You LOVE biology, right?  As a budding scientist, why should you choose JMU over other schools to which you were admitted?  Whether you have a clear career goal–perhaps medicine, research, or ecology–or have many interests, James Madison University has much to offer:

  • An excellent academic reputation, which really makes a difference to medical schools, graduate schools, and future employers.
  • A very close relationship between students and faculty; getting to know your caring professors is a key feature of the JMU experience.
  • Professors (and equipment) that are dedicated to undergraduates, in contrast with larger research universities where graduate students take precedence.
  • Help from faculty in finding opportunities such as internships, research experiences, and study-abroad programs that suit your interests.
  • State-of-the-art equipment and facilities. The biology department occupies a new multimillion-dollar building with excellent facilities in microscopy, genome sequencing and analysis, animal research, etc. Equipment for both teaching and research are up-to-date and cutting-edge.
  • An active Health Professions Advisory program to facilitate the medical school admissions process.
  • Professors who are active and vibrant scientists who also bring undergraduate students into their respected research programs.
  • Introductory classes where faculty teach most of the labs.
  • Opportunities to pursue other interests across the liberal arts; for example, we currently have a number of music/biology students.  A range of minors and double majors are also possible.
  • A biology curriculum that provides breadth for the renaissance biologist and depth in a wide range of subject areas for the specialist. (check the course lists on the web).
  • A great location–close to Washington DC and Charlottesville as well as Shenandoah National Park and the George Washington National Forest.

Taken together, these characteristics and strengths make James Madison University stand out.  If you are still undecided about which college you’ll choose, consider paying JMU a visit to see if the University and the biology program provide a comfortable fit for you.  Please contact us with any questions, or to arrange a visit to the department.


The Biology major is flexible and can be tailored to the interests and needs of the individual student. The program comprises a four-semester core and the opportunity to tailor your upper division curriculum. The diverse selection of upper-division courses includes:

  • Advanced Human Anatomy
  • Advanced Molecular Biology
  • Animal Communication
  • Animal Field Biology
  • Animal Physiology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biomechanics
  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Environmental Microbiology
  • Medical Microbiology
  • Evolution & Ecology of Infectious Disease
  • Field Botany
  • Freshwater Ecology
  • Genomics
  • Human Histology
  • Human Uses of Plants
  • Immunology
  • Marine and Freshwater Invertebrates
  • Mathematical Models in Biology
  • Medical Parasitology
  • Microscopy
  • Neurobiology (numerous courses)
  • Ornithology
  • Plant Physiology
  • Population Ecology
  • Plant Systematics
  • Study Abroad courses (Borneo, the Bahamas, Madagascar, the Galapagos, etc.)

Biology majors may choose from concentrations in Ecology and Environmental Biology, in Microbiology, and in Neuroscience.

The Department of Biology also offers a four year, interdisciplinary B.S. degree program for a major in Biotechnology in cooperation with the Department of Integrated Science and Technology and the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.

A dual degree program makes it possible for students to earn a B.S. degree in biology from James Madison University and a Master of Forestry degree from Virginia Tech in five years.

Big School Opportunities, Small School Feel

James Madison University combines the best of both worlds: Outstanding academics and a community atmosphere. In the Biology Department, students have opportunities for one-on-one faculty interaction and hands-on research experience with cutting-edge technology that are rarely possible at larger schools.

The Trelawny Learning Community

The Trelawny learning community is a small group of students with common interests in who live together in the newly green-renovated Hoffmann Hall. Each TLC member is matched with a faculty member or graduate student in the Biology Department who is doing research in an area of interest to that student.

The TLC students undertake research in the department and also take two research-related seminar classes. In first year, the TLC members are placed in the same BIO114 (Organisms) class so that they can work and study together, further strengthening their community.

As well as research and academic pursuits, members of the TLC engage in various social events and field trips throughout the year.

For more information on the Trelawny Learning Community, please visit the JMU Office of Residence Life page.

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