Study Biology at Iowa State!



Thank you for considering the Biology Program at Iowa State University as your destination for life science!  As an interdepartmental major, we offer a wide range of educational opportunities in biodiversity, cell biology, ecology, evolution, genetics, and molecular biology.  Students in our program will receive a broad foundation in all of these biological sciences, and our program also allows students the flexibility to customize their degree to their interests.  If you’d like to learn more about our program in general, check out our program overview.  If you’d like to visit Biology, you may schedule a prospective student visit through the Office of Admissions.  

Why should I study biology?

Biological sciences study living organisms, and represent a vast field of study with many specializations and sub-disciplines.  Why should you care about studying biology?  

  • You are surrounded by biology at all times.  Understanding biology helps you understand the world you live in, and answer big existential questions like “who am I and why am I here?”  
  • As a member of the species Homo sapiens, you are a biological organism!  Learning about biology is learning about yourself and your fellow humans; biology is fundamental to health sciences and human medicine.
  • As a resident of planet Earth, you share this beautiful world with an incredible diversity non-human neighbors, and it’s a good idea to know a thing or to about them.  You depend on these neighbors for your existence, as biology is also fundamental to the production of food and other material products.
  • Many of the major challenges we currently face – such as sustainability, global climate change, pollution, and species extinction – involve aspects of biology.  To address these challenges we need to understand living organisms and how they affect global systems.  
  • There are many questions yet to be answered in biology, and you could be one of the scientists using new approaches and technologies to illuminate the mysteries of life!

Ten reasons to study biology at Iowa State

  1. Faculty.  There are a lot of biologists at Iowa State.  The interdepartmental Biology Program alone has around 60 faculty members who provide courses, research opportunities, and mentoring to our students.  There are also dozens of biologists in other departments that students can work with.
  2. Advisors.  All of our academic advisors are biologists themselves, and provide easily accessible academic advice and support to help students majoring in Biology be successful.  Student services staff are also available all year round to assist our students.  
  3. BEST community.  Our Biology Education Success Teams (BEST) learning community has been helping students adjust to college life at get involved with the Biology major since 1995 and is one of the oldest learning communities at Iowa State.
  4. Skunk River Navy.  A service-learning activity running since 1998, the SRN has engaged our majors in full-contact biology by doing biodiversity monitoring and trash removal from local streams.  
  5. Biological Sciences Club.  This active group is led by student officers and faculty advisors, providing those interested in biology with opportunities to hear about Iowa State faculty research programs, go on nature hikes and field trips, and socialize with other biology aficionados.  
  6. Transfer friendly.  Many students majoring in Biology have transferred into the major from other institutions or other majors at Iowa State.  We have resources and an orientation course (BIOL 112) specifically tailored for the needs of transfer students.
  7. Career help.  Biology is a vast area of study; our BIOL 111 class helps students identify various career paths in biology and how to successfully pursue them.  Plus, Iowa State has among the biggest career fairs in the country.
  8. Breadth & flexibility.  Our curriculum provides students with a broad foundation in biological sciences as well as 180+ advanced course options to tailor your degree to your specific interests in biology.   
  9. Professional/graduate school preparation.  The Biology major at Iowa State provides a solid foundation for students interested in pursuing veterinary medicine or human medicine.  Biology students can take graduate-level courses during their undergraduate career as well.  
  10. Disciplinary diversity.  Many biology programs across the country focus on preparing students for medical school and offer fewer opportunities to study other areas of biology.  Not so at Iowa State!   Our faculty, staff, and students pursue the full breadth of topics in biological science, from ecology to evolution, cell biology to molecular biology, as well as human and other animal medicine.  

Careers in Biology

Many students today pursue higher education to prepare for a particular career path.  What can you do with a bachelor of science degree in biology?  Biology is such a broad field, there are many options on the horizon.  A bachelor’s degree will qualify you for working as a lab technician or research assistant in a variety of employment sectors both private and public. Having a background in biology can also be an asset for non-science work in business, communications, legislation, and marketing.  Some career doors in biological sciences open with further education, and an undergraduate degree prepares you for graduate school or professional schools. 

Biology Careers Wordle