GMercyU Biology major students in the lab

Biology Major: Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology

Majoring in biology at GMercyU is the perfect preparation for medical school, veterinary school, dental school, or graduate school. After grad school, many GMercyU biology alumni continue on to exciting research positions within an industry, a research hospital, or academia. That’s why research experience is a requirement for biology majors.

Your Bachelor of Science in Biology degree can also lead to direct entry into a well-paid, in-demand career in the sciences. For example, many GMercyU biology graduates have launched successful careers in the local pharmaceutical industry.

Love science but unsure what career path to pursue? Our program will help you discover the right one for you. Or, choose one of the specific GMercyU biology career paths below.

Program Details

GMercyU’s Biology program offers small classes, state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, and many opportunities to not only conduct but present original research. The program emphasizes molecular and cellular biology, genetics, and biochemistry, and it includes foundational coursework in chemistry, physics, and mathematics, in addition to those in biology – so much so that you will also earn a minor in chemistry as a biology major.

Program Career Paths
Pre-Professional (Pre-Med / Pre-Vet)

Prepare for a career as a physician, veterinarian, and more

At GMercyU, we offer a pathway to help you achieve your pre-professional goals, whether it’s medical school, veterinary school, dental school, or other health professional programs! The biology program ensures you’ll take the courses you need to enable you to apply to professional programs.

With a dedicated Pre-Professional Advising Office, supportive faculty members, and a curriculum rich in molecular and cellular biology and biochemistry, you’ll develop all the skills you need to jumpstart your career in the medical field. Read more about the Pathway to the Professions and learn about GMercyU’s pre-med requirements, courses, and career outcomes of our pre-med biology students.

Secondary Education Certification

bachelors in biologyEarn a biology degree with Teacher Certification

If you want to teach Biology in a secondary school setting, you can earn your Secondary Education Certification and/or Prek-12 special education certification through Gwynedd Mercy University’s School of Education. This option allows you to earn a bachelor of science in Biology combined with secondary teaching certification, a unique opportunity among biology colleges in PA.

*Certification: This program was designed to meet the certification requirements of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. If you reside in a different state, you should carefully review your home state’s certification requirements prior to enrolling in this program.
 

Associate Degree in Natural Science Degree Option

 associates degree in biologyEarn an Associate Degree in Natural Science

The Natural Science degree is a two-year program designed for students wishing to gain a foundation in scientific theory and practice. Students who earn their Associate of Science Degree will qualify for entry-level employment or continued education toward the baccalaureate degree. The degree is ideal for part-time students already working in the science field who are looking to advance in their current position. The program is closely aligned with the first two years of the Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology, making the transition from the AS to BS degree seamless.
 

Why Choose GMercyU

In addition to the unique program career paths above, GMercyU offers biology majors a compelling mix of educational advantages you won’t find at other colleges that offer biology:

  • Small classes with GMercyU’s low 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio
  • State-of-the-art laboratory facilities
  • Opportunities to conduct research and to present and publish your work, under the mentorship of experienced faculty 
  • Internship opportunities at companies like Johnson & Johnson and Novartis or research hospitals, such as the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)

You’ll learn directly from experienced, full-time faculty members with doctoral degrees, as opposed to the teaching assistants (TAs) you may find at other schools that offer biology. This means richer learning opportunities in the classroom, the laboratory, and the field, as well as closer mentoring relationships with our faculty.

   

For more than a decade, GMercyU's biology degree graduates have scored at or above the national average on the ETS Major Field Test® in Biology. In 2020, GMercyU students ranked in the top 4% for molecular biology and genetics, the top 9% for organismal biology – animals, the top 12% for analytical skills, and top 16% overall among all other institutions whose seniors took the test.  

Now, hear from GMercyU faculty and students on what sets our program apart.
 

Research Experience and Labs

All biology majors are required to complete a research experience to prepare you for graduate school, medical school, or the workforce. And, almost every required course has a laboratory component, because the best way to learn is with hands-on experience guided by faculty experts.

See a lab activity completed by our Developmental Biology students — they studied the process of fertilization by collecting gametes from live sea urchins and mixing the sperm and egg together. 

GMercyU’s laboratories feature modern instrumentation and facilities for biology and chemistry: thermal cyclers, electrophoresis equipment, a research room with tissue culture hoods used for work in cell culture, and more.

Recent research projects include:

  • Studying how the brain’s neuroimmune cells contribute to alcohol-induced brain dysfunction and degeneration
  • Contributing to a national research project focusing on the search for new antibiotics secreted by soil-dwelling bacteria
  • Investigating organic compounds with the potential to function as anti-cancer agents

Students can also present their research, contribute to publications, and even receive a financial stipend for summer research. See what our Biology majors presented at our Spring 2020 University Research Conference!

