K-State Division of Biology

Undergraduate Information for Prospective Students

  • General Info
  • Application & Contacts
  • Degree Programs
  • Strengths
  • Scholarships, Awards & Opportunities
  • Careers Opportunities
General Information: Course List

Undergraduate Studies Office
Nancy Thompson & Dr. Kent Kerby work in the Biology Undergraduate Studies/Advising Office. These two dedicated individuals help undergraduate students schedule their course work and stay on track to accomplish their goals.

K-State Biology is Diverse

Approximately 665 undergraduate students are distributed among three majors, General Biology, Fisheries, Wildlife & Conservation Biology, and Microbiology. These students are taught and advised by 55 Division of Biology faculty.

In addition, we have a Biology Undergraduate Studies/Advising Office (103 Ackert) that is open all day on a "no appointments needed" basis.In recent years about 135 biological sciences majors have received bachelor’s degrees annually. About half of our graduates immediately pursue advanced educational opportunities distributed as: 43% to medical school; 32% to other professional health programs (e.g. dental, optometry, physical therapy, veterinary, etc.); 16% to graduate (M.S. & Ph.D.) programs; and about 9% into programs in business, education, engineering and law. The great majority of those who go directly from a bachelor’s degree into the job market find positions in an area requiring scientific expertise.

K-State Biology Prepares Students for Success

Over the past four years (‘03-‘07) about half of all KSU students accepted into medical, dental and optometry schools have had majors in the Division of Biology. Over the past four years 70 Division of Biology majors have been admitted to medical school, 21 to dental school, 27 to optometry school and 49 to vet school.

Division of Biology undergraduates fare exceedingly well in national scholarship competition. Since 1990 Division majors have received 22 Goldwater Scholarships (a prestigious national scholarship for students in science, mathematics and engineering). Other national scholarships received by Division majors since 1990 include 1 Rhodes, 2 Marshall, 3 Truman, 3 Udall, 2 Rotary International, 2 Phi Kappa Phi, 3 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Predoctoral, 3 Fulbright,2 USA Today, and 2 Gilman.

We have excellent graduation rates. Forty percent of biological science graduates at KSU receive their bachelor’s degree within four years of high school graduation and 75% have their bachelor’s within five years of high school graduation. About 40 percent of our seniors have a 3.5 or better KSU grade point average and almost 70 percent have a 3.0 or better GPA.

Brett Sandercock, professor in Avain Ecology, studies species on Konza Prairie with Wildlife Biology Students


Outstanding Faculty for Academics and Research

Among the 55 Division of Biology faculty members are many specialists in all areas of biology, from microbes to mammals and from molecules to ecosystems. All of these faculty are involved in teaching an array of 85 courses, 60 of which are available to undergraduates and most maintain active research programs. The faculty obtain an average of $10,000,000 annually in competitive grants to maintain those research programs.

Jenna Kenndey

Student Employment

Teaching and research activities of the Division of Biology generate part time jobs for about 100 undergraduate students. Further, about 70 students per year gain valuable "hands on" science experience by participating in undergraduate research problem courses (where the student pursues a research problem in the laboratory of a biology faculty member). In addition, funding from several sources is available to provide scholarship support for students involved in research. Currently we have about 20 annual awards of $3500 each for students who wish an in-depth (450 hours per year) research experience. And the KSU Center for Basic Cancer Research annually awards two dozen or more $1,000 scholarships to students who will pursue one semester of research.

Major Funding Encourages State
of the Art Educational Facilities

The university and the National Science Foundation provided major funding for the restructuring of our introductory Principles of Biology course into a "studio format". The studio format (introduced in 1997) is considered to be the "state of the art" method of teaching college science and combines short faculty lectures, hands-on laboratory experiments, computer simulations and problem solving (the studio has 45 computers), and opportunities for student/student and student/staff interactions in the same physical setting. A studio section contains a maximum 80 students under the direction of 2 faculty and 2 teaching aides.

In competition with the top research universities in the nation, the Division of Biology has been awarded three prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biological Science Education grants: 1991-1996, $1.2 million; 1998-2005, $1.8 million; and 2002-2008, $1.6 million. These grants have provided "state of the art" lab equipment for three "capstone" undergraduate lab courses in Immunology, Molecular Genetics and Virology, updated lab equipment for our General Microbiology and Human Anatomy/Physiology courses, over 80 new microscopes for the Principles of Biology studio, and conversion of two lecture halls to multimedia presentation classrooms.

