Bachelor of Science in Biology


Program Description


Biology is the study of life in all of its variety and complexity. Biologists approach the study of life at levels ranging from molecular biology and physiology to ecology and evolution. Students of biology must each find the unique niche within this diverse field that best suits her or his passions.

Why Biology at SFU?

  1. Students First. The Biology Program at SFU is designed with the uniqueness of each student in mind. Our department provides customizable degree programs and personal academic advising by biology faculty.
  2. Small Class Sizes, a tight-knit community of students, and opportunities for students to engage in novel research with faculty mentors.
  3. High Success Rates. Many of our graduates go on to graduate schools and professional schools, while others use their bachelor degree to pursue careers in research, education, wildlife management, medical laboratories, as well as aquaria and zoos.

Biology Department Learning Objectives

While completing their degrees in the Saint Francis University Biology program, our students achieve the following learning objectives:

  • Employ the scientific method, including the use of discipline-specific techniques, to discover and validate biological knowledge.
  • Demonstrate scientific literacy through reading, writing, presenting, and discussing research.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how atoms and molecules interact to permit the function of living systems, and how cells sense, control, and respond to stimuli in their environments.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of molecular genetics and how this leads to the expression and inheritance of traits.
  • Explain how organisms reproduce and develop, how their anatomical structure permits function, how they maintain internal conditions, and how they sense and respond to external stimuli, across the full range of biological diversity.
  • Describe how evolution by natural selection explains the unity and diversity of life on earth, and articulate how organisms interact at the population, community, and ecosystem levels.

Why Study Biology?

Biologists are inquisitive professionals who seek to learn about the nature of life. Do you enjoy learning about animals or plants? Do you wonder how organisms in the field interact with their neighbors and their surroundings? Do you want to use hi-tech laboratory equipment to learn about the world of molecules and cells that lie within each us? Do you love all of the sciences? Biologists use tools from physics, chemistry, psychology, and even economics when trying to explain and understand the structure and function of living things.

General Biology Majors

Our cornerstone programs are our two general biology degree programs. We offer a B.A. or B.S. in Biology, each of which allows considerable customization by the student while ensuring broad training across biology. (NOTE: Specializations and concentrations are also available.)

Biology, B.S.

A flexible program that encourages broad training in biology, while allowing students to customize the program to their interests.

Biology, B.A.

Flexible like the Biology, B.S. degree, but designed for students who wish to earn a double major, a minor, or a pre-law concentration.

Curriculum: Biology, B.S.

The Biology, B.S. degree provides training to students across all major fields of the biological sciences, including molecular and cellular biology, organismal biology, ecology, and evolution. The requirements include a core curriculum common to all biology majors, as well as electives that are selected from clusters that represent major levels of analysis within the biological sciences. This program provides considerable flexibility to help students prepare for a variety of career paths in the biological sciences.

Concentrations in Biology, B.S. include:

  • Biology, B.S., Ecology & Environmental Biology Concentration
  • Biology, B.S., Marine Biology Concentration
  • Biology, B.S., Molecular Biology Concentration
  • Biology, B.S., Pre-Medicine Concentration (Pre-Dental, Pre-Medical, Pre-Optometry, Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Podiatry, Pre-Veterinary)
  • Biology, B.S., Secondary Education Concentration or Biology, B.S., Secondary Education Concentration/Special Education Concentration
Biology Major Core Curriculum:
  • BIOL 110 - Introduction to Biology: Evolution, Ecology, and Plant Biology
  • BIOL 111 - Introduction to Biology: Molecules, Cells, and Animal Physiology
  • BIOL 131 - Biology Freshman Seminar
  • BIOL 231 - Biology Sophomore Seminar
  • BIOL 301 - Genetics
  • BIOL 331 - Biology Junior Seminar
  • BIOL 402 - Evolution
  • BIOL 431 - Senior Seminar
Biology Clusters

Select at least 18 additional credits from the list of courses below, including at least one course from each of the three biology clusters. At least four of these additional courses must have a laboratory component.

