Welcome to the School of Biological Sciences

Electro Microscope

Biology - General


This sequence in Biological Sciences is for students interested in many fields of science including Zoology, Animal Behavior, Botany, Ecology, Conservation Biology, Evolution, Physiology, Genetics, Microbiology, Developmental Biology, Cell Biology, Biotechnology, Parasitology, Neurobiology, and Immunology.

Why Study Biology - General?

Biology is the science of living matter. It involves the study of the structure of evolutionary development and functions of plants, animals, and micro organisms.The majority of biologists are engaged in research and development. The biological sciences are good preparation for a career in healthcare such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science, but professional degrees and licenses are also necessary to practice in these fields.

Related Majors


Related Skills

  • Good team and independent worker
  • Problem solving skills
  • Good mathematical background including knowledge of statistics
  • Knowledge of operating scientific equipment and posses good technical skills
  • Application of biological theories into practice
  • Communication skills
  • Creativity
  • Strong work ethic and professional behavior
  • Flexibility in thought and adaptive to new ideas
  • Understanding oflaboratory procedures and familiarity withequipment

Being Successful in the Field

  • A bachelor's degree will qualify one for work as a laboratory assistant, technician, technologist, or research assistant in education, industry, government, museums, parks, and gardens.
  • An undergraduate degree can also be used for nontechnical work in writing, illustration, sales, photography, and legislation.
  • Master's degrees allow for more opportunities in research and administration. Some community colleges will hire Master's level teachers.
  • Doctoral degrees are necessary for advanced research and administrative positions, university teaching, and independent research.
  • An advanced degree provides the opportunity to specialize in fields of interest.
  • Obtain summer, part-time, volunteer, co-op, or internship experience to test the fields of interest and gain valuable experience.  Take independent research classes if possible.
  • Participate in summer research institutes.  Submit research to local poster competitions or research symposiums.
  • Become familiar with the specific entrance exam for graduate or professional schools in your area of interest.
  • Consider completing a post-doctoral experience after graduate school.
  • Learn federal, state, and local government job application process.The federal government is the largest employer of biologists.
  • Secure strong relationships and personal recommendations from professors and/or employers.
  • Maintain a high grade point average to improve chances of graduate and professional school admission.
  • Gain experience with grant writing and fundraising techniques. Often research must be funded in this manner.
  • Read scientific journals related to your area of interest.
  • Join professional associations and community organizations to stay a breast of current issues in the field and to develop networking contacts.

Related Fields

Research and Development

  • Basic
  • Applied
  • Quality Control
  • Administration
  • Grant Writing


  • Industry and laboratories:  pharmaceutical, healthcare, agriculture production, food processing and safety, environmental
  • Private research institutions
  • Public health departments
  • State and federal government:  National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health
  • Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture
  • Armed Services, Department of Homeland Security
  • State and local governmental laboratories/agencies
  • Colleges and universities


  • Learn to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments andequipment, and monitor experiments. Select courses with laboratory components
  • Seek research experience with professors. Gain related experience through part-time jobs, internships, or volunteering.  Complete a certificate training program, usually one year, to learn specialized laboratory techniques
  • Take a course in grant writing. 
  • A bachelor's degree in biology qualifies one for laboratory technician or research assistant positions.
  • Earn master's degree for better positions, advancement opportunities, more responsibility and higher pay. 
  • Obtain Ph.D. to direct research projects and lead research teams. Maintain a high grade point average and secure strong faculty recommendations to gain admittance into graduate school.

Organismal Biology

Some Areas of Specialization:

  • Botany and plant sciences
  • Ecology and wildlife
  • Marine and aquatic
  • Systematic (Taxonomy)
  • Zoology
  • Entomology
  • Genetics
  • Microbiology:  bacteria, algae, fungi, molds, yeasts, viruses, protozoa


  • Colleges and universities, especially colleges of agriculture and veterinary medicine
  • Veterinary hospitals
  • State and federal government: Departments of Agriculture, Interior, and Health
  • Independent laboratories: food production, textiles, chemical, pharmaceutical, and forestry products
  • Zoos and aquariums
  • Fish hatcheries
  • Wildlife preserves and parks
  • Conservation agencies
  • Botanical gardens and arboretums
  • Museums
  • Agricultural experiment stations
  • Inspection agencies and control boards
  • National and international environmental organizations
  • Private recreation organizations


  • Seek related experience through coursework, part-time jobs, internships or volunteering. 
  • Conduct research or assist in research including the collection of information and samples of water, soil, plants, animals, etc. 
  • Join student chapters of professional organizations related to your area of interest. 
  • Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching and advanced research and management positions.