Summer Research: See how students spent a summer sampling fish from a local stream and evaluating a variety of factors regarding responses to the environment and the reaction of the immune system to pollution. They worked side-by-side with faculty.

All of these research opportunities give GMercyU biology students an edge in their job searches and graduate school applications.

Here, Amanda Pirrone ’18 shares how her research experiences at GMercyU helped her land a job she loves.
 

Curriculum

In addition to general education course requirements, our bachelor of science in biology students will complete the following courses:

Major Requirements – 57 Credits

BIO 203/203L   General Biology I/Laboratory
BIO 204/204L General Biology II/Laboratory
BIO 230/230L Ecology/Laboratory
BIO 251/251L  Genetics/Laboratory
BIO 402/402L Molecular Biology of Cell/Laboratory
BIO 415/415L Developmental Biology/Laboratory
BIO 421 Biology Research (may be satisfied by BIO 440 - Internship)
BIO Biology Elective
BIO Biology Elective
BIO Biology Seminar I- Capstone    
BIO Biology Seminar II- Capstone    
BIO Biology Seminar III- Capstone    
CHM 151/151L Principles of Chemistry I/Laboratory
CHM 152/152L  Principles of Chemistry II/Laboratory
CHM 203/203L Organic Chemistry I/Laboratory
CHM 204/204L Organic Chemistry II/Laboratory
CHM 301/301L Biochemistry I/Laboratory
CHM 302 Biochemistry II
PHY 241/241L General Physics I/Laboratory
PHY 242/242L General Physics II/Laboratory
MTH 234 Probability and Statistics
MTH 245 Calculus

Secondary Education Certification Option – 33 Credits

EDU 100  Education in America 
EDU 300 Pre-Student Teaching 
EDU 319 Selected Topics Sec. Educ.
EDU 325 Secondary Methods
EDU 351 Meeting the Needs of English Language Learners
SPE 215 Exceptional Person for Secondary Education
SPE 231 Mild/Moderate Disabilities in Inclusionary Setting 
SPE 331 Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment for Mild/Moderate
EDU 490  Student Teaching & Professional Seminar – 12 Credits

Credit Requirement
A minimum of 125 credits is required for the BS in Biology degree.

Undergraduate Minor

Our biology degrees come with a built-in minor in chemistry. To increase the value of your degree, you may also choose to pursue an additional second undergraduate minor

 

Featured Courses

Wondering what your classes will look like as a biology major? Here’s a closer look at just a few GMercyU Biology Program courses.

BIO 251 Genetics
An investigation into the fundamental principles of Mendelian and non-Mendelian inheritance and the molecular and cellular basis of heredity, including the molecular and biochemical processes behind inheritance, gene expression and development. Additional topics include pedigree analysis, mutation and cancer, the conflict between nature and nurture, modern DNA technology, population genetics, evolution, and the ethical impact of genetics on society. 

BIO 402 Molecular Biology of the Cell
This is a project-driven laboratory course that introduces students to the world of mammalian cell culture. In addition to learning basic cell culture techniques, students will use cell viability assays, spectrophotometry, RNA isolation, reverse transcription PCR, and DNA gel electrophoresis to investigate important research questions in cell biology. Students will also gain experience in experimental design, data analysis, presentation of experimental results, and maintenance of a detailed laboratory notebook. 

BIO 415 Developmental Biology
A study into the biochemical, molecular and genetic factors that regulate organismal growth and development. The field of classical embryology will be combined with molecular biology to investigate the mechanisms by which DNA dictates organism form and function. The course will cover topics including cell fate determination and differentiation, fertilization, embryogenesis, pattern formation, the regulation of gene expression during development, plant and animal cell lineages, tissue and organ formation, gene rearrangements in adult cells, aging, and developmental responses to the environment. Molecular mechanisms of development will be examined in species ranging from bacteria to higher plants and animals. 

CHM 301 Biochemistry
Chemical structure, function and reaction of biologically important molecules, including nucleic acids, proteins, carbohydrates and lipids; biological membranes; enzyme kinetics, regulation and mechanisms.

For all Biology course descriptions, please refer to the undergraduate catalog.

Meet the Faculty

Michelle Kulp McEliece, PhD

Position: Associate Professor Biology, Chair of the Division of Natural and Computational Sciences and Coordinator of the Biology Program

Did You Know? Dr. McEliece served as a post-doctoral fellow at Fox Chase Cancer Center.
 

Learn More

Stacey Lettini, PhD

Position: Associate Professor, Biology

Did You Know? Dr. Lettini’s research interests include the ecology and energetics of host-parasite relationships.
 

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Justin McClain, PhD

Position: Associate Professor, Biology

Did You Know? Dr. McClain served as an NIH-funded postdoctoral scholar at the University of Kentucky. 

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Maria Winters, PhD

Position: Assistant Professor, Chemistry, Biology

Did You Know? Dr. Winters’ interests include the synthesis and evaluation of enantiopure hydroxylamines as IDO-1 inhibitors of ketoreductases as chiral catalysts.