The Biology Division manages and oversees a broad spectrum of research activities on the nearby 8600 acre Konza Prairie. The Konza Prairie has been designated by the National Science Foundation as its Tall Grass Prairie Long Term Ecological Research Site and is supported by the N.S.F. at $700,000/year. The large expanse of native prairie, coupled with its close proximity to the university, offers unique opportunities for studies (including undergraduate research projects) in ecology and wildlife biology. The Konza wildlife includes a herd of about 150 bison.

Scholarship Availability

To encourage students to pursue careers in biological science research or medicine the Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant provides for in-depth undergraduate research experience via two-year awards (currently $3500/year and a $500/year travel stipend). Each year we will be starting 15 freshman or sophomore students in the research program. And the Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE) supports another five students in research with the same stipends.

June Sherrid Scholarships provided by the KSU Center for Basic Cancer Research and the Division of Biology go to biological science students whose career interests can be related to the betterment of human health. The Sherrid Scholarships, valued at $700 or $1000 annually and renewable for up to four years, help support over 80 students each year. Of those scholarship awards (typically) about 60 are renewals and 20 to 25 are initial awards.

Opportunities & Connections for
a Versatile Education

Each year several KSU Division of Biology majors study for a semester or two at a foreign university (sponsored by KSU’s Study Abroad Program). Each summer several of our majors obtain research appointments across the U.S., sponsored by such agencies as the National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institute, medical schools and graduate schools; at least a few dozen continue to pursue research projects in KSU laboratories; and many pursue internships in industry, with state and federal wildlife conservation programs and with individual M.D.’s, dentists, veterinarians, etc.

A Federal Fisheries & Wildlife Cooperative Unit is associated with the Division of Biology and housed in our facilities. This unit and its three faculty members have greatly contributed to programs, research and educational activities in fisheries and wildlife biology.

Continued Improvement

The Division of Biology continues to change in both space (the completion in 2003 of the Chalmers Hall addition to Ackert Hall added 10 new research labs to Biology) and faculty (between 1998 and 2004 20 new faculty have joined the Division).


Application and Contact Information

Office of Admissions

K-State's Online application

K-State's Office of Financial Assistance

K-State's Undergraduate Catalog

If you have further questions or concerns directly related to your major in the Division of Biology please contact:

Kent Kerby, Coordinator
Office of Undergraduate Studies
Division of Biology
Kansas State University
Ackert Hall 103
Manhattan, KS  66506

(785) 532-1402



Degree Programs

Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science

Biology Minor


Concurrent B.S. & M.S.

(specific areas of research are tailored to the student's interests)

The College of Arts and Sciences require a minimum of 124 credit hours for graduation. Those credit hours can be divided into four major categories:

  • Major Field Requirements
  • Supporting science requirements
  • General education requirements
  • Free electives

Biology B.S. or B.A.

Core Course Requirements (37)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Principles of Biology (4)
  • Organismic Biology (5)
  • Modern Genetics (4)
  • Cell Biology (3)
  • Evolution (3)
  • Fundamentals of Ecology (3)
  • Biology Electives (15)

General Education Requirements (32-38)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Expository Writing I (3)
  • Expository Writing II (3)
  • Public Speaking (2-3)
  • Humanities - 4 courses of your choice (11-12)
  • Social Science - 4 courses of your choice (12)
  • International Study & General Education (0-6)

Supporting Science Requirements (28-34)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Mathematics
    • Analytical Geometry and Calculus I (4).  For many students College Algebra (3) and/or Trigonometry (3) may be necessary prerequisites to the calculus course.
  • Physics
    • Gen. Physics I (4) and Gen. Physics II (4)
  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry I (4), Chemistry II (4) & General Organic Chemistry + Lab (5) OR Organic Chemistry I & II + Lab (8)
  • Biochemistry
    • General Biochemistry (3)

Microbiology B.S. or B.A.

