Biology at Clarkson is something you do while you learn. You gain an understanding, using a hands-on approach, of the core concepts of biology, including health and biomedical science (human and animal), biotechnology & biomolecular science, and environmental science.

In our Biology undergraduate bachelor's degree program, you take lab courses, do independent research under faculty mentors, gain experience through internships and work together within clubs and professional societies to expand your horizons in the biology field. Faculty mentors help you find professional internships. Pre-health professional students pursue the Medicine and Healthcare Minor and work with the Pre-Health Sciences Advising Program.

You can study human anatomy lab using cadavers, analyze water quality on research-vessel cruises along the Saint Lawrence River, or learn how to be a health practitioner by being a health coach to real patients — opportunities not offered at other universities. Our undergraduate Biology program emphasizes hands-on, team-based learning. You can work in the human anatomy lab using cadavers or study limnology on research-vessel cruises on the Saint Lawrence River — opportunities not offered at other universities. In our advanced molecular biology lab, as well as at the Trudeau Institute, a biomedical research organization, we use graduate-level lab techniques and sophisticated instruments. Our work combines the research opportunities of a large university with the close, caring community of a small college and prepares you for graduate work or a successful career in industry.

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Biology Careers

Many Clarkson biology graduates pursue careers in the human health sciences (medicine, physical or occupational therapy, public health) or veterinary medicine, and many are accepted into professional graduate programs upon graduation. Some students continue on to graduate school to become university researchers, professors or K–12 science teachers.

In recent years, our biology majors have gone on to graduate study at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Bangor University, Case Western Reserve University, Cornell University, Pace University, SUNY Upstate Medical University, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, University of Texas at Austin, University of Vermont and University of Wisconsin - Madison. 

A growing number of students start successful careers in biotechnology or biomedical businesses or in research labs. Other students pursue careers in environmental science and conservation, working for a governmental agency or private environmental consulting business. Clarkson biology majors have been recruited to work for companies such as: Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Amgen, Delta TM Technologies, Sterling Vineyards, CityMD, Cerebral Palsy Association, Q2 Solutions and Trudeau Institute. 

Biology Career Options


Clarkson University Class of 2020 100 percent placement rating

Why Study Biology at Clarkson?

Biology Curriculum & Academic Options

Major in Biology

As an undergraduate biology major, you will take 40 credits specifically within biology. These credits, in conjunction with the Clarkson Common Experience, will provide a well-rounded education focusing on the areas of study you find most interesting. Students pursuing a bachelor's degree in biology can take courses such as:

  • Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Conservation Biology
  • Molecular and Genome Evolution
  • Pharmacology


Biology Major Curriculum

The biology program consists of 40 credit hours in biology, 16-17 credit hours in chemistry, 8 credit hours in physics, and 9 credit hours in mathematics and computer science. 24 credit hours are in free electives, which is enough to complete a minor or second major if you so choose.


Clarkson Common Experience

The following courses are required for all students, irrespective of their program of study. These courses are offered during the fall semester, with FY100 First-Year Seminar being required of only first-year students. Both FY100 and UNIV190 are typically taken during the fall semester of the first year at Clarkson.
FY100 First-Year Seminar (1 credit)
UNIV190 The Clarkson Seminar (3 credits)


Biology Core Requirements

Students are required to complete the following courses:


  • BY140 Biology I: Inheritance, Evolution & Diversity
  • BY142 Biology I Laboratory (2 credits)
  • BY160 Biology II: Cellular & Molecular Biology
  • BY162 Biology II Laboratory (2 credits)
  • BY214 Genetics
  • BY401 Professional Assessment (0 credit)

Professional Experience:

Students are required to complete one of the following Professional Experience (0 credits):

  • BY405
  • BY410
  • BY495
  • BY493
  • BY499

Chemistry and Physics Courses for Biology:

Students must complete the following courses:

