Why Study Genetics?

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Reagents for RNA synthesis

Reagents for synthesizing guide RNAs, Freshman Research Initiative

Are you considering an undergraduate program leading the B.S. degree in Genetics? The pages collected here provide information about the field of genetics, potential careers, the details of an undergraduate program in this genetics, and the advantages of pursuing this degree at Iowa State University.

What is Genetics?

  • Genetics is the study of heredity at multiple levels of understanding, ranging from molecules to populations. Genetics occupies a central position in modern biology, so its understanding is essential for all scholars of the life sciences. The discipline has great impact on many everyday aspects of human life. The food we eat and the clothes we wear come from organisms improved by application of genetic principles. The causes of important human diseases are being discovered, and therapies developed, based on fundamental genetic investigations. Increasingly, management of human health also depends on genetic and genomic information.  These impacts are certain to grow over the coming decades, so genetics is a growth field.

Why study Genetics at ISU?

  • ISU is one of only a few colleges or universities in the Midwest that offers a B.S. degree program specifically in Genetics. There are many programs available in Biology, Biochemistry, Microbiology, and other biological science majors, but if you know that you have a special interest in genetics then ISU should be a program you consider.

  • Undergraduate education at ISU is very student-centered even though we are a large state university. The Genetics major offers a supportive environment for the first year experience through our very active Learning Community. This organization facilitates successful transition to university life by grouping Genetics majors in the same sections of introductory courses, providing upperclassmen peer mentors for coursework support and other advice, organizing the formalized advising process for course selection, and, importantly we think, providing a supportive social environment for students with common interests to interact and work together towards success.

  • ISU is a major research institution with a particularly strong reputation in many aspects of genetics. Undergraduate participation in our research laboratories is highly valued.

  • The major was recently (Fall 2014) reviewed by an external review team of experts in the field. They issued this report: "The genetics major has a solid curriculum that appears to be designed to simultaneously meet medical school requirements and the needs of those in other career tracks. The three semester math requirement is a strength. The senior seminar is of special note, since many universities limit such experiences to honors students. Similar to the biology major, the genetics major also has a freshman learning community. We are very impressed with the career paths of genetics graduates, particularly the high proportion of students who pursue a PhD.”

  • ISU also offers majors in many other complementary life sciences such as Microbiology, Biology, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, Agronomy, Animal Sciences, Environmental Sciences, and Horticulture. Many of these share common introductory core coursework with the Genetics major. Interested students can undertake minors or double majors, and up to 30% of Genetics majors take advantage of this opportunity.

  • Our alumni have a great record of success after leaving ISU and moving forward in their careers.

  • Link to Genetics Learning Community here.

What can I do with a B.S. in Genetics?

  • Students with the B.S. degree find employment in the biotechnology, health, or food industries or in academic research laboratories. Recent graduates work as technologists and project managers for biotechnology companies such as Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Syngenta, Integrated DNA Technologies, NewLink Genetics, Calyxt, and Orion Genomics and in chemistry, biology, cytogenetics, and genotyping labs in hospitals and universities.

  • Completion of the B.S. in Genetics also fulfills the coursework requirements for entry into almost any health-related professional program as well as into graduate programs leading to an M.S. or Ph.D. degree in biological sciences disciplines.

  • Students are encouraged to check graduate and professional programs of interest early in their academic careers for specific entrance requirements including both courses and research, job-shadowing, work, teaching, mentoring, or volunteer experiences.

What careers have been pursued by recent alumni?

  • The following link shows information about which graduate programs have accepted students with Genetics B.S. degrees from our program, the distribution of current careers of our graduating class of 2003, and individual profiles to give examples of the types of careers our recent graduates have followed:

  • Alumni Careers

Specific information for transfer students

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