Learn More

Real-World Experience

Internship Opportunities

All GMercyU biology majors are required to complete a research experience. Many students satisfy this requirement by conducting research on campus under the direction and mentorship of program faculty.

You can also opt to complete your research at a summer internship off-campus. Here are some of the organizations where GMercyU biology students have interned: 

  • M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
  • Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)
  • Colorcon
  • Drexel University
  • Emerson Resources, Inc.
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Merck
  • Novartis Pharmaceuticals
  • Philadelphia Zoological Garden
  • QC Laboratories
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Vanderbilt University
  • Wissahickon Water Shed
     
Career Opportunities

GMercyU’s Biology Program encourages students to explore careers that interest them. Some embark on our specific Program Career Paths, others have different plans.

Sean Carney ’11, for example, earned his PhD in molecular biophysics and structural biology from the University Pittsburgh after graduating from GMercyU. Today, he works as a Research Fellow in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. 

Here are other careers to consider…  

Top Jobs for Biology Majors

Biomedical Engineer
An aging population will increase the need for medical equipment and technology, and therefore, this type of job, now through at least 2029.* 
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree, such as a biology degree. Sometimes a graduate degree, depending on the organization, is required, as well.
Average Salary: The national median pay is $91,410. *
*Source

Physician
Work in a hospital, for the government, in schools, or in private practices. Physician salaries are among the highest of all occupations.*
Degree Requirements: A bachelor’s degree, a medical school degree, and three to seven years in internships or residency programs.
Average Salary: The national median pay is $208,000 per year* 
*Source

Research Scientists
Work in a laboratory or office in academia, a research hospital, or within an industry.
Degree requirements: You can find some entry-level positions with a bachelor's degree in biology; more advanced positions require a master's degree or PhD.
Average Salary:  Salaries vary depending on the position, experience, and degree required. Medical scientists with a PhD, for example, earn an national median pay of $88,790.*
*Source

More Possible Careers for Biology Majors

  • Aquaculture Farmer
  • Aquarium & Museum Worker
  • Aquatic Biologist
  • Barrier Beach Manager
  • Biochemist
  • Bio-technologist
  • Botanist
  • Brewery Laboratory Assistant
  • Coastal Resources Worker
  • Commercial Fishing Engineer
  • Dentist
  • Dietitian & Nutritionist
  • Ecologist
  • Environmental Engineer
  • Environmental Health
  • Environmental Protection
  • Epidemiologist
  • Ergonomist
  • Fisheries Conservationist
  • Food Scientist
  • Forester
  • Genetic Counselor
  • Genetic Engineer
  • Health Officer
  • Hydrographic Survey Technician
  • Marine Fisheries Worker
  • Medical Librarian
  • Medical Technologist
  • Microbiologist
  • Mining & Petroleum Industry
  • Molecular Biologist
  • Mycologist
  • Neurobiologist
  • Optometrist
  • Pharmaceutical Salesperson
  • Pharmacologist
  • Pharmacy Technician
  • Physical Therapist
  • Physiologist 
  • Physician Assistant
  • Public Health Worker
  • Quality Control
  • Science Illustrator
  • Science Teacher
  • Science Writer/Technical Writer
  • State Parks & Recreation
  • Toxicologist
  • Veterinarian
  • Water Quality Technician
  • Wildlife Resources

*Some of these careers may require additional education. 

Learn more about what you can do with a biology degree here.  

 

Griffin Success Stories

Meet a former GMercyU biology major, now a Distinctive Mercy Graduate.

Jennifer Lorine ’06, DO

Current Position: Physician and Proprietor at Jennifer Lorine, DO
Top Physicians Under 40 List by the Pennsylvania Medical Society

Dr. Lorine runs her own private practice, helping patients achieve optimal health through holistic, patient-centered, hands-on medicine. She is involved in numerous organizations and serves as a clinical instructor at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, and she lectures at area hospitals and educational programs. 

“The kindness of the faculty and natural beauty of the campus initially attracted me to GMercyU. Through hard work and the support and encouragement of the faculty and campus community, I was able to achieve the initial steps of my goal to become a physician.”

Learn more about Jennifer’s GMercyU experience.

Read more Griffin Success Stories.

Next Steps

Admission Requirements

Have questions about GMercyU's admission requirements? Contact us! Our Admissions staff is ready to walk you through the process of applying to GMercyU’s Biology Program.

Email: admissions@gmercyu.edu
Phone: 215-641-5510

Financial Aid, Tuition & Fees

At GMercyU, we strive to make a quality education accessible to all through financial aid, scholarships, and grants. As a military-friendly university, we welcome service members and participate in all VA educational benefits programs. 

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Get the education you need for a career in the sciences at one of the top biology schools in the area. Earn your Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology at GMercyU!