Molecules and Cells

  • BIOL 251 - Bioinformatics
  • BIOL 302 - General Microbiology
  • BIOL 305 - Immunology
  • BIOL 401 - Cell and Molecular Biology
  • BIOL 405 - Biochemistry
  • BIOL 430 - Advanced Laboratory Methods in Molecular Biology

Organismal Biology

  • BIOL 204 - Invertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 211 - Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy
  • BIOL 212 - Developmental Biology
  • BIOL 218 - Marine Biology
  • BIOL 306 - Animal Nutrition
  • BIOL 403 - Advanced Botany
  • BIOL 406 - Vertebrate Physiology


  • BIOL 203 - Ecology
  • BIOL 208 - Animal Behavior
  • BIOL 220 - Conservation Biology
  • BIOL 320 - Vertebrate Zoology
  • BIOL 322 - Field Biology
  • BIOL 326 - Freshwater Aquatic Biology

Other Optional Courses:

The following courses are not listed in the clusters above, but may be used toward the required 18 additional credits in biology:

  • BIOL 150 - Aquarium Maintenance (maximum 1 credit)
  • BIOL 194/294/394/494 Biological Research
  • Any 300- or 400- level Biology courses
Collateral Requirements:
  • MATH 112 - Calculus or
  • MATH 121 - Calculus with Analytic Geometry I

One of the following statistics courses:

  • BIOL 315 - Biostatistics or
  • MATH 215 - Introductory Statistics or
  • STAT 205 - Essentials of Statistics
  • PHYS 104 - An Introduction to Physics I and
  • PHYS 105 - An Introduction to Physics II


  • PHYS 121 - General Physics I and
  • PHYS 122 - General Physics II
  • CHEM 121 - General Chemistry I
  • CHEM 122 - General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 221 - Organic Chemistry I
  • CHEM 222 - Organic Chemistry II

Biology Career Opportunities

"What can I do with a degree in Biology?"

Biology is a diverse field of study, with a wide range of career opportunities. Below is a sampling of career options that our students have pursued.

Research: Basic and Applied

Major Areas of Biological Research

  • Anatomy
  • Animal Behavior
  • Biochemistry
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biological Engineering
  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Ecology
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genomics & Proteomics
  • Immunology
  • Marine Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Plant Biology
  • Systematics & Taxonomy
  • Virology
  • Zoology

Who Hires Biologists?

  • Colleges and Universities
  • Private Research Institutions and Foundations
  • Federal and State Government
    • National Institutes of Health
    • National Science Foundation
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Food and Drug Administration
    • Environmental Protection Agency
    • Department of Agriculture
    • Armed Services
  • Healthcare, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries
  • Clinics and Hospitals
  • Zoos and Aquaria


  • Students with a B.S. in Biology are qualified to work as laboratory technicians, assistants, or technologists. These jobs can pay well and offer excellent stability, particularly in industry.
  • A Master's degree will allow more oversight and control, greater competitiveness for positions, and an increased range of career options
  • A Ph.D., as well as post-doctoral training, is typically required for high-level research positions in industry or academics.

Some of the Graduates Schools Our Alumni Have Attended

  • Case Western Reserve University
  • Drexel University
  • Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • George Mason University
  • Georgetown University
  • Mississippi State University
  • Nicholls State University
  • Penn State University
  • Shippensburg University
  • University of California, Davis
  • University of Missouri-St. Louis
  • West Virginia University

Professional Schools that our students have attended in recent years.


