Welcome to the School of Biological Sciences

Biology - Zoology


Majors selecting this sequence will receive broad training in Zoology, including coursework related to organismal and functional aspects of Zoology.

This highly flexible sequence is designed for students seeking careers that involve working with animals of any kind. This sequence will also prepare students for graduate studies in Zoology and related fields (e.g., entomology, physiology, wildlife biology, animal ecology). With additional coursework, students can meet the requirements to apply to veterinary and health professional schools.

Why Study Biology - Zoology?

The primary goal of the Zoology sequence is to provide students with a solid educational background to pursue careers or continuing education in zoology and related fields. The sequence is specifically designed to provide a focused experience for students interested in Zoology, while providing a breadth of course options within the broad discipline of biology, to meet the specific goals of each student within Zoology.

Students completing the Zoology sequence can choose plans that emphasize animal form and function (e.g., anatomy, physiology) or whole-organism biology (e.g., ecology, evolution). In general, training in the biological sciences, including zoology, provides solid preparation to pursue advanced degrees in healthcare, such as medicine, dentistry, and veterinary science, as well as M.S. or Ph.D. degrees in zoology and related 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 of laboratory procedures and familiarity with equipment

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 ofinterest.
  • 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 and equipment, 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, especiallycolleges 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.


  • Algorithm and statistics development
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Information management: 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 of Health, 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. 
  • Demonstrate a high energy level. 
  • Take courses in anatomy, pharmacology, and chemistry. 
  • Obtain sales experience and/or a business minor. 
  • Join related student associations and hold leadership positions. 
  • Consider an 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
  • Nature centers 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
  • Educational and scientific software companies
  • Zoological and environmental societies
  • Medical, dental and veterinary colleges
  • Research centers
  • 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
  • Largecorporations


  • Develop excellent communication and interpersonal skills. 
  • Maintaincurrent 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 advancedpositions.
  • 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
Megan Larson  Julian Hall 210F  mrlarso@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8252 

New Freshmen

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!

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 Note
Megan Larson  Julian Hall 210F  mrlarso@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8252   
Rachel Bowden  Science Lab Building 244  rmbowde@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3834  Program Coordinator 

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 Note
Megan Larson  Julian Hall 210F  mrlarso@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-8252   
Rachel Bowden  Science Lab Building 244  rmbowde@ilstu.edu  (309) 438-3834  Program Coordinator