Core Course Requirements (35)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Principles of Biology (4)
  • General Microbiology (4)
  • Modern Genetics (4)
  • Genetics of Microorganisms (3)
  • Cell Biology (3)
  • Immunology (4)
  • Micro Electives (13)

General Education Requirements (32-38 credit hours)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Expository Writing I (3)
  • Expository Writing II (3)
  • Public Speaking (2-3)
  • Humanities - 4 courses of your choice (11-12)
  • Social Science - 4 courses of your choice (12)
  • International Study & General Education (0-6)

Supporting Science Requirements (28-34)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Mathematics
    • Analytical Geometry and Calculus I (4).  For many students College Algebra (3) and/or Trigonometry (3) may be necessary prerequisites to the calculus course.
  • Physics
    • Gen. Physics I (4) and Gen. Physics II (4)
  • Chemistry
    • Chemistry I (4), Chemistry II (4) & General Organic Chemistry + Lab (5) OR Organic Chemistry I & II + Lab (8)
  • Biochemistry
    • General Biochemistry (3)

Fish, Wildlife or Conservation Biology B.S. or B.A.

Core Course Requirements (34)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Principles of Biology (4)
  • Organisms Biology (5)
  • Modern Genetics (4)
  • Wildlife Conservation (3)
  • Fundamentals of Ecology & Lab (4)
  • Population Biology (3)
  • Biology Electives (6)
Choose from one of the following options to define the curriculum to the student's interest:
Fish, Ecology & Management (21) Wildlife, Ecology & Management (18) Biodiversity & Conservation (18)
  • Physiol. Adapt. Animals
  • Ichthyology
  • Limnology
  • Fish Ecology
  • Fish. Mgmt. & Tech.
  • Aquatic Entomology
  • Physiol. Adapt. Animals
  • Ornithology
  • Mammalogy
  • Taxonomy of Flowering Plants
  • Wildlife Management & Tech
  • Aquatic Entomology
  • Physiol. Adapt. Animals
  • Plant Physiology
  • Principles Conserv. Biol.
  • & courses totaling at least 11 hrs. selected from Ichthyology (3); Ornithology (3); Mammalogy (3); Plant Tax. (4); Biology Fungi (3); Gen. Entomology (3); Dendrology I (2); Dendrology II (2)

General Education Requirements (32-38 credit hours)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Expository Writing I (3)
  • Expository Writing II (3)
  • Public Speaking (2-3)
  • Humanities - 4 courses of your choice (11-12)
  • Social Science - 4 courses of your choice (12)
  • International Study & General Education (0-6)

Supporting Science Requirements (27-31)
The number in parentheses states the number of credit hours involved in each course or block of courses.

  • Mathematics
    • College Algebra, Trigonometry, OR Calculus (3-4)
  • Chemistry
    • Chem I, Chem II; and Gen Organic Chem with lab or Intro to Organic and Biochemistry  (13)
  • Physics
    • General Physics I and II or Descriptive Physics   (5-8)
  • Statistics
    • Biometrics I and II  (6)

Biology Minor

  • BIOL 198 Principles of Biology
  • BIOL 201 Organismic Biology
  • Twelve additional hours of biology credit, eight of which must be at the 400 level or above.  All 12 hours must be taken from the KSU Division of Biology.


Concurrent B.S. & M.S Degree Program
The combined B.S./M.S. program in Biology provides exceptional undergraduates with the opportunity to obtain both a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in 5 years, a shorter time than typically required to earn a B.S. plus M.S. if both degrees are pursued separately.  

The goal of the program is to produce biologists with in-depth understanding of a sub-area of biology and extensive laboratory research experience. The curriculum will include both course work and research experience.  Completion of the program will provide students with an advantage both in pursuing work in the private sector and in pursuing a further advanced degree.  

To enter this program, a student must be nominated by a Biology graduate faculty member (who will be the student’s major professor) at any time from the second semester of the sophomore year through the second semester of the junior year (when he/she has accumulated 45-90 credit hours toward the B.S. degree and has completed BIOL 201 or BIOL455 and BIOL 450 or BIOL529, his/her math requirement, and at least two semesters of chemistry).  A student may be nominated during the senior year with special permission from the chair of the Biology Graduate Affairs Committee. After nomination, the application process is the same as for the traditional M.S. degree, with the following exceptions:

  1. completion of a bachelor’s degree is not required prior to acceptance into the program.
  2. the GRE score requirement will be waived.
  3. the application must include a recommendation from a member of the Division of Biology faculty, who will serve as the student’s major professor and who agrees to support the student as a graduate research assistant during the 5th year.
  4. Minimum standards for regular admission and for retention in the program require a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.5 and a G.P.A. of 3.5 in required math and science courses.

