Harbor seal feasting on a salmon as a Mew gull looks on in Squalicum Creek during salmon spawning season.
What is Biology?
Biology is the study of living organisms. As scientists, biologists have three goals:
- Understanding the structure and function of organisms.
- Generating and disseminating reliable data pertaining to biological systems.
- Developing a deep understanding of the natural world that can inform solutions for the serious environmental, medical, and social concerns facing humanity.
This program is designed for students who want to make biology the focus of a liberal arts education and may not be directly interested in post-graduate study or professional careers in biology or teaching.
Students interested in health-related careers find this major to be particularly attractive, because it offers greater access to courses in Human Anatomy and Physiology. In addition, it offers elective options in Biology and Anthropology courses, giving students a wide array of courses from which to choose.
Biology is an increasingly quantitative discipline, requiring mathematical models to understand complex biological phenomena and computationally-intensive algorithms to analyze increasingly massive datasets, including those generated by genomics, proteomics, and other new areas in molecular biology.
Biology— Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology (EEO) Emphasis, BS
The Biology—Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal (EEO) Biology Emphasis degree program focuses on the structure, function, ecology, and evolution of organisms, with an emphasis on plants and animals.
Biology— General Emphasis, BS
The Biology BS with a General Emphasis program allows students to develop an upper-division curriculum tailored to meet their educational needs with the help of their faculty advisor. Students who graduate with this degree can apply their education to a variety of jobs across careers in biology.
Biology— Marine Emphasis, BS
Marine biology is the study of the structure and function of marine organisms and their relationship with the environment. The Biology – Marine Emphasis major provides a thorough introduction to the basic areas of biology and supporting sciences while allowing specialization in marine biology.
Biology— Molecular and Cell Biology Emphasis, BS
The B.S. degree in Molecular and Cell Biology places emphasis on the molecular biology and biochemistry that control cell functions. Students take courses in math, physics, and chemistry, along with the core biology curriculum.
Biology— Secondary Teaching Emphasis, BS
This program allows students to become secondary school teachers, while giving them the flexibility to pursue any other career in biology or continue to post-baccalaureate studies. It provides students with a well-rounded liberal arts education by also including courses in math, physics, and chemistry.
Chemistry/Biology— Secondary, BAE
This program is designed for those who wish to earn Washington residency certification to teach middle and/or high school and must be accompanied by the professional preparation program in Secondary Education offered through Woodring College of Education.
BA or BS?
The BA is designed for students who want to make biology the focus of a liberal arts education and may not be directly interested in post-graduate study or professional careers in biology or teaching. The number of required courses in the BA degree has been kept low to let you to add other areas of study and courses suited to your needs and interests. So it’s pretty easy to pair this major with a second major or minor.
Biology at Western
Our program provides a wide variety of opportunities for applied practice of knowledge and skills gained in lectures and labs. Undergraduates are encouraged to engage in research alongside faculty, serve as teaching assistants for courses, join the Biology club, and/or develop their own extracurricular experience through the independent study option. Additionally, some upper-level labs follow a project-based curriculum that resembles research experiences.
Biology has absolutely changed the way I look at at the world.
In Biology, everything has a purpose, and everything has a reason why. I love looking at things, exploring, and thinking...WHY? I'm so grateful that science and Biology has given me the tools to answer some of these questions. Why do some trees appear in certain areas? Why are flower vibrant? Why does a puffin change its color from grey to orange in the summer? To me, these kind of questions are what makes life worth living.Austin CountrymanMajoring in Biology with a Secondary Ed. emphasis
The Biology Department works with Career Services to promote biology internships. Students can earn college credit for their internships with BIOL 496. In BIOL 496, you meet with your faculty advisor and write reflections on your internship.
Recent internship opportunities include:
Fisheries Science Intern for U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Fall Seed-To-Table Educator Internship at Common Threads Farm
Facilities and resources
Western’s Biology department is part of the College of Science and Engineering.
The 82,000-square-foot Biology Building features teaching labs, research labs, environmental control rooms, a seawater lab, image analysis labs, and multimedia lecture halls. The department also maintains a greenhouse on campus that supports teaching and research activities.
It’s hard to say what I love most about the biology department. The classes are interesting, the professors are approachable, and it’s really easy to get involved with research.Julie MaurerBiology Student
What can you do with Biology?
Food Science Technician
Important note: Most biology-related jobs that involve research (Research Scientist, Professor, Zoologist, Wildlife Biologist, etc.) require a PhD. Medical school is another popular option for those with an undergraduate degree in Biology. Adding teacher certification is another option, and allows you to teach biology in middle school and high school.