Bachelor of Science in Biology

Alvernia's Biology Program and its enthusiastic faculty are dedicated to providing students with a framework to excel in any biological field. Students work closely with faculty to develop critical thinking skills and analytical techniques to be successful in their future careers as scientists. The biology program takes a multidisciplinary approach to provide students with a comprehensive knowledge of fundamental scientific principles in mathematics, chemistry and physics. The laboratory spaces expose students to equipment and instrumentation for examining cells and tissues, isolating and manipulating DNA and protein, growing and analyzing microbes, and analyzing metabolites in plants and other organisms.

Students within the program can experience real-world research by completing an internship at a company directly in line with their career goals or by completing an independent research project with a faculty mentor. The program also offers coursework that can give qualifying students an opportunity to enter the Reading Hospital Medical Laboratory Science program after completion of their third year at Alvernia. Students accepted into this program acquire their Bachelor of Science in Biology from Alvernia after successful completion of a year of clinical study.

Biology majors can also enter into the 3+2 Physician Associate Program and have the opportunity to complete both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in 5 years.


Getting Started

Where You Can Get A Degree

The Bachelor of Science in Biology program is available at the following Alvernia University campus:

General Notes
  • A minimum of 123 credits are required for graduation.
  • Credits earned for COM 100 and MAT 100 do not count toward the 123 credits required for graduation; however, COM 100 students may petition for elective credit.
  • Where appropriate, courses required for the major can be used to satisfy General Education requirements. However, the credits earned for these courses are applied to either Gen Ed requirements or the major, not both.
  • Paths of Knowledge coursework may count towards major or minor requirements, but may not fulfill a second Mid-Level Liberal Arts Exploration requirement.
  • Students are expected to follow the catalog requirements for General Education, the major, and additional requirements.
  • A minor or second major within the areas listed under Paths of Knowledge automatically fulfills that area of the Gen Ed requirements.
Application Instructions

Through a rolling admission process, prospective undergraduate students — including first-year, transfer, and international students — may apply via the Alvernia web portal or The Common Application. To learn more about how to complete your application, please visit our application page.

Financing Your Education

There are options to assist in financing your education and making the tuition affordable. Visit our Student Financial Services page for a detailed overview of the process, including a link to complete the FAFSA application, as well as more information about tuition, the tuition payment plan and the tuition deferment program we offer. Alvernia’s Title IV code for the FAFSA is 003233. The Office of Student Financial Services is available to help with any questions you may have. Call 610-796-8201 or email

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Eric Recktenwald
Why Choose Alvernia?
• A nationally ranked comprehensive regional university, Alvernia offers more than 50 majors and minors.
• An ever-expanding number of experiential learning opportunities includes internships, field experiences, co-ops, research projects, and study/service abroad programs.
• A rich campus life allows students to enjoy a full calendar of activities and events, more than 50 clubs, intramural sport and student leadership and governance opportunities.
• In growth mode, Alvernia continues to add value to its student experience: expanding academic programming in new facilities; adding student living space and updating residence halls; partnering with a community health provider; and adding amenities including a game room and new performance space.

Program Overview

Curriculum: General Education

All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. You’ll need to complete 54-56 liberal arts core credits and complete community service hours. In addition, Biology majors must complete 80-89 credits in the major. 

First Year Curriculum: Enduring Questions

  • SEARCH Seminar-Enduring Questions or Honor Search-Enduring Questions (3 credits: SRH 101 or HNR 160)
  • COM 101 Composition & Research: Must earn a C or higher (3 credits)
  • THE 105 Foundations of Theology (3 credits)
  • PHI 105 Introduction to Philosophy (3 credits)

Mid-Level Liberal Arts Exploration Credits

  • Exploring the Natural World (6-8 credits)
    • Lab Science (Met in related area.)
    • Math (Met in related area.)
  • Individuals & Communities (6 credits)
    • History or Political Science
    • PSY 101, HIS, POS, SOC, SSC, or ECON 3
  • Culture & Language (9 credits)
    • Communication (Not COM 100 or 101)
    • World Language – 2 courses in sequence (6 credits)
  • Creative Expressions (6 credits)
    • Literature (ENG)
    • Art, Music, or Theatre

Ethical Leaders and Followers Credits

  • Theology or Philosophy (200-400 level) (3 credits)
  • Theology or Philosophy (Ethics/Morality @ 200 level) (3 credits)
Curriculum: Paths of Knowledge

Paths of Knowledge may count towards minor or Related Requirements, but not Mid-Level Arts Exploration requirements. Choose one path.

PATH 1: Interdisciplinary Study (IS)

Three courses, at least two from Liberal Arts disciplines, not the major, at the 200-400 level from the interdisciplinary minors of Women & Gender Studies, Digital Media, Community & Environmental Sustainability, Community Engagement, Cultural Studies, Leadership Studies or Pre-Law.

