Biology Program

Over the next decade, the healthcare field will add more jobs than any other occupation. Earning a bachelor’s degree in biology from Hardin-Simmons University will prepare you for a wide variety of diverse and exciting graduate and professional programs in medicine, wildlife biology, environmental science, and conservation, among many other specialties. We also offer unique academic tracks so you can tailor your educational experience to your individual career aspirations.

Step outside the classroom with HSU’s many field-based and travel-focused courses. Gain hands-on experience while seeing the world and making lasting professional connections. You’ll also benefit from our affiliation with Texas Tech University Health Science Center, where you can earn a Master of Public Health while you earn your biology bachelor degree at HSU — with access to Texas Tech’s state-of-the-art resources and expert faculty to better prepare you for a successful career in healthcare.

A Degree in Biology Designed for You

Biology is a remarkably diverse field of study with a huge variety of career options. That’s why you’ll have the choice of five concentrations for your biology bachelor’s degree, which include:

  • General Biology
  • Life Science Education
  • Pre-Veterinarian
  • Wildlife Certification/Field Biology
  • Pre-Health Professions

If you’re interested in going into healthcare, our biology major Pre-Health Professions concentration lets you choose from the following tracks:

  • Pre-Medicine
  • Pre-Physician
  • Pre-Physical Therapy
  • Pre-Dental

Regardless of your professional goals, reach them with a biology degree that is uniquely you.

Program Contact

Dr. Craig Younce

Biology Department Head, Associate Professor of Biology

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Why Earn Your Bachelor’s Degree in Biology at Hardin-Simmons?

biology professor and student sharing ideas in class

Individual Support from Experienced Faculty

Receive the attention and support you need thanks to our small class sizes. Work closely with experienced biology degree program faculty members who have years of experience specializing in general biology, ecology, and conservation. Collaborate with other biology majors and make lasting personal and professional connections.

Biology Program student looking through microscope

Community Building

At HSU, you’ll receive more than just an exceptional biology degree. You can also join a thriving community of likeminded peers through several organizations and honor societies, including:

  • HSSM Research Society
  • The Pre-Health Club
  • The Pre-Physical Therapy Club
  • Beta Beta Beta Honor Society
Photo of biology student collecting sample

Hands-On Research Experience

The biology bachelor’s degree program at HSU provides many chances for you to gain real-world experience in the field through research opportunities and internships. For example, if you’re interested in ecology and conservation, you can take part in our Grassland Initiative working to restore native grassland ecosystems to areas previously altered by agricultural conversion. Graduate with a resume rich in experience that will help you stand out in a competitive job market.

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What Can You Do With a Degree in Biology?

Biology majors go on to work in a wide range of fields: conservation and ecology, genetics, biochemistry, microbiology, and much more. You can work in medical settings, research labs, or out in the field. HSU biology degree graduates have gone on to successful careers with the Hendrick Medical Center, the Abilene Regional Medical Center, and here at Hardin-Simmons University.

In addition to helping others and serving your communities, you’ll also benefit from outstanding job security and limitless potential for professional growth. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment in healthcare occupations is projected to grow 16 percent within the next decade, adding more jobs than any other occupational field. If you’re more interested in the research side of health, the number of medical scientist positions is projected to grow even faster.

Jobs for Biology Degree Graduates

  • Physical therapist
  • Physician assistants
  • Occupational therapists
  • Medical assistant
  • Environmental scientist
  • Veterinarian
  • High school biology teacher
  • Dentist
  • Public health specialist
  • Field biologist

Salary for Biology Degree Graduates

According to the BLS, the average salary for graduates of a biology bachelor’s degree program is about $65,000. Since the field of biology is so vast, however, your salary potential depends on your area of specialty. Veterinarians, for example, earn an average of $99,000 a year, while medical assistants earn on average about $36,000.

Program Details

Our bachelor’s degree in biology provides several courses that let you travel while you earn your degree:

  • Study tropical ecology in Costa Rica.
  • Unravel natural history in London.
  • Practice wildlife conservation at the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minn.

