Major in Biology

Biology is the study of life and how biological processes affect our daily lives. Topics of study will include biodiversity, genetic engineering, problems associated with the expanding human population, the origin and diversity of life, functional morphology, ecology, and Darwinian evolution.

About The Program

The Biology Department offers a diversified program that examines the life sciences by integrating multiple disciplines, including the molecular nature of cellular structure and physiology, the evolutionary mechanisms of biodiversity, and the study of plant and animal communities in relationship to the environment. The curriculum is designed to promote discovery and problem solving through scientific methodology, with most courses featuring an integrated laboratory component. In addition to mastering concepts, students learn to see the biological sciences as a process of discovery through the completion of a mandatory experiential learning opportunity such as undertaking undergraduate research, completing an internship, studying abroad in the natural sciences, or enrolling in a field course at a biological or marine field station. In addition to core biology courses, students are required to complete additional coursework in other natural sciences. Both B.A. and B.S. degrees are offered in biology. The curriculum for each degree is designed to prepare students for advanced study in the health sciences and biological research, thereby enabling motivated individuals to pursue successful careers as physicians, veterinarians, biologists, environmental researchers, policymakers, public health professionals, scientific journalists, and educators.

Why Study Biology at VWU?

Early Assurance Program with Eastern Virginia Medical School
The Early Assurance Program with EVMS gives admission preference to VWU students interested in pursuing advanced degrees.

Joint Program in Medicine with Eastern Virginia Medical School
Upon completion of a 4-year bachelor's degree at VWU, students in this program are guaranteed admission in the Eastern Virginia Medical School.

Pre-admittance and Joint Degree Options in Pharmacy with Shenandoah University
Virginia Wesleyan University students are given priority status into Shenandoah University's Bernard J. Dunn School of Pharmacy for Pre-Admittance and Joint Degree Options.

Pre-Engineering Program at ODU
The Pre-Engineering Program offers students the opportunity to earn both a Bachelor of Science degree from Virginia Wesleyan University and a Master's degree in Aerospace, Biomedical, Civil, Compute​r, ​​​Electrical, Environmental​, Mechanical, Modeling & Simulation, or Systems Engineering from Old Dominion University.

Greer Environmental Sciences Center
This 44,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art facility provides unprecedented opportunities for students while fostering regional collaboration with organizations such as the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and the Virginia Institute for Marine Science (VIMS).

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Scanning Electron Microscope
The microscope, the result of a $242,502 grant from the National Science Foundation, is equipped with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy, an accessory that enables the user to determine the chemical composition of a specimen.

Ocean Explorer
The Chesapeake Bay, one of the largest estuaries in the world, is the perfect setting for Virginia Wesleyan students to engage in research and study.  The Ocean Explorer research vessel transports students from land to sea, giving them hands-on experience to examine the historical utilization, ecology and cultures inhabiting the Chesapeake Bay, the human impact on the preservation of this system, and consider different issues affecting the watershed and its future.

Biology students are offered the opportunity to conduct original scientific research in an area of interest. They work closely with one or more members of the natural science faculty to develop and conduct a research project, then present their findings orally during the semester’s undergraduate research symposium and as a formal research paper. Students are encouraged to present their findings at a conference. Biology students will coordinate internship placement with their supervising faculty member in their junior or senior year. Internships are an intensive study of a specific field of science through an on-site field experience with hands- on learning opportunities that are relevant to the chosen site.

Internship organizations in the Hampton Roads area are available to students such as:

  • Chesapeake Bay Foundation
  • Eastern Virginia Medical School
  • Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Norfolk Botanical Gardens
  • Sentara Health Systems
  • The Elizabeth River Project
  • Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center
  • Virginia Institute of Marine Science
  • Virginia Zoological Park

BIO 340: Tropical Marine Ecology

Description: This course provides an introduction to the major tropical marine habitats and the ecological processes that control tropical marine ecosystems with focus on coral reefs, mangroves and tropical seagrass beds. The increasing environmental degradation in tropical marine communities are also discussed. The course includes the option of completing an intensive field experience in the Florida Keys or a research paper examining tropical ecosystems such coral reefs, mangroves, or seagrass beds.
Destination: Florida Keys, FL

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Past Study Away Courses

2012 Bio Dayna Snorkeling.jpg
BIO/EES 375: Topics in Tropical Biology

Description: An intensive field experience in neotropical ecosystems (coral reef, rainforests, a cloud forest, mangrove swamps, etc.) that links ecological phenomena with social and historical factors to examine the conservation of biodiversity. Field activities require moderately strenuous exercise and considerable hiking. The course is open to both science and non-science majors.

El Yunque Puerto Rico

By Björn Söderqvist (Own work) [CC BY-SA 2.0], via flikr

BIO 489: Biodiversity of Harvestmen in Puerto Rico

Description: In this intensive research course, students explore the large variety of biodiversity that exists on the island of Puerto Rico. Students explore rainforests, swamps, and more. Field activities require moderate strenuous exercise and considerable hiking.

Virginia Wesleyan graduates who earn a degree in biology are making a difference in the world. Their personalized experience has earned many graduates research grants, national recognition, and the ability to work independently in their research endeavors. Successful completion of the program will enable motivated students to pursue successful careers as:

  • Physicians
  • Nurses
  • Veterinarians
  • Biologists
  • Environmental Researchers
  • Policymakers
  • Public Health Professionals
  • Scientific Journalists
  • and Educators

Learn how VWU can help you achieve your professional goals