PATH 2: Multi-disciplinary Study (MS)

Three courses, at least two from Liberal Arts disciplines, not the major, at the 200-400 level employing multiple disciplinary perspectives to explore the Enduring Questions in one of the following themes: Cultural & Global Studies, Imagination & Creativity, Peace & Conflict, Poverty & Wealth or Sustainability, Science & Technology.

PATH 3: In-depth Disciplinary Study (DS)

Three courses at the 200-400 level in one Liberal Arts discipline other than one’s major, guided by common ideas and methods of inquiry. Students choose from Art, Biology, Chemistry, Communication, Computer Science, Economics, English, History, Mathematics, Music, Philosophy, Political Science, Psychology, Sociology, Theology, Theatre or World Languages. This path may be used to give students a firm foundation in a discipline supporting their chosen major, or to pursue an interest in one of the Liberal Arts disciplines. 

Curriculum: Major Requirements

All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. You’ll need to complete 54-56 liberal arts core credits and complete community service hours. In addition, Biology majors must complete 80-89 credits in the major. 

Required Courses (32 credits)

  • BIO 103: Principles of Biology w/ lab I
  • BIO 104: Principles of Biology w/ lab II (pre-requisite: BIO 103 or instructor permission)
  • BIO 221: General Microbiology w/ lab (pre-requisites: BIO 103, 104, 107/117 or instructor permission)
  • BIO 303: Genetics (pre-requisite: BIO 103 or instructor permission; co-requisite: BIO 309)
  • BIO 304: Cell Biology (pre-requisites: BIO 103, CHE 105, 202; co-requisite: BIO 311)
  • BIO 309: Genetics Lab (co-requisite: BIO 303)
  • BIO 311: Cell Biology Lab (co-requisite: BIO 304)
  • BIO 320: Ecology
  • SCI 402: Seminar
  • Select one 6-credit option:
    • 6 credits Research Sequence: SCI 406: Research I and SCI 407: Research II OR
    • 6 credits of Internship: SCI 480: Internship in Science and Math

Related Requirements (33 credits)

  • CHE 104: General Chemistry I (co-requisite: CHE 110)
  • CHE 105: General Chemistry II (pre-requisites: CHE 104, 110; co-requisite: CHE 111)
  • CHE 107: Laboratory Safety
  • CHE 110: General Chemistry Lab I (co-requisite: CHE 104)
  • CHE 111: General Chemistry Lab II (pre-requisites: CHE 104, 110; co-requisite: CHE 105)
  • CHE 201: Organic Chemistry I (pre-requisites: CHE 105, 111; co-requisite: CHE 210)
  • CHE 202: Organic Chemistry II (pre-requisites: CHE 201, 210; co-requisite: CHE 211)
  • CHE 210: Organic Chemistry Lab I (pre-requisites: CHE 105, 111; co-requisite: CHE 201)
  • CHE 211: Organic Chemistry Lab II (pre-requisites: CHE 201, 210; co-requisite: CHE 202)
  • MAT 209: Probability & Statistics Satisfactory score math placement
  • MAT 220: Math Comp/Stats Lab
  • MAT 230: Calculus I (pre-requisite: MAT 131 or satisfactory score on math placement test)
  • PHY 200: General Physics I (pre-requisite: MAT 230, or as a co-requisite)
  • PHY 201: General Physics II (pre-requisite: PHY 200)

Major Electives (Choose 14-20 credits from the courses below)

  • Select one option:
    • BIO 107/117: A&P I w/ Lab and BIO 108/118: A&P II w/ Lab 4 OR
    • BIO 115/116: Human Form and Function w/lab
  • BIO 200: Medical Terminology
  • BIO 203: Biosphere
  • BIO 205: Botany
  • BIO 208: Neuroscience for Rehabilitation (pre-requisites: BIO 107/117, BIO 108/118 or BIO 103, 104)
  • BIO 211: Kinesiology (pre-requisite: BIO 107/117 with a “C” or better)
  • BIO 216: Nutrition
  • BIO 315: Forensic Medicine (pre-requisite: BIO 104)
  • BIO 401: Vertebrate Physiology (pre-requisite: BIO 103)
  • BIO 405: Pharmacology (pre-requisite: 6 credits BIO or instructor permission)
  • BIO 409: Immunology (pre-requisites: BIO 104, 304, CHE 105 or instructor permission)
  • BIO 410: Pathophysiology (pre-requisites: BIO 107/117, 108/118 or instructor permission)
  • BIO 430: Forensic Biology (pre-requisites: BIO 304/311, 303/309, CHE 202/211)
  • CHE 401/CHE 410: Biochemistry w/lab (pre-requisites: CHE 104, 105, 110 or 112, 111; 201, 210, 202, 211; co-requisite: CHE 410)
Experiential Learning Opportunities

Biology courses at Alvernia are taught in the O’Pake Science Center, a state-of-the-art facility with two floors of laboratory and classroom space, all offering the latest in educational technology. As a biology major at Alvernia, you’ll learn more than what is contained in textbooks. You’ll experience “real-world learning” that will enable you to link your classroom experiences to the larger community and, indeed, the world.