  • The Commonwealth Medical College
  • Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Griffith University School of Medicine, Australia
  • Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Nova Southeastern College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Penn State College of Medicine, Hershey
  • Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Temple University
  • University of Queensland School of Medicine, Australia
  • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine


  • University of Pittsburgh


  • Salus University, Pennsylvania College of Optometry


  • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
  • Mylan School of Pharmacy, Duquesne University
  • School of Pharmacy, University of Charleston


  • Kent State University College of Podiatric Medicine

Veterinary Medicine

  • Ohio State University
  • Iowa State University

Medical Laboratory Science

  • Conemaugh School of Medical Technology
  • UPMC Altoona School of Medical Technology/Medical Laboratory Science

Teachers and Professors

  • Secondary Education
  • Elementary Education
  • Post-secondary Education

Naturalist Educators

  • Zoos, Aquaria, Museums, Aviaries
    • National Aviary, Pittsburgh
    • Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium
  • Theme parks and resorts
  • non-classroom education: camps, education voyages, and ecotourism.

SCUBA Instruction

Wildlife and Environmental Management
  • Environmental assessment and monitoring
  • Fisheries management
  • Forestry
  • Wildlife management
  • Environmental Scientist

Who Are the Employers?

  • Federal agencies: Environmental Protection Agency, Center for Disease Control
  • State agencies: Fish and Wildlife, Department of Agriculture, Department of Environmental Protection
  • Conservancies
  • Non-profit organizations
  • Engineering firms
  • Private contracting firms
Animal Care and Training
  • Zookeeper
  • Aquarist
  • Wildlife rehabilitation and care
  • Animal Trainer (zoos, aquaria, theme parks, military, private practice)
Law, Business, and Writing

Law & Legislation

  • Environmental Law
  • Patent Law
  • Science Policy Advising


  • Management
  • Marketing
  • Pharmaceutical Sales
  • Technical instrument sales

Science Writing

Science Journalism


Undergraduate Application Process & Requirements

At Saint Francis, you’re more than just a number -- even as soon as we receive your application. We evaluate you as a whole individual, not merely select parts, such as GPA or test scores. We look at how you will contribute to our academic community, the strength of your coursework, extracurricular interests, and unique talents.

Everything you need to start your application can be found here! Detailed instructions, application components, and deadlines.

Four Easy Steps
  • Step 1: Create a username and password. This will make it easy to save your application, and let you register for SFU events all in one place. P.S. Bookmark the SFU Application site while you're at it!
  • Step 2: Check your email. You should receive a link to click to confirm your new login.
  • Step 3: Fill out an application. First-time students may apply anytime, usually after August 1 entering their senior year. To receive full consideration for admission and merit scholarships, it is recommended that students submit a completed application by May 1st of their senior year.
    • The undergraduate application for admission operates under a rolling admission policy except for the Physician Assistant Science program, which has a Priority Application Date of November 15th. The Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy program has a Priority Application Date of January 15th.
  • Step 4: View your "Checklist" for additional requirements.
Official High School Transcripts

Submit your official high school transcript showing work completed through your junior year in addition to a copy your senior class schedule. All applicants should submit mid-year grades from their senior year when available.

This can be sent:

  • From your high school to
    • Saint Francis University
    • Office of Admissions
    • 169 Lakeview Drive
    • PO Box 600
    • Loretto PA 15940
  • Through a secure electronic document system transfer such as Parchment.
Standardized Testing

Applicants are required to submit scores from either the SAT I or ACT. Use the codes below to have your official scores sent directly to SFU.

  • SAT code #2797
  • ACT code #3682
Writing Sample

A writing sample is required for Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Physician Assistant Science majors. Please complete an essay explaining (minimum 250 words) your interest in the academic program for which you are applying. Feel free to highlight any experiences you have that demonstrate your interest in the chosen field of study.

Last updated Sep 2019

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About the School

Saint Francis University is one of the oldest Catholic universities in the country, and the oldest celebrating Franciscan values. Our scenic campus sits on a mountain top in Loretto, Pennsylvania, nea ... Read More

Saint Francis University is one of the oldest Catholic universities in the country, and the oldest celebrating Franciscan values. Our scenic campus sits on a mountain top in Loretto, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh. Faith, Generosity, respect, discovery, and joy are in our DNA, and we seek to attract students (like you) with a passion to shape the world. Read less