Students and faculty studying biology in the field in and in the lab



Why Major in Biology?

With a degree in Biology from Penn State Altoona, you’ll be well prepared for your future, whether you are interested in a career in medicine or other health-related professions, looking to pursue an advanced degree through graduate study, or interested in working with various governmental agencies or industries having biological responsibilities. Importantly, you’ll gain an understanding of the world of living things, and practical experience through both laboratory and fieldwork in small classes taught by faculty.

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At Penn State Altoona, three options are available for study.

  • The General Biology option focuses on all aspects of modern biology.
  • The Vertebrate Physiology option focuses on animal physiology and anatomy, and prepares students for careers in medicine, dentistry, pharmacology, and animal physiology.
  • The Ecology option explores evolution, behavior, and population and community biology of plants and animals, preparing students for careers in environmental management and conservation.


Undergraduate research opportunities are available at Penn State Altoona, and help you achieve your career goals. Students performing research with our faculty have traveled to field sites and conferences around the world. Their work has been presented at local, regional, national, and international meetings and, in some cases, has led to student-coauthored publications in scientific journals.

Penn State Altoona is part of the Early Acceptance Program at the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) and has the only active Penn State chapter of Beta Beta Beta, the National Biological Honor Society. Students may join the Biology Club and Science Club to enhance their classroom experiences.

Unique to Penn State Altoona, the Human Dimensions of Health Care course provides students with on-site experience from the point of view of patients, their families, and health care providers.