In addition, Alvernia partners with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine to offer an early acceptance program for students who quality to enter the college’s School of Dental Medical, School of Pharmacy or Medical College following completion of their degree at Alvernia.

Internship opportunities include the Alliance for a Clean Environment American Association for the Advancement of Science, Berks County Conservancy, Berks Nature, Bristol-Myers Squib Capital Internship Program Chicago Botanic Garden, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Echo Hill Outdoor School Environmental Protection Agency, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary, Institute for Experiential Learning, Institute of Paper Science & Technology, Lehigh Valley Hospital, National Science Foundation, the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources the Philadelphia Zoo, the Rainforest Action Network and Reading Public Museum. 

Accreditation Statements
  • Alvernia is an accredited institution and a member of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. MSCHE is an institutional accrediting agency recognized by the U.S. Secretary of Education and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.
Career Outlook

After earning your Bachelor of Science in Biology, you can pursue a variety of careers, including:

  • Biologist
  • Agricultural technician
  • Quality control technician
  • Health educator
  • Science teacher
  • Physician liaison
  • Dentist

Biology graduates from Alvernia have pursued further study in podiatry, immunology, dentistry, optometry, medicine and education. They are employed by such reputable companies and research facilities as Pfizer Inc., Drug Scan, Johnson & Johnson, Church & Dwight, GlaxoSmithKline, Carpenter Technology Corporation, Thomas Jefferson University and The Graduate Hospital of Philadelphia, as well as by virtually every hospital in Berks County and many in Lebanon, Lancaster, York, Pottsville and Philadelphia. They serve society as physicians, dentists, teachers, pharmacists, research associates and technologists.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, careers in biology are expected to grow up to 17 percent between 2021 and 2031, much faster than average for all occupations. The median annual salary is $65,000.

Opportunities for Majors

Science Association

The object of this club is to afford an opportunity for the students of science to become better acquainted, to secure the intellectual stimulation that arises from professional association, to obtain experiences in preparing and presenting technical material before chemical audiences, to foster a professional spirit among the members, to instill a professional pride in the sciences, and to build an awareness of the responsibilities and challenges facing the modern scientist. Membership of this association is open to students pursuing their study in the area of science and related fields. Contact Rosemarie Chinni (610-568-1492, or Kevin Burns (, 610-790-2865) for more information.

Pre-Health Club

The Pre-Health Professions Club includes, but is not limited to, Pre-Medical, Pre-Dental, Physician Assisting, Occupational Therapy, Nursing, and Pre-Veterinary students. It provides a setting in which students who are working toward future careers in the health professions can get together, share information, learn more about the health professions in general, and develop friendships with students who share some of their interests. Members of this organization are composed of students pursuing study in several areas of science and related health fields.

Environmental Club

The purpose of this student organization is to maintain the temperate deciduous forest, riparian, and freshwater ecosystems about Alvernia University and the community it serves. The organization does this by recruiting new members, educating the public, and holding events that draw attention to the environment. Such events are Eco-Fun Day, trail clean-up days, and hosting public speaker seminars.

Beta Kappa Chi

Beta Kappa Chi is the National Science Honor Society composed of chapters which seek to encourage and advance scientific education through original education, the dissemination of scientific knowledge and the stimulation of high scholarship in pure and applied science.

Epsilon Gamma Chapter of the Delta Epsilon Sigma Honor Society

This is a National Scholastic Honor Society for students, faculty, and alumni of colleges and universities with a Catholic tradition.

The Washington Center Experience

Alvernia students have an opportunity to earn college credit by spending a semester or summer in Washington, D.C. where they serve as interns in a congressional office, government agency, major corporation, newspaper or news network, or agencies devoted to legal affairs, international relations, or business and economics. They also may intern with one of several non-profit groups dealing with the environment, women’s issues, the arts, education, science, or labor relations among others. Participants are customarily juniors or seniors who have achieved grade point averages of 2.5 or better and who have the endorsement of the appropriate academic area. In addition to their internship, students select one seminar dealing with the arts and humanities, communication, public policy, the legal system, business, and government. Interested students should see their academic advisor.

Get to Know Your Faculty

For more information about Alvernia’s Biology program contact the Admissions Office at 610-796-8269 or Or reach out directly to Science Department Chair Eric Recktenwald at 610-796-8427 or To see a list of Science lecturers, click here.