Should the student meet these requirements and the requirements of the Graduate Affairs Committee, admission will be provisional, pending the award of the B.S. degree. The B.S. degree may be awarded at any time following the completion of the undergraduate degree requirements. Alternatively, the B.S. and M.S. degrees may be awarded concurrently.  

The student will work closely with the major professor to form a supervisory committee and file a program of study by the end of the second semester of the junior year. The undergraduate advisor will continue to advise the student in academic progress toward the B.S. degree, and the major professor will supervise the student’s academic progress and research project for the M.S. degree.  Research toward the M.S. thesis will begin as soon as possible, but typically will begin during the junior year.

K-State Division of Biology Strengths


The Office of Undergraduate Studies is located in room 103 of Ackert Hall for the specific purpose of aiding and advising biology majors.  The office is staffed 8 hours per day and 5 days per week, by the faculty member who coordinates the under­graduate advising program and an experienced and very knowledgeable ­administrative specialist.  The Undergraduate Studies Office in addition to its advising role also keeps up to date records on biology majors and serves as a central location for information about courses, employment opportunities, professional school applica­tions, graduation  require­­ments, coming events and the deadlines for getting things done.  No appointments are necessary for seeing the staff in this office; as a problem or question arises it can be dealt with immediately.

Initially your advising will be done by the staff of the Undergraduate Studies Office, but as your interests become more defined you will likely be assigned to one of the approximately 25 biology faculty advisors whose expertise best matches your interests.  Of course you are strongly encouraged to use the staff and facilities of the Undergraduate Studies Office throughout your undergraduate program and request a specific advisor or an advisor change if you so wish.  Regularly meet with and get to know your advisor(s).  They can help you in many ways.


The Division of Biology at K-State University is a large and diverse unit that was initiated in 1968 by combining faculty from the departments of botany, zoology, microbiology, and other bio­logical areas.  Individuals working in the Division of Biology include nearly 60 Ph.D. holding faculty members, numerous research associates and  postdoctoral fellows, 50 to 60 graduate students (working toward Master's or Ph.D. degrees), over 600 undergraduate majors, an accounting office staff, an electronics shop staff, a stock room manager, numerous office specialists, and scores of research lab technicians and part-time student employees.

Of the approximately 40 active KSU faculty with the rank of Distinguished University Professor, five of them are currently conducting teaching and research in the Division of Biology.  There are approximately four university-wide teaching awards and one university-wide advising award given per year; in the 2004-2009 period seven of  these awards went to Division of Biology faculty


These individuals conduct most of their activities in one (or more) of five areas:  Ackert Hall - a five-floor structure which is the site of all biology classes, and  many research labs; Chalmers Hall - a newly constructed addition (2003) to Ackert Hall which houses 10 research laboratories in genetics, developmental biology, immunology, molecular biology and virology; Bushnell Hall - home base of some of the ecology, systematics, fisheries and wildlife research; Leasure Hall, the location of the Federal Fisheries and Wildlife Coop Unit; and the 8600 acre Konza Prairie located about 8 miles from the main campus.

Courses & Improvement

Beyond the introductory Principles of Biology course we offer over fifty biology classes for undergraduate enrollment.  The general subject areas of these courses include 13 courses in the zoological sciences, e.g., ichthyology, mammalogy, ornithology, parasitology, animal physiology, etc.; five in the botanical sciences, e.g., plant taxonomy, plant ecology, plant physiology, etc.; 12 in immunology, virology and bacteriology; 11 in genetics, cellular, developmental and molecular biology; seven in various aspects of human biology, e.g., anatomy, physiology, aging and disease; and seven courses that have largely ecological/environmental emphases.  We also offer a course by which students can gain course credit for serving as teaching aides in biology lab courses and another through which  credit is awarded for undergraduate research. 

Of those fifty-plus biology courses there are three classes where the lecture component of the course enrolls 150 to 190 students, six courses where the lecture enrolls 90 to 150 students, while the number of students enrolled in the remaining courses ranges from 10 to 90.  The majority of the larger lecture courses have multi section laboratory or recitation sections that meet at least once weekly and divide the larger classes into groups of 30 to 40 students

After three years of planning, garnering monetary resources, computer purchases and room renovation our introductory Principles of Biology course was introduced (fall 97 semester) in its new studio format.  A studio group consists of a maximum of 80 students who meet twice a week in two-hour sessions under the direction of two faculty members and two graduate teaching assistants.  A studio format allows the presentation of short lectures, carrying out of computer exercises that emphasize information transfer, problem solving and simulations, conducting hands-on experiments (microscopes, dissections, chemical assays, etc.) and questions and discussion in one common setting.  There is one computer per two students (and these have been replaced with newer models twice since 1997) and the computer simulations and many of the hands-on experiments are conducted by student pairs.  There are over 40 (new) dissecting microscopes and over 40 (new) light microscopes.  Some of the course content is on the Internet and students have access to this information whenever they desire.

