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Life Science Majors

The following are the majors that LSFY formally supports; however, we will always encourage students to explore all the wonderful majors that NC State offers.

Aerial view of the Brickyard and the block S in the bricks.

What I found most helpful about LSFY program was the community feel it gave me. This school is large and can be very overwhelming for first year students, so having small classes that allowed for interactions with other students interested in the same things as me really helped me make friends and form study groups. Likewise, this program also allowed for me to form connections with Professors and Advisors within my department.  Overall I really enjoyed the LSFY program because it allowed me to get to know other people in the same program as me. Introducing the resources most biological sciences students will ultimately end up needing and using at some point early will help ensure they never feel too overwhelmed.
Abby Barbour, Biological Sciences Major, Nutrition Minor, Class of 2021

Life science degree programs are found in many departments (such as Biological Sciences, Molecular & Structural Biochemistry, Plant & Microbial Biology, and the Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences department) and several colleges (such as the College of Sciences – COS, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences – CALS) across campus at NC State. This means that you have many options from which to choose a major.  You should select a major based on your academic interests and talents.  Consider majors in which the required and elective courses address topics you are most interested in studying.  Also, consider the requirements of any graduate or professional programs to which you might apply.

There is not a one-to-one relationship between majors and careers – for example, any of our life sciences majors can lead to a career in human or animal medicine – so focus more on your interests and your aptitudes in choosing a major.

Biochemistry (Bachelor of Sciences – BS)

Biochemistry is concerned with the discovery and understanding of the chemical principles of life. It is a wide-ranging field covering the composition, biosynthesis, structure, and function of biomolecules and the regulation of biochemical processes within organelles, cells, organs, and organisms. Biochemistry provides the basis for biotechnology and molecular biology techniques ranging from biomolecular computation and modeling to regulation of gene expression. Graduates are well prepared for professional school as well as employment and graduate work in biochemistry, molecular biology, biotechnology, and genetics.

Biochem UG Program Directors: 

  • Advising and Research: Dr. Trino Ascencio-Ibanez
  • Curriculum: Dr. Chuck Hardin

Biology: Bachelor of Sciences (BS)

We offer five different ways to meet the requirements for a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences. All of our curricula are designed to provide a solid foundation in biology as well as the related fields of chemistry, physics, and mathematics.

Biological Sciences Concentrations

  • No Concentration – Biological Sciences majors receive comprehensive training in biology, spanning plant and animal life. Students explore the structure, function, behavior, and evolution of cells, organisms, populations, and ecosystems.
  • Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology (EEC) – The concentration in Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation Biology offers students in-depth studies in areas of biology of plants, animals, and other organisms and their populations and ecosystems. It is designed for students who have an interest in the diversity of life, including its origins, environmental changes causing its loss, and how to conserve it.
  • Human Biology (HB) – The Human Biology curriculum is designed to provide students with a solid education in the scientific and humanistic concepts that underlie modern health sciences and related areas of scientific research. The courses exploring human health issues including healthcare economics, ethics, and advancements with applied problem-solving.
  • Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology (IPN) – The concentration in Integrative Physiology and Neurobiology provides a comprehensive grounding in basic principles of physiology and neuroscience, as well as in-depth exposure to the application of those principles in understanding whole-animal function, links between physiology and behavior, and the ways in which animals cope with challenges presented by their environments.
  • Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCD) – The concentration in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology offer students in-depth studies of the molecular and cellular basis of life and the processes through which organisms arise from single cells. Students learn the processes that govern cellular structure and function; gene structure, function, and regulation; the molecular and cellular mechanisms controlling development; and modern molecular and cellular tools used in the study of living organisms.

Bio Sci UG Program Director: Dr. Lisa Parks

Bio Sci Coordinator of Advising: Ms. Dana Thomas

Bio Sci Concentration Coordinators:

  • EEC Dr. Brian Langerhans
  • HB Dr. Lisa Parks
  • IPN Dr. John Godwin
  • MCD Dr. Michael Sikes

Biology: Bachelor of Arts in Biology (BA)

The Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Biology is the newest degree offering from the Department of Biological Sciences. This degree was created to meet the needs of students who desire a solid foundation in the life sciences but also want to pursue extensive studies in a second, complementary discipline outside of the life sciences. Students interested in an interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary approach to their undergraduate education may find that this degree option better serves their interests and career goals than a B.S. degree in the life sciences. Students work in consultation with their academic advisor to design a secondary area of focus by identifying at least 21 credit hours of Cross-Discipline Electives (CDEs). Some CDE topics created by BA students include: healthcare throughout the life cycle, developmental psychology, global public health, civil rights and social justice, mathematics, human behavior, cross-cultural communication, political science, social work, and psychology, health policy, and anthropology.

