Welcome to the Biology Department of Alvernia University. We hope you’ll take some time to get acquainted with our B.S. in Biology program.

We are extremely proud of our science programs and facilities. Biology courses 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, you’ll use laboratory materials and equipment to examine cells and tissues, explore human physiology, isolate and manipulate DNA and protein, grow and analyze microbes such as bacteria and study and propagate plants. You may participate in studies involving biomedical and environmental analysis, facilitated by the very latest equipment and tools.

Scientific study has the potential to improve lives and advance the world for a better and more sustainable future. The study of biology is particularly important, as it enables students to develop scientific skills and techniques that can be applied to fields such as environmental science, healthcare and biotechnology.

Biology students at Alvernia 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. Scientists, and perhaps biologists in particular, have the potential to influence positive change in the world. At Alvernia, you’ll develop an appreciation for and knowledge of the fundamental skills, principles and techniques that enable you to do just that.


Why should you study biology at Alvernia University?
Because at Alvernia you get all the benefits of an outstanding university education in a manageable setting with personal attention and unique opportunities that can benefit you as you move toward your career.

Small Class Size
Alvernia has an average 17:1 student-faculty ratio, with fewer than 20 students in most classes. This facilitates valuable, professional relationships among faculty members and students. In these small class settings, you get individual attention to help you excel.

Faculty Who Care
Alvernia’s faculty members aren’t just teachers. They’re experts in their fields who are committed to passing along their knowledge and expertise to their students. In small class settings faculty members become mentors and advisors, intent on helping you learn, grow and succeed. Meet the biology faculty at Alvernia University.

Interested in a specific area of study within biology? View the faculty areas of expertise here.

Research Opportunities
Alvernia offers opportunities for biology students to work with mentors on research projects relating to their areas of concentration. These collaborations prepare students for professions and/or graduate school.

Students have worked with research mentors to explore a variety of topics, including plant diseases, life in freshwater systems, the effects of hormones on biochemical pathways and sustainability gardening.

A two-course series introduces biology students to the fundamentals of research, prepares them for participation in an ongoing research project and teaches how to interpret and disseminate findings.

Biology students also have opportunities through the National Science Foundation's Research Experience for Undergraduates program for internships that offer laboratory and resaerch experience. Alvernia students have participated in programs at Louisiana State University, the University of Southern California and Texas A&M.

Honors Program
Alvernia’s Honors Program for students who are academically gifted and highly motivated is designed to allow students to work at their own pace and to recognize and encourage academic excellence. Honors students interact with one another to exchange ideas and information across a wide range of disciplines and interests.

The Honors Program offers co-curricular activities, service opportunities and intellectual and social support to encourage students to exceed their own expectations. Learn more about Alvernia’s Honors Programs at

Get Real
Classroom learning is valuable and necessary, but out-of-the-classroom, experiential learning provides biology students with hands-on, real world learning opportunities that enrich your educational experience and are highly valued by employers.

Biology majors have the optionof completing 252 hours of major-related activities at an off-campus location where an internship sponsor supervises your work or completing research under the direction of a faculty member at Alvernia University.

Learn more about Alvernia’s Get Real program at

Study Abroad
Living and studying outside of the United States can change you in ways you can’t begin to envision. Students who study abroad typically gain immeasurable confidence and experiences they could not have imagined.

Many students have benefitted from participation in a Study Abroad program in countries including New Zealand, Italy, Spain, England, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Morocco, Palestine, China and Mexico. Learn more about Alvernia’s Study Abroad program.


Biology majors acquire the skills and knowledge needed to pursue careers in many fields. In addition, biology provides excellent training for students who want to earn advanced degrees or pursue research opportunities.

The study of biology prepares you for opportunities in areas including healthcare, allied healthcare, animal care and research, legal, environmental, industry, plant biology and education.

You might consider a career as a genetic counselor, epidemiologist, food safety expert, gamekeeper, medical illustrator, conservation biologist, environmental scientist, botanist, biology teacher or health official. Alvernia graduates are employed as physicians, dentists, research associates, educators, pharmacists, optometrists, podiatrists and immunologists.  