In competition with the top research universities in the nation, the Division of Biology has been awarded three prestigious Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biological Science Education grants:  1991-1996, $1.2 million; 1998-2002, $1.8 million; and 2002-2006, $1.6 million.  In addition to providing many students (24 to 30 per year) with undergraduate research stipends, these grants have allowed numerous improvement to our undergraduate educational programs.  For example, the grants have provided state of the art lab equipment for three capstone undergraduate lab courses in Immunology, Molecular Genetics and Virology, updated lab equipment for our General Microbiology and Human Anatomy/Physiology courses, purchased new microscopes for the Principles of Biology studio, and allowed conversion of two lecture halls to multimedia presentation classrooms.  Further, the grants provided the faculty release time to organize the new Principles of Biology studio course and to update our genetics offering, i.e., a newly organized Modern Genetics course followed by advanced undergrad courses in Microbial, Eukaryotic, and Population Genetics.


The Division of Biology faculty has the expertise and interest to direct student study and investigation at all levels of biological organization -- molecular, cellular, organismic, population, and the ecosystem.  Faculty have active research programs in the areas of virology, bacteriology, fungal studies, parasitology, genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, cancer biology, immunology, plant systematics, plant physiology, animal physiology, fresh water biology, fisheries, animal physiology, ornithology, evolutionary biology, animal behavior, and numerous areas of ecology.  Just brief descriptions of the individual research projects encompass an entire booklet (available upon request from the Division of Biology).  In recent years the faculty have brought in an average of ten million dollars per year of funding from federal and private foundation granting agencies.

There are three areas of interdisciplinary research in the Division of Biology that involve the participation of a dozen or more faculty members, are well supported by granting agencies, and provide numerous employment and research opportunities for undergraduates.  First, Kansas State University is the state of Kansas' Center for Basic Cancer Research and the Division of Biology faculty provide the great majority of the Center's personnel.  Faculty of the Center collaborate on such broad problems as the molecular biology and cell growth regulation of tumor cells and normal cells, the mechanism of action of anticancer drugs and tumor immunology.

A second major area of interdisciplinary research is focused upon the 8600-acre Konza Prairie which was purchased by the Nature Conservancy and is administered by the Division of Biology.  The Konza Prairie is the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Tall Grass Prairie Long Term Ecological Research Site and NSF grants of over two million dollars per year go to Biology faculty research on the Konza.  Faculty from within and outside the Division of Biology with expertise in all components of the prairie ecosystem, e.g. vegetation, mammals, birds, insects, soil, soil fauna, rainfall, runoff, etc., have combined their efforts in a long term study of the effects of climate, fire and grazing on the prairie.  The grazing studies include native grazers, i.e. a herd of over 200 bison.  More broadly the Konza Prairie is a unique outdoor laboratory for research that will contribute to a better understanding of basic ecological principles and provide a benchmark for changes in our ecosystem.

The third and newest area of major faculty collaboration is an area called ecological genomics.  This new field of study brings modern genetic and molecular techniques to apply on environmental/ecological problems.

A number of undergraduate opportunities in the Division of Biology relate very directly to our research programs.  During the course of a year over 100 undergraduates will have been employed in part time jobs in our offices and labs.  Further, an average of 35 students per semester earn course credit and gain valuable experience by pursuing undergraduate research projects in our labs.


SCTE-sponsored Undergraduate Research Scholar Application


Scholarships, Awards & Opportunities

The Division of Biology is fortunate to attract high quality students into its programs.  The average ACT composite score of our entering frosh is 26 and typically 40 to 50 percent of our entering frosh have ACT composites that are 28 or higher.  It is not surprising, then, that our graduation rates and student GPA=s considerably exceed the university average.  Forty percent of our biological science graduates have their bachelor=s degrees within 4 years of graduating from high school and seventy-five percent have their degree within five years of high school graduation.  Among our students with senior standing, 40 percent have a GPA of above 3.5 and about 70 percent have a GPA of above 3.0 (and in a rigorously graded science curriculum).

