Immerse yourself in the study of all living things
Biology is the study of the processes that maintain life, including the complex interactions between organisms and their environment.
The Biology program at St. Edward's fundamental principles of biology at every level of biological organization, from genes to cells and organ systems to even ecosystems. In addition to the core courses, students will have the opportunity to participate in student-faculty research through courses and summer research programs with the goal of producing and presenting professional-level work. All curricula in the Biological Sciences are founded upon evolutionary theory, which provides opportunities for testing of hypotheses that strengthen our understanding of the processes that account for the diversity of life on earth. Over the course of your studies as a Biology major, you will …
- Conduct independent scientific investigations
- Utilize spacious, open-lab environments in the John Brooks Williams Natural Sciences Center
- Access state-of-the-art instrumentation for innovative and collaborative research
- Gain technical knowledge to prepare for a career or post-graduate study
- Evaluate research findings and produce professional-quality independent work
- Engage in teaching labs that focus on experimentation
3 Biology Tracks and Degree Requirements
Major Requirements: The BA in Biology requires 76 hours of Biology major courses, which include a combination of introductory coursework, biology electives, and supporting courses in subjects such as chemistry.
General Education Requirements: The Biology degree requires 56 hours of general education courses that students complete over four years in addition to their major courses.
1. Bachelor of Arts in Biology
- Primarily designed for students pursuing a double major, biology education certification, or admission to professional schools
- Provides a solid foundation in biology with more latitude in the choice of general electives
- An example of a course you will take is Molecular Genetics which offers a study of the structure and function of DNA as the genetic material and focuses on details surrounding the “central dogma of molecular biology,” including DNA replication, transcription, RNA processing and translation, as well as mechanisms of control and regulation of expression of genetic information.
- View or download the full BA in Biology degree plan (PDF)
2. Bachelor of Science in Biology
Health Professions Track
- Designed for students who intend to pursue further education and a career in the health professions such as medicine, veterinary medicine, physician assistant, dentistry, physical therapy, public health or nursing
- Degree requirements include the prerequisites for most professional schools
- An example of a course you will take is Evolution, an in-depth analysis of evolution via natural selection using examples from all major classes of organisms. Emphasis is placed on the mechanism and resulting products of evolutionary change. Evolutionary change is examined at the molecular, organismal and population levels of organization.
- View or download the full BS in Biology - Health Professions degree plan (PDF)
Graduate School Track
- Designed to provide a strong background in biology and research and prepare students for graduate school
- Prepares students for education at the graduate level leading to careers outside the health professions. Students might study molecular biology, cellular biology, developmental biology, microbiology, neurobiology, zoology, botany, ecology or other fields
- An example of a course you will take is Population Biology and Ecology wherein students study the abundance and distribution of populations and collect and analyze data in experiments designed to test the theories presented in lecture. These include studies of distribution patterns, foraging behavior, and population and community structure.
- View or download the full BS in Biology - Graduate School major degree plan (PDF)
3. Bachelor of Science in Medical Laboratory Science
- Prepares students to be health care detectives, investigating the cause of infectious disease, cancer and other ailments
- Involves coursework at St. Edward's University and clinical training at an affiliated MLS program (currently Austin State Hospital). These courses span disciplines such as microbiology, hematology, immunology, clinical chemistry and molecular biology.
- An example of a course you will take is Immunology where students will discover the molecular nature of the human immune system including the cellular and noncellular components involved and how these factors interact to combat disease.
- View or download the full BS in Medical Laboratory Science degree plan (PDF)
Interested in earning a Master of Science in Clinical Laboratory Science? Learn more about our dual degree program.
Our Faculty and Student Support Services
Faculty members are teacher-scholars with years of academic experience and creative passions of their own. They stay active in their fields and bring their expertise to the classroom.
“Being a professor allows me to integrate two things that I love - teaching and research. In this setting, I have the opportunity to work closely with students and mentor them as they put what they’ve learned in class to use. Seeing students get inspired by the science, and in turn inspiring me to be a better teacher and scientist is a very rewarding process!
– Lisa M. Goering, PhD
“Over the years, I’ve learned that giving students direct, quick feedback and close one-on-one support works best for heading off frustration and keeping students engaged. I don’t tell them what to do or how. I remind them that this is real science, so often times, I don’t know what’s going to happen either.”
– Bill Quinn, PhD
Student Support Services
Along with personal attention and mentorship from their professors, our students have access to offices and programs outside of the classroom that support their success. We encourage students to take advantage of these resources that help them thrive and excel:
- Academic counseling and advising
- Supplemental instruction and tutoring
- Career preparation and advising
- Writing Center consultation
- Health and wellness counseling
- Student disability support
Outside the Classroom
Students immerse themselves in Austin’s intellectually curious culture and benefit from the many global leaders in innovation and technology headquartered in Austin. Our programs facilitate engagement with this rich environment by providing students with opportunities for hands-on experience throughout their education.