  • CM131 General Chemistry I (4 credits)
  • or CM103 Structure & Bonding
  • and CM105 Chemistry Laboratory I (2 credits)
  • CM132 General Chemistry II (4 credits)
  • or CM104 Chemical Equilibrium & Dynamics
  • and CM106 Chemistry Laboratory II (2 credits)
  • CM241 Organic Chemistry I 
  • CM242 Organic Chemistry II 
  • CM244 Organic Chemistry Laboratory I 
  • PH141 Physics for Life Sciences I (4 credits)
  • or PH131 Physics I (4 credits)
  • PH142 Physics for Life Sciences II (4 credits)
  • or PH132 Physics II (4 credits)

Mathematics and Computer Science Courses for Biology:

Students must complete the following three courses:

  • MA131 Calculus I or MA132 Calculus II
  • A Statistics and Probability (STAT) course
  • Mathematics (MA) or Computer Science (CS) courses at 100-level or higher

Biology Core Electives:

Lab Elective:

Students must complete two biology lab courses at the 200-level or higher (excluding BY405 and BY410).

Knowledge Area/University Course Electives:

Students will have at least 18 credit hours available to use toward Knowledge Area and/or University Course electives to satisfy the Clarkson Common Experience requirements.

Free Electives:

Students will have approximately 24 credit hours available to use toward courses of their choice.

Relevant Minors

Biology majors have the opportunity to explore minors that will complement the biology bachelor's degree program and their future career goals. Students pursuing other majors at Clarkson also have the option to minor in biology. View our recommendations below or learn more about all of Clarkson's minors, concentrations and professional advising tracks.

All Clarkson Minors, Concentrations and Tracks

Biology Minor

The minor in biology is composed of 20 of the 120 required credits for a bachelor's degree.

All courses are 3 credits unless noted.


Biology Minor Core Requirements

Students must complete the following courses:


  • BY140 Biology I: Inheritance, Evolution & Diversity
  • BY160 Biology II: Cellular & Molecular Biology
  • BY214 Genetics
  • or BY222 Ecology
  • or BY320 Microbiology
  • or BY360 Physiology


  • BY224 General Ecology Laboratory (2 credits)
  • or BY142 Biology I Laboratory (2 credits)
  • or BY162 Biology II Laboratory (2 credits)
  • or BY322 Microbiology Laboratory (2 credits)
  • or BY362 Physiology Laboratory (2 credits)


Elective Courses (9 credits)

Students must take at least 9 credits of biology courses numbered 300 or above.

Medicine & Healthcare Minor

The medicine & healthcare minor provides a curricular framework for Clarkson undergraduates to pursue a course of study that will introduce them to the interdisciplinary range of knowledge and perspectives needed to be an effective health practitioner. The medicine & healthcare minor offers a broad framework of study that will appeal to the many Clarkson undergraduates who aspire to pursue careers in healthcare fields. Required and elective courses relate directly to health professional practice and provide a suitably broad coverage of topics.

The minor includes a seminar to familiarize students with the variety of health professional careers and introduce students to working health professionals. It also includes a mandatory experiential component. Depending on course selection, students can complete most or all of their Clarkson Common Experience requirements while completing this minor. However, the minor does not satisfy all prerequisites for all health profession graduate programs; for example, pre-med students must take additional biology, chemistry and physics courses.


Medicine and Healthcare Curriculum:

A minor in Medicine and Healthcare is available to students in all degree programs. To obtain a minor, students must complete 23 credits:


Required courses (14 credits):

  1. BY 471 Anatomy and Physiology I [Fall]

  2. PY463 Health Psychology [C1, Fall]
  3. Either PHIL 241 Medical Ethics [UNIV/CGI/IG, Odd Springs]
    Or BIE 400 Responsible Conduct of Research [STS, Spring]
  4. Either HIST 335 History of Medicine in Europe and North America [UNIV/CGI/STS, C1, Fall]
    Or HIST 321 History of Public Health in America [UNIV/CSO/STS, C1, Spring]
  5. HS 220 Medicine & Healthcare Profession Seminar (new course, 1 credit, Spring)
  6. HS 405 Experiential Learning in Healthcare (new course, 1 credit, every semester)