Biomedical Sciences

Some areas of specialization:

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Cellular and Molecular Biology
  • Cytology
  • Genetics
  • Immunology
  • Pathology
  • Pharmacology
  • Physiology
  • Virology


  • Colleges and universities
  • Professional schools including colleges of pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and agriculture
  • Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies: National Institutes of Health, Food and Drug
  • Administration
  • State and local public health departments
  • Clinics and hospitals
  • Private research foundations
  • Independent laboratories
  • Pharmaceutical companies


  • Gain laboratory experience through coursework and/or research projects with professors. 
  • Learn to set up, operate, and maintain laboratory instruments and equipment, and monitor experiments. 
  • Seek internships, part-time employment and volunteer opportunities in the bio medical field. 
  • Join student chapters of professional organizations related to your area of interest. 
  • Take courses in area(s) of specialization and/or consider an advanced degree. 
  • Obtain a Ph.D. for teaching and advanced research and management positions.


  • Algorithmand statistics development
  • Dataanalysis and interpretation
  • Informationmanagement: organization and retrieval


  • Colleges and universities
  • Private research foundations
  • Independent laboratories: organic and agricultural chemicals, drug and pharmaceutical, medical device and equipment, research, testing, and medical
  • Federal laboratories and regulatory agencies: National Institutes ofHealth, Food and Drug Administration, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Agriculture
    National Biological Information Infrastructure


  • Develop multiple areas of specialization through coursework, minors, double-majors in molecular biology, mathematics, statistics, computer science, or machine learning. 
  • Develop strong programming and database management skills; fluency in several programming languages is helpful.  Learn biological software systems. 
  • Complete an internship inarea of interest. 
  • Seek master's degree for increased advancement opportunities.


  • Technical and pharmaceutical sales
  • Management
  • Consulting
  • Marketing


  • Manufacturing companies including: pharmaceuticals, animal pharmaceuticals, laboratory equipment, medical supplies and prostheses
  • Marketing firms
  • Consulting firms


  • Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 
  • Demonstratea high energy level. 
  • Take courses in anatomy, pharmacology, andchemistry. 
  • Obtain sales experience and/or a business minor. 
  • Joinrelated student associations and hold leadership positions. 
  • Consideran MBA or Professional Science Master's for advanced management and consulting opportunities.


  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary medicine
  • Allied Health: occupational therapy, physical therapy
  • Medical technology
  • Nuclear medicine


  • Hospitals
  • Medical centers and clinics
  • Nursing homes
  • Private practice
  • Armed services
  • Government agencies


  • Plan on attending medical school or other related graduate program. 
  • Maintain an outstanding grade point average, particularly in the sciences. 
  • Secure strong faculty recommendations. 
  • Meet with apre-health advisor periodically. 
  • Join related student organizations and demonstrate leadership abilities. 
  • Seek experiences in hospital or healthcare settings through volunteering, shadowing, part-time positions, or internships. 
  • Develop a back up plan in case medical/graduate school admission is denied. 
  • Consider alternative but related careers such as physician assistants.
  • Research all of the various fields within medicine to determine career goals.


  • Teaching: elementary, secondary, post-secondary
  • Non-classroom Education


  • Universities and colleges
  • Medical and other professional schools
  • Public and private schools, K-12
  • Museums
  • Zoos
  • Naturecenters and parks


  • Gain experience working with students through tutoring, part-time employment, interning, or volunteering. 
  • Learn to work well with all types of people. 
  • Develop excellent interpersonal and public speaking skills. 
  • Certification is required for K-12 schoolteachers and varies by state. 
  • Master's degrees may be sufficient for teaching at community or two-year institutions. 
  • Ph.D. is needed for teaching opportunities at colleges and universities.