Kamryn Gerner-Mauro ’17, Vivian Le ’16 and Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Lisa Goering raised three groups of fruit flies on diets with varying levels of protein, and then compared several indicators of reproductive capacity among females in the groups. Preliminary data suggest that malnourished female fruit flies lay fewer eggs and provide less nutrition for offspring than control groups. The research could one day give insights about nutrition during pregnancy.
Dr. Fidelma O’Leary, Associate Professor of Biology, was awarded $275,000 by the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to support agricultural science education at Hispanic-Serving Institutions. The 4-year grant aims to establish the “Agricultural-STEM Pipeline” project across high school and 2- and 4-year college levels in order to recruit and retain underrepresented students and facilitate their progression to graduate training or careers with the USDA in the NIFA priority area of AFRI Agricultural and Natural Resources Science for Climate Variability and Change.
St. Edward’s University has been awarded a five-year grant of more than $1.6 million from the National Science Foundation through the Improving Undergraduate STEM Education (IUSE) Program to support freshmen students studying Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) courses at St. Edward's University. The The Living Learning Community/Active Learning (LLCAL) project is under the direction of St. Edward’s University faculty members Richard Kopec, Jason Callahan, Teresa Bilinski, Tricia Shepherd and Fidelma A. O’ Leary.
At the annual meeting of the Texas Academy of Sciences in San Antonio, Texas, 11 Biology students won awards for outstanding research presentations. In addition, 32 St. Edward’s University students were co-authors on a paper published in the scientific journal Genes Genomes Genetics. This research was completed as a part of the Research Explorations in Genomics course taught by Bioinformatics Professor Charles Hauser.
Student clubs facilitate connections to hands-on learning opportunities and create a community students can join with like-minded peers. Some student organizations include the Academy of Science, Herpetology Society, American Medical Student Organization, American Society of Microbiology, Natural Sciences Living Learning Community, and the Society for Computational Biology
Our required, semester-long Capstone course examines a topic of your choosing. This completes a two-semester research/experiential course sequence, which is notable for a smaller liberal arts school. The combination of research and practical learning gives students an opportunity to hone their abilities and develop skills valued by employers and graduate schools.
What’s a Capstone? Find out.
With a Biology degree, you will have the practical and professional experience needed to pursue work in many fields. Many students select this degree to prepare for a career or graduate study in medicine, dentistry, nursing and public health.
Ready for Professional School
82% of our Biology graduates have been accepted into medical, dental, physician assistant and veterinarian schools. In addition, our students are admitted to PhD programs in biological sciences.
- Physical Therapy
- Veterinary Medicine
- Scientific Research
- Physicians Assistance
- Oncology/Cancer research
- Human Development
- Animal Behavior
- Biomedical Sales
Biology major Jana Soares ’15 was awarded a Fulbright in 2015 that funded a year abroad in Sydney Australia to research a "superbug" bacterium, Pseudomonas aeruginosa. This means that antibiotics are often ineffective against this pathogen, resulting in antibiotic-resistant strains. Learn more about her research and time abroad.
Read about our successful alumni and see what they have to say about life after St. Edward’s.
About the Minor
Students who wish to earn a Biology minor must take the following coursework, totaling 21 hours, with at least 9 hours of upper-division coursework. This includes two required courses:
- General Biology: Cells, Genetics and Organ Systems
- General Biology: Organisms and Populations
- Molecular Genetics
- Upper Division Electives (10 hours)
Are you a current student? Contact your advisor for next steps on declaring your major or minor.
Evolutionary Foundation for Curricula
At St. Edward’s University, all curricula in the Biological Sciences are founded upon evolutionary theory. As a subject of scientific inquiry, the theory of evolution provides opportunities for testing of hypotheses that strengthen our understanding of the processes that account for the diversity of life on earth, and existing data overwhelmingly support the theory as scientifically sound. We regard any non-scientific or teleological attempts that distract from the scientific processes that underlie science as, at best, a diversion to our mission to provide exceptional education to our students in the Biological Sciences. We stand with the numerous scientific societies that have issued statements on the subject of evolution and intelligent design, confirming the demonstrated success of the former and rejecting the scientific viability of latter.
11 Research Studies Led by Students at St. Edward’s
Dozens of students at St. Edward’s spent part of their break honing the research skills vital to advancing scientific knowledge — and their careers. Here are 11 of their projects, several of which are continuing in the fall semester.