B.S. in Biology

We study life.

This vast field examines the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution of living things. At Rensselaer we emphasize modern molecular and cellular-level biology, providing a strong background in quantitative, physical, and chemical biology.

Many biology majors aim for careers in the health professions (medical, dental, veterinary), while others plan for careers in biomedical research. And still others plan for careers that will relate to biology, such as management or law.

The undergraduate curriculum in biology is designed to prepare you for admission to graduate or professional school.

Program of Study

Our program trains students in analytical problem-solving skills using cutting-edge research approaches and technologies.

Program Outcome

As a result of completing this program students will:

  • demonstrate proficiency in the foundational topics of cell and molecular biology, genetics and evolution, biochemistry, and ecology and the environment.
  • demonstrate additional competency in advanced Biological Sciences topics relative to their academic interest.
  • be able to apply skills such as reading primary literature, developing a testable hypothesis, designing an experiment, collecting and analyzing data, and using statistical and quantitative methods.
  • be able to communicate effectively on scientific topics in both written and oral forms.
  • be able to apply knowledge and skills from across the curriculum to current problems in biological sciences to generate integrative papers, proposals, or other types of projects.


Flexibility is essential for students with specific interests and goals other than those spelled out in the traditional curriculum, so we designed our curriculum to leave many options open to you.

A student may become a candidate for a second baccalaureate degree when he or she has completed: (1) the equivalent of at least two terms (30 credit hours) of additional work beyond the requirements of a single degree, and (2) the courses in the department in which the student is registered and such other courses as are required for the second degree.

View Curriculum Details


Research is an important component of the B.S. in Biology. Our program introduces you to biological research in basic and advanced laboratory courses, and most students pursue independent research in a faculty laboratory. A “culminating experience” is required for graduation, with most undergraduates participating in undergraduate research.

Minors & Concentrations

Rensselaer students can minor or concentrate in just about any degree area offered on campus. Programs of particular interest to those majoring in Biology include:

  • Astrobiology
  • Biochemistry & Biophysics
  • Biomedical Engineering & Management
  • Biotechnology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Mathematics
  • Psychology

A specialized Biochemistry/Biophysics minor is available to students majoring in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, and Chemistry.


The Arch is a unique approach to education that provides flexibility in the semester schedule, allowing students to pursue professional and personal development opportunities that prepare them to meet the multifaceted challenges of the 21st century. The Arch is a requirement of the Rensselaer curriculum.


Summer Here
During The Arch, students remain on campus for the summer after their sophomore year, taking junior-level classes, and receive focused attention from professors at this pivotal point in their academic progression. 


The World Away
Then, students leave the Troy campus for a semester during the traditional junior year—either fall or spring—to pursue their passions in the form of co-ops, internships, civic engagement, research, or international experiences. Students who pursue these opportunities during their academic career are better prepared for future professional careers and graduate school.


For more information regarding the Arch, please visit https://info.rpi.edu/the-arch

Documents & Resources

Academic Opportunities

Student researchers play a critical role in the world-changing discovery, innovation, and breakthroughs taking place across campus.

A biological honor society for undergraduate students dedicated to improving the understanding and appreciation of biological study, and extending the boundaries of human knowledge through scientific research.

Ecologic is the longest-running environmental club at Rensselaer. Their mission is to make progress toward a greener world and educate the community about environmental issues. They run many fun projects and events throughout the year.

Inspiring a younger audience to explore the role of science in society.