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Prospective Students


Biology is the scientific study of living systems and all their complexities, and there has probably never been a more exciting time to be a biologist.

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Why study biology at the University of Mississippi?

Degree choices. The department offers multiple degree paths in biology – the Bachelor of Arts and the Bachelor of Science degree.

See information about our biology major and these two degree pathways.

Our faculty also support various interdisciplinary minors that offer great choices to combine with your major, such as neuroscience and environmental studies.
See all your choices of majors and minors in the College of Liberal Arts.

Faculty expertise. The UM biology faculty have areas of specialization that include

Beyond the classroom. Biology majors achieve an understanding of living systems and develop the ability to design and conduct experiments, operate sophisticated instruments, think critically, interpret data, and communicate complex ideas. A diversity of courses and a great variety of habitats in north Mississippi provide opportunities for both laboratory and field studies, including a 740-acre field station, a national forest, and flood-control reservoirs.

Beyond the campus. Adventurous students can explore diverse environments through our programs in South Florida, Grand Canyon, Belize, Costa Rica, and the Galapagos Islands. There are department resources to help students participate in these unique programs. Some recent travel courses included:

  • Caribbean Ecology and Conservation;
  • Ecology and Evolution of Sky Island Biodiversity;
  • Californian STEAM: Microbial Science, Conservation, and Society; and
  • Hawaiian STEAM: Microbes, Symbiosis, and Culture.

Academic Programs

The Department of Biology offers two pathways to study biological science, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) and Bachelor of Science (BS). The BA degree has a wider/deeper general education base and requires of minor field of study. It appeals to students who want to combine the study of biology with other interests. The BS degree provides a more focused science degree path with more math, science, and even more biology courses. It is particularly appropriate for students who plan a science career and/or graduate school in biology.

Biological Science major for the BA degree
The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Biological Science requires students to complete a wide and diverse general education foundation, the major in biological science, and a minor field of study. The attached degree sheet outlines these requirements and shows a sample four-year plan of study.
Students complete 8 or 9 biology, 2 chemistry, and 2 math courses.
• Intro to Biological Sciences I & II plus labs
• Biology core – ecology, genetics, and physiology courses
• 3 or 4 advanced biology electives to equal 12 credit hours

• General Chemistry I & II plus labs
• 2 math courses from: statistics; algebra or basic math for science & engineering; trig; or calculus I or higher

Biological Science major for the BS degree
The Bachelor of Science (BS) in Biological Science requires students to complete a narrower general education foundation and the major in biological science. The minor field of study is optional. The attached degree sheet outlines these requirements and shows a sample four-year plan of study.
Students complete 11 or 12 biology, 4 chemistry, and 2 math courses.
• Intro to Biological Sciences I & II plus labs
• Biology core – ecology, genetics, and physiology courses
• 5 or 6 advanced biology electives to equal 18 credit hours

• General Chemistry I & II plus labs
• Organic Chemistry I & II plus labs
• Calculus I & II

Biological Science Minor
The minor in biological science includes the foundational introductory courses (Intro to Biological Sciences I & II plus labs) and three advanced biology courses to equal at least 10 credit hours. The department recommends that students take the biology core courses to fulfill this requirement:
• General Ecology (4 credit hours)
• Introductory Physiology (4 credit hours)
• Genetics (4 credit hours)

Biology Courses
An extensive list of all biology courses is found in the UM Catalog. More detail about these courses can be found in the representative syllabi. Explore our featured courses below.


Meet our Biology Student Ambassadors


Eager to jump in? The programs below give a variety of opportunities, with more or fewer weeks of commitment during the summer to explore different STEM fields.

Created by biologist Dr. Erik Hom, the ARISE@UM program aims to encourage Mississippians to pursue STEM degrees. High school or community college students indicate what STEM discipline they wish to experience, and are assigned into a research lab during the summer – for varying lengths of time as suits the student’s schedule. It’s not a ‘camp’ or a course (although students can earn research course credit if they wish); it’s the opportunity to dive into an ongoing research project with the STEM discipline of their choice!
Beyond the laboratory experience each day, students meet with faculty and experts to learn more about STEM fields and careers, academic success, and scientific writing and communication of results and knowledge. They mix with a wide variety of students and faculty, realize the social context of scientific research, and experience both the big picture and thrill of scientific discovery as well as the day-to-day little steps.

