Department of Biology Programs

Southern offers a wide variety of basic and advanced laboratory and field courses in biology, the scientific study of life.

The field is ripe with opportunity, and far-reaching. Possible careers include research scientist, pharmacologist, ecologist, biotechnologist, forensic scientist and much more. Students acquire a sound subject knowledge base and the practical skills needed to become competent biologists, whichever concentration they choose. In addition to courses in the biology program, students have the opportunity to build specialized ancillary professional skills via courses in GIS (Geography Department), statistics (Mathematics Department), chemical analysis (Chemistry Department), and geomorphology (Earth Sciences Department).

The B.S. Biology with 7-12 teaching certification is for future Biology Teachers. They have the same biology requirements as the B.S. Biology program, but generally take fewer cognate Chemistry courses. They also must take a number of educational courses from the College of Education and Science Education department.

The B.A. in Biology is generally for students who wish to explore additional fields of study that do not include chemistry, math, and physics. Students who are interested in pre-health fields should carefully consider whether or not this degree will meet all of the requirements for graduate studies and graduate entrance exams before declaring this major.

The B.S. in Biology is the most popular undergraduate major in the Department of Biology. It requires that students take a broad survey of upper and lower level biology courses in molecular, ecological, animal, and plant areas of study. By carefully selecting courses within each of the required content areas, students can specialize in the topics that interest them most. Often B.S. Biology students minor in Chemistry as well. This degree requires more cognate chemistry, physics and math courses than the B.A. Biology program, but less than the B.S. Biotechnology program.

The Master of Science degree in biology is primarily for students with a strong undergraduate preparation in biology who desire to prepare for advanced study, to teach at the college level, or to pursue a career in research. Students entering this program are encouraged to undertake thesis research as a means of satisfying the degree requirements. 

A student desiring admission must offer an undergraduate major in biology consisting of a minimum of 50 credits in science, including a minimum of 30 credits in biology, 6 credits of chemistry, and one semester of college mathematics. Upon acceptance by the department, the student is assigned an interim adviser who assists him in arranging a program of study.


To apply to the program, students must submit the following.

  • The graduate school application.
  • All college transcripts.
  • Two letters of recommendation from academic or professional references sent to the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. A recommendation form can be downloaded from the program webpage.
  • A 300-500 word statement explaining why the applicant is interested in obtaining a Master’s degree in biology, and what type of career the applicant is seeking.

For more information, visit Graduate Admissions.


Requires completion of an approved program consisting of a minimum of 30 credits including 2 credits of seminar and 6 credits in thesis research (BIO 590). Thesis approval requires satisfactory oral defense of the thesis. 

Thesis - Step 1 - Proposal Acceptance Form
Thesis - Step 2 - Acceptance Form

Comprehensive Examination

Requires completion of an approved program consisting of a minimum of 30 credits including 2 credits of seminar. Students in this program must pass a final written comprehensive examination administered by the department. 

Special Project

Requires completion of an approved program consisting of a minimum of 30 credits, including a special project; 2 credits of seminar; and 3 credits of BIO 600  Independent Study and Research.

Special Project - Step 1 - Proposal Acceptance Form
Special Project - Step 2 - Acceptance Form

Biotechnology is applied molecular and cellular biology, and students will master a broad range of lab skills applicable to biology and biotechnology, including applied research skills at an advanced level that will prepare them for a career or graduate studies in molecular biology,  biotechnology, & bioscience fields like medicine. This program requires more Chemistry and Math than the B.S. Biology and B.A. Biology programs. Beyond the first year, the required biology courses are all molecular and cellular biology focused. Students earn a Minor in Chemistry with this degree, and have a required research internship experience. Future accreditation by the American Society for Biochemistry & Molecular Biology is being pursued for this program.

The Minor in Biology requires 20 credits of Biology courses, and provides students in other Majors with enough knowledge to be able to apply their experiences in cross-disciplinary careers, like Science Journalism & Writing, Bioinformatics, Medical Illustration, Biotech. Management, and others. Pre- Health students who are not Biology or Biotech. Majors, commonly add a Minor in Biology to their degree program.