The Biology Program

Biology is one of the more popular majors on the Saint Vincent campus. At Saint Vincent College, students have the option of pursuing either the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) biology degree, in addition to the option of participating in the Pre-Health Professions program. The curriculum is designed for students pursuing advanced degrees in biology or health-related fields, as well as those planning to directly enter the workforce or secondary education. Curricular objectives focus on promoting a broad, well-rounded foundation in biology while enabling pursuit of an area of specialization.

Entering freshmen study the primary subdisciplines of biology and then select either cell and molecular, organismal or population biology as an area of concentration. All students take coursework in each of the concentrations, but they engage their area of concentration to a greater extent. A hallmark of the curriculum is an emphasis on hands-on experiences in state-of-the-art laboratories or in the field, and all students complete a three-semester independent research project as a graduation requirement. 

What Can I Do With a Degree in Biology?

Majoring in biology is an ideal start to your career in the sciences. The many opportunities available at Saint Vincent College during your college years will ensure success after graduation.
Upon graduation, our biology students go on to:

Employment Opportunities:

  • teaching positions (students can pursue secondary school teaching certification in biology)
  • biology jobs in
    • university research laboratories
    • research centers
    • biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies
    •  environmental companies/organizations
    • federal agencies
    • the food and beverage industry

Professional and Graduate Programs:

  • medical schools (greater than 90% of students recommended by our Pre-Health Professions committee were accepted to medical programs)
  • dental programs
  • veterinary schools
  • graduate schools
  • health professions schools (Pharmacy, Physician Assistant, Physical Therapy)
Resultsbiology-results
Biology Results
  • All biology majors complete a three-semester, student-designed research project (depth: titles of representative theses) and present their findings at one or more local, regional and national meetings (depth: listing of presentation venues)  including the Saint Vincent College Annual Undergraduate Symposium, Western Pennsylvania Undergraduate Biology Symposium, Allegheny Branch Meeting of the American Society of Microbiology, Pennsylvania Academy of Science Annual Meeting, National Conference for Undergraduate Research and Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting).
  • Greater than 95% of applicants from the biology department were accepted into graduate programs in disciplines of biology and related fields (depth: list of institutions) at institutions such as Johns Hopkins University, Notre Dame University, Duke University, Case Western Reserve University, Penn State University, Ohio State University, Tufts University, University of Iowa and University of Oklahoma.
  • Laboratory and research experiences in the biology program are rich in the use of contemporary computer and digital technology, such as our quarter million dollar National Science Foundation funded Digital Imaging Lab, physiological data acquisition systems and molecular imaging and quantitation systems. (depth: links to images of students working with equipment)
  • Over 70% of biology program graduates complete at least one internship experience during their undergraduate training.
  • Greater than 98% of the students graduating with a major in Biology earn their degree in four years.
  • In addition to peer and instructor-based tutoring, the biology department supports student learning through the National Science Foundation funded Collaborative Learning Program (CLP) in the first two years of study.
  • The biology department employs ~70 students on an annual basis to assist in preparing and teaching laboratories, animal care and provide student learning support.
Curriculumbiology-curriculum
Major Requirements for a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Biology

Major Requirements (61 credits)
BL 150 General Biology I - 3 credits
BL 152 General Biology II - 3 credits
BL 151 General Biology Laboratory I - 1 credit
BL 153 General Biology Laboratory II - 1 credit
BL 208 Cell Biology - 3 credits
BL 209 Cell Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
BL 301 Junior Research Seminar - 2 credits
BL 302 Research Project - 2 credits
BL 303 Research Thesis - 1 credit
CH 101 General Chemistry I - 3 credits
CH 102 General Chemistry II - 3 credits
CH 103 General Chemistry Laboratory I - 1 credit
CH 104 General Chemistry Laboratory II - 1 credit
CH 221 Organic Chemistry I - 3 credits
CH 222 Organic Chemistry II - 3 credits
CH 223 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory - 1 credit
CH 224 Organic Chemistry II Laboratory - 1 credit
PH 111 General Physics I - 3 credits
PH 112 General Physics II - 3 credits
PH 113 General Physics I Laboratory - 1 credit
PH 114 General Physics II Laboratory - 1 credit
MA 109 Calculus I - 4 credits

Fulfill the requirements for one area of concentration

Cell and Molecular Biology Concentration
BL 214 Molecular Genetics - 3 credits
BL 215 Molecular Genetics Laboratory - 1 credit
and
BL 212 Microbiology - 3 credits
BL 213 Microbiology Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 216 Biotechnology - 3 credits
BL 217 Biotechnology Laboratory - 1 credit
One course with laboratory from each of the organismal and population biology concentrations

Organismal Biology Concentration
BL 224 Mammalian Physiology - 3 credits
BL 225 Mammalian Physiology Laboratory - 1 credit
and
BL 220 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy - 3 credits
BL 221 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 222 Developmental Biology - 3 credits
BL 223 Developmental Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 228 Wildlife Biology - 3 credits
BL 229 Wildlife Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
One course with laboratory from each the cell and molecular and population biology concentrations

Population Biology Concentration
BL 234 Evolution and Systematics - 3 credits
BL 235 Evolution and Systematics Laboratory - 1 credit
and
BL 232 Ecology - 3 credits
BL 233 Ecology Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 236 Biology of Environmental Disturbance - 3 credits
BL 237 Biology of Environmental Disturbance Laboratory - 1 credit
One course with laboratory from each the cellular and organismal concentrations

Strongly Recommended
BL 260 Biostatistics - 3 credits
or
PY 203 Statistics I - 3 credits
and
TH 280 Catholic Bioethics - 3 credits
or
PL 218 Bioethics - 3 credits

