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Receiving a Bachelor of Science in biology with a pre-professional emphasis

Sam Dunaway | News Editor

Western Oregon offers a wide variety of majors that students can choose to pursue, but many students don’t know the full scope of degrees that are offered. This week, explore what a Bachelor of Science in biology includes and the fields of work it can lead to.

Savannah Kumar is a senior transfer student finishing her last year as a biology major with a pre-professional emphasis.

When asked why she chose this major, Kumar responded, “I chose biology, and very specifically pre-professional biology, because it gave me a really good path to go towards the career goal that I wanted, which was medicine. I want to be a doctor. So I know that the pre-professional biology program here at Western encompasses all the classes that you’re going to need in the future.”

According to Western’s website, a degree in biology aims to prepare students for professional careers in biology and science education, or in Kumar’s case, entrance into graduate schools in the health sciences.

“My next step is medical school,” Kumar said. “I’m currently applying and just exposing myself, not only to the application process, but also what it’s like to be a doctor. I spent this summer shadowing other physicians to get an idea of what my life would be like in the future … I really wanted to make sure 100 percent that that was what I wanted to do.”

She added, “I think for the most part, going to Western and having the classes that I’ve had and the professors knowing that the pre-professional emphasis students are all going to go into grad schools or professional schools of some sort, they really make sure you know that it’s important to take those steps.”

Western’s biology department head Kristin Lathan-Scott explained, “we currently have nine upper-division courses with authentic research experience and 10 faculty members who have had undergraduate students on individual or group research projects … a few research projects have given students the opportunity to present at local and national research conferences.  We also work with students who want to shadow a professional in the field or obtain an internship/research position off campus.”

When asked to give advice to students considering a biology degree, Kumar replied, “be ready to learn outside of what your comfort zone is. My comfort zone is absolutely medicine — the body, the anatomy and physiology — but I had to really expand my horizons. Biology also encompasses plants, and that’s not my strong suit, but you have to work at it. My advice is, because biology is all-encompassing, you’re going to learn that there are things that are not your strong suits and you will eventually learn to love them as a part of your major.”

She added, “You’re learning about the world when you’re learning about biology. And it’s eye opening in every respect.”


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