A degree in biology is designed to prepare the student for a variety of career paths. Rivier University biology majors have achieved success in graduate programs, medical training, and a variety of positions in industry. The focus of the Department of Biology is on the development of the student’s critical thinking skills through practical application of the scientific method to solve problems in laboratory and lecture. Laboratory courses provide the technical training and skills prized by graduate schools and the growing biotechnology industry. Embedding the technology within relevant courses provides the student with a deeper understanding of the applications and utility of laboratory techniques than would be possible in a stand-alone biotechnology course. Critical thinking in science goes beyond experimental design and problem solving. Biology classes also address the roles that the scientist and science technology play within society. The fundamental skills of critically thinking about a problem and making ethically sound judgments are also provided in the Rivier core requirements. The biology classes a student chooses and the classes a student takes as part of the general education core help resolve perceived conflicts between the goals of science, the needs of society, and individual ethical values.
The Rivier University Biology Department has designed a flexible biology program that appeals to a broad student population. In addition to a comprehensive combined biology curriculum, the department also offers two options for specialization: biology with a focus in allied health, and biology with a focus in environmental science. In the first year biology students take general biology courses that provide the necessary breadth of knowledge that will be the key to many subsequent classes. An understanding of chemistry has always provided the foundation needed for deep understanding of biology. At Rivier University the Chemistry Department provides courses during the first two years that enable our students to understand life processes at their most basic level. As biology moves towards a greater degree of reliance on complex modeling and data base searches, mathematical skills are increasingly important. Most of our students take at least two semesters of calculus during the course of their undergraduate degree. Students are encouraged to take their mathematics courses as early as possible.
In subsequent semesters the individual student’s career goals will dictate the specific course offerings that will fulfill the requirements for their degree. Students opting for the combined biology track may select biology courses from either the allied health or environmental science areas that are of specific interest to them. Students interested in the allied health or environmental science tracks select a series of specific upper-level biology classes deemed appropriate for that track. In addition to classes in biology this may include biochemistry and physics. Our students are encouraged to consider both as options that will enhance their success in the field of biology. The flexibility of the Rivier University biology program allows students in consultation with their major advisor to tailor and/or modify the program to meet their specific needs and interests.
Students desiring certification as secondary school teachers must fulfill the requirements of the biology major. Physics I and II are also required. In addition to satisfying all of the competencies of the biology major, students completing this course of study will have developed skills and competencies listed in the New Hampshire State Department of Education Professional Standards for Teachers. For information on the Bachelor of Arts in Biology Education (Day) , refer to the Education Department section of the catalog.
Pre-Professional Preparation: Pre-Med, Pre-Vet and other Health Related Professional Fields
Preparation to enter post-graduate education in a health-related discipline includes foundation courses in many disciplines. Although an undergraduate degree in a particular discipline is not a prerequisite for most fields, the majority of students successfully applying to medical, veterinary, dental and related fields will have undergraduate degrees in biology. The biology degree obtained at Rivier University will prepare students to succeed when entering graduate school as well as provide technical and problem-solving skills that will be an asset throughout the individual’s life, regardless of his/her professional interests.
Most post-graduate programs require undergraduate work in general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, English, and mathematics, in addition to upper-level biology courses in genetics and physiology. In order to have the interpersonal skills that are a prerequisite for success in any field involving human interaction, most graduate schools prefer to accept students with an educational background that includes traditional liberal arts courses in English (usually two courses), the humanities and social studies. The core curriculum at Rivier University insures all of our students are well educated in all areas of human endeavor prior to graduation.
The formal application process for professional schools usually begins in the summer after the sophomore year and the beginning of the junior year when students take the appropriate admissions test (e.g. MCAT) followed by application to the school or schools of the student’s choosing. However, course selection at Rivier University will always be done in consultation with departmental faculty, keeping the goals of the student and requirements of the professional schools at the forefront.