All HSU students are eligible for the biology program. Students majoring in biology and pursuing either a B.S. or B.A. degree must pass BIOL 1306/1106, 1307/1107, and 2334 with grades of C or better before registering for advanced courses in the biology curriculum. Exceptions to this rule will be considered on a case-by-case basis by your advisor and the degree in biology department head.

The Pre-Medical track at HSU will prepare you to matriculate into medical school to earn a Doctor of Medicine (MD) or Doctorate of Osteopathic Medicine (DO) degree. As a physician, you may:

  • Diagnose and treat illness, disease, and/or injury
  • Prescribe medication
  • Create treatment plans
  • Perform routine physicals

An MD or DO degree requires 4 years of education. Additional training in the form of residencies and/or fellowships allow you to specialize in fields including obstetrics and gynecology, pediatrics, general surgery, cardiology, etc.

Pre-Medical is considered a track in Biology (or Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), it is not a major. Pre-Medical students are required to take specific courses to prepare for the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT) and apply to medical school. You can choose to major in any field and you can apply to medical school as long as you complete the prerequisites. As a Biology major, all of the following courses that are required by most medical schools and schools of osteopathic medicine can be taken as a part of the B.S. or B.A. in Biology with a minor in Biochemistry degree plan.

There are 10 medical schools in Texas. For specific requirements for each Texas program, you may visit the Texas Medical and Dental School Application System website.

For specific admission information on non-Texas Medical programs please visit the American Association of Medical Colleges website.

For specific admission information on non-Texas Osteopathic programs, please visit the American Association of Colleges of Osteopathic Medicine website.

Websites to apply to medical school:

JAMP

HSU also offers pre-medical students who display a financial need based on your FAFSA information, the Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP). The Joint Admission Medical Program (JAMP) is a special program created by the Texas Legislature to support and encourage highly qualified, economically disadvantaged Texas resident students pursuing a medical education.

Funded through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, JAMP is a unique partnership between all nine Texas medical schools and sixty-seven public and private four-year undergraduate institutions.

Since 2003, JAMP has been helping Texas students achieve their dreams with guaranteed admission to one of the state’s nine medical schools, financial, and academic support to help them get there, and access to resources that allow them to excel.

JAMP provides:

For more information, please feel free to visit their website.

B.S. Biology/Doctor of Physical Therapy Fast Track Program at HSU – 3 years undergrad, 2.5 years graduate. Most physical therapists earn their bachelor’s degrees in four years and then complete three additional years of school to earn their doctorates. Imagine beginning your undergraduate degree at 18 years old and graduating with your Doctorate in Physical Therapy (DPT) in just 5.5 years!

The Pre-Physical Therapy track at HSU will prepare you to matriculate into a physical therapy school to earn a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree. As a physical therapist you may:

  • Diagnose and manage movement dysfunction
  • Restore, maintain, and promote optimal physical function, wellness and fitness, and quality of life as relates to movement and health
  • Prevent the onset, symptoms, and progression of impairments and disabilities that may result from diseases, conditions, or injuries

A DPT program generally takes about 3 years of education. Additional training can allow you to specialize in fields like orthopedics, pediatrics, geriatrics, clinical electrophysiology, and sports physical therapy.  You can learn more about physical therapy careers at the American Physical Therapy Association.

Pre-Physical Therapy is considered a track in Biology; it is not a major. Pre-Physical Therapy students are required to take specific courses to apply to physical therapy school. You can choose to major in any field and you can apply to dental school as long as you have completed the prerequisites. As a Biology major the courses that are required by most physical therapy schools can be taken as part of the undergraduate Biology degree. Prerequisite courses vary significantly across physical therapy programs. To learn more about prerequisite courses visit the Physical Therapist Centralized Application Service.

