For more information, contact: Office of Undergraduate Studies in Biology
Return to The Undergraduate Program in Biology
The Biology Major
The biology major at Duke is an undergraduate program administered jointly by the departments of Botany and Zoology. The program offers the student training in biology at many levels, including the molecular biology of the cell, organismal biology, biodiversity, ecology, and evolution. The Biology program benefits from the diverse interests of the faculty in Botany and Zoology, as well as interdepartmental cooperation with other departments in Trinity College, the Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE) , Organization for Tropical Studies, and the basic science departments of the Duke University Medical Center.
Students who choose to major in biology pursue either the A.B. or B.S. degree. In addition, students with a particular interest may focus in an area of concentration such as Animal Behavior, Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Genetics, Marine Biology, Neurosciences, Pharmacology, or Plant Systematics. Alternatively, students may negotiate an individualized program combining biology with areas such as psychology, chemistry, physics, or mathematics.
In addition to a broad range of courses, there are several special programs made possible by grants from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute's Biological Initiative Program. These include: special seminars for first-year students; a summer Research Fellows Program for rising sophomores; and a Howard Hughes Forum which provides research funding for qualified upperclass students. Of special note are three state-of-the-art laboratory courses in cell and molecular biology, developmental biology, and microscopy.
Biology majors are encouraged to engage in independent research projects in areas of their interest. Independent study projects provide research experience and academic credit for laboratory, field work, or theoretical research. Independent study projects may be done with any faculty in the biological sciences. Eligible students may use their independent research as the basis for an honors thesis, leading to graduation with distinction.
Duke Marine Lab
Also available to students is the opportunity to study at the Duke Marine Laboratory. Located in Beaufort, N.C., the Marine Lab is a modern teaching and research facility in marine and estuarine biology which provides direct access to open ocean, estuaries, and coastal ecosystems. The campus includes modern laboratories, vessels for coastal studies, and the oceanographic vessels R/V Cape Hatteras and R/V Susan Hudson. The Marine Lab sponsors a variety of courses in the Summer, a full semester program in the Fall, and a Beaufort/Bermuda program during the Spring semester.
Other Campus Resources for Biology Students
Duke students who choose a bioscience major have career goals
that include biological research, the health professions, business
or education. Students who are interested in health professions
have access to additional information and advice through the Trinity College Health Professions Advising Center
(HPAC). Duke students applying to medical schools and programs
in other health professions in recent years have enjoyed a very
high rate of acceptance. Biology majors electing to continue study
in graduate school have gone on to become highly successful biological
researchers and educators at many universities throughout the
For more information about the Undergraduate Program in Biology, contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.
The Undergraduate Program in Biology