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As a Butler Biology major, you will actively use the tools of scientific investigation in labs and fieldwork in courses examining biological organization at many levels—from molecular and cellular to organisms and populations, and through ecosystems. You’ll enjoy hands-on learning through the Fundamentals Courses, advanced electives, a senior capstone course, and partnerships with Butler’s Center for Urban Ecology, the Farm at Butler, and Friesner Herbarium.

We also encourage you to team with faculty mentors in challenging research, covering topics such as genetics, animal behavior, neurobiology, plant development, ecology, and biomechanics. The Butler Summer Institute offers student stipends for independent research, and our Seitz Award supports study abroad in the natural sciences. Through Butler’s partnership with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Biology students and faculty engage with leading scientists studying tropical biodiversity in Panama.

Misson Statement

The mission of the Department of Biological Sciences is to prepare students to excel as broadly-trained scientists capable of thriving in research, healthcare, professional programs, and business careers. Our curriculum is intentionally designed to provide students with scientific foundations as well as the literature, laboratory, experimental design, and communication skills to succeed in any field or profession. To accomplish this, we will provide outstanding undergraduate instruction through dynamic methods, practical field experience, and hypothesis-driven laboratory experiences. We will also provide meaningful undergraduate research experiences with opportunities to present and publish findings that will make our students stand out in their future careers.

Student Learning Outcomes for the Biological Sciences Curriculum

Upon completion of the biology major, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate content knowledge and proficiency in using and explaining techniques essential to the study of fundamental areas of biology: genetics, cellular and molecular biology, and ecology and evolutionary biology.
  2. Properly use and apply scientific literature to ask and answer questions in the biological sciences.
  3. Design experiments and collect, analyze, and interpret data using graphical and statistical analyses, in order to evaluate hypotheses
  4. Communicate scientific ideas, concepts, and findings through writing and speaking.
  5. Apply scientific findings to relevant societal issues.

Course Offerings

Undergraduate Research

Pre-Health and Pre-Graduate School

Alumni Spotlight and Careers

Butler Distinctions

Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute

The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama is dedicated to understanding tropical biodiversity. Through Butler-STRI partnership, students serve as paid interns on research projects conducted by STRI scientists. Butler Biology faculty teach an intensive field-based course in Panama involving new research initiatives.

Center for Urban Ecology and Sustainability (CUES)

With programs focusing on local water quality, urban wildlife, native plants, food production and more, CUES aims to create “citizen scientists” dedicated to the exploration and enhancement of the Indianapolis ecosystem. Working with area organizations and residents, student interns participate in urban ecological research, including research design, data collection, data analysis, and dissemination.


Many Indianapolis businesses and organizations seek out our students as interns in supervised work/research experiences.  Butler Biology majors have interned with such groups as the Marion County Coroner’s Office, Central Indiana Land Trust, U.S. Department of Energy, and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

Biology-Biomedical Engineering Dual Degree

Earn two degrees in one program—Biology from Butler and Biomedical Engineering from Indiana University Purdue University in Indianapolis. The rapidly expanding field of biomedical engineering combines expertise in biomaterials, biomechanics, instrumentation and tissue engineering to dramatically improve life as we know it.