SIUE Department of Biological Sciences
College of Arts and Sciences

Department of Biological Sciences

Specializations in Biological Sciences

The Department of Biological Sciences offers six specializations or options for a Bachelor of Arts or Science degree in Biological Sciences. These are Integrative Biology, Ecology, Evolution, and Environment, Genetics and Cellular Biology, Medical Science, Medical Technology and Secondary Education.  Brief descriptions of these specializations are given below. The detailed academic requirements for each specialization are given in the SIUE Undergraduate Catalog. The programs are flexible enough to allow students to change specializations should their goals or interests change.


Integrative Biology

The curriculum in this specialization is designed to provide a firm basis in biological sciences for students with a variety of goals. It is an attractive major for students planning to enter graduate school or for students pursuing careers in biological research or in applied work in areas such as agriculture, conservation, and wildlife management. Students in this program may elect to concentrate in such specific disciplines as botany, microbiology, physiology, cellular and molecular biology, genetics, and zoology by completing their electives through courses in these areas. Some disciplines require chemistry courses beyond the minimum requirements.

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Ecology, Evolution, and Environment
Recent rapid advances in technology combined with a growing awareness of the impact of human activity on the environment have resulted in the development of broad opportunities in environmental biology. Ecology is the study of interactions between living organisms and their environment. Evolution provides the theoretical basis that binds all of biology together. These areas combine to help us understand human impacts on natural systems. They have both academic and practical importance because they stimulate intellectual curiosity about the natural world and provide a scientific basis for the solution of modern environmental problems.

The ecology, evolution, and environment specialization within the biological sciences bachelorís degree program prepares students for positions that require the application of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems. The specialization also prepares students for advanced study in all areas of biology, including wildlife ecology and forestry. Students selecting this specialization will take a planned sequence of courses that includes basic biological sciences, ecology, evolution, and environmental science. This study may include laboratory and field research. A variety of elective courses is available to allow students to pursue special interests such as plant or animal ecology, environmental management, and evolutionary biology at either the organismal or cellular level. Students should consult their advisor to devise a course schedule to fit their specific talents and interests.

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Genetics and Cellular Biology
Genetic engineering and cellular biology are rapidly expanding fields in biology. Genetic engineering is a defined method for producing genetic changes in a variety of organisms in the laboratory. Cellular biology is a field that studies all aspects of gene regulation, protein trafficking, cell physiology, and apoptosis. A large number of industrial companies and many research laboratories use genetic engineering and cell biology techniques in their work. Job opportunities are numerous and growing in number. Students with training in genetic engineering and cellular biology may be employed in diverse laboratory settings including plant breeding, insecticide development, and the production of pharmaceuticals.

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Medical Science
The medical sciences specialization, a pre-health professions curriculum, will prepare students for entry into medical, dental, pharmacy, veterinary, optometry, osteopathy, chiropractic, and podiatry schools, as well as into many other allied health programs.

Students considering a health-related profession should demonstrate above-average ability in the natural sciences. Students also should exhibit traits commonly associated with health practitioners, e.g., persistence, curiosity, good judgment, initiative, emotional maturity, attention to details, and good interpersonal skills. Pre-dental students should also have or develop good manual skills and the ability to make acute judgments on space and shapes. The biological sciences program described below is designed to provide students with a rigorous course of study that will satisfy the entrance requirements of professional schools, as well as to award students a bachelor of science degree either at the end of the four-year program, or in the case of early admission, at the end of the first year of professional school (see below). Students requesting acceptance for the medical science specialization will be advised by a biology/medical science advisor with regard to their academic curriculum. Because professional schools adhere rigidly to their entrance requirements and because there is strict course sequencing for completion of these requirements, students in this specialization should seek advisement early to ensure satisfactory progress.

The health professions advisors maintain a centralized evaluation service to aid students seeking entry into professional schools during the application process. The advisor is available in the College of Arts and Sciences Advisement Office to help and advise such students regarding application procedures.

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Medical Technology
This degree specialization is designed for students who wish to become medical technologists certified by the American Society of Clinical Pathologists. Medical technologists should have a firm understanding of the theory behind the diagnostic tests they perform in the clinical laboratory. Their responsibilities encompass all clinical laboratory disciplines, such as clinical chemistry, urinalysis, hematology, serology, immunology, blood and organ banking, microbiology, parasitology, and nuclear medicine. As self-motivated, inquisitive scientists, medical technologists contribute to the development of new methods and laboratory instrumentation that aid physicians in preventing and curing disease. Most medical technologists are employed in hospitals, but private laboratories, physiciansí offices, government agencies, industrial and pharmaceutical laboratories, and university research programs offer growing opportunities for employment advancements.

The American Medical Associationís Council on Medical Education, the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, and the American Society of Medical Technology collaborate in determining minimum standards for educational programs for medical technologists. The first three years of the program take place on the SIUE campus. During this time, students fulfill general education requirements and master fundamental knowledge and skills in biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics. The fourth year of clinical/professional study takes place in a clinical laboratory setting at one of the Universityís affiliated hospital schools of medical technology. Acceptance to this last year of study is on a competitive basis and is not guaranteed to individual students in the program. Students enroll at SIUE for 36 hours of credit during the clinical year. Credits are earned through courses in blood banking, chemistry, coagulation, hematology, microbiology, mycology, parasitology, serology, urinalysis and other subjects as specified in the agreement with each hospital affiliate. Students are awarded the bachelor of science in biology/medical technology degree by SIUE upon successful completion of four years in the program. At this time students are eligible to apply for examination by the Board of Registry of the American Society of Clinical Pathologists, and if successful, are certified as medical technologists.

Students in this program should seek advisement early in their academic careers from the biology/medical technology advisor because there is strict course sequencing for the completion of requirements. Careful scheduling is essential to completion in three years of the on-campus academic portion of the program.

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Secondary Education
Students interested in Secondary Education certification in Biological Science complete a broad distribution of courses that include all the major areas in Biology. This course of study is consistent with the suggestions of the National Science Teachers Association. The program of study is relatively inflexible; students are advised to plan their programs carefully, particularly in the first years. An overall grade point average of 2.5 is required for admission to the School of Education certification program, and a grade point average of 2.5 is required in biology courses before a student may enroll in CI 352 (student teaching).

Admission to a teacher education program is a joint decision by the academic discipline in the College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Education. Therefore, it is essential that any student desiring teacher certification meet with an advisor in the Office of Clinical Experience, Certification and Advisement of the School of Education for admission to the teacher education program.

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Last updated July 29, 2012