Bachelor of Science in Biology

Bachelor of Science in Biology Biology Degree On-campus

About the Bachelor of Science in Biology

Prepare for a dynamic career in research or get ready for professional school.

The Bachelor of Science in Biology at PennWest California offers a challenging biology curriculum designed to prepare you to enter the workforce or continue your education in graduate or professional schools. This undergraduate degree program offers a broad curriculum in biology supplemented with courses in chemistry, physics and mathematics. Students can select from a range of biology electives to fulfill their degree needs and professional interests. Almost all courses include a laboratory portion where you will gain hands-on experience using the methods, instrumentation and technology specific to the field. You also will study the practical application of the course content by directly applying it in the field and through case studies in the classroom.  

Gain a career advantage with PennWest California's emphasis on hands-on experience.

Biology students are encouraged to pursue an internship and/or to study abroad to gain further expertise and practical experience in the field. Many of our biology students have completed internships in professional offices, biological labs, hospitals and other medical settings, and at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium. The undergraduate biology program also offers students opportunities to select a concentration in one of these key areas: pre-professional programs, mortuary science or nanotechnology.  The bachelor's degree in biology can be completed in four years of full-time study.


Professional development: Biology students are prepared to start their careers after graduation, or they may choose to go to graduate school or professional school (e.g., medical, veterinary, dental or chiropractic). Students interested in professional schools are encouraged to consider the pre-professional programs concentration. PennWest California biology graduates have been accepted by professional schools at many outstanding institutions, such as Penn State, Auburn University, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Ohio State University, Ohio University, Ross University of Veterinary Medicine, West Virginia University, Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine.  

High-demand field: A steady demand exists for biologists. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment of biological technicians is projected to grow 5% through 2024, about as fast as the average for all occupations. Continued growth in biotechnology and medical research is expected to increase demand for these workers. A bachelor's degree in biology from PennWest California gives you a distinct competitive advantage over other graduates. You'll be prepared for advanced studies in biology and related fields, and for industrial and government research, as well as for careers in public health and many health-related fields.

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Student-to-faculty ratio at PennWest California.
Credit hours for the bachelor's degree in biology, which can be completed in eight semesters or four years.
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Degree Benefits

PennWest California's biology curriculum is designed to prepare students for careers in the broad field of biological sciences or to pursue further professional training, including going on to medical school. Students receive a strong background in anatomy, microbiology, histology, cell biology and genetics. All biology courses are taught by faculty who are experts in their fields. Other exceptional courses include animal histology, parasitology, developmental biology, immunology, pathophysiology, neurobiology and biochemistry. Students also have the opportunity to minor in chemistry and are encouraged to do so. Many of our students participate in biology-related internships.

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Graduate Outcomes

Biology students have many career options, from continuing their education to finding employment in various types of laboratories or with private industry, government or nonprofit organizations. About 40% of all biological scientists are employed by federal, state and local government organizations. Biological scientists work for the U.S. departments of Agriculture, Interior and Defense, and for the National Institutes of Health. Many graduates also find good opportunities in scientific research and testing laboratories, the pharmaceutical and medicine manufacturing industry, or educational institutions.

Biology (B.S.)
A professor and student look at a computer screen.

Top Facilities

The Biological and Environmental Sciences Department maintains animal rooms, a greenhouse, a herbarium and an instructional computer lab. All teaching classrooms offer up-to-date computer technology and Wi-Fi Internet access. Teaching labs are equipped for the study of anatomy, botany, cellular and molecular biology, ecology, genetics, microbiology, parasitology, and physiology; the zoology lab was recently remodeled. Students are provided excellent opportunities to carry out independent research projects with faculty and present their results in a professional setting.


A student looks into a microscope.

Award-winning Research

Our biology students frequently win awards for their research at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania University Biologists (CPUB) annual conference. For instance, biology graduate Shelby Zikeli '16 conducted research on toxoplasmosis in Madagascar Forest rats, funded by PennWest California's Faculty Professional Development Center and CPUB. This unique research was made possible by Dr. Summer Arrigo-Nelson, who does research in Madagascar while conducting a summer field program for students. Other award-winning student research projects have focused on such areas as small-cell lung cancer, ovarian tumors and wound healing.

A student observes plant life.

Getting Involved  

Many of our students become members of Beta Beta Beta, a national biological society, which requires that students participate in a research experience. All students are given the opportunity to engage in research with a faculty member, and then to present their findings at a local, regional or national venue. Students are encouraged to join and actively participate in other department clubs, including the Biology Club, Medical Interest Club and Sustainability/Horticulture Club. These clubs help to prepare students for professional school by sponsoring visits to graduate schools, inviting guest speakers to campus, providing volunteer opportunities, shadowing professionals, and providing a forum for students to learn more professional opportunities and the graduate school application process.

Students study in Costa Rica.

Field Biology

PennWest California biology students can take field biology courses that study other ecosystems. A recent class visited four different ecosystems in Costa Rica — a dry forest, cloud forest and high and low rain forests. They also talked with those who are engaged in sustainable farming practices and learned about economics.  

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B.S., Biology Courses


Course Credits
General Education Courses 42
Building a Sense of Community
UNI 100 First-Year Seminar
ENG 101  English Composition I
Public Speaking
Any Oral Communication Course
Mathematics and Quantitative Literacy
MAT 273  Applied Calculus  OR  MAT 281  Calculus I
Health and Wellness
Any Health and Wellness Course
Technological Literacy
Any Tech Lit. Course
Any Humanities Course
Fine Arts
Any Fine Arts Course
Natural Sciences
PHY 121  General Physics I 
Social Sciences
Any Social Science Course
General Education Options
  • Any Ethics and Multicultural Awareness Emphasis Course
  • ENG 102  Composition II
  • MAT 215  Statistics
  • CHE 101  General Chemistry I
Required Major Courses 47
BIO 120  General Zoology 4
BIO 125  General Botany 4
BIO 215  Cellular and Molecular Biology 4
BIO 218  Genetics 4
BIO 248  General Ecology 4
BIO 300-level Anatomy Course 4
BIO 300- or 400-level Physiology Course 4
BIO 478  Evolution 3
ENS 495  Design and Analysis 4
PHY 122  General Physics II 4
CHE 102  General Chemistry II 4
CHE 331  Organic Chemistry I 4
Related Electives 13
Any 300- or 400-level BIO or ENS course, CHE 415  or related College of Science and Technology 300- or 400-level course (with approval of your adviser)
Free Electives 18
Total 120

Additional requirements, not counted toward the General Education requirements, include:

  • Special Experience Course (1 course required): Any Special Experience Course
  • Writing-Intensive Component Courses (2 courses required): Any two BIO or ENS Upper-Division Writing Component Courses
  • Laboratory Course (1 course required): BIO 215 Cellular and Molecular Biology

Program Note: Chemistry minor (20 credits) recommended for those students intending to pursue graduate or professional school. (Must declare minor with chemistry chair.)

B.S., Biology - Concentration, Minors and Careers

  • Biology - Minor

What jobs can I get with a biology degree?

Here are a few examples of jobs that you can get with a bachelor's in biology degree:

  • Environmental Scientist / Specialist
  • Conservation Scientist
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative
  • Biological Technicial
  • Research Assistant
  • Occupational Health and Safety Specialist
  • Environmental Technician
  • Agricultural or Food Scientist
  • Quality Control Specialist