Exciting opportunities are available at Cornell for undergraduates interested in study and research in almost any aspect of the biological sciences. Cornell’s program in the Biological Sciences is composed of faculty members from the Colleges of Agriculture and Life Sciences, Arts and Sciences, and Veterinary Medicine. The size of the program and the diversity of the faculty’s teaching and research interests are reflected in more than 200 biology course offerings and in the design and flexibility of the undergraduate curriculum.
Biology majors are enrolled in either the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences or the College of Arts and Sciences. The requirements of the major itself are identical in both colleges, although the individual requirements of the two colleges will result in biology majors taking somewhat different overall undergraduate programs. Students can tailor their individual academic goals by selecting the college of enrollment, biology concentration, and specific courses to meet requirements. Biology students are broadly educated in chemistry, physics and mathematics while developing an excellent foundation in biology from our entry-level biology courses and more advanced courses in genetics and biochemistry. Students who wish to graduate with honors must apply to the Honors Program at the end of their junior year. Students must maintain a minimum 3.0 cumulative and science/math grade point average and write a thesis based on original research conducted under the direct guidance of a Cornell faculty member. Generally speaking, over 70% of biology majors participate in undergraduate research during their academic careers at Cornell.
The departments of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology, Entomology, Microbiology, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Neurobiology & Behavior, Plant Biology, and Biomedical Sciences participate in the major, as does the Division of Nutritional Sciences. Research and teaching in biology at Cornell is not limited to these departments, however: there are over 300 biology faculty on the Ithaca campus alone, with more at the Weill Medical College. Many faculty members participate to varying degrees in the Biology major, particularly as sponsors for undergraduate research, as well as in their own majors.
Faculty members in biology are actively engaged in research at the frontiers of the subjects they are teaching, creating intellectual excitement and vitality that give students a genuine feeling of participation in scholarly undertakings. In the classroom, undergraduates hear about important new discoveries, and they are also encouraged to be directly involved in this discovery by pursuing an independent research project. Cornell undergraduates are exposed simultaneously to a broad approach to biological problems and to specific approaches used to investigate.