural research settings that may be as distant as Honduras or Australia. A major in biological sciences may lead to research or graduate study in biology. Many students use the biological sciences major as preparation for medical, dental, or veterinary schools or for one of a variety of careers in public health. Graduates have entered professions that are creative combinations of biological expertise and graduate preparation in business or law. An MBA, for example, can be preparation for management positions in biotechnology, or a law degree for specialization in patent or environmental law.

Laboratory and Writing Proficiency

Laboratory reports and papers in BIO 214, 224, 240, and 260 are used to evaluate writing proficiency in the major. Laboratory proficiency is determined in BIO 224 and upper level labs.