Overview for Prospective Undergraduates

There has never been a more exciting time for the life sciences. Today, biology is not only about understanding how living things work. It is also a suite of concepts and tools that we can apply to pressing societal problems from cancer to climate change. A biology degree is economically valuable : it can put you on a path to a desired career, but also prepares you to take advantage of career opportunities that might not even exist today, in health, biotechnology, conservation, etc. The School of Biological Sciences provides several program options so that you can tailor your undergraduate experience to your career goals. Currently, the school offers three undergraduate programs and one minor. The programs include Biological Sciences which has five sequences: General, Conservation, Physiology Neuroscience and Behavior, Plant, and Zoology; Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Biological Sciences Teacher Education. The School of Biology student guide (pdf) provides a great overview of the program.

Choosing a Program: General Observations

When you apply as a freshman and are admitted, it is not critical for you to make your final decision concerning a major or sequence. Most of the Biological Sciences and Chemistry requirements are the same for all programs in the freshman year, and so you can typically switch programs by the end of freshman year without extending graduation time. However, the Molecular and Cellular Biology program requires higher math and physics courses than the Biological Sciences program; additional courses may be required if you decide to pursue Molecular and Cellular Biology.

Medical Schools and other professional programs do not require a specific major, though they do often require specific courses. Be sure to check the requirements of any program that you will want to apply to after your BS, and make sure you take those courses. The Molecular and Cellular Biology program was designed to accommodate most of the requirements and recommendations typical of Medical Schools. Sequences in the Biological Sciences Major can also be used for pre-medical preparation.

Programs in Biology

Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) is a stand-alone Major (separate from the Biological Sciences Major and its sequences). It is intended for students who want to pursue higher degrees such as the MD or PhD, or who want to work in biomedicine or biotechnology with the BS. MCB also offers strong preparation for our research-oriented MS Sequence in Biotechnology. Contact: Tom Hammond, tmhammo@ilstu.edu


Major Checklists


Biology Teacher Education Worksheets

Why study biology?

An academic minor can serve two purposes: it can support the student's major or provide a level of competency in a different area of interest. A minor expands the range of knowledge relevant to a student’s major and career goals. Biology is a vibrant and fascinating experimental science that attempts to illuminate and solve problems involving living things. Biologists study problems at a range of levels including the molecules that make up living things; cells, the fundamental units of life; organism-level functions such as reproduction, immunity, and locmotion; how organisms interact with each other and the environment; and how all these phenomena came to be and evolve over time. Due to biology's central importance in medicine, the biological sciences minor provides solid preparation for a career in healthcare. Minors can only be declared by current Illinois State students.

For application procedures see:

Application Period

Applications for the Minor in Biological Sciences are accepted and processed on a rolling basis. If you are interested in a Biological Sciences minor, contact Amanda Martin at amarti7@ilstu.edu or by phone (309)-438-8252.

Registration Information:

Biology course override (course permit request)

Override requests are available online through My.IllinoisState.edu .

  • Log in to MyIllinoisState
  • Click the Academics tab.
  • Under "Course Manager, select "Course Permit Request (Override)." Please review the School of Biological Sciences course override policies and procedures submitting a request for an override.