Summer College for High School Students
This four-week academic program is for high-achieving high school students who want to experience university life. Students take regular college classes from a wide range of choices, including basic science, engineering, and math. We also offer a track for pre-health professions students whereby they take two related courses and participate in outside-the-classroom activities to learn more about the health professions. Qualified students can earn college credits, get familiar with the collegiate environment, and develop social, personal and academic skills that will increase their overall success in college. Participants in Summer College also have the opportunity to gain dual credit (high school and college) for classes taken during the summer. They will stay in campus accommodation with their peers and select an academic track of classes taught by university faculty. There will additionally be activities and field experiences to supplement the academic program.

Rebel Research Scholars
This program, part of the Summer College for High School Students Program, is hands-on and includes faculty-led research experiences in our labs held during the summer for high school students interested in pursuing careers in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). Under the guidance and mentorship of experienced research faculty, students will spend about seven hours each day conducting research in a university laboratory setting. Students will be using cutting-edge technologies to explore the sciences. When not in the lab, students will have the opportunity to experience college life on campus with other high school summer program students.

Catalysis Research Program: Artificial Photosynthesis for a Clean Energy Future
Students will have the opportunity to spend up to 6 hours a day in a state-of the-art research laboratory developing new catalysts for artificial photosynthesis, a process in which sunlight is used to convert water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) into energy-rich chemical fuels. Catalysts are compounds that mediate reactions so that they proceed more efficiently. This summer research experience involves the development of more effective catalysts for carbon dioxide reduction. Students will work with Dr. Jurss in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry and a graduate student mentor to synthesize and characterize new catalysts for energy conversion chemistry and conduct photochemical and/or electrochemical studies to investigate their performance.

Nanoparticles and Bioengineering: Tanner Lab Summer Research Experience
Participants in the Tanner Lab Summer Research Experience will get the chance to work in a collaborative research environment that straddles physical chemistry and bioengineering. We are trying to create effective nanomedicines to cure all kinds of diseases — including sepsis, cancers, and chronic lung conditions — but we need the next generation of scientists (you!) to get there. You will learn how to make and test nanoparticles and ionic liquids and work in a team with other scientists, including Dr. Tanner in the Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. Students that would enjoy this research are those that want to use science to improve human health and are interested in digging in to understand ‘why’ on the smallest scales.

Crime Scene Investigator (CSI) Camp
CSI Camp is a week-long experience to increase students’ understanding of the forensic sciences and provide a foundation for further exploration of science related career fields. With today’s explosion of television programs and media coverage of the latest advances in forensic sciences, students from kindergarten to high school have become fascinated with everything associated with forensic science. The CSI Summer Camp was developed to give hands-on experiences to those students who enjoy solving puzzles, attending science museums, and watching suspenseful forensic science television shows.

Biology Bootcamp and Mentors
The Department of Biology

Biology Bootcamp
Biology Bootcamp is a program for freshmen enrolled in BISC 160 and BISC 161 (introductory biology for science/pre-health majors and the lab) and is open to all majors. A week-long experience before the fall semester begins, Biology Bootcamp students will attend lectures, take exams, and participate in activities and workshops that are designed to help with the transition to university-level coursework. Lectures are taught by biology faculty who will teach the BISC 160 courses, and then students can experience how that knowledge is translated into exam questions. Students will learn how to balance a full load of classes and exams with other activities that are apart of campus life before actually taking the class. The program costs provide the textbook for the course, and students learn how to effectively read and learn from the textbook. The participants make connections between themselves, biology student mentors, and faculty, and have been shown to have better academic performance during the semester.

Biology Mentor Program
The Biology Mentor Program offers a biology community among undergraduate students. The mentor program helps students feel welcomed into their biology classes and keeps them on track for introductory biology courses and beyond. Mentors offer support and tutoring to undergraduates enrolled in Biology courses, and both mentor and mentee positions are open to all majors.

Supplemental Instruction
A variety of biology courses are supported by Supplemental Instruction (SI), a set of weekly group review sessions that are run by students selected and trained by the professor and the Center for Excellence in Teaching & Learning. SI leaders have recently taken the course and earned high grades, and schedule the weekly sessions for students to compare notes, discuss readings, develop organizational tools, work problems, and predict test items in informal review sessions. SI is used in historically difficult courses and is open to all students. National statistics on the effectiveness of SI sessions clearly indicate that students who participated regularly in SI sessions earned higher grades than those who did not participate in SI sessions.