Offered as: major

Do you dream of curing illnesses, conserving species, or exploring marine life?

When you major in biology, you begin your studies with a solid foundation in fundamental biological principles and practices. Then you'll focus on your specific interests, such as cell and molecular biology, organismal biology, ecology and evolution, or the biology of marine organisms.

We offer programs of study leading to bachelor's degrees in biology and marine biology. Both programs emphasize field and laboratory opportunities, so you will learn biology while studying living organisms. Our semi-rural campus and nearby coastal environments will be your living laboratories.

Our faculty engage in research at the forefront of their fields, with a strong focus on marine biology, ecological and evolutionary genetics, and integrative biology, in which we use diverse approaches to study the complexity of biological organisms.

You'll be prepared for careers in industry and government in areas such as animal biology, biotechnology, botany, cell biology, developmental biology, education, and medicine—or to pursue research in fields such as biomedicine, the environment, and marine science. Our curriculum will also prepare you for graduate study in biology, medicine, and other health professions.

Special opportunities

  • Internships: Gain hands-on experience at environmental centers, hospitals, labs, veterinary hospitals, and the region's zoo
  • Research: Discoverunparalleled opportunities for undergraduate research experience
  • Travel: Participate in one of our expeditions to the Galapagos Islands
  • Community: Join the Biology Association and Pre-Health Society

Major in Biology or Marine Biology

You'll progress from the study of biology's fundamental principles and practices to electives in your own areas of research interest and career preparation. To guide your progress, we offer advising tracks in:

  • general biology
  • marine biology
  • cellular and molecular biology
  • evolution and ecology
  • health professions

For the major, you'll complete 120 credits comprised of courses in biology plus related science and mathematics.

Pre-medical studies: As a biology major, you'll be prepared to continue your studies in medical school or other health professional programs (such as dental, optometric, osteopathic, podiatric, or veterinary school). Learn more about the pre-med/pre-health program.

Expand your career options with advanced study

  • MS in Biology/Marine Biology: Our master's program offers degrees in biology and marine biology
  • Master's of Arts in Teaching Biology: The department works with the School of Education to prepare highly qualified teachers, providing opportunities for students to receive professional licensure as a Teacher of Biology, Grades 8-12
  • PhD in Marine Science: Earn your advanced degree in marine science in the UMass intercampus Marine Science doctoral program
  • PhD in Biomedical Engineering & Biotechnology: Advance your studies at the intersection of biology and engineering in the UMass intercampus Biomedical Engineering and Biotechnology PhD program

Related academic areas

Explore more

Success story

Sam Smith

Samantha Smith '15

Read Samantha's story

Career placements

  • Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center
  • Brigham and Women's Hospital
  • Cape Cod Veterinary Specialists
  • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
  • Genzyme
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Millenium Pharmaceuticals
  • MIT Lincoln Laboratory
  • Southcoast Hospitals Group
  • The Spine and Orthopedic Center
  • Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Zoo New England

Sample graduate schools

  • Baylor College of Medicine
  • Brown University
  • Johnson & Wales University
  • New York University


Ken Oliveira
Chair, Department of Biology
Science and Engineering Building, Room 321

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