University of Charleston
three female students in lab wearing lab coats and safety glasses while dissecting organism


  • duration

    3-4 Years

  • format


  • Location


  • Concentrations

    Data Analytics
    Environmental Biology
    Biomedical Sciences 
    General Biology 

Program Overview

The Biology program at UC provides a rigorous curriculum grounded on a variety of biological disciplines (organismal biology, molecular biology, environmental science and biomedical science), along with intensive laboratory courses, field work, experiential learning, and research opportunities. By the time our students graduate, they will be equipped with the theoretical and practical skills necessary to be competitive and successful applicants for employment or admission to professional or graduate school in the biological, medical or environmental sciences.

We have also partnered with the National Science Foundation to offer our Scholars Program for Environmental Challenges Scholarship for a small number of high achieving students in five of our UC STEM majors, including Biology.

Freshman applicants with a 2.5 or higher high school GPA and transfer students with a 2.0 or higher cumulative college GPA are eligible for general admission to UC, and will gain direct entry into this program. Students may apply online or download the admissions application.


Program Highlights

  • Concentrations available in

    • Biomedical Sciences
    • Environmental Biology
    • General Biology
    • Data Analytics
    • Unique pathways for admission to UC’s Pharmacy and PA programs.
  • Our science faculty have an open door policy and they are available to you any time they are in their offices; not just during office hours. This creates a very student-oriented setting for learning.

  • Each lab section is taught by the professor and not an adjunct or graduate student. This environment leads to individual research opportunities and more personalized letters of recommendations.

  • Chi Beta Phi, a national science honorary society, is active on our campus and provides you with opportunities to socialize and serve in the community.



Program Outcomes

  • Career Opportunities

    Biology majors have many career possibilities, including a wide variety of biology-related careers in academia, laboratory research, health care and pharmaceuticals. (Some careers may require additional, higher-level education.)

    • Park ranger
    • Agricultural or food science technician
    • Biological technician or research assistant
    • Quality control technician
    • Content writer
    • Health educator
    • High school science teacher
    • Food scientist
    • Environmental scientist or specialist
    • Forensic scientist
    • Biologist
    • Pharmaceutical sales representative
    • Ecologist or wetland scientist
    • Genetic counselor
    • Physical therapist
    • Dentist
    • Physician
    • Physician Assistant
    • Pharmacist
    • Chiropractor
    • Veterinarian


  • Graduate Schools

    Graduates of the Biology programs at the University of Charleston have been accepted at

    • University of Charleston
    • Marietta College
    • West Virginia University
    • Duke University
    • Marshall University
    • Elon University
    • Ohio State University
    • Georgetown University
    • University of Toledo School of Medicine
    • University of Georgia
    • Virginia Tech
    • West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine
    • Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine
    • Alderson-Broaddus College
  • Student Success

    84% of recent graduates are employed in a related area or have been accepted into professional or graduate programs.

Additional Information 

Capstone Research Experience 

To demonstrate proficiency of the Program outcomes, majors must complete a hypothesis-based research project and Senior Seminar in their Senior Year


Required Research Timeline 

To assure that graduation occurs within the student’s expected time frame, care must be taken to fulfill the requirements for completing your major’s capstone research seminar learning experiences. Breaking the sequence, skipping a requirement, or failing to complete events by required dates will delay graduation.


For the Biology Program the timeline is:

  • Complete BIOL 130 and NSCI 220 prior to attaining 60 credits.
  • Research experience in Upper level electives or independent research experience
  • BIOL 496 Senior Year

Data Analytics Concentration

Students can add a data analytics concentration to their degree program. This applies the traditional techniques of computer science, mathematics, and statistics to the solution of problems in biology. For students interested in healthcare professions, this concentration offers a focus in genomics and proteomics – both areas which are at the foundation of precision medicine.

Environmental Biology Concentration

The Environmental Biology concentration is designed to provide students with a foundation in environmental sciences and population, organismal, and evolutionary biology. Students will explore regional organismal processes and the environments in which they thrive. Ecology, conservation and restoration of biodiversity are also a focus.

Conservation and restoration field work and internships with local environmental agencies are some of the opportunities available to students in this concentration. Course requirements for professional certification by several societies (e.g. Ecological Society of America) can be met within this concentration. Students in this track will also be prepared for graduate school in biological and environmental sciences.

Biomedical Sciences Concentration

This concentration is designed for the undergraduate student with an aptitude for the biological sciences and who plans to attend a professional school in the health sciences. While many of the courses in our biology curriculum core ensure our graduates have acquired the necessary requirements for any professional and graduate program, this concentration allows students to take more specialized courses in areas of human health that will make them stand out as candidates.

Students can explore topics such as pathophysiology, embryology, virology and more. Students may also consider taking approved classes from other departments to expand the breadth of their degree. For example, some courses in Health Sciences and Psychology may be used to fulfill the requirements of this concentration (e.g. nutrition or health psychology).

This concentration also works well with the 3+1 pathway from UC Pharmacy school allowing students to graduate with a B.S. in Biology by completing year one of the professional program and using those courses as the biomedical science concentration courses.


General Biology Concentration

The General Biology concentration is the most universal emphasis, offering a flexible yet robust curriculum for students interested in a broader understanding of biology.

These additional 16 credit hours required are chosen from the list of upper division courses, one from each major category (organismal biology, molecular biology, ecology and biomedical sciences). Even though this concentration prioritizes breadth over focus, it is still appropriate for all professions that require a major in biology and will prepare students for graduate schools, professional schools or employment.