Biology Degree Requirements (Bachelor of Science)
Major Requirements (68 credits):
BL 150 General Biology I - 3 credits
BL 152 General Biology II - 3 credits
BL 151 General Biology Laboratory I - 1 credit
BL 153 General Biology Laboratory II - 1 credit
BL 208 Cell Biology - 3 credits
BL 209 Cell Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
BL 301 Junior Research Seminar - 2 credits
BL 302 Research Project - credits
BL 303 Research Thesis - 1 credit
CH 101 General Chemistry I - 3 credits
CH 102 General Chemistry II - 3 credits
CH 103 General Chemistry Laboratory I - 1 credit
CH 104 General Chemistry Laboratory II - 1 credit
CH 221 Organic Chemistry I - 3 credits
CH 222 Organic Chemistry II - 3 credits
CH 223 Organic Chemistry I Laboratory - 1 credit
CH 224 Organic Chemistry II Laboratory - 1 credit
PH 111 General Physics I - 3 credits
PH 112 General Physics II - 3 credits
PH 113 General Physics I Laboratory - 1 credit
PH 114 General Physics II Laboratory - 1 credit
MA 109 Calculus I - 4 credits
MA 110 Calculus II - 4 credits
BL Elective Course in Biology*

*Any three credit, 200 level biology course, CH251, CH252, BIN218 or BIN219 qualifies as an elective course in biology

Fulfill the requirements for one area of concentration

Cell and Molecular Biology Concentration
BL 214 Molecular Genetics - 3 credits
BL 215 Molecular Genetics Laboratory - 1 credit
and
BL 212 Microbiology - 3 credits
BL 213 Microbiology Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 216 Biotechnology - 3 credits
B
L 217 Biotechnology Laboratory - 1 credit
One course with laboratory from each of the organismal and population biology concentrations

Organismal Biology Concentration
BL 224 Mammalian Physiology - 3 credits
BL 225 Mammalian Physiology Laboratory - 1 credit
and
BL 220 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy - 3 credits
BL 221 Comparative Vertebrate Anatomy Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 222 Developmental Biology - 3 credits
BL 223 Developmental Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 228 Wildlife Biology - 3 credits
BL 229 Wildlife Biology Laboratory - 1 credit
One course with laboratory from each the cell and molecular and population biology concentrations

Population Biology Concentration
BL 234 Evolution and Systematics - 3 credits
BL 235 Evolution and Systematics Laboratory - 1 credit
and
BL 232 Ecology - 3 credits
BL 233 Ecology Laboratory - 1 credit
or
BL 236 Biology of Environmental Disturbance - 3 credits
BL 237 Biology of Environmental Disturbance Laboratory - 1 credit
One course with laboratory from each the cellular and organismal concentrations

Strongly Recommended
BL 260 Biostatistics - 3 credits
or
PY 203 Statistics I - 3 credits
and
TH 280 Catholic Bioethics - 3 credits
o
r
PL 218 Bioethics - 3 credits

All students take a four (4) credit course designated as a First-Year Seminar to satisfy a core curriculum requirement.

Typical Freshman Schedulebiology-freshman-schedule

Typical Freshmen Schedule

Fall
General Biology I - 3 credits
General Biology Laboratory I - 1 credit
General Chemistry I - 3 credits
General Chemistry Laboratory I - 1 credit
Language and Rhetoric or Exploring Religious Meaning - 3 credits
Core curriculum course or Calculus I/II - 3-4 credits
Core curriculum course - 3 credits

Spring
General Biology II - 3 credits
General Biology Laboratory II - 1 credit
General Chemistry II - 3 credits
General Chemistry Laboratory II - 1 credit
Language and Rhetoric or Exploring Religious Meaning - 3 credits
Core curriculum course or Calculus I/II - 3-4 credits
Core curriculum course - 3 credits

All students take a four (4) credit course designated as a First-Year Seminar to satisfy a core curriculum requirement.

Student Work and Researchbiology-student-work
Student Work and Research

The Senior Research Program is a capstone experience designed to introduce biology students to all aspects associated with the development and completion a research project. It begins in the spring semester of the junior year when students, working closely with a faculty adviser, write an experimental proposal. During this process they are introduced to literature searches, critical reading of primary research articles, the formulation of significant questions and experimental design.

The program continues in the fall of the senior year when the data collection portion of the project is performed where students learn and apply contemporary laboratory techniques. The program concludes in the spring semester senior year when students critically analyze the collected data, integrate it with the findings of others and present the overall project both at an external venue (either in poster format or orally) and in the format of a written thesis.

Previous Senior Theses...

Internships and Careers in Biology

Students in the biology degree program at Saint Vincent College regularly pursue internship experiences both on and off campus. Among the numerous sites where our students secure internships are a variety of top tier research institutions and cutting edge industries including Johns Hopkins University, Cornell University, the Pittsburgh Tissue Engineering Initiative, Allegheny General Hospital and the Immune Tolerance Network.

Through these experiences students combine the advantages of a small college atmosphere with the opportunities offered by internships at nationally and internationally recognized institutions.

  • Learning Objectives

    The degree in Biology is designed to:

    • To broadly and effectively educate students in the theory and practice of science necessary for success in the health professions, graduate study or employment in biologically-related fields.
    • To empower students with the skills and knowledge of mathematics, chemistry and physics necessary to form a broad scientific foundation.
    • To facilitate an integrated approach to biological questions that encompass perspectives of molecular, cellular, organismal and population biology.
    • To engage students in the process of original science through a student-developed, faculty-mentored and experimentally-based undergraduate research project.
    • To foster critical consciousness of the ethical and moral issues inherent in the field of biology and its technologies.
    • To acquaint students with Catholic teachings on bioethical issues.