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Department of Molecular Biology

College of Agriculture and Natural Resources


Undergraduate Major in Molecular Biology


Why pursue a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology?

What was once the promise of biotechnology has now become reality in medicine and agriculture. Examples include:

  • Development of transgenic crop plants that are resistant to herbicides and insect and viral pathogens.

  • Engineering of novel microbes that facilitate the removal of toxic contaminants from soil and water.

  • Identification of an increasing number of disease genes. Most recently, genes responsible for colon cancers, breast cancers, cystic fibrosis, and diabetes have been identified.

  • Rapid advances in molecular biology have led to the development of new diagnostics such as DNA probes, monoclonal antibodies, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

  • The current testing of new and more potent drugs that were created by genetic engineering. These include anti-cancer drugs, growth hormones, insulin, TPA, EPO and blood factors. Novel vaccines based on recombinant proteins are already widely used and DNA-based vaccines are in the pipeline.

  • Development of novel ways to treat patients with antisense RNA, gene therapy, and exotic organs.

Our faculty and students have participated in many of these advances, and the excitement of new discoveries continues. If you are interested in a career in any branch of the life sciences, an undergraduate degree in Molecular Biology will be the best preparation possible. We place a high priority on educating students at all levels. An integrated combination of laboratory and classroom experiences is the central feature of the undergraduate program. One-on-one relationships between faculty and students are the rule rather than the exception. These close working relationships foster growth, development, and achievement by both students and faculty.

The Undergraduate Program in Molecular Biology

The goal of the undergraduate program is to assure that our graduates can:

  • Propose logical hypotheses that explain novel biological phenomenon, calling upon a reservoir of biological facts and the application of fundamental principles

  • Propose experimental tests of hypotheses, using appropriate techniques, experimental controls, and the logical application of the experimental method.

  • Effectively communicate in written and oral mediums the significance of classic biological principles and emerging biological developments to both expert and lay audiences.

With a bachelor’s degree in molecular biology, you’ll be prepared for a variety of pursuits. Our students have enjoyed success in medical, dental, veterinary and graduate schools and found employment in the expanding biotechnology industry as well as laboratories that involve basic and applied research.

Your course plan for a degree in molecular biology will include an individually tailored program built on a solid foundation of science. You’ll take a core of courses in biology, chemistry, physics and mathematics, as well as classes in the fine arts, humanities, social sciences and communications. Introductory courses in microbiology, genetics, biochemistry, and molecular biology in science and society will prepare you for more advanced laboratory modules to acquire knowledge and expand your skills in different areas of molecular biology. Finally, with help from your adviser, you’ll select additional courses that reflect your interests and offer preparation for your chosen career goals. Shown below are several "options" for concentrating your study: they serve as guides but can and should be individualized to fit your interests and goals.


Biotech option: If you want to do post-graduate work in a laboratory as a graduate student, a research technician, or in the biotechnology industry, you might select courses that emphasize the study of molecular genetics, molecular cell and developmental biology, protein structure, or gene regulation. You may also choose to be involved in undergraduate research.

Microbiology option: If you’re interested in the basic areas of microbiology, you may choose to pursue a degree in this discipline. Your courses could include microbial physiology, immunology, virology, and parasitology. This program is interdepartmental and you will take courses from several other campus departments.

Preprofessional option: If you plan to become a healthcare professional, you might want to pursue our preprofessional program, which is designed to prepare you for admission to medical, dental, optometry, or veterinary school. This program emphasizes molecular biology and cellular biology as well as anatomy and physiology.


You’ll be encouraged to participate in student seminars, visiting speaker’s programs, undergraduate teaching opportunities, and research opportunities in individual laboratories. Access to, and the quality of, our department’s research projects will enhance your undergraduate experience.

Click here for BS Degree Requirements

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