Department of Biological Sciences

Biology, the scientific study of living organisms, occurs at multiple levels spanning from the ecosystem down to the molecular level. The biology curriculum at Misericordia University is designed to provide a diverse and solid background in various areas of the biological sciences. Students can major in biology or clinical laboratory science. The biology department consists of faculty whose fields of specialization include marine biology, plant pathology, entomology, physiology, animal behavior, and molecular and cellular biology.


The mission of the bachelor of science in biology program at Misericordia University is to provide students with a quality education in the diverse areas of biological sciences so they can be prepared to pursue a career in research and graduate studies.

Overview and Highlights:

  • Upper level courses average around 12 students per class—allowing faculty to work with students on an individual basis.
  • More than 70% of graduates pursue careers in diverse fields of research and professional studies ranging from ecology to medicine.
  • Students have the opportunity to participate in faculty research with the Summer Science Research Fellowship, a 10-week grant funded program.

Admissions Requirements

The minimum criteria for admission into the biology program as a freshman student are:

  • Class rank in the top half of the high school graduating class and/or a cumulative 2.75 grade point average
  • Minimum SAT score of 500 in Math and a combined score of 1000 (Critical Reading and Math) if SAT taken prior to March 5, 2016; or a minimum 570 in Math and a combined SAT score of 1080 (Critical Reading and Math) if SAT taken after March 5, 2016. ACT results may also be presented reflecting a minimum 21 composite score in lieu of the SAT.
Please note the above listed requirements are general, and that each application is looked at thoroughly, taking into account individual grades, academic rigor, and other factors.

Program Goals

The biology program at Misericordia University emphasizes a broad foundational knowledge in the biological sciences and provides students with diverse upper level courses.

The program goals for the biology major are:

  1. To provide a quality education in the biological sciences.
  2. To stimulate a student’s innate curiosity for lifelong learning.
  3. To develop an understanding of the scientific process and its application.
  4. To provide the tools and promote knowledge for future opportunities and endeavors, and to develop involved members of the community.

Program Options and Curriculum

The biology curriculum emphasizes the central principles while allowing students to specialize with courses from three distinct tracks to prepare them for a variety of career paths in the biological sciences.

The curriculum includes cognate courses in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics. In addition, hands-on investigative research is integrated into the curriculum to provide students with more opportunities to conduct research projects and enhance their learning experiences. This curricular approach, in conjunction with the supporting courses required by the curriculum, provides students with the knowledge and skills necessary to prepare for a diverse array of career paths.

1) B.S. Biology with research option: Students who choose the research option are required to take five biology electives. Additionally, they will take at least 2 credits of BIO 480 to conduct an independent research project under the guidance of a faculty member and present their findings in BIO 491 Senior Thesis.

2) B.S. Biology with the non-research option: Students who choose the non-research option are required to take six biology electives and present a paper on a topic prescribed by the BIO 491 Senior Thesis course. These students are not required to take BIO 480 Research.

3) B.A. Biology: The Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology provides a solid education in the biological sciences and is ideal for students who wish to pursue a biology major together with a major or minor in another discipline. The B.A. degree requires fewer biology courses than the B.S. degree and supports students who are interested in transitioning into the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program and Biology/Secondary Education students.

4) Minor in Biology: Students with an interest in the natural sciences may choose to pursue the 19–20 credit minor in biology. The curriculum offers a broad background in the origin, growth, structure, and reproduction of living matter in its various forms.

Elective Tracks

The following are suggested curricula for a variety of biology specialties including a Bachelor of Science in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Biology, Bachelor of Arts in Biology/Secondary Education, or Bachelor of Arts in Biology (Pre-DPT).

Students are required to take five electives with at least one elective from each of the elective tracks and any two additional electives.

Track I: Cell and Molecular Biology

BIO 341: Genetics (4 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 343: General Microbiology (4 credits, spring semesters)
BIO 352: Histology (4 credits, spring semesters)
BIO 345: Developmental Biology (3 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 354: Biochemistry II (4 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 360: Immunology (4 credits, spring semesters)
BIO 435: Cell Biology (3 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 441: Molecular Genetics (4 credits)
BIO 450: Endocrinology (3 credits, spring semesters)

Track II: Organismal Biology

BIO 351: Comparative Anatomy (4 credits, fall semester)
BIO 352: Histology (4 credits, spring semesters)
BIO 301: Gross Anatomy (5 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 311: Plant Physiology, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (4 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 312: Invertebrate Zoology (4 credits, spring semesters)
BIO 346: General Physiology (4 credits, spring semesters)

