Skip to main content

Undergraduate Studies

Undergraduate Degree Requirements

Undergraduate students in the Department of Biological Sciences at Purdue University have the opportunity to choose from nine different plans of study leading to a baccalaureate degree. The most popular major is Biology, where the student chooses from a wide variety of Biology courses and the student creates a program that best fits their interests and educational goals. We also offer eight specialized majors (Chemical Biology and Biochemistry; Biology Education; Cell, Molecular, and Developmental Biology; Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology; Genetics; Health and Disease; Microbiology; and Neurobiology and Physiology) where the student follows a plan of study focusing on a particular field of the Biological Sciences. These majors appeal to the student who has found an area of Biology to be of great interest and who wishes to study this field in depth.

Please keep in mind that choosing a more specialized major in no way restricts the student to only that field of study. Fields in Biology overlap considerably and many biologists change fields during their career. Each of these programs of study is an excellent preparation for professional school (medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry), or careers in academic or industrial research.


Plans of Study can be found by:

  1. Go to the College of Science > Majors.
  2. See subsections "Biological Sciences" or "Science Education"
  3. Click the most recent "DPG" (Degree Progression Guide) for the most updated course offerings for the desired major.   NOTE: if your "catalog term" (typically the term you started at Purdue University) is Summer 2019 or before, your "Base Lab Requirement" is structured a bit differently, please talk to your advisor and see your myPurduePlan audit worksheet.

These majors offer plenty of free electives for students to pursue double majors, minors, or interests in other fields without necessarily prolonging graduation.


Major Descriptions

BIOCHEMISTRY (only available for students who entered Purdue prior to Fall 2021)

Biochemistry investigates the chemical and molecular foundations of life processes. A student may study the transfer of genetic information into biological structures, the conversion of nutrients into cell constituents and their utilization as sources of energy, the storage of memory, and the chemical nature of neural processes. Laboratory techniques include electrophoresis, chromatography, Western blotting, protein sequence analysis, and peptide mapping. Understanding the development and application of enzymatic assays is fundamental to this field of study. This rigorous curriculum is excellent preparation for a number of careers in both academic and industrial research, including cancer and AIDS research, medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, structural biology, genetics, and medicinal chemistry and drug development.

Students entering Fall 2021 and forward who are interested in this field should look into our new major, "Chemical Biology and Biochemistry," a partnership with the Department of Chemistry.  See links above to find the Degree Progression Guide for this major. 



The Biology major allows a student to pursue a general curriculum with the Bachelor of Science as a terminal degree or as preparation for graduate work or professional school. This major is designed to give a student maximum flexibility in designing a plan of study suited to individual needs and interests. This curriculum is excellent preparation for a number of careers in both academic and industrial research, and professions in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine.


SCIENCE EDUCATION > Concentration in Biology Education

A student completing the requirements in Biology Education is qualified to teach high school biology. Biology Education majors are advised that it is wise to select an additional developmental area, such as middle school, and an additional content area, such as Physical Science or Chemistry. For the latest information on course requirements, see your advisor.



Understanding how eukaryotic cells process information from their environment and initiate programs of gene expression leading to growth, development, and functional specification is the essence of a CMDB major. Students enrolled in this curriculum will take courses providing a solid foundation in the molecular biology of cells and gain a full appreciation of how molecular complexes interact to make a cell function. This fundamental knowledge in cell and molecular biology will be applied through further coursework in genetics and developmental biology to examine how eukaryotic organisms function and how specific aspects of that function are perturbed by disease. Within the CMDB major, students have the option of focusing their studies on animal systems, plant systems, or both. Graduates with a CMDB major are well-prepared to pursue careers in academic or industrial research, biotechnology, genetic engineering, medicine, veterinary medicine, and other health related professions.



This major investigates how organisms interact with their physical environment and other organisms, from an evolutionary perspective. Ecologists' work includes research and/or teaching involving population genetics and evolution, adaptive strategies for survival, the nature of populations, and community ecology. Ecologists also offer technical services in connection with environmental impact decisions and regional planning, and environmental education at various levels as teacher, naturalist, or journalist. Common career paths for undergraduate students include graduate study leading to academic positions (research and teaching in small colleges and major universities), technical positions in industry (mostly dealing with environmental assessment), and employment in state and federal environmental agencies.



Genetics is the science of information transfer from one generation to another. We learn the laws of inheritance in all creatures big and small, how they evolve and how they change. On the molecular level we learn about DNA and RNA, on the cellular level we discover what makes a cell cancerous, and on an organismal level we examine the reproductive habits of various organisms. Crucial principles include the structure, function, and transmission of genes. Laboratory techniques explore genetic engineering from the "inside". Genetics is crucial to all of biology, hence a genetics major has great flexibility. This is excellent preparation for advanced study in biological sciences, law, genetic counseling, and many health-related professions.



Health and Disease is a biology program of study with an emphasis on disease-related upper level biology courses and general education electives that relate to health. The major provides a rigorous curriculum for students interested in health careers, thus giving the student many career options after graduation.



Microbiology includes the study of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A student can expect to study topics such as microbial growth, nutrition, metabolism, pathogenesis, morphogenesis, and production of antibiotics. Career opportunities are found in public health, medical laboratories, quality assurance, environmental toxicology, and related areas. A Microbiology major is excellent preparation for advanced study (or direct employment) in biological sciences, education, and many health-related professions.



Physiology is the study of the functions of living organisms and of the organ and tissue systems of which they are composed. The goal of physiology is to understand, in terms of physical and chemical principles, the mechanisms that operate in living organisms from the subcellular level to the level of the whole animal, with an emphasis on how these mechanisms are integrated to produce a viable organism. Neurobiology is the study of the structure, function, and development of the nervous system, and originated, in part, as a subdiscipline of physiology. In recent years, neurobiology has become one of the most rapidly changing and exciting areas of biology. A Neurobiology and Physiology major is excellent preparation for careers in education, research, industry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and other professions.

Purdue University Biological Sciences, 915 W. State Street, West Lafayette, IN 47907

Main Office: (765) 494-4408   Business Office: (765) 494-4764  Contact Us

© 2022 Purdue University | An equal access/equal opportunity university | Copyright Complaints

Trouble with this page? Disability-related accessibility issue? Please contact the College of Science Webmaster.

Maintained by Science IT