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Biology student.



Study life in its infinite forms.

As a Biology major at Whitman, you’ll study all forms of life, from the molecular to the ecological. You’ll do original research alongside amazing professors, and you’ll have lots of opportunities to put your knowledge to work outside the classroom. Students leave Whitman ready for advanced study in medicine, health, law, business and other biology-related fields. They also take jobs in teaching, the biotech industry, environmental work and more.

3 Reasons to Study Biology at Whitman

Customize Your Biology Degree

At Whitman, you can build a Biology program based on your own interests. Try out one of our combined majors like Biology-Environmental Studies—or take advantage of Whitman’s affiliations with other leading universities in combined programs like Oceanography, a joint five-year program with the University of Washington.

Do Original Research

You’ll explore fascinating questions with faculty who are passionate about mentoring, using Whitman’s state-of-the-art laboratory equipment. And every Biology major at Whitman does original research on or off campus for their senior thesis project.

Take Your Learning Outside the Classroom

Study abroad in places like Tanzania or Costa Rica. Intern with a biotech lab. Or join one of Whitman’s field studies programs. Do science outreach in local schools—or join the Organic Garden Club. Whatever your interests are, Whitman is a gateway to the world of biology around you.

Interested in Biology?

We’d love to send you information, including more on academic majors and student life at our beautiful campus in Walla Walla, Washington.

Natalie R., biology major

“I was looking for a small school with a great Biology department, and that’s exactly what I found when I toured Whitman. The close-knit community at Whitman is filled with passionate individuals. The Biology and Chemistry department has the newest equipment—this allows students to familiarize themselves with instruments they might end up working with at their job after Whitman.”

Our Whitman Student Voices Blog

Courses in Biology

See just a few of the fascinating courses you might take.

BIOL 112

The Biological World

Explore the evolutionary history of life on Earth and get an overview of organisms, from the simplest cells to the most complex plants and animals. In the lab that goes along with this course, you’ll get hands-on knowledge of the structure and characteristics of different groups of organisms.

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Thread of genetics.
BIOL 140

The Human Genome

Our genome is literally what makes us human. In this Biology class for nonmajors, we will discuss what’s in the genome and how our cells use it to build a human being. Using genomics and genetics as a starting point, we’ll explore topics like heritable diseases, stem cells, cancer, epigenetics, ancestry tests and genome evolution.

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BIOL 260


Entire ecosystems thrive within a single droplet of water, persist in the barest landscapes and survive the harshest environments. This course will explore the how microbes have evolved to inhabit almost every habitat on Earth. And you'll learn techniques commonly used to identify, study and harness the power of microbes.

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Solar panels
BIOL 277


In this class you’ll learn about relationships between organisms—and between organisms and their environment. You’ll delve into the principles and concepts of ecology, exploring topics like evolution, interactions between species, landscapes, nutrient cycles, energy flow and conservation.

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Reptile eye.
BIOL 327

Biology of Amphibians and Reptiles

Learn about the classification, life history, behavior and anatomy of frogs, salamanders, turtles, lizards, snakes and more in this introduction to herpetology. Find out what makes this diverse group of animals so remarkable.

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BIOL 331

Synthetic Cell Biology

Synthetic biologists take apart, rebuild, and repurpose parts of a cell in order to program and probe cell behavior. You’ll learn how and why they do this, as well as what it means for fields like biomedicine and agriculture. And you’ll get real-world experience with the techniques used as you work on your own research project.

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Combined Majors

Grapes on vine.


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Flower sprouting through rocks.


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Butterfly on leaf.

Biology-Environmental Studies

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Teacher and student in the field.

Amazing Experiences You Can Pursue

Hone your research chops. As a Whitman Biology major, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to put your research skills into practice. You’ll work with your professors solving real-life biology problems. And you’ll do a research project and write a senior research thesis on a topic that sparks your interest.

Use your biology skills in an off-campus internship. Whitman Biology majors have many options for using what they’ve learned and gaining practical work experience. Recent Whitman Biology majors have interned at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, studied salmon at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and worked in wildlife conservation in the Amazon rainforest. 

Take your curiosity out of the country. When you study Biology abroad, you can learn about arctic ecology in Denmark, study wildlife biology in Tanzania, or marine ecology and conservation on the islands of Turks and Caicos. Or you can set sail with a Semester at Sea on a research vessel.

Your Questions Answered

Whitman has a top-notch Biology program, with rigorous courses, faculty who are passionate about teaching and research, and a ton of opportunities for students to stretch their knowledge in new ways. Whitman has cutting-edge technologies and facilities, and all students participate in exciting, original research. Whether you want to focus on pre-med and health sciences, biotechnology or ecology, you can tailor your Biology degree program to satisfy your curiosity, deepen your knowledge and accomplish your goals for your future. 

At Whitman, you’ll have lots of opportunities to connect with students and faculty in your major and put your classroom knowledge to fun and practical use. Among other things, you can be a teaching assistant for an Intro to Biology lab, be part of the Pre-Health Society or the Garden Club, work on local organic farms, participate in the gleaning program, work with summer youth programs, or do science outreach in public schools. Plus, you’ll have access to a whole campus full of amazing clubs, activities, outdoor programs and volunteer opportunities beyond your major.

The Biology major opens up a world of postgraduate possibilities. Since the Biology major requirements at Whitman include a research project and senior research thesis, you’ll come out of your degree with desirable, hands-on skills you can apply to further study or employment. Students who graduated from Whitman with a Biology major have gone on to pursue graduate studies in gene therapy, plant physiology, wildlife ecology and bioethics. Whitman alumni also work in health professions that don’t require medical school, as well as in biotechnology, field biology and more.

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