Biology (B.S.)

Program Summary

The bachelor of science in biology develops students' abilities to address complex questions about the natural world, and prepares students for careers in research, health care, science writing, and many other related disciplines. Through small classes, collaborative research experiences, and intentional faculty mentoring, students develop skills to explore the natural world in its many forms, from cellular signaling and genetic expression through anatomy and physiology to communities and ecosystems. 

Our broad-based degree in biology also prepares you for a wide range of health-related professions and professional programs, including: medical school, dental school, optometry school, pharmacy school, veterinary school, physical therapy school, physician assistant school and others. The majority of students applying for medical school are trained within biology programs because the vast majority of the basic science coursework in medical schools is in biology. Upper division biology courses such as physiology, histology, genetics, and microbiology will prepare you for your first two years of medical school. 

I learned a lot about the art of education from my time spent in Samford University's biology department. I studied my professor's delivery of their material and demeanor in the classroom just as much as I studied the curriculum they taught.Allan Phipps '96, Albert Einstein Distinguished Fellow Educator 2012, 2010 Broward County (Fla.) Teacher of the Year, 2007 SeaWorld/Busch Gardens/Fujifilm National Environmental Educator of the Year

A second advantage of this broad training is it is foundational in readying you for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Optometry Admission Test (OAT), Dental Admission Test (DAT), the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and other graduate and professional exams. In applying for professional school, you will have the advantage of having recommendation letters written by faculty who know you both academically and personally. You will also have an academic and pre-health advisor who will make sure you take the appropriate courses and consider options within the health care area. 

Finally, an active prehealth program sponsors service projects, speakers from different areas of health care, exam preparation, and informal mentoring to those going through the process. Engagement in a liberal arts education creates well-rounded, culturally aware scientists and physicians who are poised for successful careers.

Objectives and Goals

Our overarching goals for students graduating from our department is that they are:

Knowledgeable - Students will demonstrate a working knowledge of core concepts in biology. 
Informed - Students will find, evaluate, and critique primary literature to produce informed hypotheses and draw logical conclusions.
Analytical - Students will apply the scientific process to develop testable hypotheses, design ethical experiments, and collect and analyze data using appropriate statistical methods and models. 
Articulate - Students will competently communicate science in both written and oral formats to diverse audiences.
Skilled - Students will demonstrate proficiency in laboratory and field techniques and apply these techniques appropriately.
Inclusive - Students will understand the dynamic interactions between ecological systems and a growing global human population.

View Curriculum

Is This Program for Me?

Whether you are interested in the secrets of modern cell and molecular biology, the marvels of the human body, the wonders of field zoology, the stewardship of the environment, or the ecology of the Amazon rainforest a Samford biology major offers you rich opportunities to develop your interests. As a biology major, you will develop professional skills in laboratory and field settings, conduct original research, work alongside faculty on research projects, and have faculty guiding you toward graduate study, medical fields, or the science career of your choice.

Samford biology majors become physicians, educators, researchers, successful entrepreneurs, dentists, veterinarians, field biologists, science journalists, marine biologists, environmental scientists, optometrists and other health care professionals.

What Makes Us Different?

First, in Samford's Biology program, students take an active role in shaping their educational experience. The program is:

Student Centered - Biology majors are flexible so student can develop their own interests, explore the breadth of biological systems, and prepare for careers they choose.

Research Rich - Biology majors have opportunities to engage in faculty-mentored research from their freshman year. Many biology students present their research at local and regional meetings where they interact with faculty and professionals in the field.

Faculty invested - Faculty care about and work closely with students throughout their academic careers. All students are advised by faculty, who help plan students’ academic future, but also guide them into networks that will aid them in research and career preparation. The high quality of the Samford biology majors is universally admired and we have an excellent record of placing students in top graduate and professional programs.

Career Preparation

Market Ready

Students in Biological and Environmental Sciences are unusually well prepared, with particular strengths in these areas:

Academics - Students in Biological and Environmental Sciences use active, hands-on learning to develop the laboratory, field, analytical, and communication skills that make arts and sciences graduates highly sought after by many employers.

Research - Students at Samford have many opportunities to conduct research in collaboration with faculty members in a laboratory or field setting, often resulting in publications and presentations.

Graduate and Professional Exams - The broad curriculum in Biological and Environmental Sciences is designed to provide a solid academic foundation and then allow students and their mentors to customize their advanced study at Samford to support strong performance on entrance exams such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), Optometry Admission Test (OAT), Dental Admission Test (DAT), Graduate Record Exam (GRE) and other graduate and professional exams.

Career and Interview Support - Faculty and Career Development specialists work with students to refine application documents, conduct mock interviews, and develop preparedness for all phases of the job search or application to professional or graduate programs.

Mentoring - Biology majors work individually with faculty mentors and course professors to identify and refine career goals, build skills and experiences to prepare for that career track, and make the transition from Samford to the next step in that student’s career pathway.

Career Opportunities

Careers in Biology and Environmental Science include a wide variety of opportunities, some of which require only an undergraduate degree and some of which involve further study.

There are newly-emerging careers in the rapidly changing disciplines of Biology and Environmental Science. Many students find careers after graduation in research, consulting, business, biotechnology, and a wide variety of other fields. Faculty mentors at Samford work closely with students to focus career interests and prepare students for these careers.

Other students take advantage of graduate programs, which in the non-medical biological sciences are usually fully funded and provide a stipend for students. Students seeking graduate programs receive careful mentoring from faculty mentors. Graduate degrees in biology have the potential to lead to a variety of careers, including research, education, administration, biotechnology, business, non-profit management, and government.

In the medical fields, many of our students pursue applied careers as doctors, physician’s assistants, physical therapists, dentists, physical therapists, optometrists, or veterinarians. Students also may be more interested in research careers in these same disciplines, or in combinations of research and clinical practice. These programs require advanced degrees. The biology department offers intensive mentoring to support students through preparations and applications to professional programs. There are also a wide variety of opportunities for students with an undergraduate degree in biology who do not want to pursue other advanced degrees to work in medical research laboratories or in field research, and a major in biology helps to build the skills that students need to seek out and acquire these kinds of positions upon graduation.

Internships

Internships are a critical part of the college experience. An internship provides a real-world context for academics, helps students discerning their future career path, builds connections to future careers, establishes relationships with diverse mentors, and identifies pathways to potential graduate and professional study. Samford’s major in Biological and Environmental Sciences has a highly customizable internship program that places students in internships that range from biotechnology startups, major research laboratories, and hospital to urban agriculture education programs and non-profits like the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Biology faculty members mentor students in the internship process. We encourage all of our students to participate in at least one internship while at Samford. Faculty mentors help locate internship sites, design appropriate goals and activities, and asses the final outcome for the student and their internship host.

Notable Alumni

Hugh Brindley '67 is a maxillofacial surgeon and medical missionary to Mexico.

Jeff Cole ’16, earned a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

Bradley Dennis ’73 is a physician and retired Chief Medical Officer of Brookwood Medical Center.

David Osula ’15 earned an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.

Allan Phipps ‘96 is an Albert Einstein Distinguished Fellow Educator, Teacher of the Year and National Environmental Educator of the Year.

Charles R. Woods, Jr. '81 is Interim Chair of the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Infectious Diseases, at the University of Louisville School of Medicine.