Program Overview

Major/minor: Biology

The best way to learn science is to do it. In the field and the in the lab, our students gain scientific skills through direct experience as they examine life at levels ranging from molecules to ecosystems.

Biology majors take core courses and electives in three areas: plant biology, animal biology, and cell and molecular biology.

All majors complete our capstone course, Biological Problems (BIO 485), in which they engage in and present independent research. Students may create their own projects or take on problems associated with group trips to study corals in The Bahamas, rainforest plant/insect interactions in Ecuador or Costa Rica, etc. See some examples of recent projects that have been presented at the annual Cornell Student Symposium.

One Course At A Time

Cornell’s One Course At A Time (OCAAT) schedule allows students to practice “real-time” science that could not fit into the limited time available in other academic calendars. In our biology courses, students:

  • make frequent field trips to local wetlands, prairies, woods, etc
  • carry out molecular analyses in class
  • grow cells and test their responses to drugs  
  • learn anatomy in our own cadaver lab
  • design and implement ecological experiments 
  • participate in community service projects 

Off-campus studies

The block plan also offers extraordinary opportunities for extended off-campus learning. Courses such as Ecology, Entomology, and Plant Morphology are taught at the Wilderness Field Station in northern Minnesota. Other recent courses have traveled to the Estuarine Field Station in Georgia and to the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Research & internships

Summer research, independent projects, and internships build practical skills in studies ranging from neuroscience, to local turtles, to rainforest plant/insect interrelationships.  See our research and faculty pages for examples of recent and ongoing projects.

Related majors & health career preparation

Cornell’s unique Dimensions Program supports many of our initiatives and offers a full-range of support to students interested in pursuing health-related careers. In addition, biology courses are an integral part of majors in environmental studies and biochemistry and molecular biology. And Cornell students frequently complement their biology studies with majors or minors in subjects ranging from anthropology to mathematics to Spanish.