Promising students are given encouragement and guidance in applying for national level scholarships.  These efforts have frequently paid off.  Since 1992 Division of Biology majors have won two Marshall and one Brasenose Scholarship (both of these scholarships pay all expenses for two years of post bachelor=s degree study in England), 19 Goldwater Scholarships (a prestigious national science, math and engineering scholarship that pays all undergraduate college expenses for one or two years), two Truman Scholarships (pays $30,000 for four years of undergraduate/graduate education, two Fulbright Scholarships (pays up to $15,000 for a year of post bachelor=s study in a foreign country, three Udall Scholarships (a national environmental scholarship established in 1996 that is worth $5000), one Phi Kappa Phi Fellowship (a national award that pays up to $7000 for a year of graduate study), and three Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biomedical Predoctoral Fellowships (pays $15,000 per year for four years of Ph.D. study).

The KSU Center for Basic Cancer Research provides $50,000 to $100,000 per year (depending on interest rates) in scholarships from an endowed fund established by the late June Hull Sherrid.  These Sherrid Scholarships are initially awarded to both incoming frosh and enrolled upperclassmen and are typically valued at $700 to $1000 annually.  The scholarships are renewable through the senior year and, if obtained in the frosh year, are potentially a $2800 to $4000 scholarship package.  Currently about 70 students hold these Cancer Center Sherrid Scholarships.  Eligibility requirements for the Sherrid Scholarships include that the applicant have:  1) Graduated from a Kansas high school, 2) A stated career interest in the betterment of human health, 3) Declared a major in biology or microbiology majors and 4) Shown excellent academic performance (for incoming frosh this academic performance includes an ACT composite score of 28 or better).  Also awarded (only to upperclassmen) are up to six ($700 to $1000) scholarships for students in the Fisheries and Wildlife curriculum.

A goal of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute is to encourage more high quality students to pursue careers in medical practice or medical research.  Our approach to this (supported by our $1.8 million 1998-2002 and $1.6 million 2002-2006 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Biological Sciences Education grants) is to provide an early and in-depth research experience under the mentorship of a biological sciences faculty member.  Currently 15 freshmen/ sophomores are selected (based on college admission test scores, GPA, rigor of program, goal of an M.D. or Ph.D., and desire to get involved in research) annually as research scholars.  Each research scholar is expected to devote 450 hours per year (for two years) toward a research project.  For this effort the student receives 1) financial support for two years at $3500 per year, 2) an annual $500 allotment for travel to scientific meetings, 3) the opportunity (over two years) to gain publishable results and 4) a set of experiences that will be most useful in graduate and medical school applications.

The KSU Division of Biology is also a participant in a large block grant to Kansas universities called Kansas IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence (K-INBRE).  One segment of the K-INBRE grant supports four to six students annually as undergraduate research scholars.  The goals, selection criteria, time commitments, and stipends for K-INBRE scholars are the same as for the previously discussed Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) undergraduate research scholars.  Hence, combining all first- and second-year HHMI and K-INBRE Research Scholars, KSU has close to 40 students pursuing in-depth research (at $3500/year) annually).  Further, the Basic Cancer Research Center annually awards approximately 50 $1000 scholarships for students who agree to pursue a one-semester research project (5-10 hours/week time commitment) in a laboratory whose research thrust relates to a better understanding of cancer.  And, each year the Division of Biology sponsors an Undergraduate Research Forum (poster format) at which 40 or more students present their research work.

In addition to scholarships and research awards,  the Division of Biology recognizes superior achievements of its majors via choosing Most Promising Student (MPS) and Outstanding Senior award winners. Each year eight to ten sophomores and juniors are selected for the MPS Awards and one individual is chosen for the Outstanding Senior Award. For both awards students are nominated by the faculty and the winners are chosen by a faculty committee whose selection criteria includes academic record, activities and achievements outside the classroom and performance in an interview with the committee. Student winners are honored at a Saturday luncheon and receive cash awards.