Hardin-Simmons University Physical Therapy School Early Admission Agreement:

  • Student applies and is admitted to HSU undergraduate Biology program with less than 30 hours of completed transfer hours
  • Student satisfies the following requirements for acceptance into the HSU-PT Program:
    • Meets entry criteria established by HSU as a Biology major
    • Completes all prerequisite courses for the HSU-PT Program at HSU
    • Applies to the HSU-PT Program via the PTCAS and successfully completes application requirements prior to the interview with the faculty of the Department of Physical Therapy at HSU during the student’s sophomore/junior year.
  • Following successful completion of the required undergraduate curriculum at HSU, the student will enroll in the Department of Physical Therapy at HSU, contingent upon the following:
    • Student must have a “C” or better in all required prerequisite courses
    • Student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.2 or above for all courses
    • Student must have a cumulative GPA of 3.1 or above for all Science/Statistic prerequisite courses
    • Student must receive a positive recommendation of “admit” or “priority admit” by the HSU Physical Therapy Admissions Committee
    • Student must have a positive record of ethical behavior during enrollment at HSU
  • Following successful completion of the early admissions curriculum from HSU and the first semester of the Physical Therapy curriculum from HSU, the student will be granted a BS or BA degree in Biology from HSU if the student has completed all graduation requirements for the appropriate HSU catalog.

Most physical therapy programs utilize the Physical Therapy Centralized Application Service (PTCAS) to facilitate the admissions process.  The American Physical Therapy Association provides useful information regarding the admissions process.

Physical therapy schools require applicants to observe practicing physical therapists. Different programs have different PT observation requirements. PTCAS provides a comparison of observation requirements by programs.

Dr. Craig Younce, craig.younce@hsutx.edu, advises Biology majors who are planning to apply to physical therapy school.

The Pre-Physician Assistant (PA) track at HSU will prepare you to matriculate into an accredited Physician Assistant Program to earn a Masters in Physician Assistant Studies degree. As a PA, you may:

  • Diagnose and treat illness and disease
  • Assist in surgical procedures
  • Monitor patients’ conditions and progress and re-evaluate treatments as needed
  • Administer and prescribe medication
  • Order, execute, and analyze diagnostic procedures and routine physical examinations

A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate institution is required for matriculation into a PA program. An M.A. in PA Studies degree requires 2-3 years of education, with the average program length being 27 months.

Pre-PA is considered a track in Biology, it is not a major. Pre-PA students are required to take specific courses to prepare to apply to a PA program. You can choose to major in any field and you can apply to PA school as long as you complete the prerequisites. As a Biology major, all of the following courses that are required by most PA programs and can be taken as a part of the B.S. or B.A. in Biology.

Please visit the HSU PA program web page for specific program details. For specific requirements for any specific PA program, please visit the PA Program directory.

Professional organizations recommended for pre-PA students:

Website to apply to PA school:

The Pre-Dental track at HSU will prepare you to matriculate into a dental school to earn a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) degree. As a general dentist you may:

  • Diagnose and restore or replace damaged teeth
  • Correct injuries or malformations of the teeth or mouth
  • Use prescription medications to alleviate pain caused from oral disease
  • Provide public health education for oral health

A DDS program requires 4 years of education. Additional training in the form of fellowships or residencies can allow you to specialize in fields like orthodontics, pediatric dentistry, forensic odontology, periodontics, prosthodontics, oral and maxillofacial pathology, and oral surgery.

Pre-Dental is considered a track in Biology; it is not a major. Pre-Dental students are required to take specific courses to prepare for the Dental Admissions Test (DAT) and to apply to dental school. You can choose to major in any field and you can apply to dental school as long as you have completed the prerequisites. As a Biology major all of the following courses that are required by most dental schools can be taken as part of the B.S. in Biology with a minor Biochemistry degree plan.

There are three dental schools in Texas: Texas A&M College of Dentistry in Dallas, UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry, and UT Health Houston School of Dentistry. For additional application information, please contact each program and check their websites as they may be updated frequently.

To matriculate into dental school you must score competitively on the Dental Admissions Test. The test has four major sections:

  • Survey of Natural Sciences (Biology, General Chemistry, and Organic Chemistry)
  • Perceptual ability (2 and 3-dimensional solving tests)
  • Reading Comprehension (Analysis of scientific literature)
  • Quantitative reasoning (Basic and Applied Mathematics)

Your performance on the Survey of Natural Sciences and Reading Comprehension and Quantitative Reasoning sections are recorded as the Academic Average, which ranges from 1 to 30. A competitive score is >19. You can find out more information about the DAT, including a yearly DAT Guide, on the American Dental Association DAT web page.

