Whether you wish to pursue research opportunities, engage in a professional health care career, or find your calling as a science teacher, a Houghton degree in biology will prepare you well.

The mission of the Department of Biology is to provide students with the opportunity to explore the living world of God’s creation, in all its intricacy and diversity, within the tradition of the liberal arts. Our majors will develop an appreciation for biological complexity apparent at the molecular, cellular, organismal, population and ecosystem levels.

The BS in biology is designed for students aiming at graduate or professional schools (including medical school) and requires 62 hours of coursework.

The BA in biology requires 41-42 credit hours of coursework and is ideal for students intending to teach science at the high school level or those desiring a career as a physician's assistant or pre-physical therapist.

Why Major in Biology?

  • Do science in our hands-on, experiential program.
  • Conduct, publish and present real research with one or more of Houghton’s faculty members.
  • Use standard research equipment to work on biological problems, including a genetic analyzer for sequencing DNA, laminar flow hoods for tissue culture, fluorescent microscopes and imaging systems, thermal cyclers for PCR, various equipment for DNA/RNA extraction and electrophoresis, and advanced instrumentation for water quality assessment.
  • Travel abroad with Houghton faculty during Mayterm in one of our many off-campus study opportunities.
  • Be mentored, supported and cared for by invested faculty members who care about your academic success as well as your spiritual, emotional, and professional growth.

Major Requirements

Biology major (BA)

Biology major (BS)


Experiential Learning Opportunities

At Houghton, we emphasize hands-on engagement in the field of biology, where our students do science as scientists in the first year of the general biology sequence. Learning experiences are often 'open-ended' and require critical thinking and input from students regarding design, implementation and analysis. Students can work directly in the field through off-campus study, practicums, internships and student/faculty research collaboration.

  • Arctic Studies Semester (Alaska)
  • Au Sable Institute of Environmental Studies
  • Creation Care Study Program (Belize; NZ)
  • Ecology of Alaska
  • Ornithology (Mayterm)
  • Summer Research Institute

Personal Attention from Invested Faculty

The biology program includes seven faculty members with doctorates in their fields. With a departmental emphasis on personalized teaching and close relationships among faculty and students, biology majors have many opportunities to get to know their professors on a personal level. Professors teach the laboratory sections as well as lectures instead of relying on teaching assistants, and class sizes are deliberately capped to maximize interaction between faculty and students. Each student has an adviser from the Department of Biology whose interest/expertise is aligned with each student (as much as possible) to personalize advisement related to graduate school or career preparation as well as course selection.

Undergraduate Research

Many motivated biology majors do real research with one or more of the faculty at Houghton College. Some of these students publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals or present talks and posters at regional and national conferences. Opportunities for research include the Collaborative Research in Biology course, independent study, senior honors projects and the Summer Research Institute. Students also have traveled with faculty to work with collaborators (e.g., Cornell University, Sierra Nevada mountains of California).

Excellent Facilities

The biology department occupies approximately 15,000 square feet on the third floor of the Paine Center for Science. Additional facilities include the Margaret Bush Greenhouse and adjacent ecology laboratory on the ground floor and animal facilities on the fifth floor. Biology students have nearly constant access to laboratories, research space and the greenhouse for working on projects and research problems. In addition, the biology floor within the Paine Science Center has a study room close to faculty offices with space dedicated to working, studying or interacting in small groups.

The main campus in Houghton has 100+ acres of primarily forested land and riverine habitats and is in close proximity to the Genesee River, Roger Tory Peterson Institute for Natural History, and Allegany and Letchworth State Parks for ecological and environmental study and internship opportunities.