Welcome to the School of Biological Sciences


Biology - Molecular and Cellular Biology

  • Overview
  • Careers
  • New Freshmen
  • New Transfer
  • Illinois State Students

The bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology provides a solid foundation in the life sciences for students seeking careers in medicine, government, or entry-level positions in biotechnology as well as the pharmaceutical industry.

The degree also serves as a basis for graduate studies in biology. While the degree may satisfy many requirements for professional and graduate programs, it is important to consult the admission requirements for a particular program as early as possible. Additional coursework may be taken as electives to support later postgraduate work.

Why Study Biology - Molecular and Cellular Biology?

Molecular and Cellular Biology is ideal for students who wish to study molecular and cellular processes within the context of medical and societal applications.

Molecular and Cellular Biologists seek to understand the fundamental units of life by studying molecules and their relationship with cells and tissues. This includes cells, cellular components, and the functions of macro molecules like DNA, RNA, and proteins.

The undergraduate program encompasses many subfields of Biology where students can choose electives focused in biotechnology, developmental biology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and bioinformatics. 

Related Majors

Related Skills

  • Good team work skills and independent worker
  • Problem solving skills
  • Good mathematical background including knowledge of statistics
  • Knowledge of operating scientific equipment and posses strong 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

Related Fields


  • Basic
  • Applied
  • Medical
  • Grant Writing
  • Administration


  • University laboratories
  • Federal government laboratories/agencies including:
    • National Science Foundation
    • National Institutes of Health
    • Food and Drug Administration
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Agriculture
    • Armed Services
  • State and local government laboratories/agencies
  • Public health departments
  • Hospital laboratories
  • Commercial medical laboratories
  • Private testing laboratories including forensics
  • Independent research foundations
  • Industry laboratories:
    • Pharmaceutical companies
    • Biotechnology firms
    • Food processors
    • Cosmetic manufacturers
    • Chemical and petroleum industries
    • Agricultural industry


  • Bachelor's degree in biochemistry, biology, or chemistry qualifies one for laboratory technician or research assistant positions.
  • Choose courses with laboratory work.
  • Get on the job experience in a laboratory and/or complete a senior research project.
  • Complete a certificate training program, usually one year, to learn specialized laboratory techniques.
  • Take a course in grant writing.
  • Earn master's degree in biochemistry for better positions, advancement opportunities, more responsibility and higher pay.
  • Obtain Ph.D. to direct research projects and lead research teams.


  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Optometry
  • Podiatry
  • Pharmacy
  • Veterinary Medicine
  • Allied Health
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Physical Therapy


  • Hospitals
  • Medical centers
  • Nursing homes
  • Private practice


  • Plan on attending medical school or other related graduate program.
  • Maintainan outstanding grade point average, particularly in the sciences.
  • Secure strongfaculty recommendations.
  • Meet with a pre-health advisor periodically.
  • Join related student organizations.
  • Demonstrate leadership abilities.
  • Volunteer to work ina hospital or healthcare setting.
  • Find a summer job or internship in a hospital.
  • 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 a particular career goal.


  • Elementary
  • Secondary
  • Post-secondary


  • Public and private elementary, middle, and high schools
  • Two-year community colleges/technical institutes
  • Four-year institutions
  • Medical schools


  • Complete an accredited teacher preparation program for certification/licensure in biology and/or chemistry.
  • Ph.D. required for college or university teaching.
  • Some teaching positions in two-year institutions may be available for those with a master's degree.
  • Prepare to attend graduate school by maintaining a high grade point average and securing strong faculty recommendations.
  • Serve as a tutor for high school or college students.
  • Learn to communicate effectively.

Other Professional Opportunities

  • Sales/Marketing
  • Technical Writing
  • Scientific Journalism
  • Scientific Illustration
  • Regulatory Affairs
  • Administration/Management
  • Scientific/Technical Recruiting
  • Intellectual Property/Patent Law


  • Biotechnology industry
  • Pharmaceutical and chemical companies
  • Publishers: Textbook, magazine, newspaper, book
  • Software firms
  • Regulatory agencies
  • Search firms
  • Law firms
  • Legal departments of corporations


  • For sales positions, gain sales experience through internships, part-time work, or summer jobs.
  • Take business and/or computer classes. Become familiar with desktop publishing and other software packages.
  • Develop strong written and oral communication skills.
  • Get experience writing for a school or local newspaper.
  • Obtain an MBA or Ph.D. to reach high levels of administration. Plan on attending law school if interested in law.

Other Professions

  • Anatomist
  • Biochemist
  • Clinical researcher
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Genetic Engineer
  • Histopathologist
  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Laboratory Tech.
  • Marine Biologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Mycologist
  • Nutritionist
  • Oceanographer
  • Paramedic
  • Pharmacist
  • Toxicologist
  • Veterinarian
  • Virologist
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Zoologist

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 

Applying to Illinois State

Illinois State's preferred filing period for 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!

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

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

2.96 - 3.59

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

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Raz Steward  Julian Hall 210  rlstew2@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3669 

Middle 50% GPA

2.96 - 3.59

Plan of Study

This information is based on requirements for the academic year(s) indicated. Students should consult the catalog year they were admitted under for their academic requirements.

Application Period

Applications are always available.

Application Information

Current students can use the Apply to Your Program tool on My.IllinoisState.edu.

Major Requirements

If 45 or more earned hours: Grade of “C” or better in MAT 145, CHE 140 and CHE 141.

Academic Advising

Name Office Email Phone
Raz Steward  Julian Hall 210  rlstew2@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3669