As a biology major, your career goals may include biological research, health professions, business, or education. Students who are interested in health professions have access to additional information and advice through the Trinity College Office of Health Professions Advising. Recently, Duke students applying to medical schools and other health professions programs have enjoyed a very high acceptance rate. Those who have pursued graduate school have gone on to become highly successful biological researchers and educators at many universities throughout the world.
Opportunities to Explore
Areas of Concentration
As part of the biology major, you may elect to complete requirements in specified sub-disciplines in the biological sciences. Currently available areas of concentration in the biology major are: anatomy, physiology and biomechanics, animal behavior, biochemistry, cell and molecular biology, evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics, marine biology, neurobiology, pharmacology, and plant biology. Completion of concentration requirements will result in a designation on the student's transcript.
Research & Independent Study Options
We encourage you to engage in independent study projects in areas of your interest. Most biology majors will do at least one or two semesters of research as part of their major. You can participate in state of the art research with world-class scientists in any one of the many of research labs in the University or the Medical Center (e.g, Cell Biology, Immunology, Cancer Biology, etc). Most students will start in their junior or senior year, although many begin earlier. You will likely do research as part of your regular course work, receiving grades and academic credit for the research. You may have your work published in the scientific literature and use your research as the basis for graduation with honors.
Duke University Marine Lab
Also available to students is the opportunity to study at the Duke Marine Lab. Located in Beaufort, N.C., the Marine Lab is a modern teaching and research facility in marine and estuarine biology which provides direct access to open ocean, estuaries, and coastal ecosystems. The campus includes modern laboratories, vessels for coastal studies, and the oceanographic vessels R/V Cape Hatteras and R/V Susan Hudson. The Marine Lab sponsors a variety of courses in the Summer, as well as a full semester program in the Fall and Spring.
Opportunity to Study Abroad
As a biology major, you have the option of studying abroad, which is typically done in the fall of your junior year. There are several programs that are especially popular with biology majors, including semester and summer programs in marine biology at the Duke Marine Lab, semester and summer programs studying tropical biology in Costa Rica, a summer course in Australian biogeography, and a semester program in savannah ecology in South Africa. In addition, there are many other study abroad programs that allow students the opportunity to take courses in biology as well as other fields. Moreover, the major in biology is sufficiently flexible to allow students to take semester abroad with out any biology, to study art in Florence, for example.
Biology majors who achieve excellence in both their studies and a research-based thesis may apply for Graduation with Distinction in Biology. Students may apply if they have a grade point average of 3.0 or above in Biology courses and courses approved as electives for the major, NOT including Independent Studies, at the time of application. The award of Distinction requires the maintenance of this grade point average and the completion of an original research project, usually carried out as an independent study in biology (e.g. BIOLOGY 293/493), or in an appropriate biological science department at Duke University, or as an interdisciplinary study that includes biology. Distinction will be awarded based on an oral poster presentation and the written thesis. The thesis and poster should present a significant achievement in research and demonstrate a clear mastery of the research field.