Help people take control of their health as a doctor, dentist, physician assistant or physical therapist. Provide compassionate care to animals as a veterinarian.

Student meeting with success coach

Major Roadmap

Explore your options — classes, internships, research and study abroad. Find what interests you, discover what you love, and create a major experience that jumpstarts your future. 

Biology BS Major Guide

Biology BA Major Guide

Educate the next generation as a science teacher. Conduct valuable research that advances our understanding of the natural environment and the development of lifesaving drugs.

As a Biology major, you’ll learn the fundamental principles of biology at work in genes, cells, organ systems and even ecosystems. Then direct your studies toward a career in the health professions, research, industry, public health or teaching. Choose from courses in molecular biology, cellular biology, developmental biology, microbiology, neurobiology, zoology, botany, ecology or other fields.

Conduct research using state-of-the-art equipment and light-filled labs in the John Brooks Williams Natural Sciences Center — or the Ashe juniper-covered hills of Wild Basin Creative Research Center in West Austin, a nature preserve managed by St. Edward’s. And present your discoveries at academic conferences, where you’ll network with other scientists and connect with even more opportunities.

What do our graduates do?

Biology majors go on to a variety of careers and graduate schools from St. Edward’s. Here’s a sample.

  • Scientist at AstraZeneca, after earning a PhD from the University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Data scientist at St. David’s HealthCare, after earning a Master of Public Health from Yale University
  • Senior digital strategy consultant for Health, Life Science and Fitness at Ernst & Young
  • Director of the Americas at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Global Affairs
  • Consulting analyst at the global consulting firm Accenture
  • Regulatory affairs specialist at Becton, Dickinson and Co.
  • Graduate students at the University of Notre Dame, The University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University, Saint Louis University, DePaul University, Wake Forest University and the University of California Davis
Leon Venegas

Alumni Go Full On

Professors and research made the difference for Biology major Leon A. Venegas ’10. Read how he took what he learned at St. Edward’s to become a scientist at AstraZeneca in Washington, D.C.

The Classroom and Beyond

Whether you plan to enter a career in research, medicine, health education, clinical laboratory science or science journalism, you’ll find opportunities outside the classroom to learn, give back, and prepare for your future with your fellow Biology majors.

Experiential Education

In Entomology, which focuses on studying the evolutionary adaptations and incredible biodiversity found among insect groups, you’ll learn how to collect, preserve, and identify insects in the field.

Students in the Introductory Biology labs have collected water samples from Bee Creek, at Wild Basin Creative Research Center, to analyze levels of nutrients like nitrates and phosphorus.

In Cell Biology, you’ll work in groups on a semester-long project to collect and analyze your own data to address a complex research question. You’ll have the advantage of using the Fluoview FV3000 laser scanning confocal microscope, a state-of-the-art $200,000 piece of equipment the university recently purchased with a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Grant. The final project is a scientific seminar in which you’ll present the results of your work to an audience of faculty from the department.

If you are planning to enter a health profession, you’ll take the First-Year Seminar in Pre-Health Professions your freshman year. This course gives you insight into what life is really like as a doctor, physician’s assistant, or other healthcare practitioner. Local professionals visit the class to share their day-to-day responsibilities, how they handled the college years, and their approach to work-life balance. You’ll conduct an informational interview with someone in your field and possibly job-shadow that person.

If you’re on the health professions track, as a junior or senior you’ll take Navigating the Health Application Process. In this class, you’ll choose the schools where you want to apply, put your application together and write your personal statement.

SEU to You

Associate Professor of Biology Lisa Goering talks about her Fall 2020 General Biology I course.

Research

Biology majors at St. Edward’s have the opportunity to work on research with their professors over the summer and during the school year. By working on projects with faculty, you’ll learn about the process of research and develop your lab skills. Students often emerge from these projects with publishable research.

Students have worked with professors studying the roundworm C. elegans, which is often used as a model organism, to study the process of autophagy, an organism’s waste-removal system, and to study neurological development.

Biology majors have worked alongside their professor on a research project that examines how moving a colony affects honeybees’ stress response and ability to fight off infection. They helped maintain two colonies of bees on campus and analyzed the immune systems of bees they collected from the hives. One student also studied how exposure to commonly used pesticides affect bees’ immune systems.

Students have presented their research and won awards at conferences including

  • Society for Neuroscience
  • Texas Academy of Science
  • The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science National Diversity in STEM Conference.
  • McNair Scholars Research Conferences
  • Annual Biomedical Research Conference for Minority Students
  • TriBeta Biological Society Regional Research Conference

Biology majors have also been selected for competitive Research Experiences for Undergraduates and for the LIVESTRONG Cancer Institutes’ Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship at The University of Texas at Austin and Dell Medical School.

