College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Department Information

Biological Sciences Program

The Department of Biological Sciences offers a curriculum emphasizing broad training in biology as the key to success in graduate school, professional school, teacher education and technical careers. The major is built upon a strong foundation of core courses in the liberal arts, which are designed to develop skills in writing, speaking, analytical thinking and problem solving.

Students studying science should be exposed early and often to the methods of discovery, inquiry, and problem solving used by scientists to explain the natural world. Faculty are familiar with these methods as we apply them in our individual research programs, and we strive to develop such capabilities in our students. There is no single scientific method. The research methods in molecular genetics can be remarkably different from those in community ecology. Therefore, we give our students opportunities to actively use the tools of scientific investigation in the lab and the field through a variety of courses at the molecular, cellular, organismal, and population levels of biological organization.

Student Research

Many students take advantage of the opportunities for research under the supervision of a faculty member within the department. During the academic year, students are welcome to register for research credits. The Butler Summer Institute (BSI), a nine-week program in which participants undertake independent projects they design with a faculty mentor, awards successful applicants a $2,500 stipend as well as housing. BSI has been in place for 10 years and is funded completely by Butler University, a clear indication of our commitment to the integration of teaching and research.

This interdisciplinary program brings institute students together in a designated area in a residence hall, and they participate as a group in weekly seminars, field trips, brown-bag lunches and social events. Students who wish to pursue their research during the academic year may enroll in an independent study course.

Butler's Undergraduate Research Conference attracts college students throughout the Midwest. The conference provides a unique opportunity to the approximately 500 students who converge on campus each spring to present their research results to their peers. Students may also apply for funds to travel to other regional or national meetings, via the Holcomb Undergraduate Grants program.

Students may also want to apply for Biology Internships which are available throughout Indianapolis, the state of Indiana, and surrounding states.

Students may also elect to participate in Special Programs with the department. The Center for Urban Ecology (CUE) educates and engages Butler students and citizens in the local community about the discipline of urban ecology and aims to create "citizen scientists" dedicated to continued stewardship of the natural world. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama is dedicated to understanding tropical biodiversity. The Butler-STRI partnership includes opportunities for students to serve as paid interns in Panama for existing research projects conducted by STRI scientists and for students to engage in new research initiatives with Butler faculty in Panama. Further, the partnership includes two field-based courses taught on-site in Panama by Butler biology faculty.

Students often co-author papers with faculty members for publication in professional journals or presentation at conferences. For example, recent joint student-faculty articles have been published in Biochemical Genetics, Evolution, Journal of Experimental Biology, Journal of Herpetology, American Naturalist and Animal Behavior.


The baccalaureate degree in biological sciences requires a minimum of 37 credit hours in biology, including a core of four courses, and 10 credits of general chemistry. Elective courses may be selected from a variety of offerings, including Molecular Genetics, Cell Biology, Microbiology, General Genetics, Animal Physiology, Plant Physiology, Animal Behavior, Developmental Biology, Vertebrate Biology and Tropical Field Biology, which includes a field experience in Belize over spring break.

Click here for more details about the Biological Sciences Curriculum.

Pre-professional study

Butler students who have qualified themselves with outstanding academic performance in the major have great success in entering professional schools in medicine, dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, and veterinary medicine. Students receive individual advising by faculty on the selection of courses that will both satisfy the minimum entrance requirements and prepare them well for the professional school of their choice. In addition, The Office of Pre-professional Studies plans co-curricular activities, maintains a reference library of useful publications, and coordinates the application process.

Also, follow these links for information about graduate and professional school examinations:
GRE (Graduate Record Examination)
MCAT (Medical College Admission Test)
LSAT (Law School Admission Test)