If a student is unsure about what to do with their biology major and/or wants to take a wider variety of courses, then the General Biology concentration may be the best choice for them.


For more information about each pathway and its related courses, see our Academic Catalog.

Physician Assistant Fast Track Admission Pathway

The Physician Assistant Fast Track Admission Pathway offers students the opportunity to pursue a strong science education that leads to admission to PA School.

This pathway provides students with a degree in Biology with an emphasis in Biomedical Sciences to meet a host of healthcare and biological science career goal requirements, sequenced in a way that allows eligible and motivated students to apply to the UC Physician Assistant Fast Track program and/or graduate in three years with a degree in Biology.

Program Contact:

Dr. Jay Wildt
Program Director, Natural Sciences
Associate Professor of NSCI

Pharmacy Direct Program

The Department of Natural Science and Mathematics offers an undergraduate pharmacy pathway designed to facilitate admission to and success in a graduate pharmacy program. Students may choose to apply to pharmacy school after 2, 3 or 4 years of undergraduate study. Students in this concentration area will be enrolled as either Biology, Chemistry, or as a Chemistry-Biology dual major. Students that wish to continue their pursuit of a Doctor of Pharmacy degree at the University of Charleston School of Pharmacy (UCSOP) may also choose to participate in the Pharmacy Direct Program.

The Pharmacy Direct Program provides the opportunity to complete undergraduate and graduate-level pharmacy coursework in as little as six years all in one place. You’ll spend a minimum of two years as an undergraduate student and four years as a professional student pharmacist. Upon successful completion of these minimum curricular requirements, students will be awarded the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree at the end of the fourth year in the graduate-level program. Pharmacy Direct students are also guaranteed admission into the UCSCOP if the minimum criteria below are met.

Some students may be interested in obtaining a Bachelor of Science (BS) degree along the way. The 3+1 BS in Biology with an emphasis in Biomedical Sciences degree pathway is a unique opportunity just for Pharmacy Direct students. 1 additional year of undergraduate coursework will result in two degrees upon successful completion of the required curriculum. Students would successfully complete a three-year undergraduate program and then matriculate into the UCSOP. After completion of the first year of the professional curriculum, the students will receive a BS in Biology with an emphasis in Biomedical Sciences degree. The students will then spend the next three years completing the professional curriculum for the PharmD. Of note, it may still be possible for particularly motivated students or students starting at UC with transfer or high-school credit to complete the undergraduate prerequisite coursework for the 3+1 pathway in 2 years. This will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Although obtaining a bachelor’s degree is not required, students may also elect to continue their undergraduate education beyond 2 years to obtain a BS degree prior to applying to the graduate-level PharmD program.

As a Pharmacy Direct student, in addition to the academic grid scholarship, you are eligible for a $3,000 scholarship each year of undergraduate pre-pharmacy coursework. Upon matriculation to the UCSOP, Pharmacy Direct students are also eligible for a $4,750 regional tuition discount each year for all 4 years of graduate pharmacy coursework. Additional benefits include an invitation to join the Pre-Pharmacy Club, where students can attend programming throughout the year to:

  • Learn about the profession of pharmacy and what it’s like to be a graduate student.
  • Build relationships with current pharmacy faculty, staff, and students.
  • Receive regular updates on pharmacy student achievements, volunteer and employment opportunities, and upcoming events.
  • Obtain individualized attention to prepare for the admissions and interview process.

Pharmacy Direct students are also guaranteed a seat in the Doctorate-level pharmacy program as long as the following criteria are met:

  • Maintain an overall GPA of 2.75
  • Complete all prerequisite courses with a C- or better
  • Maintain good academic and professional standing
  • Submit an application through PharmCAS
  • Successfully interview with School of Pharmacy faculty

Students that do not maintain these minimum standards are not guaranteed a seat and may need to take additional steps to gain admission, such as taking the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) or other eligible graduate school exam, but are still encouraged to apply to the pharmacy program.

*In addition, School of Pharmacy program requirements such as health clearances, immunizations, proof of health insurance are also required. More information will be provided prior to starting the PharmD program.

Program Contact:

Jennifer Hoffman
Assistant Professor, Mathematics

Learn More

Chi Beta Phi Science Honorary

Chi Beta Phi Science Honorary promotes interest in science and gives recognition to scholarly attainment in science. Chi Beta Phi is open to students having completed 20 hours of science courses with a 3.0 GPA. Freshmen may participate in activities prior to earning their 20 hours. Members of Chi Beta Phi participate in campus-wide recycling as well as having Earth Day Activities. Students may attend the Chi Beta Phi National Convention held every October.

Pre-Professional Healthcare Society

This is a unique student organization on campus that provides important and valuable information for all students pursuing professional careers based on the sciences (Pre-Med, Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-PA, Pre-Dentistry, Pre-Physical Therapy, Pre-Vet, etc.). PPHS focuses solely on getting students to their chosen profession. Some benefits of PPHS include:

  • Resume Building
  • MCAT/PCAT Prep
  • Networking with Healthcare Professionals
  • Graduate School Seminars

aida jimenez

Biology Program Director Featured in Research Publication

Aida Jimenez Esquilin, Ph.D., Cover Story in Higher Education Science & Research Publication


Read More 

Featured Faculty

Featured Faculty

Mark Watson
Mark B. Watson, Ph.D.

Chair, NSCI & Math Departments
Associate Professor of Biology

Aida Jimenez Esquilin
Aida Elisabet Jimenez Esquilin, Ph.D.

Biology Program Director
Associate Professor of Biology

Dawn Turner, Ph.D.

First Year Student Advisor (FSA)
Associate Professor of Biology