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Department of Biology

Welcome to Biology at Penn State

Why Biology at Penn State?

Are you looking for the exciting opportunities provided by a larger university, while still receiving individual attention? If so, the Biology program at Penn State may be a perfect fit for you! As a top-tier research institution, our faculty conduct research on a wide range of topics ranging from coral reef ecology to molecular evolution to the neurological bases underlying mental disorders. Penn State's Biology curriculum offers you both the breadth and depth you'll need to understand modern biology at all levels of integration. Within the major, we offer the following six options, allowing you to tailor your studies to your specific interests:

  • General Biology
  • Ecology
  • Genetics & Developmental Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Plant Biology
  • Vertebrate Physiology


What Can a Biology Degree Do For You?

A biology major will allow you to pursue exciting careers in diverse fields, including health care, education, research, pharmaceutical sales, law, genetic counseling, medical illustration. . . the list is nearly endless and only limited by your imagination. A breakdown of the careers our recent graduates entered is shown here:

Health Care (40%)

Our program provides excellent preparation for professional schools including medical, dental, and optometry. About 80% of Penn State Biology majors who apply to medical school are accepted; this is well above the national average of 42%. Other career paths include allied health fields ranging from physical therapy to physician assistant programs. 

Research (25%)

Many of our graduates accept entry-level research positions in industry, government, non-profit organizations, or universities. Penn State Biology provides a variety of research experience opportunities to prepare students for theses positions or for graduate-level research programs.

Teaching (10%) 

A Penn State Biology degree provides a strong foundation for potential educators. High school-level positions require certification through a secondary education program or a master's degree in education. Teaching at the college or university level typically requires a Ph.D.

Other Options (25%)

Our biology graduates have also entered careers in a wide range of related fields including: pharmaceutical sales or supply, government agencies such as the FDA and EPA, and non-profit conservancy organizations. Click here to visit our After Graduation page for more information about what a biology degree can do for you!






Undergraduate students planning to become biology majors are assigned an adviser when they arrive on campus. In addition to meeting with their assigned adviser, students are welcome to visit with any of the advisers in the Department of Biology Undergraduate Advising Office. In their first semester at Penn State, all incoming students are required to participate in the first-year seminar course, PSU 16. This serves as an orientation to college life and all of the opportunities offered on campus. In addition, the Eberly College of Science offers several one-credit seminars to aid in career development.


Entrance to Major Requirements while at Penn State

Entrance to Eberly College of Science Pre-Major (SCIEN)

To enter the Eberly College of Science Pre-Major (SCIEN) as an undergraduate student at Penn State, you must have: 

  1. Completed MATH 140 or 140B with a grade of C or better
  2. Obtained a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0

These requirements do not apply to incoming first-year students.


Entrance to Biology Major

Penn State undergraduate Biology students usually declare a major at the end of their first year. In order to declare Biology as your major at Penn State, you must have:

  1. Completed the following courses with a grade of C or better: BIOL 110, MATH 140 or 140B, CHEM 110, and any one of the following: BIOL 220W, BIOL 230W, or BIOL 240W
  2. Attained at least a 2.0 cumulative grade-point average


*Please note: Students intending to transfer from another institution must have completed a minimum of 60 credits, including the equivalent of MATH 140 and MATH 141, as well as the requirements listed above. For additional information contact the Admissions Office.


Click here to learn more about the curriculum requirements as a Biology undergraduate student at Penn State.


How to Apply to Penn State

Visit the Undergraduate Admissions site to learn more.


Financial Aid

A number of grants, loans, work-study programs, and scholarships are available through Penn State. To learn more about financial aid and how to apply, contact:

Penn State Office of Student Aid
314 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802
Ph: (814) 865-6301
Email: click here


To Schedule a Campus Tour and Speak with an Adviser

Department of Biology Undergraduate Advising Office
248A Ritenour Building
University Park, PA 16802
Ph: (814) 865-2329
Website: click here