Should I choose a science major? Do you often find yourself asking “Why?” “How does that work?” “Would it be better if…?” The science department seeks to help students learn how to ask and answer questions through research, discovery and communication. If you enjoy labs, conducting research, working with others and problem solving, then you should consider majoring in a natural or applied science program!
What majors are there in the science department?
Many liberal arts institutions offer biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, pre-engineering, pre-medicine, pre-physical therapy, science education and medical laboratory science majors. The course requirements for some of the majors may overlap, and some students choose to pursue a double major. For example, students often double major in biology and pre-medicine or in chemistry and pre-medicine.
Minors are also a popular option. Minors in biology, chemistry, computer science, and mathematics are popular to stack on top of a different science major or among students who choose to major in other fields.
Check out this related blog to learn about the benefits of pursuing a minor!
What types of skills will I acquire as a student in the science department?
Most natural science courses include weekly laboratory experiences lasting multiple hours. By gathering and analyzing data, students develop critical thinking skills. You’ll also gain valuable hands-on experience with a variety of laboratory techniques and equipment. By composing lab reports and working with other students on lab experiments, you’ll practice communicating science. You will also acquire content knowledge in the area or areas in which you specialize. Often, this knowledge builds on itself throughout a student’s four years. In addition to coursework, students in the mathematical and physical sciences often participate in seminars that build their knowledge base and ability to make connections among classes and classmates.
What kind of internships or hands-on experiences are available?
Most internships are summer experiences that involve shadowing professionals in your field of interest. There are also competitive internship opportunities. An example of this is a Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) which include stipends to perform summer research. Internships are great ways to gain hands-on, professional experience to help you discover more about your future career. Learn more about your options by talking with your advisor or a trusted professor!
You can also gain experience outside of internships. For example, science department majors often complete honors projects, take seminar classes, and participate in student clubs and organizations.
What types of graduate programs are there?
Students earning a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences typically continue their education with master’s and Ph.D. degrees in a wide variety of fields. Master’s degrees allow students to pursue teaching, research, naturalist/resource management, testing, or manufacturing positions. Students who have furthered their education by earning advanced graduate degrees have opportunities to be medical providers such as allopathic (M.D.) or osteopathic (D.O.) medical doctors, chiropractors (D.C.), physician assistants (P.A.), optometrists (O.D.), dentists (D.D.S.), veterinarians (D.V.M.), or physical therapists (D.P.T.).
If you’re a current undergraduate student in the science department and would like to learn more about graduate programs, meet with your advisor. Express your interests, and they will help you determine your next step.
What are possible careers with a degree from this department?
Should I choose a science major? A science degree allows graduates to choose from a variety of careers within the science field. Graduates have secured jobs as research and hospital lab scientists, high school science and math teachers, lab and wildlife technicians, marine biologists, city water analysts, data analysts and professors. Students have also obtained a wide variety of positions within the medical field, including public health analysts, clinical medical physicists, doctors of chiropractic, medical doctors, doctors of osteopathy, doctors of optometry, dentists, physician assistants and physical therapists. Jobs can range from chemical, physical, medical and educational sciences. With so many individual niches within such a wide field, there are many career options for anyone with any type of science degree.
At Bluffton University…
Bluffton’s science programs feature a hands-on curriculum, active student organizations and one-on-one assistance obtaining relevant research experiences. With dedicated Ph.D. professors personally invested in the individual success of each student, Bluffton science majors are prepared for advanced study and a variety of career paths. At Bluffton, your professors will encourage you to ask questions and to discover answers!
The Knowlton Science Center, featuring teaching labs for chemistry, biology, nutrition and dietetics, opens in fall 2023. Plus, Bluffton’s 2022 graduates had a 100% placement rate for pre-medicine and pre-physical therapy.
Written by Kaylee Rauch ’26, public relations student assistant, and Dr. Angela Montel, professor of biology