Areas of Study

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The University of Iowa is in the forefront of advancing knowledge, treatments and training in biomedical science, and the Department of Biology serves as the cornerstone of life science education and research. We offer undergraduate majors and vigorous research programs in genetics, cell and developmental biology, and neurobiology. All students majoring in biology take courses that emphasize the investigation of research models to understand the structures and processes common to living systems at molecular, cellular, organismic and population levels of organization. Following a two-semester introductory course sequence, biology majors are required to take separate courses in Genetics and Cell Biology, which together present much of the common core for understanding biology. Genetics has uncovered the molecular blueprint that underlies the development, structure, and function of organisms, and provides powerful tools for investigating all these topics. Cell Biology reveals the workings of the building block of all organisms, the cell. Depending on the major and/or track, students select additional courses that build upon these themes while concentrating on a sub-discipline. We encourage undergraduate students to do individual research projects with faculty members and we have many programs available for focusing your area of interest and enhancing your education. Each degree provides students with a solid foundation in the scientific understanding of living systems for pursuing diverse bioscience career opportunities or for continued studies in graduate or professional schools.

Undergraduate Programs of Study

The Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in Biology is geared toward concentrated study within an area of Biology. Students can specialize in tracks in Cell and Developmental Biology, Genetics and Biotechnology, Neurobiology, and an Integrative Biology Track. The Biomedical B.S. is a selective degree, which prepares students for professional programs in the health fields. It is specifically designed to cover the Pre-Medical course work needed for admission to medical schools, and preparation for the MCAT, as part of the undergraduate degree. The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Biology works well for those students looking for a broader base of Biology and with our combined programs through the College of Education's, 4 plus 1 program, and College of Public Health's, undergrad to grad program. We also offer a Biology Minor where students may take 12 hours of upper level courses in Biology or select courses through our affiliated field station: Lakeside Laboratory. For more detailed information, check out the Liberal Arts and Sciences General Catalog.

Goals of the Undergraduate Degree Programs

Goals for student learning in the majors are classified into five primary areas:

  1. Foundational Knowledge: Comprehension of Fundamental Principles and Concepts of Biology
  2. New Discovery: Scientific Reasoning and Experimental Process in Biology
  3. Quantitative Skills: Mathematical Reasoning and Basic Numeracy Applied to Biology
  4. Information Literacy: Acquisition, Analysis and Summary of Published Biological Information
  5. Communication Proficiency: Written and Oral Presentation of Biological Information

In essence, the curriculum of the undergraduate majors strives to build a foundational understanding of processes and structures of living organisms, to reveal the scientific procedures used for new discovery of living systems, to examine experimental and observational data for sources of natural causation in organismal processes, to interpret scientific findings reported in the literature, and to communicate biological information in both oral and written forms.