BA in Bio UG Program Director: Dr. Joy Little

Genetics (Bachelor of Science – BS)

Genetics is the science of inherited biological traits. Geneticists study genetic and environmental factors relevant to human health and disease, how the expression and function of genes regulate biological processes and development, and how genetic processes affect genetic variation in populations. Geneticists also develop new approaches for the management, analysis, and modeling of large, complex sets of genetic data.  The Genetics program spans cellular, molecular and developmental genetics, as well as quantitative, population and evolutionary genetics. Broad areas of interest include predicting disease risk and individual therapeutic treatments in human populations, optimizing selective breeding of agriculturally important plants and animals, and predicting adaptive evolution in response to environmental change.

Genetics UG Program Director: Dr. Betty Gardner

Microbiology (Bachelor of Science – BS)

Microbiology is the study of microscopic organisms, including bacteria, viruses, archaea, and fungi, and their interactions with plants and animals, including humans. Courses in the major include the study of the growth and development, physiology, phylogeny, ecology, and genetics of an array of microscopic organisms and viruses. The Microbiology major is a rigorous course of study with a strong and diverse student population. Small upper-level classes and research opportunities foster engagement across the entire NCSU microbiology community. Most of our students get involved with research, study abroad, and/or internships. Our most recent analysis showed that 94% of our students are either full-time employed in the sciences or enrolled in post-graduate education within one year of graduation.

Concentrations:

  • Microbial Health Sciences is designed for students who wish to enroll in health-related post-graduate programs, such as medical, PA, dental, veterinary, or pharmacy schools.
  • Microbial Biotechnology is designed for students who wish to enter the workforce in the biotechnology or the biomanufacturing industry after graduation.
  • Microbial Research is designed for students who wish to continue their education in research-oriented Ph.D. or M.S. graduate programs.

Microbiology UG Program Director: Dr. Jonathan Olson

Nutrition Science (Bachelor of Science – BS)

Nutrition Science examines how what we eat affects our well-being by determining optimal levels of essential nutrients and other food components, individual foods and food groups, and patterns of intake across the life cycle and in the context of specific disorders. Work in the field continues to expand and refine our understanding of the relationships between diet and health; provides guidance to individuals or groups on healthful eating; and develops and implements programs and public health policies that help people and communities make nutrition-related decisions.

Concentrations: 

  • Nutrition Science option fulfills all of the prerequisites for medical school and other health professional programs, such as optometry and physical therapy, which typically require at least one semester of physics and four semesters of chemistry.
  • Applied Nutrition option may also be appropriate for students interested in health professional programs that do not require four semesters of chemistry and/or two semesters of physics, such as Physician’s Assistant and Nursing.

Nutrition UG Program Director: Dr. Natalie Cooke

Plant Biology (Bachelor of Science – BS)

Plant Biology is a broad discipline that is concerned with the function, structure, diversity, conservation, and ecology of photosynthetic organisms, as well as how their chemical and structural properties can be manipulated and utilized. Students who pursue the Plant Biology major take courses that provide them with a solid background in the natural and physical sciences, preparing them for any number of science-based careers. At the same time, the major is flexible so students can tailor their major and elective coursework to their professional interests and goals.  Students may pursue a general major by selecting major electives in different areas of Plant Biology, or specialize their study in one or more of the following areas: Plant Biotechnology, Plant Systematics and Ecology, Ethnobotany (the study of human-plant relationships, including how plants are used for medicine and other natural products, food, clothing, and shelter), and Pre-Health Professions.

Plant Bio UG Program Director: Dr. Chad Jordan

Zoology (Bachelor of Science – BS)

Also called “organismal biology,” this major attracts students with a strong passion for animals. Zoology majors are broadly educated in the biology of animals. Required courses are designed to develop breadth and depth in core areas, providing a strong base for all Zoology majors. Students acquire knowledge of zoology from the organizational level of molecules and cells to the organizational level of ecosystems, with flexibility in the selection of upper-level courses to then specialize or remain generalized, according to individual interests and career goals. The B.S. in Zoology differs from the B. S. in Biological Sciences primarily in its emphasis on animals, including a course requirement in animal anatomy and physiology and a course requirement in animal phylogeny.

Zoology UG Program Director: Dr. Jenny Campbell