About Genetics

The field of genetics studies heredity at various levels from molecules to populations, and seeks to discover the molecular basis of heritable biological traits. As a science, genetics occupies a pivotal position in modern biology; its understanding is essential for any serious student of life sciences. Outside of academia, genetics touches many everyday aspects of human life. The food we eat and the clothes we wear come from the organisms modified by methodical application of standard genetic principles. At Iowa State University faculty in 20 different departments are involved in genetics research, both basic and applied. This large group of faculty provides students with a multidimensional perspective on genetics and presents them with a broad range of possibilities to become involved in genetics research.

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Undergraduate Study

Program Overview

Iowa State University offers four-year degree programs leading to the Bachelor of Science in Genetics. These are rigorous curricula that include coursework in calculus, statistics, chemistry, physics, many aspects of biological science, communications, social sciences, and humanities. Programs are offered in both the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. These two tracks are very close in the science and mathematics components but vary in the humanities and social sciences courses that give each college its distinctive emphasis.

Undergraduate Genetics at ISU is interdepartmental, to account for the interdisciplinary nature of the field. Faculty members from three different ISU departments participate in teaching, advising, undergraduate research, the learning community, and all other aspects of the undergraduate experience. The expertise of the genetics faculty thus includes all areas of genetics from molecular mechanisms of biological function at the atomic level all the way through organisms, populations, and evolution. All faculty members have active research programs and there are many opportunities for undergraduate participation in the laboratories.

A minor in genetics is also offered.  An informational brochure is available from the following link: Download informational brochure

Genetics Career Options

The B.S. in Genetics is designed to qualify graduates for careers in biological science disciplines of the future, which all include the specialty of genetics. These include human and veterinary medicine, agricultural biotechnology, genetic counseling, biological engineering, pharmaceuticals, and many others that will contribute advances and solutions to the global challenges we expect to arise in the coming decades.