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Teaching and Education

Biology teachers pass on knowledge about living organisms to future generations and inspire us to appreciate life science as a discipline or possible career path.  Some teachers are naturalists who create and lead workshops for young children at nature centers, while others are state licensed instructors serving as biology teachers at high schools across the nation.  

Students interested in secondary education in biology are encouraged to contact Kathy Christensen ( in the School of Education for more information about teacher certification and endorsements.  Below are sample 4-year plans for students interested in this path at the undergraduate level.  

4-Year Plan Biology Secondary Education (LAS) for 2019-2020 (PDF)

4-Year Plan Biology Secondary Education (AgLS) for 2019-2020 (PDF)


Recommended Courses

Biology teachers often instruct on a wide range of subjects and the core courses in the Biology Program cover each of major disciplinary areas of life science.  Beyond these core courses, we recommend taking a broad range of advanced biology courses by taking one course from each of the following lists (lab courses are denoted by • ):

Animal Biology
Course # Course Name Credits
BIOL 351 • Comparative Chordate Anatomy 5
BIOL 354 & L • Animal Behavior & Lab 4
BIOL 364 Invertebrate Biology 3 to 4
BIOL 365 • Vertebrate Biology 4
B M S 329 Anatomy and Physiology of Domestic Animals 3
ENT 370 • Insect Biology 3
A ECL 366 • Natural History of Iowa Vertebrates 3
Plant Biology
Course # Course Name Credits
BIOL 355 Plants and People 3
BIOL 356 • Dendrology 4
BIOL 357 Biology of Plants 3
BIOL 455 • Bryophyte and Lichen Diversity 3
AGRON 317 Principles of Weed Science 3
HORT 322 Plant Propogation 3
NREM 357 • Midwestern Prairie Plants 1
NREM 358 • Forest Herbaceous Layer 1
Human Biology
Course # Course Name Credits
BIOL 322 Molecular and Cellular Biology of Human Disease 3
BIOL 350 • Comprehensive Human Anatomy 4
BIOL 355 & L • Human and Other Animal Physiology 4
BIOL 344 Human Reproduction 3
FS HN 367 Medical Terminology 1
GEN 340 Human Genetics 3
H S 350 Human Diseases 3
PSYCH 310 Brain and Behavior 3
PSYCH 315 Drugs and Behavior 3

Students should plan for an Undergraduate Teaching Experience (BIOL 491) as part of their program of study.  We also highly recommend taking courses in field-based learning environments, such as summer opportunities at the Iowa Lakeside Laboratory.  

Suggested Supporting Science Courses

Many students pursuing teaching endorsement in biology also seek endorsement in other sciences.  While a single semester of general chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, and physics is suitable, we encourage students to consider a more advanced track if they wish to be endorsed in multiple subjects.  Some students may take additional supporting science electives for their endorsements, such as earth science courses and atmospheric science courses.  

Opportunities at ISU

Biological Sciences Club (BSC)

The departmental club for Biology majors and anyone else interested in life science, the Biological Sciences Club features regular faculty speakers on a diverse range of life science topics.

Undergraduate Teaching Experience

Students in the Biology Program can assist in teaching our undergraduate lecture or laboratory courses and earn academic credit for the experience.  Students will learn how to seek out these opportunities during orientation and they are also welcome to discuss this with their academic advisor.  

Iowa Lakeside Laboratory

Iowa Lakeside Laboratory is 147-acre wilderness area near Okoboji Lake provides opportunities to study nature in nature, providing a great new perspective on instruction for future teachers.