Undergraduate Training

Studying Biology at WashU

Biology is an exciting, diverse field ranging from the molecular biology of individual cells to interactions among entire populations of organisms. At Washington University, the biology department has a nationally recognized research program, a distinguished history, and a strong commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching. More WashU students major in biology than any other offering in Arts & Sciences. An extraordinary number (more than 75%) of our undergraduates participate in research before graduation.

The Biology Major

The department offers seven majors. In addition to the biology major, students interested in a specific subfield may major in one of five optional tracks. The department also offers a major in environmental biology. No matter which major or track you choose, the program in biology provides a thorough education in the history of scientific discovery in biology, the logical and statistical procedures used to formulate and to test biological hypotheses, and technical skills needed for conducting contemporary biological research.

Biology Major
Ecology and Evolution Track
Genomics and Computational Biology Track
Molecular Biology and Biochemistry Track
Neuroscience Track
Microbiology Track
Environmental Biology Major

Beyond the Major

A high percentage of undergraduate biology majors go on to earn advanced degrees, either in medicine or in research fields. Over the last 6 years, 72% of the biology majors who applied to medical school were accepted, compared to the 45% national acceptance rate of biology majors into medical school during the same period. Some of our recent graduates elect to earn two advanced degrees in a combined degree program; they obtain their MD and PhD by enrolling in a Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP) at a research-oriented medical school.

Explore Biology Career Options
Biology Career Resources & Outcomes

Biology Courses
Biology Majors Handbook

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Research & Opportunities


Earn credit for non-classroom learning in the life sciences. Students can shadow a physician, participate in patient-oriented research projects, and more.

Explore internship options


There are many ways to do independent research as a biology student, including for course credit through the Biology 200 and Biology 500 courses. Summer research opportunities are also available.

Learn about research opportunities


Our partners at Tyson Research Center, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology, and more all offer fellowship and internship opportunities.

Find a fellowship

The MedPrep Program

Learn accurate, honest, and detailed information on how to become the most competitive and prepared applicant to medical school possible.

Discover MedPrep

The PreHealth Program

For students interested in working in healthcare, the PreHealth program offers specialized support. Washington University’s life sciences programs are outstanding and well known to all the top medical schools in the country, including our own School of Medicine. Faculty members — noted researchers in their own right — teach the required pre-health courses. Our PreHealth program gets students on the track to working in their medical field of choice.

PreHealth Program Details

Careers in Biology

What can you do with your biology degree? Review details about forging your path and finding career opportunities in the life sciences, healthcare, and biotechnology fields.

Explore Career Options

First-Year Programs in Biology

What makes a virus? Why are there such drastic differences between certain breeds of dogs? How can you become the most prepared and competitive applicant for medical school?

Through specialized courses and programs just for first-year students, budding biologists at WashU have the opportunity to tackle these questions and more.  

Browse first-year experiences

Biotech Explorers Pathway

The Biotech Explorers Pathway is a unique, multi-semester opportunity for first-year students to connect science, business, technology, and engineering at the start of undergraduate studies.

Natural Sciences Learning Center

The Natural Sciences Learning Center (NSLC) is a study center for undergraduates located close to the teaching laboratories and classrooms.

The center is a home base for our first-year and sophomore students taking Bio 2960 (Principles of Biology I), and Bio 2970 (Principles of Biology II).

Within the Center

  • Student lounge
  • Active Learning Center classroom with 6 tables seating 6 each, plus extra chairs
  • Conference room
  • Eight multipurpose rooms for TA's office hours and study groups


Life Sciences Building, Rooms 104-117


Monday – Thursday: 7 am – 10 pm
Friday: 7 am – 6 pm
Saturday: 9 am – 5 pm
Sunday: 11 am – 10pm

My time in the WashU biology department has been informative through many different avenues - class, lab, independent research, visiting researcher talks, and more. I have learned the most, however, from the collaborative environment my classes encourage. I'm not expected to be a passive learner, but I am challenged to be an active learner, both by teaching and learning from my peers. Through discussion sections, presentations, group projects, and study groups, I have gained the valuable skill of teamwork in biology. I am immensely appreciative of this environment and know I will be able to apply my experience here in my future career.

―Maya DuttaEnvironmental Biology, Class of 2019

Have questions?

For more information about the biology program, please contact the director of undergraduate studies. 

contact the department