Biology

Degree Options

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science with a major in biology

Description of Program

Biology is the study of life and all its remarkable forms and processes.  Drake University’s biology program uses an inquiry-based and integrated approach throughout the curriculum, instead of traditional lectures and labs.  This modern approach engages students in scientific methods and research from the first year of study, giving you, the student, a jump-start on developing skills in research, critical thinking, scientific communication, and data analysis.

Coursework toward a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science in Biology exposes students to microscopic cells, complex ecosystems, and everything in between (and beyond).  Drake’s biology curriculum is designed to provide students with a strong foundation of biological understanding in a variety of areas. Students can also delve more deeply into disciplines of your choosing to prepare for graduate or professional programs, careers in the health sciences, or careers industry or other areas in the biological sciences.

Drake’s affiliations with Iowa Lakeside Laboratory and the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Mississippi provides opportunities for Drake students to earn credit towards a Biology degree while taking specialized courses such as soil genesis, watershed hydrology, prairie ecology, marine biology and ecology, marine mammals and ichthyology, coastal herpetology and oceanography.

Students who earn a B.S. or B.A. degree in biology and who meet the entrance requirements may apply to schools of medicine, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, chiropractic medicine, veterinary medicine, physical therapy, or other health related programs. Further opportunities include advanced study in graduate school or career positions with industry, government or private agencies in biologically related fields such as biotechnology, conservation biology, agriculture, and forensic science.

Requirements for Major

Minimum of 32 credit hours in biology, which must include at least 6 courses having laboratory experiences and additional course requirements.

B.A. Degree: Students pursuing the B.A. degree also must take one course of at least 3 credit hours in calculus, statistics or Computer Science 65.

First-Year Students: First-year students who plan to major in biology are encouraged to enroll in Biology 15 (Introduction to Biology) during the fall semester of their first year. Students have the responsibility to develop their program of study and review it with their faculty advisor in biology.

B.S. Degree: The B.S. degree program in Biology is designed to provide significant experience in biological research by engaging students in genuine scientific investigations similar to what students will encounter in their future careers. Students will become collaborators with faculty and contribute to all aspects of a research project from proposal and hypothesis formation to data analysis, interpretation and presentation. The research typically occurs at Drake University with Drake faculty, but it could also happen during an off-campus experience with a non-Drake advisor (e.g., study abroad, local workplaces). Off campus research still requires a Biology faculty advisor (through enrollment in BIO 197 or 197L).

B.S. Requirements:

  • Collaboration with a faculty advisor in a significant research investigation (minimum of 2 semesters)
  • Research proposal submitted to the Biology department for approval before your senior year
  • BIO 99, Biological Research and Statistical Methods, or its advisor-approved equivalent
  • A minimum of 2 credits of BIO 197/197L, Undergraduate Thesis Research
  • Presentation of the research in BIO 192 (student should be enrolled in 192 the spring semester the research is presented); for students graduating in fall, presentation in BIO 191 is an option
  • Research paper and a copy of the presentation submitted to the department

Students planning to complete a B.S. in Biology should obtain a copy of the full description of the B.S. requirements from their advisor or the department office by their sophomore year.

Program of study for Biology minor: Completion of 20 credit hours in biology, which must include at least three biology laboratory courses. A minimum grade-point average of 2.00 must be achieved, and credit/no-credit courses may not be used for the minor. The program for the biology minor must be approved by the chair of the Biology Department.

Careers and Internships

A degree in biology will prepare you for both advanced studies and a career after graduation. Students who earn a B.S. or B.A. degree in biology and who meet the entrance requirements may apply to schools of medicine, dentistry, optometry, podiatry, chiropractic medicine, veterinary medicine, physical therapy or other health related programs. Further opportunities include advanced study in graduate school or career positions with industry, government or private agencies in biologically related fields such as biotechnology, conservation biology, marine science, environmental science, agriculture, and forensic science.

As a biology major, you will have opportunities to apply what you are learning through individualized internship opportunities both on campus and in Des Moines, Iowa's capital and largest city. In addition to performing research with biology faculty, our students have recently held internships at Des Moines University (medical school), Pioneer Hi-Bred, Kemin Industries, Des Moines Blank Park Zoo, local clinics and hospitals, the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation, and other venues near Drake or their hometowns. 

Student Involvement

Drake biology students are often involved in Tri-Beta (Beta Beta Beta) National Biological Honor Society, Alpha Epsilon Delta (AED) Premedical Honor Society, and the Drake Pre-Medical Organization.  Students participating in the Drake Environmental Action League are committed to increasing awareness and stainability on Drake's campus. The Drake Outdoor Leadership Club promotes student opportunities and participation in outdoor recreation and service projects.

As a Drake student, you will also have the opportunity to present your personal research at the annual Drake University Conference on Undergraduate Research in the Sciences (DUCURS) as well as regional and national meetings. Drake also offers you the opportunity to participate in the Drake University Science Collaborative Institute (DUSCI), an on-campus network of faculty and research students.

Biology Requirements

You can choose to earn a B.A. and B.S. degree in biology, or a minor in biology. The B.A. requires a minimum of 32 credit hours in biology, which must include six courses having laboratory experiences and at least one course from each of five biological spheres: molecular and cellular processes, biological diversity, systems biology, ecology/evolution, and applications of biological principles.  Majors also complete required courses in mathematics, chemistry, physics, and a course in calculus, statistics, or computer science. The B.S. degree requires all of the requirements above, plus students collaborate with a faculty advisor to conduct an additional significant amount of research in the form of an undergraduate thesis.

A biology minor requires completion of 20 credit hours in biology, which must include at least three biology laboratory courses. A minimum grade-point average of 2.00 must be achieved, and credit/no-credit courses may not be used for the minor. The program for the biology minor must be approved by the chair of the Biology Department.

Honors

  • Fae M Shawhan Fine Forceps Award
  • George C. Huff Freshman Biology Award
  • Fae M. Shawhan Pre-Medical Award
  • Luther Sherman Ross Award
  • Frances Rogers Student Research Award

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