In addition to the prerequisite courses and competitive DAT score, successful applicants should also be involved in community service opportunities and complete at least 80 hours of shadowing. One organization that HSU students regularly volunteer with is the Texas Mission of Mercy Smiles Foundation. See their website for upcoming opportunities to serve around Texas, https://www.tdasmiles.org/texas-mission-of-mercy/.

There are great summer programs that allow you to get more experience in dentistry and prepare for dental schools. Find out more information and apply for the Summer Health Professions Education Program.

Dr. Michelle Dos, mdose@hsutx.edu, advises Biology majors who are planning to apply for dental school.

Professional organizations for pre-dental students:

Websites to apply for dental school:

The Pre-Pharmacy track at HSU will prepare you to matriculate into a pharmacy school to earn a Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. Careers in pharmacy cover a variety of different options and specialties. Some career options are listed below:

  • Community Practice
    • Independent or Chain Pharmacy
    • Community Health Center Pharmacy
    • Veterinary Pharmacy
    • Compounding Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Research & Development
  • Hospital or Nuclear Pharmacy
  • Pharmaceutical Education
  • Long-term and Home Health Care Pharmacy

You can learn more about different pharmacy careers at Pharmacy Is Right For Me.

Pre-Pharmacy is considered a track in Biology, Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, or Chemistry; it is not a major. Pre-Pharmacy students are required to take specific courses to prepare for the Pharmacy College Admission Test (PCAT) and to apply to pharmacy school. You can choose to major in any field and you can apply to pharmacy school as long as you have completed the prerequisites. Pre-pharmacy track students at HSU generally follow one of the following plans:

  • B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (required major for Texas Tech School of Pharmacy articulation agreement—see below)
  • B.S. in Biology with a minor in Biochemistry or Chemistry
  • B.S. in Chemistry with a minor in Biology

Following one of the plans listed above ensures that the prerequisite courses required by most pharmacy schools can be taken as part of the B.S. degree plan. You can learn more about pharmacy program prerequisite courses at Pharmacy Is Right For Me.

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Pharmacy (TTUHSC-SOP) 3+4 Dual Degree Information

  • Students successfully completing the degree program will graduate with a B.S. in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology from HSU and either a Pharm.D. or Pharm.D./MBA from TTUHSC-SOP
  • Students from HSU who meet the requirements and deadlines of this agreement will be awarded early admission at TTUHSC-SOP
  • Students take their first three years of coursework at HSU, with their remaining four years at TTUHSC-SOP
  • Students entering the Pharm.D. program under this agreement will have their PCAT waived
  • Program acceptance criteria:
    • Texas resident
    • Minimum Math ACT score of 25 or SAT score of 550 and competency in trigonometry
    • Acceptable pre-entry interview
    • Pass a criminal background check
    • GPA of 3.6 during the first semester of enrollment at HSU
    • Maintain overall GPA of 3.7 at HSU
  • For more information contact Dr. Michelle Dose. Students must begin this program as a freshman.

To matriculate into pharmacy school you must score competitively on the Pharmacy College Admission Test. The test has five major sections:

  • Writing (Conventions of Language and Problem Solving)
  • Biological Processes (General Biology, Microbiology, and Human Anatomy & Physiology)
  • Chemical Processes (General Chemistry, Organic Chemistry, and Basic Biochemistry)
  • Critical Reading (Comprehension, Analysis, and Evaluation)
  • Quantitative Reasoning (Basic Math, Algebra, Probability & Statistics, Precalculus, and Calculus)

Your performance on the PCAT is reported as your percentile rank which indicates your performance relative to the current PCAT norm group. Most Texas pharmacy schools prefer a PCAT score >50, but a competitive score for Texas pharmacy schools is >70. You can find more information about the PCAT, including a yearly PCAT guide, on the PCAT webpage.

In addition to the prerequisite courses and competitive PCAT score, successful applicants should gain experience by shadowing pharmacists or volunteering at a health center or hospital.  Additionally, it is recommended that pre-pharmacy students work in a pharmacy as clerks or pharmacy technicians.

Approximately 90% of all pharmacy degree programs in the U.S. participate in the Pharmacy College Application Service (PharmCAS) for admission.  You should visit the PharmCAS website to learn more about the admissions process and requirements.

