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Biology is the study of life, from the simplest forms of plants and animals to the highly complex structure of the human being. The field of biology seeks to better understand how organisms develop, function, and interact with each other and the environment.

Carthage offers …

Biology Major
Biology Minor

Special Programs:
Occupational Therapy


Math/Science Scholarships: 
Compete for one full-tuition and two $20,000 per year math/science scholarships.

Noyce Scholarship Program:
$16,000 in scholarships available for STEM majors.

Biologists study the evolution of life, which connects molecules to cells, tissues to systems, and organisms to ecosystems, through the unbroken chain of ancestors to descendants.

The biology curriculum at Carthage prepares students for academic and industrial research positions, graduate study in various fields from conservation to molecular genetics, secondary education, and entry into health careers including medical, veterinary, dental, optometry, podiatry, pharmacy, nursing, physician assistant, physical therapy, and occupational therapy.

Personal Attention

Students of biology at Carthage work closely with their professors and fellow classmates. Classes are small, and professors, not teaching assistants, teach all classes and labs. Professors take a genuine interest in the personal and professional success of their students.

Early and Independent Research Experience

Carthage emphasizes research for undergraduates. All freshman biology students receive authentic research experience as part of their introductory biology courses, so they gain insight into the process of science from their first semester.

Sophomore, junior, and senior biology majors are strongly encouraged to undertake an independent research project under the guidance of a Carthage faculty member. Students can participate in research during the academic semester through enrollment in an independent research course (BIO 4900) or through the Summer Undergraduate Research Experience. Students who are accepted into the SURE program receive a stipend and free room and board. Many students are also accepted into competitive, external summer research programs. In recent years, students have conducted summer research at the Mayo Clinic, University of Wisconsin-Madison, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Brandeis University, University of Massachusetts, University of Minnesota, North Carolina State University, and through other national programs.

A number of the ongoing experimental investigations in the Biology Department are part of national research projects supported by the National Science Foundation, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, NASA — Wisconsin Space Grant Consortium, and other national agencies. Carthage students contribute data to large-scale studies and interact with fellow researchers across the country. In addition, many students have successfully pursued research at national academic and medical centers.

Recent student research projects have made discoveries in the fields of molecular biology, cancer biology, immunology, space biology, human physiology, ecology, microbiology, developmental biology, and paleontology. Students who conduct research work with faculty mentorship on their own or in a small group. They design experiments, collect and analyze data, and make important contributions to science. Most student researchers present research results at a campus seminar, and many choose to share their findings at a regional or national scientific conference. Some students prepare manuscripts for publication in disciplinary journals.

Modern Facilities and Equipment

The Biology Department is housed in the new David A. Straz, Jr. Center for the Natural and Social Sciences. Biology students have the opportunity to conduct modern experiments in their coursework and in independent research when they use the following state-of-the-art facilities and equipment:

  • Animal research facilities — including an aquarium facility for zebrafish and a vivarium for rats.
  • A flow cytometer for detecting and measuring differences between cells
  • High-end microscopes including a confocal microscope, a fluorescent stereoscopes, electron microscopes, inverted microscopes, and an epifluorescent microscope 
  • The latest in instrumentation for analyzing DNA and protein samples and imaging gels 
  • Cryosectioning 
  • High-throughput instrumentation for identification of unknown microbes 

Getting Down to Business

Biology majors can pursue ScienceWorks, an innovative program offered at Carthage that focuses on developing skills necessary for success in a science-based business. The ScienceWorks program offers a minor in Entrepreneurial Students in the Natural Sciences. Students complete an internship and coursework that integrates important skills such as written and oral communication, graphics and artwork, business accounting, management, marketing and more.

Global Experience

Carthage biology students are encouraged to study abroad during the regular terms, summer, and January class sessions. The department offers numerous opportunities to study ecology, evolution, and medicine internationally. For example, Carthage’s twice yearly medical mission to Nicaragua offers students the opportunity to learn about tropical health issues and perform clinical observation in a rural outpost alongside native physicians. Other recent study tours have taken students to learn about the life of places such as Arizona, Hawaii, Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Singapore, Taiwan, and China. Carthage biology students are also competitive for research positions in laboratories abroad and prestigious Fulbright fellowships.

Supportive Community

Biology majors can join one or more of the active student organizations that allow them to network with other life scientists and engage in rewarding service activities. For example, Beta Beta Beta is the national biology honorary fraternity, Carthage World Relief is dedicated to supporting health and hygiene infrastructure in the developing world, and Carthage United to Rescue the Earth promotes environmental causes on campus and regionally. Students can also join the Biology Club — a new club that helps support underclassmen biology majors. There are also clubs for students interested in pursuing careers in the health-related fields.

Bright Future

Many Carthage College biology graduates gain employment right after graduation in biomedical, environmental, and healthcare organizations such as Abbot Laboratories, Abbvie, Aurora Health, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. Many graduates also often pursue careers in the pharmaceutical or biotechnology industries, academia, and health professions. Recent graduates have been accepted to medical, dental, veterinary and pharmacy programs at the Medical College of Wisconsin, Midwestern University, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Tufts University, and the University of Illinois-Chicago. Many recent Carthage graduates have continued their careers in advanced biology research in Ph.D. programs at institutions such as Washington University, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, and Yale University.

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  • Quick Facts

    • Carthage is named a Best Midwestern College by The Princeton Review (2020), a designation given to only 25 percent of four-year schools.

