For Prospective Students

Why We're Different

Our strong commitment to impactful, world-changing research distinguishes us from small liberal arts colleges, while our great emphasis on mentoring undergraduates distinguishes us from large research universities. We are a liberal arts university with the best of both worlds.

Over a typical five-year period:

  • Over 1000 students collaborate with faculty in research ranging from cell biology to ecology
  • 200 students receive summer research scholarships and over 100 are awarded external research grants
  • More than 200 students present their research at scientific meetings
  • 150 students are authors or co-authors on 100 papers published in leading scientific journals

Biology is a popular major with a rigorous undergraduate program and a small research-focused Master’s program. We develop well-trained biologists and scientifically literate thinkers prepared for many different career paths. A diverse faculty of dedicated teacher-scholars nurture critical thinking, professional skills, and intellectual independence. Our educational mission is rooted in excellent teaching and research in the life sciences, from molecules to ecosystems. We value inclusion, collegiality, and the pursuit of academic connections across disciplines.

Degree Programs
Courses

Our courses cover a broad range of topics within modern biology from molecular genetics to global biodiversity to biostatistics. The courses are taught by full-time faculty, and all students are required to complete a small upper-level lab and a capstone seminar taught by a faculty member in their area of expertise.

See the Undergraduate Catalog to explore the complete list of Biology courses.

Research

Most of our majors complete extensive faculty-mentored undergraduate research projects. The nationally-recognized biology faculty attract millions of dollars in extramural funding, and thus provide cutting-edge research opportunities. An impressive number of our students co-author published research in peer-reviewed scientific journals and present their research at regional, national, and international conferences. Many of our students obtain competitive summer and post-baccalaureate research internships through NIH and NSF.

Our research laboratories and facilities reflect the broad scope of faculty specializations and are fully equipped to pursue research across the life sciences. 

Our students also engage in interdisciplinary research through connections to other programs, such as: Computational and Mathematical Science; Data Science; Environmental Science and Policy; Marine Science; Neuroscience; and Public Health. Biology students are also an integral part of W&M’s iGEM team. 

Student Activities

We have several student organizations where our students explore a biology-related interest. These groups organize activities and invite speakers to participate in seminars and workshops, and build community around topics such as botany, birdwatching, and biomedicine.

Careers

Our alumni work in a huge diversity of careers. Soon after graduating, ~2/3 of our students enter graduate or professional schools and ~1/3 take up immediate employment in positions ranging from environmental consultant, biomedical researcher, GIS technician, software engineer, field ecologist, educator, and more. 

Talk to Us

Want to know more? Our current students and faculty want to connect with you.

  • Get an inside look: contact a current Biology major
  • Undergraduate program: [[jpswad, contact Professor John Swaddle, Department Chair]]
  • Graduate program: [[ccthornton, contact Charnel Thornton]]
More About W&M