Post Graduation Opportunities


The short answer to the above question is that the great majority go on to jobs and careers where their college science education is put to use.  Some data to support this claim comes from KSU students graduating in the sixteen-year period of 1993 through 2007 with biological sciences majors.  During that time period there were 1,809  graduates (from 92 to 138 per year) distributed among our three majors.  Over forty percent of this group proceeded directly to advanced educational programs including both graduate and professional health schools.  Another 50 percent entered the traditional job market and the remaining 10% initially did things like volunteer for a service organization, e.g. Peace Corp or Americorp, fulfill military obligations, start a family or join a family business.  At least one-fifth of these latter two groups returned, within five years of receiving their bachelor=s degrees, to a university for an advanced degree program.  The following table and paragraphs provide more details on the initial careers of students entering professional/graduate schools or the job market.

1992-2006 Graduates Admitted to Professional Health Schools
Professional Health Programs Number Admitted Schools to which theses Graduates were Admitted
Medical 248 Univ. of  Kansas (175); UHS Osteopathic in K.C. (24); Univ. of Nebraska (6); Univ. TX Med. Schls. (6); Mayo (3); Creighton (3), Univ. of Iowa (3), and one to two students each to 20 other medical schools, including Johns Hopkins, Albert Einstein, Univ. of Chicago, Univ. of Michigan, St. Louis Univ., Duke and Yale.
Veterinary 102 Almost all to Kansas State University Vet School
Dental 54

Univ. of  Missouri at K.C. (35); Univ. of Nebraska (9); Creighton Univ. (6) and one to two each to three other dental schools

Optometry 54

Univ. of Missouri-St. Louis (13); Southern College of Optometry (13); Houston Univ. (8); Illinois Coll. of Optometry (6); Oklahoma College of Opt. (5); and one or two each to seven other optometry schools.

Physical Therapy 18

Almost all at the two University of Kansas physical therapy programs (Wichita and K.C.)

Nursing 19 Numerous
Medical Technology 
(Clinical Lab Science)
15 Numerous
Physician’s Asst. 15

All in past decade.  At University of Kansas Medical School Program in Wichita (12); Washington Univ. in St. Louis, and Baylor College of Medicine & Univ. of Colorado (1 each)

Other 16 Other includes pharmacy, podiatry and chiropractic

1992-2007 Graduates Admitted to Graduate School Programs

During that same fifteen-year period at least 200 students were admitted into graduate programs in the biological sciences to pursue Masters and/or Ph.D. programs.  These students scattered to at least 50 different universities including Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Case Western Reserve, Colorado, Colorado State, Creighton, California (Davis), Emory, Florida State, Georgia, Georgia State, Houston, Iowa, Iowa State, Illinois,  Indiana, Kansas (Lawrence), Kansas Medical School (KC), Kansas State,  Kentucky,  Louisiana State, Miami (Florida), Marshall, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota,  Nebraska,  Nevada, North Dakota State, North Carolina, North Carolina State, North Texas State, Northwestern, Ohio State, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Oregon State, Penn State, Princeton, Purdue, Rhode Island, Scripps Institute of Oceanology,  Texas (Austin), Texas Medical School (Galveston), Texas Medical School (Southwestern),  Texas Health Sciences Center in Houston,  Texas A&M, Texas Tech,  Univ. Texas at Galveston, Washington (Seattle), Washington University D.C., Washington University at St. Louis, Wisconsin (Madison), Wisconsin (Stevens Point), and Yale. 

Some of the subject specialty areas pursued by these 200 students in their graduate programs include animal behavior, animal pathology, animal physiology,  aquatic biology, bioengineering,  biochemistry,  biomedical science, cell biology, developmental biology,  ecology, evolutionary biology, epidemiology, forensic science,  foods and nutrition,  fisheries biology, genetics, genetic counseling, immunology, kinesiology, marine biology, microbiology, medical microbiology, mycology, plant pathology, plant systematics, plant molecular/cellular/developmental biology, neurobiology, oceanography, public health biology, physiology, reproductive biology, toxicology, virology, and wildlife biology.  In addition to the breadth of disciplines within biology, there are numerous applications of biological knowledge in many other disciplines.  Hence, at least 30 of the 1992-2007 graduates elected to enter graduate programs in such areas as business, education, engineering, geology, gerontology, law, political science and public administration.