In addition, Alvernia’s Biology program offers coursework that enables qualifying students to enter the Reading Hospital Medical Laboratory Science program after completing their third year at Alvernia. We also partner with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine to offer an early acceptance program for students who qualify to enter the college’s School of Dental Medical, School of Pharmacy or Medical College following completion of their degree at Alvernia.  

A sampling of employers of Biology Program graduates:

  • Pfizer Inc.
  • Drug Scan
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Church & Dwight
  • GlaxoSmithKline
  • Carpenter Technology Corporation
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • The Graduate Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Reading Health System

For more information about careers in Biology check the American Institute of Biological Sciences’ website at

Some biology students return to school after graduating from Alvernia to earn graduate degrees.

Alvernia University, in partnership with Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), offers an early acceptance program that allows qualified students to enter into LECOM’s School of Dental Medicine, School of Pharmacy or Medical College upon completion of their degree at Alvernia. Specific guidelines and requirements are available from the Chair of Science and Mathematics.

For more information about Alvernia’s Biology Program contact the Admissions Office at 1-888-ALVERNIA or 610-796-8269 or


All Alvernia students must successfully complete a minimum of 123 semester credits to receive a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree. To view the 2016-2017 Academic Course Catalogue go to View your Major Academic Plan (MAP) by year here.

As a biology major, you’ll need to earn 80 to 89 credits in the major.

Biology Core Requirements (28 credits)
BIO 103  Principles of Biology w/Lab
BIO 104  Zoology w/Lab
BIO 221  General Microbiology w/Lab
BIO 303  Genetics
BIO 304  Cell Biology
BIO 309  Molecular Genetics Lab
BIO 311 Cellular Physiology Lab
SCI 402  Seminar
SCI 480  Biology Internship    OR
SCI 406  Research I   AND
SCI 407  Research II

Biology Electives (18-24 credits)
BIO 107/117   Anatomy & Physiology I w/Lab
BIO 108/118   Anatomy & Physiology II w/Lab  OR
BIO 115/116  Human Form & Function w/Lab
BIO 205   Botany w/Lab
BIO 208   Neuroscience for Rehab
BIO 211   Kinesiology w/Lab
BIO 216   Nutrition
BIO 320   Ecology w/Lab
BIO 405   Pharmacology
BIO 409   Immunology
BIO 410   Pathophysiology

Students are required to complete either an internship or a research experience as part of their biology major.


Alvernia believes that real world experience is extremely important, as it can improve your confidence and introduce you to professionals in your intended field of employment. You can find out more about real world learning at

As a biology major, you have the option to participate in at least 252 hours of biology-related activities at an off-campus location under the supervision of an internship sponsor. Internships normally are completed during the junior year. You need to have a 2.5 GPA to qualify for an internship.

A sampling of internships of Biology Program students:

  • Philadelphia Zoo
  • Bristol-Myers Squib                       
  • American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Alliance for a Clean Environment
  • Reading Hospital
  • The Graduate Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Thomas Jefferson University
  • Hawk Mountain Sanctuary
  • Chicago Botanic Garden
  • Rainforest Action Network
  • Virginia Marine Science Museum
  • Echo Hill Outdoor School
  • Reading Public Museum

Research Opportunities
In addition to real-world learning, biology majors can also benefit from research opportunities. Two research courses will introduce you to the fundamentals of research, prepare you to participate in an ongoing research project under the direction of a research mentor, and teach you how to interpret and disseminate data collected during the project.

Research I (SCI 406) is the first of two courses in the student research sequence. Students will develop a research project with a faculty member of their choice. This course will focus on a literature review, developing a research plan, conducting experiments and interpreting results.

Research II (SCI 407) is the second of two courses in the student research sequence. Students will continue to work the research project with the faculty member of their choice from the previous semester; this will include completing any final experiments and wrapping-up their research project. Students will work to formulate conclusions and output their data in a presentable research format.

Dylan James '16
As a student, Dylan is getting hands-on experience both in and out of the classroom. He works with Dr. Heinze to monitor temperature change and how that impacts the behavior of microorganisms. Dylan's work has shown that temperature can be a primary reason for movement of certain species of microbes. This work helps provide a scientific basis for discussions on the diverse impacts of local and global climate change.

