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Willamette University’s Biology program


Degrees Available: Bachelor of Arts

Team up with your professors on innovative studies and put your ideas to work in the lab and the field.

Become a Biology Major

Whether you’re interested in molecular biology or anatomy and physiology, Willamette University offers an exceptional biology program that empowers you to delve deep into the subjects that captivate your interest. As groundbreaking discoveries continue to unfold with each passing day, you'll have the opportunity to harness your knowledge and transform it into impactful action. Our distinguished professors forge close collaborations with biology students, prioritizing the exploration of subjects that hold the utmost significance. Willamette has cutting-edge biology equipment, providing an immersive platform for students to unlock the boundless possibilities that the field of biology offers.

Willamette University presents opportunities for both collaborative and independent research, fostering an environment where exploration and innovation thrive. Our state-of-the-art laboratories and computer lab stand ready to provide comprehensive support for your research endeavors. Harnessing the remarkable biodiversity that permeates the breathtaking landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, you'll find yourself just a short drive away from an abundance of nature preserves, wildlife refuges, coastal tide pools, sand dunes, grasslands, high deserts and montane forests. You'll have the extraordinary opportunity to cultivate real-life experiences that seamlessly complement your biology degree, allowing you to truly bring your academic journey to life.

Prepare for Your Future

We offer several courses to prepare you for a career in biology. During the first year, students experience introductory biology classes to provide a foundation for more specialized courses later on. While you’ll complete the core courses, there are also several elective courses that allow you to focus on your specific biology interests. Our senior capstone classes allow you to dive into subjects like geomicrobiology, molecular genetics, neuroethology, behavior ecology, bacteriology, genomics, cell and developmental biology, or molecular ecology.

At Willamette University, we understand the profound impact of experiential learning. That's why we prioritize hands-on experiences to enhance your understanding. Our students have abundant opportunities to engage in biology research projects, allowing them to gain practical experience and navigate the real-world challenges of the field.

While a biology major often aligns with career paths in biology, ecology, or health science, the degree holds relevance beyond science-focused careers. Willamette University offers different student opportunities to help future biology majors experience what it’s like to work in a field they’re interested in.

Featured Alumni


Tyler Starr '12

  • Research Fellow at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle
  • Pioneered SARS-CoV-2 evolution modeling, aiding vaccine development
  • University of Chicago PhD, now at University of Utah, researching pandemic viruses and immunity

Alfredo Zuniga '12

  • Earned a PhD in neuroscience at Oregon Health & Sciences University in Portland
  • Attended the college access program Willamette Academy
  • At the University of Texas at Austin, he genotyped animals and used protocols he learned at Willamette his junior year

Victoria black Horse '13

  • Enrolled citizen of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma
  • Mentored Native American students and worked on a nearby reservation assisting a family medicine physician
  • Former president of what is now the Native and Indigenous Student Union

Study Biology in Oregon

Nestled in the heart of Oregon, Willamette University provides unparalleled access to a vibrant ecosystem teeming with biodiversity, making it an ideal choice for students passionate about immersing themselves in real-world experiences. Spend your free time on incredible hikes to explore the nature around you. You can truly immerse yourself in life sciences and even see biodiversity on the campus through Zena Forest or the stream that runs through campus. As one of the best colleges in Oregon for biology, we strive to offer our students unique opportunities by utilizing our surrounding environment.

Pursue a biology minor

By fulfilling the biology minor requirements, which entails 20 semester hours of biology coursework, you can select courses that align with your interests and aspirations. Minoring in biology is a great way to dive into the field of life sciences while still providing room for other academic pursuits. Chat with our academic advisors to see if a biology minor would fit into your schedule.

The best biology program is a well-rounded one

There’s no reason to sacrifice when you chose to major or minor in biology at Willamette University. We offer a biology study abroad program to help you expand your knowledge from another location. Not only will you broaden your worldview, but you can also gain cross-cultural perspectives on biomedical and environmental questions in biology. With planning, you can study abroad and graduate on time. We also offer ample scholarships to help you gain access to this incredible educational experience.

If you’re ready to get started with one of the best biology programs in the Pacific Northwest, take the next step and apply to Willamette University’s biology department.

Apply to Study Biology

Willamette University

Biology Department

Willamette University
900 State Street
Salem Oregon 97301 U.S.A.
503-375-5425 fax