Genetics and Biotechnology - Bachelor of Science in Genetics

Codirectors of the Program:

Professor, Michelle Nishiguchi, Department Head, Biology

Associate Professor, Rolston St. Hilaire, Interim Department Head, Plant and Environmental Sciences

Professors Bosland, Cramer, Houde, Milligan, Nishiguchi, O’Connell, Ray, Sengupta-Gopalan, C. Shuster, St. Hilaire; Associate Professors Bailey, Curtiss, M. Shuster, Zhang

Have you ever wondered why your hair or eye color, facial features, or the build of your body resembles that of your parents, grandparents, or other close relatives? What factors are responsible for generating all the variety of colors and shapes of flowers, trees, and different types of animals? If these questions have crossed your mind, then you have been thinking about Genetics; the science of heredity. Genetics is studied at the DNA/gene/genome level (molecular genetics, biotechnology, genomics and bioinformatics), the level of organisms (classical or Mendelian genetics), and within/among populations of individuals (population and quantitative genetics).

One of the most significant scientific accomplishments in history has been the use of genomic technologies to recently identify most human genes, as well as, most genes for a number of other animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Geneticists now have tremendous opportunities to use molecular, biochemical, mathematical, and computer science-based (bioinformatics) approaches to investigate how these genes determine observable traits. This information can be used to significantly advance human health and well being, and to meet the food and fiber needs of the world.

A degree in Genetics can provide excellent preparation for careers in academic research and technical support, teaching, agriculture, the biotechnology industry, medicine and health sciences, forensic science, technical writing, and sales or marketing. It is also an excellent background for students wishing to enter a graduate program, medical school, and veterinary school.

Undergraduates in the Genetics program must earn a grade of C- or better to receive credit for required Basic Science Background and Genetics Core courses. Within the Genetics Core curriculum, Tier I courses must be taken by all majors, for a total of 28 credit hours. To accommodate differing interests among students, a series of Tier II courses comprising 11 to 13 credits are provided. Ethical considerations of genetic based technologies will be infused throughout the curriculum, with a focused course on Science and Ethics in the Tier III portion of the core curriculum.


General Education Requirements
Area I: Communications
English Composition-Level 1. Select one from the following:4
Rhetoric and Composition4
Rhetoric and Composition Honors4
Advanced ESL Composition4
Rhetoric and Composition for International and Multilingual Students4
English Composition-Level 2:
ENGL 218GTechnical and Scientific Communication3
or ENGL 318G Advanced Technical and Professional Communication
Oral Communication. Select one from the following:3
Effective Leadership and Communication in Agricultural Organizations3
Public Speaking3
Principles of Human Communication3
Principles of Human Communication Honors3
Area II: Mathematics/Algebra
MATH 191GCalculus and Analytic Geometry I4
Area III: Laboratory Science
CHEM 111GGeneral Chemistry I4
CHEM 112GGeneral Chemistry II4
Area IV & V: Social/Behavioral Sciences and Humanities and Fine Arts
Select a total of 15 credits combined from Areas IV and V, with 6 credits in one area and 9 credits in the other area: 115
Area IV: Social/Behavioral Sciences: Select 6-9 credits a
Area V: Humanities and Fine Arts: Select 6-9 credits 1
Viewing a Wider World
Select one Viewing a Wider World course 23
Basic Science Background Requirements
A ST 311Statistical Applications3
or BIOL 455 Biometry
BCHE 395Biochemistry I3
BCHE 396Biochemistry II3
BIOL 111GNatural History of Life3
CHEM 111GGeneral Chemistry I4
or CHEM 115 Principles of Chemistry I
CHEM 112GGeneral Chemistry II4
or CHEM 116 Principles of Chemistry II
CHEM 313Organic Chemistry I3
CHEM 314Organic Chemistry II3
CHEM 315Organic Chemistry Laboratory2
MATH 191GCalculus and Analytic Geometry I4
MATH 192GCalculus and Analytic Geometry II4
PHYS 211GGeneral Physics I3
or PHYS 221G General Physics for Life Sciences I
PHYS 212GGeneral Physics II3
or PHYS 222G General Physics for Life Sciences II
Core Requirements
Tier I Courses
GENE 110Experimental Systems in Genetics1
BIOL 211GCellular and Organismal Biology3
BIOL 211GLCellular and Organismal Biology Laboratory1
BIOL 311General Microbiology3
BIOL 311 LGeneral Microbiology Laboratory2
GENE 305 LGenetic Techniques1
GENE 315Molecular Genetics3
GENE 320Hereditary and Population Genetics3
BIOL 377Cell Biology3
GENE 440Genetics Seminar1
GENE 452Applied Bioinformatics3
or BIOL 446 Bioinformatics and NCBI Database
BCHE 494Biochemical Genetics Laboratory3
or BIOL 302 Molecular Biology Techniques Laboratory
Tier II Courses
Select one course from each of the following four areas:12-14
Selection response:
Plant Breeding3
Animal Breeding3
Physiology of Reproduction4
Physiology of Humans3
Animal Physiology3
An Introduction to Cancer3
Physiology of Microorganisms3
Plant Physiology3
Plant Mineral Nutrition3
Organism Structure:
Anatomy and Physiology of Farm Animals4
Structure and Function of Plants3
Comparative Anatomy and Embryology4
Plant Signalling and Development3
Developmental Biology3
Invertebrate Zoology4
Economic Entomology3
Molecular Genetics:
Molecular Biology of Microorganisms3
Genes and Genomes3
Gene Regulation3
Tier III Courses3
Select one from the following:
Genetics and Society3
Science, Ethics and Society3
Biomedical Ethics3
Additional Courses
Select electives to bring total to 120 credits including 48 upper division credits.
Recommended Electives (Honors College)
Honors Thesis3
Select 9 credits from the following:
Life, Energy, and Evolution4
Successful Fellowship Writing1
History of Ethics3
Select 6 credits from the following:
Science, Ethics and Society3
Successful Fellowship Writing1
Honors Internship3-6
Total Credits124-126

Total of 15 credits combined between Areas IV and V, with 6 credits in one area and 9 credits in the other area. See General Education Courses for listing of available courses.


One VWW area will be satisfied using the nine-hour rule. Students with Biology as their home department will use GENE courses and students with Plant and Environmental Science as their home department use BIOL courses.