Dr. Michelle Dose advises Biochemistry & Molecular Biology and Chemistry majors who are planning to apply to pharmacy school.

The Pre-Veterinarian track at HSU will prepare students to matriculate into vet school for an additional 4 years of education to earn a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM). As a veterinarian, you will:

  • Diagnose animal health issues.
    Vaccinate against disease.
    Treat infections and illnesses.
    Perform surgery, dress wounds, set fractures.
    Advise animal caregivers about feeding, behavior, and breeding matters.

Pre-Veterinary Medicine is considered a track in Biology; it is not a major. Pre-Veterinary students are required to take the GRE or MCAT along with specific courses in order to apply to vet school. Unlike medical schools, each vet school has its own pre-requisite courses that students must take in order to apply for their programs. As a biology major, the collective standard pre-requisite course requirements can be taken as a part of the B.S. in Biology along with a minor in Biochemistry.

Students interested in applying for vet school will sit down with the pre-vet advisor and review their vet schools of choice to ensure they will have taken all the pre-requisite requirements for each school prior to applying.

There are 30 vet schools across the nation with 2 located in Texas, Texas A&M University Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and Texas Tech School of Veterinary Medicine. For specific requirements for each Texas program, you may visit the TMDSAS home page. TMDSAS is the central application processing center for Texas Medical, Dental, and Veterinary Medical schools.

For specific admission information on non-Texas Veterinary Medicine programs, please visit the American Association of Veterinary Medical Colleges.

Dr. Wendi Wolfram, wwolfram@hsutx.edu, advises Biology majors who are planning to apply for vet school.

The Organismal and Wildlife Biology track at HSU will prepare students to work in the world of field biology. As a field or wildlife biologist you may:

  • Study the origins of plants, their diseases, genetics, and impact on ecosystems.
  • Study the origins of animal behavior, disease, genetics, life processes and impact on ecosystems.
  • Study the impact humans have on plants and/or animals and the ecosystem.

Organismal field and wildlife biologists frequently work outdoors in laboratories, and many find employment with government agencies, consulting firms, managing properties for private landowners and ranchers, as well as working for various research organizations.

Organismal Field and Wildlife Biology Certification is considered a track in Biology; it is not a major. Students pursuing a degree in organismal field biology or those interested in applying for their Wildlife Certification after graduation. Students in this degree track take more field based and travel lab courses that provide more hands-on opportunities working with plants/animals and their ecosystems. As a Biology major, the collective field courses and course alignments that meet the requirements for the certification application can be taken as a part of the B.S. in Biology along with a minor in Environmental Science.

Students wishing to further enhance their resume can apply for an Associate Wildlife Certification regulated by the Wildlife Society. Students interested in applying for their Associate Wildlife Certification will sit down with the field biology advisor and review their courses to ensure they have taken all the certification requirements prior to applying.

Dr. Wendi Wolfram, wwolfram@hsutx.edu, advises Biology majors who are planning to work in field biology or apply for their Associate Wildlife Certification through the Wildlife Society.

This minor is for students who are interested in pursuing allied health professions. Courses included in this minor allow students to take prerequisite courses for graduate programs in the areas of, but not limited to, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and physician assistant studies. This minor may also serve as an off-boarding minor for students who switch from the pre-nursing major.

The Grassland Initiative was established by the Rolling N Ranches L.P. to provide research opportunities to Hardin-Simmons faculty, undergraduate, and graduate students in a variety of disciplines. The mission of the Grassland Initiative is to restore native grassland ecosystems to areas previously altered by agricultural conversion and is designed to employ conservation and management plans, through partnerships and cooperative efforts, resulting in restoration and overall biodiversity preservation.

The Grassland Initiative also offers student internship opportunities to provide support to graduate and undergraduate student researchers. The Grassland Initiative Student Internship Endowment, established by Dr. George Newman and his wife Carolyn, provides stipends for students conducting independent research projects through the Grassland Initiative. The stipends support student researchers and are awarded for Summer (May – July), Fall (Aug – Dec), and Spring (Jan – Apr) as funding allows. Students are encouraged to coordinate with the Grassland Initiative Program Director concerning Internship Requirements and Application Deadlines.

