Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences
Department of Biological Sciences
College of Science and Technology
Overview of the program
The overall educational objective of the biological sciences undergraduate program is to provide students with a conceptual foundation in biology and a skills base necessary to build successful careers in industry, government, business, education, or to succeed in graduate school or professional school.
Other program objectives include:
- Students will acquire knowledge and understanding of general biology, including a basic knowledge of the biological molecules, the cell, genetics, regulation, structure/function, interaction with the environment, and evolution.
- Students will develop an appreciation for the scope, unity and diversity of life in the biosphere, including the classification of plants, animals, and microbes.
- Students will develop essential professional skills such as interpersonal skills, oral and written communication skills, and problem solving skills including scientific inquiry.
- Students will be able to apply technology for the purposes of problem solving and reporting results.
Total semester hours required: 120
- Integrative Biology Concentration*
- Ecology, Environmental, and Evolutionary Concentration
- Microbiology and Molecular Concentration
- Plant Science Concentration
- Biology EducationConcentration
* Pre-professional students such as those in Pre-Medicine, Pre-Dentistry, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Occupational Therapy, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Pharmacy, and Pre-Veterinary Medicine generally follow either the Integrative Biology or the Microbiology/Molecular Biology concentrations in Biological Sciences
Strengths of the program
The Department of Biological Sciences continues be a leader on campus in its academic programs, scholarship and outreach activities, and the department's faculty continue to be campus leaders in classroom innovation, research, and service to the University and community. The department has been cited by an external review team as among the top such departments in Louisiana. Among its nationally recognized faculty are National Institutes of Health Research Fellows, a Fulbright Research Fellow, editors of national and international science journals, recipients of national and university research awards, recipients of top teaching awards, and a recipient of a career research grant from the National Science Foundation. In addition, the department offers excellent instruction as evidenced by the fact that the departmental Student Opinion of Teaching average is consistently above the University average.
Additional strengths include:
- Annual average of more than 45 national and international publications.
- Annual average of more than $3 million in research grants and contracts.
- Undergraduate research funding and research opportunities in areas such as cell biology, ecology, endocrinology, evolution, genetics, herpetology, ichthyology, immunology, microbiology, molecular biology, neurophysiology, parasitology, phylogenetics, and wetland ecology.
- More than $4 million in teaching and research equipment.
- Three buildings, including a new $12 million four story building with state of the art teaching and research laboratories.
- Comprehensive Electron Microscopy Center.
- Molecular biology laboratories.
- Mesocosm wetlands facility.
- Teaching/research greenhouse.
- Million-dollar endowed chair devoted to environmental studies.
- Special computer labs/equipment.
Preparing for a job in the program
Students hoping to pursue a career in biology or a profession such as medicine should:
- Develop good communication, interpersonal and decision making skills.
- Gain experience through work or internship programs, or volunteer work if possible.
- Learn leadership skills and develop them through securing leadership positions in school, community or other organizations.
- Take as many science and mathematics classes as possible in high school and college.
- Develop excellent laboratory skills.
- Learn to problem solve, and develop work habits that are systematic and precise.
- Acquire good computer skills.
Careers in the program
A major in biological sciences (with the appropriate concentration and sometimes advanced or professional degrees) prepares students for work in the following type careers/organizations:
- State agencies such as the Department of Environmental Quality, Wildlife & Fisheries, Department of Natural Resources, and Parks and Recreation
- Federal Government agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Forestry Department, National Park Agency, Centers for Disease Control, etc.
- Hospitals and other medical organizations
- Pharmaceutical companies
- Industry, particularly biotechnology firms
- Colleges and universities and high schools
- Environmental firms
- Medical, dental, pharmacy, and other professional fields
Starting Salaries after completing the program (estimates only)
Information about salaries is from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupation Outlook Handbook 2010-2011 Edition.
According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, beginning salary offers in July 2009 averaged $33,254 a year for bachelor's degree recipients in biological and life sciences.
