Program Mission Statement
The mission of the BS: Biology program is to provide students an outstanding and comprehensive education in the life sciences. We strive to provide our students a fundamental understanding of the processes that govern living systems and the techniques necessary to study them. We prepare students to pursue careers in the life sciences, to understand complex biological issues, and to use scientific thinking throughout their lives. Student development occurs through a rigorous course of study that emphasizes interdisciplinary, experience-based classes and research projects. Faculty accessibility to students is a priority; therefore, we endeavor to offer small classes with integrated laboratory and field research experiences that promote student and faculty interactions. Students gain occupational experience through internships and/or thesis research that are supervised by faculty and professional mentors.
Students graduating with the BS: Biology degree will be extremely well prepared to compete with their peers in many areas of the biological sciences. The BS: Biology degree is appropriate for students interested in attaining careers after graduation in fields as diverse as health care, biotechnology, the pharmaceutical industry, biomedical laboratories, forensics, and science education. In addition, the curriculum of this degree is tailored to provide students will all of the coursework necessary to attend top graduate programs in biology fields (in areas such as cell/molecular biology, microbiology, and public health) as well as veterinary, medical, dental, pharmacy, optometry, physical therapy, physician assistant, nursing, and sports medicine schools. The Option Areas listed for the BS: Biology degree are designed to allow students to focus on specific coursework in a number of exciting and popular areas within the biological sciences. The Molecular Bioscience Option is tailored for students interested in research and applied science careers in biotechnology, forensics, biomedical laboratories, and the pharmaceutical industry. The Pre-Professional Medical & Veterinary Sciences Option prepares students for graduate programs and professional schools in the variety of allied health fields and veterinary medicine, and contains all of the necessary prerequisites for acceptance into the majority of these schools.The Integrative Biology Option is designed for students who want flexibility and independence to pursue coursework from across different science and mathematics disciplines. This Option is particularly appropriate for students who transfer to the University of Montana Western with specialized science courses not offered at our institution.
The BS: Biology degree requires students to complete an internship or senior thesis as part of their educational experience. This internship/thesis component is an especially important aspect of experiential learning within these degrees, providing students with real-world experience in prospective careers and areas of research encountered in graduate school. In many cases, students perform an internship through paid or volunteer work for an employer in a profession the student is interested in pursuing. In addition, University of Montana Western’s active faculty provide students with a varIety of opportunities to be involved in research in novel areas of cell/molecular biology, microbiology, parasitology, freshwater biology, fish and wildlife biology, plant biology, and mathematics, as well as other areas within the discipline. These research opportunities allow students to closely interact with professors to design and implement research to address interesting and novel questions in biology and ecology, which can form the basis of a senior thesis project.
Successful graduates from the BS: Biology program will:
- Display an understanding of basic concepts in the diverse fields of biology including cell biology, ecology, molecular biology, genetics,and evolution;
- Read and understand primary scientific literature;
- Write biological research proposals and papers;
- Give effective spoken presentations and participate in capstone internships or research projects that provide authentic practice within the field of biology.
Outcomes are assessed through course performance rubrics and metrics that inform regular departmental self-study, responses from students on select course evaluations that focus on course learning objectives, feedback from internship supervisors, and reports from external reviews. Details of specific assessment activities are outlined in the program assessment plan available from the Biology Department.