We offer several opportunities for field-based labs and travel courses. You have the option to study Tropical Ecology in Costa Rica (May term of odd years), Natural History in London (date varies), or Wildlife Conservation at the International Wolf Center in Ely, MN (summer of even years). Due to our partnership with the Grassland Initiative, we offer field labs in courses such as Mammalogy, Animal Behavior, General Entomology, Wildlife Techniques, and Advanced Botany.

The purpose of the HSSM Research Society is to promote interest in undergraduate and graduate research through the development, communication, and publication of original research across disciplines. The HSSM Research Society enhances connections between peers and faculty and promotes research. The HSSM Research Society hosts an annual Symposium each spring. HSSM Research Society, Advisor—Dr. Wendi Wolfram

The Pre-Health Club serves as a home to HSU students aiming to enter any facet of the medical profession. The organization provides students with information regarding admission requirements, entrance exam preparation, shadowing and volunteering opportunities, a forum for networking with current medical professionals as well as assists in graduate school application preparation and admission interviews. Pre-Health Club Advisor – Dr. Michelle Dose

The Pre-Physical Therapy Club is a great resource and application booster for students interested in becoming physical therapists. The club meets once a month to allow members the opportunity to explore and learn about the Anatomy Lab, receive advice from current PT students and admissions faculty, and learn about various topics in the field of physical therapy from practicing PT’s. Members of this club are also invited to attend presentations hosted by HSU’s DPT school and take part in physical therapy related service events. In addition, there are five officer position s available each year to members who are interested in gaining leadership experience. Pre-Physical Therapy Club, Advisor—Dr. Marsha Rutland

Beta Beta Beta is a national biological honor society, with Delta Psi being the local chapter at HSU. All members are sophomores or higher, have an interest in the biological sciences, and have attained a biology GPA of 3.0 or higher. The honor society seeks to cultivate intellectual interest in the natural sciences and promote a better appreciation of the value of biological study. Members are involved in promoting science in the community through working with high schools, health fairs, research forums, or similar events. Members are eligible for some funding for undergraduate research and to publish for reduced costs in the Beta Beta Beta journal BIOS. Tri-Beta Advisor – Dr. Craig Younce

Beta Beta Beta is a national biological honor society, with Delta Psi being the local chapter at HSU. The honor society seeks to cultivate intellectual interest in the natural sciences and promote a better appreciation of the value of biological study. Our mission is three-fold: stimulating scholarship, disseminating scientific information, and promoting biological research. Delta Psi holds inductions every spring for regular membership and associate membership.

Regular Membership Requirements:

  1. Be an undergraduate majoring in any biological science
  2. Have completed at least one term of the second year of a four year curriculum at HSU
  3. Have completed at least three semesters in biological science, including one course that is not an introductory course
  4. Have a 3.0 or higher GPA in biology courses

Associate Membership Requirements:

Any undergraduate with a demonstrated interest in the biological sciences that does not meet the regular membership requirements is eligible (ex. biology minors).

What do we do?

Our members are involved in promoting science in the community through working with high schools, health fairs, research forums, or similar events. We have partnered with the University Interscholastic League (UIL) at ATEMS high school in Abilene since 2015 to provide science enrichment. For each visit, Delta Psi provides an interactive experiment or demonstration in either chemistry, biology, or physics. Additionally, we help host invited speakers at HSU and participate in a variety of community service projects.

Benefits

As a member, you get recognition for your commitment to biology. You receive Tri Beta honor cords in your membership packet.

Members are eligible for some funding for undergraduate research and to publish for reduced costs in the Beta Beta Beta journal, BIOS.

You have fun with other biology majors!

The Holland School of Sciences and Mathematics is blessed with donors and alumni who generously give back to HSU through scholarships for biology majors. Students can apply annually for these scholarships through Scholarship Central.

Learn more about scholarships at Hardin-Simmons University.

If you’re considering a bachelor’s degree in biology, here are some other programs available at Hardin-Simmons University like the biology major:

Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Degree (B.S.)

Chemistry Degree (B.S.)

Exercise Science (B.S.H.S.)

Nursing BSN and RN-to-BSN

Science Education (B.S.)