  • Technical Writing
  • Editing
  • Illustrating
  • Photography


  • Publishing companies including scientific magazines,professional journals, periodicals, textbooks, and online publishers
  • Newspapers
  • Educationaland scientific software companies
  • Zoologicaland environmental societies
  • Medical, dental and veterinary colleges
  • Researchcenters
  • Federal government agencies
  • Related nonprofit organizations
  • Museums


  • Acquire thorough knowledge of photographic procedures and technology. 
  • Take specific courses in biological, medical, and ophthalmic photography; courses in illustration and printing are also helpful. 
  • Develop strong writing skills and command of the English language. 
  • Take advanced courses in technical writing or journalism classes orconsider a minor in either.
  • Join professional associations like the National Association of Science Writers. 
  • Seek related volunteer or paid experiences with student/local publications to increase marketability.
  • Obtain an advanced degree in scientific journalism.


  • Lobbying
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Science Policy
  • Patent Law
  • Environmental Law


  • Federal and state government
  • Law firms
  • Large corporations


  • Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 
  • Maintain current knowledge of industry-specific laws and policies. 
  • Acquire internships in federal or state government. 
  • Take courses in history,political science and/or legal studies. 
  • Acquire a Ph.D. for advanced positions.
  • Earn a J.D. degree to practice law.

Other Professions

  • Anesthesiologist
  • Bacteriologist
  • Biochemist
  • Bio Technologist
  • Conservation Educator
  • Cytologist
  • Drug Inspector
  • Ecologist
  • Fisheries Biologist
  • Florist
  • Forester
  • Geologist
  • Hospital Administrator
  • Hydrologist
  • Lab Technician
  • Medical Marketing
  • Medical Research Assistant
  • Medical Researcher
  • Medical Sciences Librarian
  • Microbiologist
  • Mortician
  • Naturalist
  • Optometrist
  • Patent Attorney
  • Physician
  • Podiatrist
  • Science Librarian
  • Teacher
  • Professor
  • Veterinarian

Career Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Megan Kayfish  110 Student Services Building  meturne@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-0735 

Internship Coordinator

Name Office Email Phone
Raz Steward  Julian Hall 210F  rlstew2@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8252 

New Freshmen

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing periodfor freshman students for the fall semester is September 1-November 15. Applying early is encouraged, as the University must limit enrollment due to space at the University and in specific majors/programs. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

New Transfer

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for fall transfer students is September 1-January 15. For the spring semester, the preferred filing period is from April 1-August 1. You are encouraged to apply early in the preferred filing period for best consideration for admission into competitive majors. Visit the Office of Admissions to apply today!

Minimum GPA


Middle 50% GPA

2.64 - 3.50

Required Courses

Completion of the following courses with grade of C or better:

  • Fundamentals of chemistry with lab (CHE 110/112) or general chemistry I (CHE 140),
  • Finite math or calculus (MAT 120 or 145), and
  • 4 hour course in biological sciences with lab.

Special note to students applying with over 75 earned hours: The School of Biological Sciences normally considers students with over 75 hours only if they have appropriate prerequisites completed.

Recommended Courses

  • Biological diversity (BSC 196)
  • Molecular and cellular basis of life (BSC 197)
  • 2-4 semesters of chemistry
  • Pre-med students should be working or volunteering in a medical facility

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Raz Steward  Julian Hall 210F  rlstew2@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8252 

Illinois State Students

Middle 50% GPA

2.64 - 3.50

Plans of Study and Progress Tracking

Application Period

Applications are accepted and processed only during September and February. If you plan to apply and for the spring semester, be sure to apply by the end of September in order to be considered for admission to the major. If you plan to apply for the fall semester, you must apply by the end of February.

Major Requirements

If 45 or more earned hours: Grades of “C” or better in the following courses: CHE 110/112 or 140; MAT 120 or 145; 4 - hour course in Biological Sciences with lab.

Due to the progressive nature of the degree program, The School of Biological Sciences does not typically admit students who have completed 75 hours or more to the Biological Sciences Major. Please plan accordingly and apply before you have earned 75 credits in order to be considered for admission to the major. Students who have majored in disciplines which require similar first and second year courses, such as Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Chemistry or Medical Lab Sciences, or students who transferred as Undeclared students but took Biology, Chemistry and Physics at their community colleges will be considered on a case by case basis.

Freshmen interested in applying to the major can do so during the spring of their freshman year once their first semester grades have been posted. Applicants will be notified in time to register for the fall of their sophomore year.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Raz Steward  Julian Hall 210F  rlstew2@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8252