Median annual wages of microbiologists were $64,350 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $48,330 and $87,040. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $38,240, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $111,300.
Median annual wages of zoologists and wildlife biologists were $55,290 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $43,060 and $70,500. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $33,550, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $90,850.
In the Federal Government in March 2009, microbiologists earned an average annual salary of $97,264; ecologists, $84,283; physiologists, $109,323; geneticists, $99,752; zoologists, $116,908; and botanists, $72,792.
Median annual wages of kindergarten, elementary, middle, and secondary school teachers ranged from $47,100 to $51,180 in May 2008; the lowest 10 percent earned $30,970 to $34,280; the top 10 percent earned $75,190 to $80,970.
Earnings of physicians and surgeons are among the highest of any occupation. According to the Medical Group Management Association's Physician Compensation and Production Survey, median total compensation for physicians varied by their type of practice. In 2008, physicians practicing primary care had total median annual compensation of $186,044, and physicians practicing in medical specialties earned total median annual compensation of $339,738.
Median annual wages of salaried general dentists were $142,870 in May 2008. Earnings vary according to number of years in practice, location, hours worked, and specialty. Self-employed dentists in private practice tend to earn more than salaried dentists.
Median annual wages of physical therapists were $72,790 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $60,300 and $85,540. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $50,350, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $104,350.
Median annual wages of salaried optometrists were $96,320 in May 2008. The middle 50 percent earned between $70,140 and $125,460. Median annual wages of salaried optometrists in offices of optometrists were $92,670. Salaried optometrists tend to earn more initially than do optometrists who set up their own practices. In the long run, however, those in private practice usually earn more.
Median annual wages of wage and salary pharmacists in May 2008 were $106,410. The middle 50 percent earned between $92,670 and $121,310 a year. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $77,390, and the highest 10 percent earned more than $131,440 a year.
Campus organizations and activities affiliated with the program
- Delta Omega Alpha (pre-professional society) is an organization of students who are interested in professional careers in medicine, dentistry, physical therapy, veterinary medicine, etc. They take tours of professional schools, have invited speakers such as the Deans of Admission, current medical and dental students, professionals working in the field, etc. Contact Information: email@example.com,firstname.lastname@example.org
- Beta Beta Beta is the National Biology Honors Society. Students are invited to join if they are a Biology major who have reached sophomore status with a GPA of 3.3 or better. The society schedules activities such as visits to area research centers. Contact Information: email@example.com
- The Biology Under-Graduate Society (BUGS) is a student organization for undergraduate biology majors. For information contact the President Codie Sullivan firstname.lastname@example.org
Related fields that might interest you
A degree in biological sciences opens the door of many professional and graduate schools. Some of the related occupations you may consider:
- Medical laboratory technologist
- Physical therapist
- College professor
- Cell biologist
- Biology teacher
- Fisheries biologist
- Conservation biologist
- Marine biologist
- Plant pathologist
Some of these occupations may require additional schooling at Graduate or Professional schools. For information on training and qualifications needed for the specific occupations you are considering, consult the Occupational Outlook Handbook or other career guidance resources. Also, take advantage of career planning services offered by the university.
How do I know this is the degree for me?
Common Strengths and interests of students in the program
Helpful qualities for biology majors include:
- An analytical mind and critical thinking skills
- Enjoy working with living organisms and studying biological systems
- Good laboratory skills
- An ability to quickly assess large amounts of information and data
- Leadership skills
- Self-confidence and motivation
- Good decision-making skills
- Good communication skills
- Have the ability to work successfully with others
- Be a logical thinker who likes to solve problems
- Have good computer skills
Numerous Southeastern biology graduates are college professors in universities and colleges, work for state and federal agencies, or work in industry and business. Many others are successful physicians, dentists, physical therapists, pharmacists, or have other health care careers.
Hammond, LA 70402
On campus: Biology Building Room 421