    • The Tower, Carthage’s newest residence hall, provides some of the best views on campus — if not in the Midwest! In addition to #carthageviews of the lake from seven stories up, residents enjoy suite-style living and two floors of shared campus spaces for gaming, cooking, group meetings, or quiet studying. Learn more about all housing options.

    • You’re going to need brain fuel. Grab a morning coffee and a snack and Starbucks or Einstein Bros. Bagels. Later, meet friends at “The Caf,” where the specials change daily but the staples are constant, or swing through “The Stu” for wings, a burrito, or a sub. A new option, Carthage Cash, even covers some off-campus meals.

    • Beyond the campus boundaries, dinosaur fossils are prepared at the Carthage Institute of Paleontolgoy in Kenosha. A lengthy pterodactyl flight away, Finca Esperanza serves as a base camp for J-Term medical and water quality missions to Nicaragua. 

    • More than 90% of Carthage alumni report that they have secured a job or are continuing their studies six months after graduation. Visit Career Services.

    • 91% of employers say critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills matter more than your major when it comes to career success. Learn more about how the liberal arts prepare you for a successful career.

    • Lots of schools wear the four-year label. Carthage stands behind it. More than 90% of Carthage graduates earn their degrees in four years. Learn more

    • Oscars. Emmys. Tonys. Golden Globes. The playwrights we’ve brought in have them. Each year, the Carthage Theatre Department commissions an original script by a renowned playwright for its New Play Initiative. Carthage students then work with the writer to stage it. 

    • Carthage has ranked as a top Fulbright producer for four of the past five years. Read about Carthage Fulbright winners.

    • Things look new at Carthage because they are. Our science center, student union, athletic and recreation center, and numerous residence halls have all been constructed or newly renovated in the last 15 years.

    • Carthage offers majors, minors and concentrations in more than 50 areas of study, from archaeology to neuroscience, nursing to music theatre.

    • Our Summer Undergraduate Research Experience offers select students a research budget, one-on-one mentoring with a professor, and 10 weeks of analyzing, deciphering — and getting paid.

    • So the lake is kind of a focal point, but there’s a lot more to love about our campus — like the fact that our more than 80-acre campus is also an arboretum and wildlife sanctuary. Focused on keeping campus lush forever, we plant between 50 and 75 new trees every year from a variety of species.

    • Carthage was founded in 1847. That’s more than 170 years of leaders, makers, and go-getters going out and going forth. Read more about Carthage’s rich history.

    • More than 90 percent of students receive financial aid. Carthage awards more than $20 million in scholarship and grant assistance. That includes $5.5 million in competitive scholarships in business, mathematics, science, languages, the fine arts, leadership, and overall academic strength. Learn what’s available.

    • Abraham Lincoln was an early Trustee of the College, and U.S. Secretary of State John Hay was a Carthage alum. The two still have a proud place on our campus. Spend some time with them in our Sesquicentennial Plaza. On warm days you’ll find professors leading their classes here.

    • Come to Carthage; hear yourself think — think … think …
      Legend has it that Sesquicentennial Plaza holds a perfect echo. Just stand with both your feet on the “1847,” face Straz, and start talking. “You’re the only one who can hear you, but you’ll be crystal clear,” promises English and theatre alumna Mikaley Osley.

    • Our Great Lake provides Carthage students with some amazing views. Think classes on the beach, lake views from the lab, and sunrises from your dorm room. “I love waking up in the morning with the sun shining off the lake. Nothing compares to the view in the morning,” recalls biology and neuroscience major Ann O’Leary.

    • Carthage awards up to 35 Presidential Scholarships each year, which range from $20,000 up to full tuition. Learn more.

    • For a full decade, NASA has selected Carthage students to conduct research aboard its zero-gravity aircraft. Lately, the stakes have risen. A team of underclassmen is grinding to prepare a tiny but powerful Earth-imaging satellite for launch to the International Space Station. Learn more about the space sciences at Carthage

    • Carthage is the only college or university in the Midwest where every freshman takes a full-year sequence of foundational texts of the Western intellectual tradition. Learn about the Carthage core.

    • With a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, your professors will know who you are. They will also know who you want to be — and how to get you there. Meet our faculty.

    • There are more than 130 student organizations on campus, from Amnesty International to Fencing to Frisbee, Chem Club to Stand Up Comedy. See how easy it is to get involved.

    • True story: There are more than 27 art galleries, a dozen museums, and nine theatres within 25 miles of Carthage. Some highlights: The nationally recognized Racine Art Museum, the world-renowned Art Institute of Chicago, and the Milwaukee Art Museum. Learn more about our location.

    • What’s better than one professor? Two professors. What’s better than two professors? Two professors from totally different fields teaching a single class. There’s debate. Discussion. Differing perspectives. This is where the magic happens. That’s why every student takes a Carthage Symposium.

    • You can’t hide here — not with only 17 other students in the classroom with you. That’s going to be rough some mornings. But later, when you’re able to argue your point of view thoughtfully, express your opinions succinctly, and meet challenges head-on, without fear … Yep, you’ll thank us.

    • Carthage is ranked No. 3 in the country for student participation in short-term study abroad. Every J-Term, hundreds of students travel all over the world on faculty-led study tours. Imagine a month in Sweden, Rome, Cuba, Senegal, India, Japan …

  • Who We Are