Wild Basin Creative Research Center is 227-acre wilderness preserve located in West Austin and managed by St. Edward’s in coordination with local government entities. The preserve offers opportunities to study the natural world in a beautiful setting. Students have worked on environmental research projects at Wild Basin that include using motion-triggered wildlife cameras to document species diversity; measuring water quality in Bee Creek; documenting the bird species that live and the preserve and recording their songs to see how they change in the presence of human activity; and analyzing the microbial communities in soil around the preserve.

Internships

Pre-health professions students often shadow doctors or volunteer at local hospitals. In addition, Biology majors have completed internships focused on environmental stewardship, clinical health, animal behavior, and medical and pharmaceutical research at the following organizations:

  • CD Doyle Clinic, a free clinic run by Dell Medical School students in downtown Austin
  • Regarding Cancer, which provides free support services to anyone affected by cancer
  • San Antonio Zoo
  • Asuragen, which develops diagnostic tests for people with cancer and genetic diseases
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston
  • Macromoltek, a computational drug discovery company dedicated to the advancement of antibody drug development
  • The Nature Conservancy

As a student in the Biology program you are afforded access to the funding programs, including paid internships, offered exclusively to STEM students at St. Edward’s University by the Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4). For more information on these programs please visit the Institute for Interdisciplinary Science (i4).

Student Organizations

You can apply to join the Natural Sciences Living Learning Community your freshman year. Members of the LLC live together in the same residence hall and take a fall-semester science course together. They also arrive on campus before school begins to learn research tools and methodologies so they can join research projects early in their college career. LLC members participate in regular community dinners and recreational activities to relax and have fun together.

The St. Edward’s chapter of the Texas Academy of Science supports student research, including presentation and publication opportunities. Members also tutor in the sciences and complete other service projects.

Students with strong academic achievement in the sciences are eligible to join the St. Edward’s chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society.

Students for Sustainability educates the St. Edward’s community about eco-friendly practices and works with the St. Edward’s administration to implement environmental initiatives. Members help maintain the campus garden, learn about biking and public transportation, encourage fellow students to reduce their use of plastic water bottles, and have clothing swaps and upcycled craft nights.

The American Medical Student Association matches freshmen with upperclassman mentors in the same major. Together, members learn from guest speakers – like physicians and Peace Corps Volunteers – and complete volunteer projects.

GlobeMed explores topics related to global health, equity, sustainability and social justice. The organization partners with Asociación Tierra in Nicaragua, which focuses on sustainable nutrition, clean water, education and employment. The St. Edward’s GlobeMed chapter has chosen a project that runs an after-school activity and sustainable nutrition program for children in need. Summer interns travel to Nicaragua to work on projects led by the local partners.

The Hilltop Health Association builds community among pre-health students through service, promoting a healthy lifestyle, learning opportunities focused on global health, and service in clinical settings.

Pre-health students participate in the Making Equity Standard in Healthcare (MESH) mentorship day at Dell Medical School in Austin. In this program, current medical students advise undergraduates, particularly those from underrepresented backgrounds, about how to become stronger candidates for medical school. The Saturday program includes a tour of the school, information about the medical school’s distinctive curriculum and its work with the Austin community, and a Q&A with students.

Pre-health professions students can take advantage of 30 annual events sponsored by the health professions office. These include on-campus meetings with representatives from graduate programs as well as workshops to prepare you for specific aspects of the application process. Plus, St. Edward’s organizes small-group visits to medical, nursing and physical therapy schools.

Health sciences schools appreciate applicants who are curious and willing to get out of their comfort zones. St. Edward’s offers many opportunities to volunteer with a broad variety of people and learn about the social forces that influence health and access to medicine. These include:

  • S.E.R.V.E Austin is a weekly, semester-long volunteer commitment at a specific site where you’ll develop relationships with immigrants and refugees, children at an after-school program, young adults working on their GED, the elderly or the formerly homeless.
  • S.E.R.V.E. 1 Day events are Saturday-morning programs that include breakfast, transportation to the site, lunch and a reflection. These one-day projects often involve physical labor, like cleaning up a park, removing invasive species or painting a school.
  • Service Break Experiences give you the chance to travel to another community, volunteer and learn about local life. SBEs are built on ongoing relationships between St. Edward’s and the service location and require students to prepare – educationally and spiritually – for several months beforehand. The trips incorporate structured reflections so you’ll integrate what you’ve learned and use it to fuel your charity and justice work going forward. A hallmark of SBEs is their emphasis on living simply – you’ll leave your phone and other luxuries behind.