Some research interests of Alvernia Biology faculty members include:

  • Development of immunologic and cell based functional assays
  • The effects of hormones on biochemical pathways
  • The etiology of plant diseases
  • Genetics of plant disease resistance and plant disease control
  • The effects of minor temperature changes on the interactions of life in freshwater systems
  • The reproductive success of American Kestrals
  • The effects of forest fragmentation and acid rain to key species of songbirds and raptors
  • Agriculture and sustainability gardening

You can visit the Biology faculty pages to learn more about research that might match your interests.

The Honors Program
If you’re academically gifted and highly motivated, you may want to learn more about Alvernia’s Undergraduate Honors Program. Honors students have opportunities to take courses dealing with unusual topics and participate in a variety of activities. You can learn more about the Honors Program and how to apply at


Alvernia is committed to serving the needs of its students. Whether you have questions or problems related to academics, life on campus, student activities, social activities or any other issue, there is someone available to help you. You can learn more about all student services at

Educational Planning Center
The Educational Planning Center offers advice and support to help you with any problems or issues related to your Alvernia education; it also assists with career exploration and preparation. The office is open every day and can be contacted at 610-796-8266.

Career Services
Staff members at the Career Development office will help you with any questions you have about exploring or planning careers, and they also will guide you about how to look for and apply to jobs as you get closer to graduation. The office also has a career resources library. You can learn more about career services at, or by emailing

Financial Aid
Contact the Office of Financial Aid with any questions you have about the cost of an Alvernia education and to discuss the options available for paying for it. Nearly all undergraduates at Alvernia get some type of financial aid, and everyone is encouraged to apply for it. You can learn more at or by emailing

Admissions Office
If you’re interested in applying to the biology program at Alvernia, Admissions Counselors are available to discuss and answer any questions you might have at 610-796-8269 or


There is so much more to college than classes. Students who get involved and engaged in extra-curricular activities benefit both academically and socially, and open themselves to integral life lessons from beyond the classroom.

You’ll be encouraged to participate in a range of activities, including some rewarding and inspiring service projects. Some organizations and activities you might enjoy include:

  • Beta Kappa Chi is the Science Honor Society, with more than 66,000 members in 67 chapters at colleges and universities across the United States. You’ll meet like-minded people who are interested in advancing scientific education and high scholarship in pure and applied science. Acceptance into an honor society can be very advantageous, so it’s something you might consider. You can learn more about Beta Kappa Chi at Or, contact Kevin Burns at for more information about joining.
  • The Environmental Club is committed to maintaining the temperate deciduous forest, riparian and freshwater ecosystem that surround Alvernia. The club works to recruit new members, educate the public and sponsor events that call attention to environmental issues. Events include trail clean-up days, Eco-Fun day and public speaker seminars. Learn more about the Environmental Club at
  • The Pre-Health Professions Club at Alvernia is for students who are working toward future careers in health professions. It provides opportunities for sharing ideas and information and gaining support from students who share your interests and concerns. Learn more at
  • The Science Association will enable you to experience the advantages of interacting with others who share your scientific interests. It provides opportunities to prepare and present technical materials before science-oriented audiences, and is intended to foster a professional spirit among members. You can learn more about this club
  • The Holleran Center for Community Engagement serves as a bridge between the University and the community. It partners with a variety of organizations to provide opportunities for service for students. Activities have included helping in an after-school program for city children, spreading stone in Nolde State Forest and counting brown bats at Blue Marsh Lake. Learn more at

While these are organizations that may be of particular interest to Biology majors, there are many other ways to become involved, both on and off campus. You can learn more about Alvernia’s Student Government Association, becoming a Student Ambassador, student trips and other activities at

Alvernia biology graduates pursue rewarding careers upon graduation. They serve the society as physicians, dentists, teachers, pharmacists, research associates and technologists. Many Alvernia graduates also go on to continue their education.

Their passion for serving others in their professions and furthering their education stems from the real-world experience they have gained from research opportunities, internships, coursework and service-learning opportunities during their time at Alvernia.

Brandi Loga ‘14
As a senior student, Brandi was accepted into Salus University's Physician Assistant (PA) Program in Elkins Park, PA. Her knowledge from her science courses at Alvernia helped her to become a better, well-rounded student and prepared her to be successful in their PA program.


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