Track III: Ecology and Evolution

BIO 351: Comparative Anatomy (4 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 310: Environmental Biology (4 credits, fall semesters)
BIO 313: Marine Biology (4 credits, spring semesters)
BIO 425: Ecology (4 credits, spring semesters)
BIO 431: Field Biology (3 credits, spring semesters)

Careers in Biology

More than 70% of our students who graduate from the biology program at Misericordia University pursue graduate careers in diverse fields of research from ecology to biomedical sciences and professional studies such as medicine, veterinary medicine, optometry, podiatry and dentistry.

Here is a list of resources to assist you with finding graduate and postgraduate professional programs in your desired field:

Careers in Biology

  • Research Associate
  • Research Scientist
  • Staff Scientist
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Clinical Data Manager
  • Clinical Trial Manager
  • Cytotechnologist
  • Environmental Health & Safety Director
  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Laboratory Director
  • Laboratory Manager
  • Nuclear Medicine Technologist
  • Pharmaceutical Project Manager
  • Primary or secondary education teacher
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Science Policy Advisor


The biology department is housed in the Hafey-McCormick Science building and consists of both teaching and laboratory spaces.

Teaching & Research Facilities

The largest lecture room on campus is located in the science building along with a student computer lab. Wireless network is available in the science building and our lecture classrooms and teaching labs are provided with audiovisual data projections systems. Teaching laboratories are equipped with laptops for students to perform data collection and analysis. Courses in the biology curriculum are designed and taught based on the scientific method. Therefore, students are provided with hands-on-laboratory experience on a weekly basis in both introductory and upper level courses. Our small faculty to student ratio enables students to conduct independent research projects in our dedicated teaching laboratory spaces and foster an atmosphere of experiential learning from the introductory level of the biology curriculum.

Plant/Animal facilities

The science building is home to the greenhouse where plants are grown for both teaching and research. The recently renovated animal room with lighting control provide for the care of invertebrate and vertebrate animals. Both the greenhouse and animal room are used extensively by students to set up group and independent research projects. Funding from private donors in April 2014 has facilitated the purchase of an environmental growth chamber for plants with capabilities to adjust temperature, humidity, lighting and carbon dioxide levels.

Cell culture

In vitro propagation of animal cells is made possible by the cell culture facility which contains laminar flow hoods, incubators, chromatography refrigerator and a liquid nitrogen container to store frozen cells. Material generated from cell culture is used extensively in faculty and student research projects and an upper level immunology course.


Student using microscope in class

Major financial support from private donors and matching efforts by the institution has allowed the biology department to procure a state of the art Axioobserver Z1 motorized inverted research microscope and a STEMI 2000-C stereomicroscope from Carl Zeiss Microscopy. Both microscopes are equipped with high quality lenses and camera systems. The Axioobserver's Axiocam camera system has the capability to capture dark field, bright field, DIC and high resolution three dimensional fluorescent images. In addition teaching labs have Nikon research grade compound microscopes and stereoscopes equipped with high resolution digital systems.

Molecular biology

Students are able to learn techniques in molecular biology as the department has thermocyclers to perform PCR, multiple electrophoresis systems to analyze DNA and proteins, and imagers to digitally visualize gels and chemiluminescent products on membranes. Recent upgrades to the equipment include a ChemiDoc XRS+ gel imaging system and two gel doc EZ set ups from BioRad. Students have the facilities to quantitate protein levels and perform ELISA using the EMAX plus plate reader from Molecular Devices.


Student-initiated projects in the histology course study tissues use the Tissue Tech embedding center, a Microm microtome, slide warmer and a Leica tissue processor.


Misericordia was recently funded the Appalachian Regional Commission award and with matching funds from the university, the department was able to purchase PowerLab, a high performance data acquisition software. Using PowerLab students can record data in real-time from both humans and animals. The data acquisition software allows for real-time display of experimental data, online and offline computations and, reversible data manipulation.

Cadaver lab

Misericordia University Cadaver Lab

The science building houses a spacious cadaver lab providing ample opportunities to study Gross anatomy for students to prepare themselves for medical school.

Biology Clubs and Honor Society

Student Clubs

Biology Majors have the opportunity to participate in extra-curricular activities, including student clubs such as the American Medical Student Association (AMSA), Biology Club and Tri-Beta Honor Society.

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