College of Arts & Sciences

Department of Biology

Message from the Chair

Welcome to the SJU Biology Web site!  The information on this site is designed to familiarize you with our program and will hopefully be useful to future as well as current students.

The Biology program at SJU was created to prepare students for a wide range of career options.  The curriculum provides appropriate training for students seeking admission to professional and graduate schools as well as those who wish to enter the job market directly following graduation. Since 1995, over 500 students have graduated with a degree in biology. Of these students, 46% have gone to medical school, 16% to graduate school, 21% are working in biology-related careers, 3% are in allied health areas, and 2% are K-12 science teachers.

Our undergraduate curriculum starts with a core of courses that teach students the fundamentals of the life sciences, both in concept and method.  After completing the core, students take a distribution of upper division courses, with at least one course required in each of the three major areas of biology.  This distribution strategy insures that all students have broad exposure to the life sciences. Areas of teaching and research interest cover an extensive range of topics including cell and molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, mycology, plant biology, evolution, physiology, ecology, environmental biology, and animal behavior.  

The faculty of the Biology Department see teaching as the primary mission of both the Department and the University.  One of the hallmarks of our department is the close relationship faculty have with students. For example, all of the labs in upper division courses are taught by full-time, faculty and not by adjunct professors or teaching assistants. 

One of the most important qualities of the Department is the opportunity for undergraduates to participate in faculty research.   This mentor-student relationship involves the design and execution of experiments, and as such is a very enriching learning experience. Students can work with faculty as volunteers, for academic credit, or for pay during the summer months. The research done by students often leads to publications and presentations at national and regional conferences.  It is not unusual for a student’s work to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Research activities occur year round and many opportunities exist for interested students.

We have a small but strong graduate program that leads to either a MS or a MA degree in biology.  Students who are working or wishing to improve their credentials for professional school may find the course -based MA degree most appealing.  The MS degree requires the development and presentation of a thesis based on original research. This degree is more appropriate for students wishing to engage in research as part of their career or to continue their graduate training at the doctoral level.  Students in the MS program may be eligible for a teaching assistantship that provides a tuition scholarship and stipend. 

We hope that this Web site will serve as a source of useful information to you.  Please do not hesitate to contact me (e-mail csmith@sju.edu;  610-660-1820) or any member of the Department should you have questions about our program. 

Enjoy your visit!

Dr. Christina King-Smith
Chair of the Department of Biology