HS220 Medicine & Healthcare Profession Seminar

HS405 Experiential Learning in Medicine & Healthcare


Medicine and Healthcare Electives:

Electives (9 creditsinclude at least three credits from each of the three categories:

Category 1: Biomedical Science & Engineering

  • BY315 Bioinformatics for Disease Research
  • BY324 Parasitology
  • BY383 Molecular Genetics & Human Disease
  • BY416/ EHS415 Principals of Toxicology & Epidemiology
  • BY419 Immunology 
  • BY363 Pharmacology of Infectious Disease
  • BY440 Introduction to Biomedical Rehabilitation Engineering & Science
  • BY448 Medical Microbiology
  • BY452 Pharmacology
  • BY455 Cell & Molecular Biology of Cancer 
  • BY472 Anatomy and Physiology II
  • BY473 Anatomy and Physiology I Lab
  • BY474 Anatomy and Physiology II Lab  
  • BY476 Current Topics in Biology & Medicine 
  • BY485 Neural Engineering
  • BY488 Stem Cells & Regenerative Medicine
  • BR200 Intro to Biomedical & Rehabilitation Engineering 
  • CM444 Medicinal Chemistry
  • CM453 Introduction to Biomaterials
  • CM460 Biochemistry I
  • PY462 Abnormal Psychology

Category 2: Healthcare & Social Sciences

  • HS200 Health Coaches I
  • PY310 Human Sexuality 
  • PY317 Psychology of Psychoactive Drugs 
  • PY363 Judgment and Decision Making for the Biomedical Sciences
  • PY411 Counseling Psychology: Theory and Practice
  • SOC330 Health, Wealth, Inequality and the Environment
  • POL431 Health Care Policy

Category 3: Healthcare & the Humanities

  • ANTH330 Men and Masculinities
  • Either PHIL241 Medical Ethics
    Or BIE400 Responsible Conduct of Research – whichever not used to fulfill the required course.
  • HIST270 Introduction to Society, Culture & Biology 
  • HIST338 Women, Gender and Science in American History 
  • HIST353 Medicine & Ethics, 3rd Reich 
  • HIST331 Ancient Medicine and Magic
  • HIST459 Neuroscience & Society 
  • Either HIST335 History of Medicine in Europe and North America
    Or HIST321 History of Public Health in America – whichever not used to fulfill the required course.
  • POL/PHIL380 The Law and Bioethics
  • SS221 Introduction to Sexuality


Experiential Learning

Biology Research Opportunities

Each biology faculty member has an active research lab that incorporates undergraduate research students, typically three students at a time. For example, you might study development of the digestive tract using a zebrafish model, or how to control invasive Eurasian watermilfoil, or the evolution of bacterial resistance, or regeneration of the spinal disc.

Our faculty do cutting edge research on a diversity of topics, and undergraduates are always involved. There are programs, such as the National Science Foundation's Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) Sites program, the McNair Scholars Program, that provide paid summer research experiences and the Community of Underrepresented Professional Opportunities (CUPO). Faculty advisors also help students find paid summer research opportunities at other institutions. Each spring and summer, Clarkson hosts The Research and Project Showcase (RAPS).

Research Spotlight: How Do St. Lawrence River Levels Affect Wildlife?

Biology Internships and Co-Ops
  • Pre-health advising helps students find appropriate clinical internships at hospitals, clinics and other locations.
  • Many health-focused biology students volunteer for the Potsdam rescue squad.
  • The Biology Department works closely with Clarkson's Career Center to find and publicize internship and co-op opportunities, for example with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Faculty advisors also mentor and guide students toward internships and paid research experiences that fit each student's interests and aptitudes.
  • Students interested in biomedical sciences can participate in a semester-long Clarkson program at the Trudeau Institute in Saranac Lake, N.Y.
  • Those interested in environmental sciences can participate in Clarkson's semester-long Adirondack Semester program, also in Saranac Lake.

Biology Research in Action

Cell-Material Interactions (CMI) Biology Lab
Intervertebral Disc (IVD) Biology Laboratory
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