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Biology is the study of life itself, and biologists are the scientists who research the history, evolution, growth and function of living organisms. Biology is a diverse field, and many biologists go on to specialize in one subfield—like botany, genetics, or zoology.

A major in biology at Ball State will provide you with the foundational knowledge needed whether you want to start your career in biology after graduation, study biology at the graduate level, or go to school to become a medical doctor, dentist, veterinarian, or another health-related profession.

As a general biology student, you will complete the same core courses as students pursuing a concentration, but you will also have the flexibility of customizing the remainder of your major with the help of your biology advisor. And if you wish to declare a concentration later on, your advisor will be happy to help you make the switch.

What It’s Like to Study Biology at Ball State

Ball State’s faculty are more than teachers—they are also active researchers who regularly invite students to work alongside them. No matter which area of biology you choose to study, there are many opportunities—in the lab or out in the field—for you to take your education to the next level with hands-on research.

You may find a paid or volunteer research opportunity in any area of biology, including:

  • more than 17 teaching labs and 20 research labs in all major fields of biology
  • 17 acres of outdoor laboratories featuring wooded areas and greenhouses on campus, including the largest university-based orchid collection in the United States at the Rinard Orchid Greenhouse
  • six properties in the area that provide dozens of acres of wetlands, tallgrass prairies, forests and agricultural fields for teaching and research

With the general option in biology, you are likely to take courses in a variety of areas in the life sciences. In our department, several student-led organizations will connect you with other students in your areas of interest for support, professional development opportunities and academic discussion.

Learn more about our clubs in biology.

Class sizes are small enough to ensure you get the individual attention you need from professors with extensive experience teaching science in the K-12 setting.

Program Requirements

The general biology option fulfills part of the requirements that lead to a bachelor of arts or bachelor of science degree with a major in biology. All biology majors must also complete the biology core curriculum and the University Core Curriculum.

Credits Required

Total to Graduate: 120

  • Biology Core Curriculum: 44
  • General Option Electives: 18-24
  • University Core Curriculum: 66-70


Biology Core

All biology majors in every concentration are required to complete a core curriculum in biology that is separate from your concentration requirements and from the University Core Curriculum.

These foundational courses provide you with an overview of the principles in biology and develop a necessary competency in chemistry, physics and math.

Biology Core Courses: 25 credits

  • BIO 111 – Principles of Biology 1
  • BIO 112 – Principles of Biology 2
  • BIO 210 – Intro to Botany
  • BIO 214 – Genetics
  • BIO 215 – Cell Biology
  • BIO 216 – Ecology
  • BIO 315 – Cell Methods or Bio 316 – Ecology Methods
  • BIO 499 – Senior Symposium

Other Required Courses: 19-20 credits

  • CHEM 111 – General Chemistry 1
  • CHEM 112 – General Chemistry 2
  • CHEM 231 – Organic Chemistry
  • PHYCS 110 – General Physics 1
  • one course in mathematics:
    • MATH 112 – Pre-calculus Trigonometry
    • MATH 161 – Applied Calculus
    • MATH 165 – Calculus 1

Note: All aquatic biology and fisheries concentration students are required to take Math 161.

View Catalog

To complete coursework for the general biology option, you will work with your advisor to create a course of study that fulfills these requirements:

  • six elective courses at the 300 level or above in anatomy, biology, biotechnology, botany, physiology, or zoology.

Courses taken to fulfill University Core Curriculum requirements and biology major requirements may not be used as electives in this category. Only courses designed primarily for students majoring in the respective departments may be used as electives in this category.

For a complete list of all the courses you will take for your degree and their descriptions, please see our Course Catalog.

View Catalog

What Can You Do with a Degree in Biology?

Biology is a diverse field, and so are the career paths available to one of our majors. Some of our students immediately seek a career in the field or elsewhere after graduating, while others continue their studies in a specific area in graduate school. Additionally, many of our students major in biology as the first step to becoming a medical doctor, a dentist, a veterinarian or another health-related profession that requires addition schooling beyond a bachelor’s degree.

Regardless which path you choose and no matter where you are in your education or career, our faculty and the Ball State Career Center will help guide you every step of the way.

Accelerated Master's Program (AMP)

Our Accelerated Master's Program (AMP) in Biology allows you to begin your graduate studies at Ball State while still an undergraduate student saving time and money as you pursue an advanced education in your field of interest.


Paying for Your Education

Apply to Ball State

Admission to Ball State is selective, and we carefully evaluate all applications on an individual basis. Applying is easy. Use our convenient, comprehensive, and secure online application.

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Want to Learn More?

The best way to get a true feel for Ball State is to spend some time here, so we encourage you and your family to schedule a campus visit. Take a tour, attend an information session, meet with a professor in our area, and ask plenty of questions. Or if you’d rather speak to someone directly by phone or email, please feel free to contact us.

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