With respect to the 50% of our graduates that entered the job market with bachelor=s degrees between 1992 and 2006 there are several general comments that can be made.  First, although companies do come on campus to interview prospective employees with biological training, the majority of our graduates find their first jobs by other methods.  Unlike fields such as engineering (where a relatively small number of companies hire a huge number of people) in the biological sciences it=s a huge number of potential employers each looking to hire a smaller number of biologists.  Many of these employers don=t come on campus, and expect you to come to them.  Second, there are numerous jobs where the hiring company/agency are primarily looking for employees with a broad science background (biology, chemistry, math and physics) and the analytical thinking skills that usually accompany a science major.  And, biologists often apply for (and get) jobs that are advertised for biochemists, chemists, and agriculture majors.  Third, there are also many job openings where a specific biological expertise or experience is required, e.g. aseptic procedure skills or knowledge of and experience with recombinant DNA techniques.  Hence, the elective courses you have taken and the lab/field experiences you have been involved with may dictate whether you will be considered for certain jobs.

The initial job title for over half of our students entering the job market with a bachelor's degree would be some type of research or laboratory technician.  These lab tech jobs are found in the research laboratories of universities, numerous governmental agencies, and private industry (primarily pharmaceutical, food processing, agricultural, science equipment, and genetic engineering companies) as well as in testing and quality control laboratories of hospitals, governmental agencies, and private industry.  Other biology related positions which several students have entered at the bachelor=s level include science teaching in the secondary schools, sales and marketing positions in agricultural, science publishing, science supply and pharmaceutical companies, zoo positions and as environmental specialists with ecology consulting firms.

Our most specialized degree programs are Microbiology and Fisheries & Wildlife Biology.  Microbiologists going into the job market initially hold titles like microbiologist, research technician, medical technologist, research assistant and quality control supervisor.  Their employers were hospitals, universities, medical centers, and research and quality control testing laboratories in government and industry (primarily pharmaceutical, serological and food processing).  Positions taken by our Fisheries & Wildlife graduates that are considered directly in the field include those with state fish and game commissions, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Corp of Engineers, Soil Conservation Service, game law enforcement, zoos, commercial fish raising operations, and management positions with private wildlife conservation groups.  About two-thirds of our Fisheries & Wildlife graduates obtain such jobs which is over double the national average.

In January 07 KSU Career and Employment Services completed its survey on the employment/education status of our December 05/May 06 bachelor=s degree graduates.  In that 05/06 academic year the Division of Biology had 116 graduates (82 in biology, 17 in microbiology and 17 in fisheries/wildlife/conservation biology).  In that survey sent (repeatedly) to our 116 graduates there was no response from 30 (26%), 44 (38%) were in advanced education programs (graduate and professional health schools), 39 were employed (34%) and 12 (10%) were seeking employment.  Of those employed, 21 volunteered their salary information and their average starting salary was $30,500.  The range in starting salary was from $20,000 to $52,000.

There are a number of accomplishments/experiences/skills that will help you get accepted into graduate or professional health schools and be hired for the good job.  First and foremost is to perform to the best of your abilities in the classroom.  The initial post-graduate positions are much more limited if your grade transcript is heavily sprinkled with withdrawals, incompletes and D and F grades.  Second, work to improve your communication skills, both spoken and written.  There are plenty of opportunities to practice improved writing and speaking skills via courses, participation in student organizations and everyday contacts with teachers, college administrators and fellow students.  Third, establish a reputation of trust and dependability, e.g. attend class regularly, when assigned a task (be it for a class, an organization or for an employer) do it well and complete it on time.  Fourth, a university offers unique opportunities to broaden your understanding of people, places and ideas.  You can gain some of that knowledge by attending special lectures, symposia and convocations, participating in student organizations, going to music and theatre events and visiting with a diversity of students and faculty.  A final way to improve your employment/acceptance chances is to get some practical experience in your field while still an undergraduate.  These experiences can be part time jobs, semester-length research projects under faculty supervision, summer research programs/internships and various observation or volunteer possibilities.  We believe the Division of Biology does an excellent job in advertising these experiences, encouraging your involvement and actually providing many of them, e.g. part time jobs and research projects.
The Division of Biology's Office of Undergraduate Studies posts notices of available employment positions and provides information about how to go about applying for graduate and professional schools.  You should use that information and consult with your advisor when undertaking the weighty decision of what to do after leaving KSU.  Finally, you should be aware that KSU has an excellent Career Planning and Placement Center located in Holtz Hall.  Their services can be valuable to you, and as you begin your senior year (or even before) contact them, listen to their counsel, and let them assist you in whatever way they can in finding employment.



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