BA in Biology


Read more about this program on the institution's website

Program Description


A degree in biology from Wartburg College is well-recognized around the nation.

The Wartburg Biology Department prepares students for a wide variety of careers, including health professions, research, teaching, biotechnology, and fields involving global and environmental issues. We teach what science is, not just the knowledge it has produced, with inquiry-based learning.

While the curriculum of the biology department is rigorous, students also gain an appreciation of how studying biology can be fun, exciting and rewarding. The success of the biology program is grounded in its inquiry-based emphasis where students facilitate their learning by experiencing science rather than merely reading about it.

The Academic Experience

  • Incredible opportunities are available for both on-campus and off-campus research experience in biology.
  • Hands-on projects are an integral part of the courses throughout your four years.
  • Most biology majors conduct independent research under the guidance of a faculty member and participate in May Term field experiences.

A Challenge That’s Rewarding

  • Small-college environment with more personal attention and greater opportunities to excel without the pressure of impersonal large classes.
  • Wartburg faculty teach ALL classes, unlike larger colleges and universities

Advantages of the Wartburg Biology Department



  • 11:1 student-to-faculty ratio
  • Broad liberal arts education with an emphasis on academic excellence (Alpha Chi & TriBeta honoraries)
  • A small-college environment, more personal attention, and greater opportunities to excel without the pressure and impersonal nature of large classes
  • A caring and highly qualified faculty
  • All faculty have earned a doctorate (ten more in math/computer science/physics)
  • Numerous opportunities for on- and off-campus individual projects, independent study, and field experience
  • Environmental studies minor
  • Biochemistry major

4-4-1 Calendar

  • Fall (4 courses), Winter (4 courses), May (1 course). May Term allows students to explore a field experience or do research that can continue through the summer.
  • Innovative on- and off-campus courses during May Term: Marine Science, Caribbean Biology, Aquatic Biology, Immunology, Microbial Ecology, Gender and Science, Biotechnology, Environmental Chemistry, Science and Religion, Ecology of Prairie Vertebrates, Neotropical Experience.

Field Experience/Independent Research Study

  • Research with Wartburg faculty: diatom ecology, cancer, microbiology, conservation of urban green spaces, photochemistry of transition metal compounds, evolutionary genetics
  • Fieldwork and research experience with environmental agencies: Nature Conservancy; natural resource departments in Iowa, Colorado, Minnesota & Nebraska; county conservation boards; Osborne Nature Center in Elkader; Heery Woods; and Hartman Reserve
  • Accompanying and observing health professionals as they see patients in hospitals and private clinics
  • Research opportunities at universities and institutions: Iowa, Minnesota (including its Hormel Institute Division), Iowa State, Illinois State, Michigan, Kansas, Mayo Clinic, Baylor, Marshfield Medical Research Foundation, Kentucky-Lexington, Texas-Galveston, Colorado-Denver Medical Center, North Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia
  • Research opportunities in industry: Monsanto Agrichemical, Pierce Chemical Company, Pioneer Hybrids
  • Research opportunities (summer and semester-long) at national energy laboratories: Argonne, Pacific Northwest, Brookhaven, Oak Ridge Laboratories, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Internships in Tanzania and Ghana, Africa; England; and Denver, Colo.

Alumni Outcomes

Wartburg graduates find satisfying jobs and are admitted into top graduate and professional schools. Wartburg alumni can be found in all 50 U.S. states and over 70 foreign countries. Below is only a sample of the types of positions Wartburg graduates from the Biology Department have had in the past.

Sample of Alumni Positions from the Past Five Years:

  • Registered Nurse – Oncology, University of Colorado Hospital, Aurora, Colo.
  • Quality Regulation Lab Technician, General Mills, Cedar Rapids
  • Graduate Student-Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • Biological Science Technician, National Park Service, Yellowstone, Wy.
  • Graduate Research Assistant/Assistant Researcher, Texas A&M, Temple, Tx.
  • Outreach Associate, National Wildlife Federation, Washington, D.C.
  • Science Teacher, Davenport Community School District, Davenport

Sample Stand-out Alumni Positions:

  • Associate and Vice Chair, Professor of Urology, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City
  • Cardiothoracic Surgeon, Pheonix, Ariz.
  • Cardiovascular Research Technician, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.
  • Chief Technical Officer and Founder, Tower Care Technologies, Wexford, Penn.


Major Requirements

14½ course credits:

  • BI 151 Biology I: Ecosystems, Cells, and Evolution
  • BI 152 Biology II: Phylogeny, Structure, and Function
  • BI 211 Genetics
  • BI 455 Methods of Biological Research
  • BI 456 Student-Originated Research
  • BI 461 Science Seminar
  • Two BI course credits numbered 200 or higher excluding BI 371 and BI 372. One course credit must include a lab.
  • MA 214 Statistical Methods

One course credit studying life at the organismal level

  • BI 202 Human Anatomy and Physiology
  • BI 304 Developmental Biology
  • BI 311 Mammalian Anatomy and Physiology I
  • BI 312 Mammalian Anatomy and Physiology II
  • NSC 335 Neurobiology

One course credit studying life at the ecosystem level

  • BI 204 Conservation of Natural Resources
  • BI 206 Ecology of Guyana I and
  • BI 216 Ecology of Guyana II
  • BI 207 Vertebrate Ecology of the Prairie
  • BI 208 Island Ecology
  • BI 209 Ecology
  • BI 213 New Zealand Ecology and Maori Life II
  • BI 295 Special Topics (One topic approved by EPC.)
    • Ecology and Culture of the Amazon II
  • BI 315 Ornithology
  • BI 320 Aquatic Biology
  • BI 325 Behavioral Ecology

One course credit studying life at the cellular level

  • BI 221 Cell Biology
  • BI 305 Microbiology
  • BI 416 Molecular Biology of Cancer

Three CH course credits from

  • CH 113 Principles of Chemistry I
  • CH 114 Principles of Chemistry II
  • CH 190 Environmental Chemistry
  • CH 205 Introductory Organic Chemistry
  • CH 211 Organic Chemistry I
  • CH 217 Analytical Chemistry

One MA course credit from

  • MA 107 Finite Mathematics
  • MA 190 Precalculus
  • MA 250 Applied Calculus
  • MA 251 Foundational Differential Calculus and
  • MA 252 Foundational Integral Calculus

Science Center


The Science Center, completed in 2004, represents an expansion and renovation that doubled the size of Wartburg’s science facilities to over 110,000 square feet. The building is designed for hands-on learning and close interaction among students and faculty. Lecture rooms and laboratories, all with Internet access, provide state-of-the-art facilities for biology, chemistry, engineering science, physics, mathematics, and computer science classes.

The Science Center houses four computer laboratories, a greenhouse, animal facilities, molecular biology and biochemistry suite with a cell culture room, cadaver room, indoor stream facility, student/faculty research areas, and a variety of informal student study areas. Equipment also includes three mobile computer labs, a scanning electron microscope, fluorescent microscopes, atomic absorption spectrophotometer, Fourier transform infrared spectrometer, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, and research electromagnet. A cardio/CP stress test system is available in the Wartburg-Waverly Sports and Wellness Center.

Last updated Oct 2020

About the School

The liberal arts education you will receive at Wartburg allows you to not only gain the skills required from your chosen field of study, but also the critical thinking skills required to explore the e ... Read More

The liberal arts education you will receive at Wartburg allows you to not only gain the skills required from your chosen field of study, but also the critical thinking skills required to explore the ethics of decision-making and community engagement, effective communication, cultural competence, and collaboration. Read less