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Welcome to Biology at Penn State, Prospective Students!

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Why Biology at Penn State?

Students with Half Muscle ManAre you looking for the exciting opportunities provided by a large university, yet still receive individual attention?  If so, the Biology Program at Penn State may be a perfect fit for you!  Being a top tier research institute, our faculty interests range from coral reef ecology to molecular evolution to the understanding the neurological basis underlying mental disorders.  Penn State's Biology curriculum is designed to help give you both the breadth and depth you'll need to understand modern biology at all levels of integration. To date, our program requires 124 credits and offers six options within the major to tailor your specific interests to your direction of study:

  • general biology
  • ecology
  • genetics & developmental biology
  • neuroscience
  • plant biology
  • vertebrate physiology


What Can a Biology Degree Do For You?

The biology major will allow you to pursue various exciting careers including those in health care, education, research, pharmaceutical sales, law, genetic counseling, medical illustration...the list is nearly endless and only limited by your imagination.  A breakdown of the careers our recent graduates entered is shown here:

Health Care (40%)

Our program provides excellent preparation for professional schools including medical, dental, and optometry.  About 80% of Penn State Biology majors who apply to medical school are accepted, well above the national average of 42%.  Other career paths include allied health fields ranging from physical therapy to physician assistant programs.

Research (25%),

Our graduates accept entry-level research positions in industry, government, non-profit organizations, or in a university.  Penn State Biology provides a variety of research experience opportunities to prepare students for these positions or for graduate level research programs.

Teaching (10%)

A Penn State Biology degree provides a strong foundation for potential educators.  High school level positions require certification through a secondary education program or a master's degree in education.  Teaching at the college or university level typically requires a Ph.D.

Other Options (25%)

Biology graduates also work in pharmaceutical sales or supply.  Graduates can also pursue positions in the FDA, EPA, or non-profit conservancy organizations.  Please visit our "After Graduation" page from the left menu to see what a Biology degree can do for you!


WE ARE ... Distinctive, Applicable, and Significant

Additional Advantages of a Penn State Biology Degree

Although a large institution, we strive hard to provide a sense of community. The Biome, for example, is a student living option designed for first-year students interested in the Biology major.  It is dedicated to creating a strong academic community, while fostering the fun aspects of the discipline.   Students will benefit academically from study groups, tutoring opportunities, and review sessions.

The diverse interests of our research faculty offer you an excellent opportunity for finding a laboratory experience if you are interested in doing research. Approximately 75% percent of our undergraduates do research at some time during their four years at Penn State.  In fact, many students graduate with one or more publications and/or having displayed their work during a poster exhibition either locally or at national meetings. As a new student, we encourage you to meet faculty and visit their laboratories.

Other opportunities to get involved include internships, externships, study abroad, and  the University's Cooperative Education Program, which allows you to spend two semesters working in a company during your undergraduate years.  This is a great opportunity to get a glimpse of the real world while simultaneously allowing you to defray educational costs.


phys labSpecial Features of Penn State Biology:

  • Lab-driven introductory course work leading to upper level classes spanning all of the life science areas.
  • Access to over 60 elite faculty with national and international acclaim
  • Opportunities for teaching inside and outside of the classroom
  • Global collaborations through semesters abroad, field course excursions, and on location research projects
  • Numerous clubs and organizations for student involvement in scientific, philanthropic, and recreational activities


Undergraduates planning to become biology majors are assigned a faculty adviser when they arrive on campus. In addition to meeting with the officially assigned adviser, students are welcome to visit with any of the advisers in the Biology Undergraduate Advising Office.  In the first semester at Penn State all incoming students are required to participate in the course, PSU016 or First Year Seminar.  This serves as an orientation to college life and all of the opportunities offered on campus.  In addition, the Eberly College of Science offers several 1-credit seminars to aid in career development.


Requirements for Admission

To enter the Eberly College of science as a premajor (SCIEN), you must have:

1) completed MATH 140 with a grade of C or better

2) obtained a cumulative GPA of at least 2.0.

Undergraduates declare a major usually at the end of their second year at PSU.  In order to declare Biology as your major at Penn State, a student must have:

1) completed the following courses with a grade of C or better: BIOL 110, MATH  140, CHEM 110, and any one of the following BIOL 220W, BIO L230W, or BIOL 240W.

2) attained at least a 2.00 cumulative grade-point average

*Students intending to transfer from another institution must have completed a minimum of 60 credits, including the equivalent of MATH 140 AND MATH 141, as well as the requirements listed above.  For additional information contact the Admissions Office.


How to Apply to Penn State

Visit the Undergraduate Admissions site to learn how to apply to Penn State

Financial Aid

A number of grants, loans, work-study programs, and scholarships are available through Penn State. To learn more about what is available and how to apply, contact:

Office of Student Aid
The Pennsylvania State University
314 Shields Building
University Park, PA 16802-1220

To Schedule a Campus Tour and Speak with an Adviser

Science Career & International Education

Science Undergraduate Recruiting

112 Ritenour Building

The Pennsylvania State University

University Park, PA 16802

Phone:  814.865.5000



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