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Majors

Biology

The Department of Biology is dedicated to the study of living organisms and the processes of life. The department offers two degree programs, the bachelor of science and the bachelor of arts in biology. A neuroscience area of emphasis and a pre-med track are available in either degree program. These two programs are structured to meet the needs of students who are interested in a career in the broad area of the life sciences.

The undergraduate programs provide an excellent preparation for students planning to attend graduate school and medical, dental or other medically related professional schools. A degree in biology prepares students for a wide range of careers in the biological sciences including environmental biology, biotechnology, genetics and other biologically related technical fields in government and private industry. With appropriate electives, students with a degree in biology can pursue a career in a wide array of fields including law, journalism, teaching, healthcare administration and business.

Students will experience a wide variety of classroom environments, from large lecture sections to small group discussions and intensive laboratory-oriented courses. Laboratory courses include topics such as cellular/molecular biology, comparative anatomy, ecology, ichthyology, invertebrate zoology, molecular genetics, plant systematics, and recombinant DNA technology as well as many other laboratory experiences across the biological disciplines.

Biology majors are encouraged to begin structuring curriculum to meet their particular career goals and to ensure graduation in four years. For those interested in preparing for medical school or other related health careers, a broad range of options exist. Students are strongly recommended to take advanced courses in cellular and molecular biology and biochemistry if they wish to pursue a medical career. In addition, students on this career path have a range of more classical courses, such as comparative anatomy and microanatomy, which provide a solid foundation for medical school.

The burgeoning area of biotechnology also provides a significant number of career paths for biology majors. For students interested in biotechnology and cellular and molecular biology, the department offers a wide range of courses, including advanced cellular and molecular biology, DNA technology, molecular genetics, molecular endocrinology and other relevant specialized courses. For those who want to pursue a career in environmental biology, there are many courses available, including plant ecology, biometry, behavioral ecology, plant population biology, quantitative genetics, global ecology and plant physiology.

Career Profile

Biology is the most popular major for students wishing to enter medical school. In recent years, medical school acceptance levels for students from the WVU Department of Biology have been higher than the national average. However, medicine is not the only career path open to students with a biology degree. It opens the door to a wide array of career paths. As biotechnology and environmental issues enter all facets of everyday life, individuals with a background in biology are in demand beyond the traditional areas of medicine, public health, research and related fields. Students of biology are now finding opportunities in law, business, the media and other areas. Biological and medical scientists hold about 117,000 jobs nationally. Many biological and medical scientists also hold faculty positions in colleges and universities. During a lifetime career, a bio scientist may engage in teaching, research, administration, service work or industrial production.

If you become a biologist, you may specialize in one of these activities or a combination of two or more, or you may switch from one to another at various stages in your career. Your employer may be an educational institution, government installation, private research foundation, zoo, botanical garden, aquarium, arboretum, natural history museum or a variety of industrial or business concerns.

Sample Course Schedules

Wondering what your typical day might be like? We used students’ real course schedules to create these examples.

Freshman Year

BIOL 115 Principles of Biology MATH 155 Calculus 1 ITAL 101 Elementary Italian 1 CHEM 115 Fundamentals of Chemistry

Senior Year

BUSA 340 Survey of Finance ENGL 305 Technical Writing BIOL 493R Special Topics BIOL 361 Plant Ecology

English Proficiency Requirements

All applicants whose first language is not English must provide proof of English language proficiency. WVU accepts either the TOEFL or the IELTS for this purpose. Learn more about our English language proficiency requirements.

Accreditation Information

WVU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Alumni Profile

Kristen Parks

Kristen Parks earned her bachelor’s degree in biology in 2010 and is now completing a pharmacy degree at WVU. “I hope to be the bridge that patients need to receive the best healthcare available,” she says, looking ahead to her future career. “There is a large gap in the medical science field that can even confuse healthcare professionals at times. I want to make sure that each patient I come in contact with completely understands what their medication is for and the effects it can have. Many of us get caught up in our professions and forget what we went to school for; however, as a pharmacist I want to bring back the bottom line which is patient care.”

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