Old Dominion University
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College of Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

                    Success in Biology

An undergraduate degree in Biology can prepare you for many different kinds of careers and post-baccalaureate study. Unfortunately, many students underestimate both the rigor of the degree program itself and the kinds of credentials they will need to pursue their chosen careers. First, you should strive for a GPA of 3.0 or above, especially if your chosen field requires post-baccalaureate training. Second, whether your interest is in medicine or ecology, forensics or marine biology, zoology or botany, you will need strength in a number of different areas, described below.



Declaring a Major

Major Requirements

Minor Requirements

Advising Hours

Undergraduate Research

Graduation Advising

Success in Biology

Careers in Biology

Prospective Students

  • Mathematics: Quantitative skills (reasoning and application) are critical, which is why our requirements include mathematics through calculus and a course in statistics. You will use quantitative skills in many courses (especially Chemistry and Physics); they are also fundamental tools for physicians, laboratory technicians, field biologists, and more. If you struggled with mathematics in high school, you will need to think ahead to how you will successfully acquire the skills you need, both to pass your classes with acceptable grades and to qualify yourself for your chosen career.

  • Written and Oral Communication: Virtually any science career requires excellent written and oral communication skills. Courses directed at helping you build and strengthen these skills are woven into your curriculum at both the lower and upper divisions. Be sure to take advantage of those opportunities; the better you are able to express yourself, the greater your chances will be to land those good internships, to be accepted into good graduate or professional schools, and to get that first entry-level job.

  • Interpersonal Skills: The stereotype of the scientist in a white lab coat struggling alone in an isolated laboratory could not be more misleading in today's environment of collaborative work. Regardless of your specific career choice, you will find yourself working as part of a team to solve problems and get the job done. You must be able to work with a diverse individuals and for supervisors with different kinds of management styles. You will work on these skills in your lab courses, internships, research projects, etc. Again, be sure to take advantage of those opportunities - but don't neglect opportunities to develop your leadership skills and ability to work independently.

  • Lifelong learning: The life sciences are exciting in part because they are diverse and developing at nearly light speed. No matter what field you ultimately pursue, you will need to be able to follow the latest research, keep up with new practices, and understand the latest developments in your specialty. This means that you will need to become your own best teacher, able to acquire, evaluate, synthesize, and use new information as it becomes available. Many of your courses will require these skills; if you attend to them carefully, you'll be well prepared when you graduate.