The major in Biological Sciences is one of the most challenging at the university, but at the same time, one of the most rewarding. In addition to completing the Carolina Core, Biology majors complete four pre-requisite courses for the major, including a two-semester Introductory Biology sequence and a two-semester General Chemistry sequence. Each of these courses has a hands-on laboratory course paired with the lecture course. After these courses, Biology majors take three integrative courses that provide a strong foundation for upper-level courses. These integrative courses are Ecology and Evolution, Cellular and Molecular Biology, and Fundamental Genetics. Students then take upper-level electives that allow them to focus primarily on the topics that interest them. At least three courses will include laboratory and practical experience, and students are encouraged to take more lab courses as their schedules permit.
Majoring in Biological Sciences provides students with the foundation for a wide range of careers, including jobs in medicine and allied fields, education, biotechnology, environmental agencies and NGOs, science writing, forensic science, research, law, marine biology, and more. Because the Department of Biological Sciences offers a wide range of upper-level courses, students can explore fields they might be interested in, or focus on a particular target career. Some examples include:
- Students interested in medicine or allied health careers, including physician’s assistants, physical therapy, occupational health, dietician/nutritionist, and others might take courses focused on the human biology, including Advanced Human Anatomy, Advanced Human Physiology, Human Molecular Genetics, Mechanisms of Disease Pathogenesis, and Hallmarks of Cancer.
- Students interested in K-12 education careers are likely to choose a broad range of topics, such as Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy, Plant Form and Function, Developmental Biology, Invertebrate Zoology, and Animal Behavior. Paired with courses in the School of Education that lead to a teaching certificate, students find they are in high demand for science teaching jobs throughout South Carolina and beyond.
- Students interested in biotechnology have career opportunities in both agricultural and biomedical technology. Relevant courses include Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology, Biochemistry, Stem Cells, Virology, Genomic Data Science, and Experimental Biotechnology. Students aiming for the work in the private sector could pair this with a minor in business, chemistry, or computer science.
- Students interested in environmental and conservation biology careers, whether with government agencies or non-governmental organizations have many course options, including Fishery Management, Population Genetics, Principles of Ecology, Conservation Biology, Biology of Birds, and Plant Responses to the Environment. Combining these courses with a minor in Political Science, Statistics, or Geography allows students to develop the complex skills necessary for an interdisciplinary career.
Research opportunities for BIOL majors can be found within and outside of the department. Students can register for BIOL 399 Independent research over two or three semesters for a total of six credits (three of which are counted toward the major). This is a particularly important experience for students considering careers in research or academia, who can find out first-hand what it is like to advance the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding.
In addition to a biology major, the department offers two minors:
The neuroscience minor is designed for students going into graduate studies in neuroscience, biomedical sciences, animal behavior, or psychology, students going into medicine, and students simply interested in gaining a better understanding of their own interactions with the world. The minor will provide opportunities to develop a strong background of how the nervous system works from the social and behavioral to the cellular and molecular levels.
A biology minor can expand your options for employment or graduate school or provide you with a more well-rounded education.
Looking for more specific information, like what classes you'll need to take to graduate, learning outcomes, and which classes we offer? The academic bulletin is the university's official document of record concerning undergraduate-level academic programs and regulations.
You'll meet with your advisor at least once before each semester. During these meetings,
you'll also be advised on special academic matters such as petitions, transfers, appeals,
and graduation. We encourage you to seek the advice of a faculty advisor any time
during the academic year.
Your advisor can help you explore everything this department has to offer, from research opportunities to accessing funding.
Other biology-related Majors offered at USC
USC offers other majors with a focus in biology: