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Graphic of a DNA double helix.


Discover the dazzling complexity of the living world

The biological world is all around us—and we’re part of it, too.

We aim to open students’ eyes to the myriad wonders of the natural world: from the strange creatures inhabiting the depths of the oceans and the tops of the earth’s highest mountain peaks, to the plants and pollinators right here on Macalester’s campus, to the diverse array of microbes that thrive inside each one of us, to the ways our remarkable bodies function—and what happens when things go wrong. Our faculty will help you discover how the history of evolution led to the present moment, how humans are an integral part of this framework, and what climate change might mean for the future of life on our planet.

Why biology at Macalester?

The breadth of our faculty expertise is unusual for a college our size, and our curriculum reflects that. Our four-course intro series will take you deeper than traditional introductory biology courses, affording a sense of how life is connected at multiple scales. You’ll learn about:

  • Biodiversity and Evolution
  • Ecology and the Environment
  • Genetics
  • Cell Biology

As you work through the major, you’ll have the chance to go both broad and deep. Our upper-level courses cover diverse sub-disciplines within biology, and offer you the chance to study areas you love the most—whether that’s immunology, arctic ecology, developmental biology, evolution, or another track—guided by faculty doing real-world research in those fields.


We believe the best way to learn biology is to do biology. That’s why each year, our professors welcome students into their labs or into the field, working side-by-side on original research, asking questions that no one has answered and looking for solutions that are yet to be discovered.

Our professors study:

  • What the genetics of microscopic worms can tell us about the earliest stages of development
  • How arachnid evolution might unlock secrets about the separation of the continents
  • How common household products might be linked to mysterious pain conditions
  • How plants store carbon in changing environments, and how they respond to climate perturbations
  • What the microscopic structure of bones teach us about how fossil animals (including dinosaurs) grew
  • How the microorganisms that inhabit our bodies affect our health

Life after Macalester

We equip our majors with the knowledge and curiosity to pursue many directions after graduation. Some will go on to graduate or professional schools, pursuing master’s degrees, PhDs, and MDs. Other students will go on to work for health clinics, nature centers, hospitals, and research labs around the country and all over the world.

  • Recent Graduate and Medical Schools

      • University of Minnesota

      • Albany Medical College

      • Boston University

      • Brown University

      • Case Western Reserve University

      • Columbia University

      • Concordia University – St. Paul

      • Cornell University Medical College

      • Des Moines U Osteopathic Medical Center

      • Drexel University

      • George Washington Univ.

      • Georgetown University

      • Georgia State University

      • Hamline University

      • Harvard University

      • Hofstra University

      • Imperial College London

      • Iowa State University

      • Johns Hopkins University

      • Karolinska Institute

      • Marian University

      • McGill University

      • Medical College of Wisconsin

      • Michigan State University

      • North Carolina State University

      • Northwestern University

      • Oklahoma State University

      • Oregon University

      • Oregon State University

      • Pacific University

      • Paris Descartes University

      • Penn State University

      • Portland State University

      • Royal Veterinary College in London

      • Rush University

      • State U of NY/HSC-Syracuse

      • Texas A&M University

      • Touro U College of Osteopathic Medicine

      • Tufts University

      • UC Berkeley

      • UC San Diego

      • UC Santa Cruz

      • University of California, Davis

      • University of Glasgow – Scotland

      • University of Illinois – Chicago

      • University of London

      • University of Louisville

      • University of Pennsylvania

      • University of Queensland

      • University of Texas

      • University of Washington

      • University of West Indies

      • University of Wisconsin

      • Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

      • Washington University

      • Western Michigan University

      • Western University of Health Sciences

      • Yale University

  • Recent Employers

    • 3M Company
    • Advocate Health Care
    • Aisha Elementary School
    • AmerCorps VISTA
    • American Museum of Natural History
    • Analysis Group
    • AstraZeneca
    • Augsburg University
    • Bay Area Clinical Associates
    • Be the Match operated by the National Marrow Donor Program
    • Benji Cooper Photography
    • Bio-Techne
    • Bon Appetit Management Company
    • Bridgeport Public Schools
    • Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation
    • Busch Gardens
    • Cambridge Health Alliance
    • CBYX for Young Professionals – Germany
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    • Chemonics International
    • Chicago Botanic Garden
    • Children’s Dental Services
    • Chinese Progressive Association
    • City Year Los Angeles
    • Classical Charter School
    • Cloudberry Creative
    • College Possible
    • Colville Public Library
    • Conservation Corps Minnesota Youth Outdoors
    • CrescentCare
    • Dana Farber Cancer Institute
    • Deloitte Consulting
    • Department of Health and Human Services
    • DePuy Orthopaedics
    • Dodge Nature Center – W. St. Paul, MN
    • Dugas Bowers Plating Company
    • Eagle Bluff Environmental Learning Center
    • Emergency Physicians PA (EPPA)
    • Environmental Resources Management (ERM)
    • Epic Systems
    • EPPA
    • ETH Zurich
    • Exploration School
    • Finalze
    • FIS
    • Fosun Pharma
    • Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
    • Frederick Douglass Elementary School – Dallas ISD
    • Genus PLC
    • George Washington University
    • Glidewell Dental
    • Hennepin County Medical Center
    • Hideaway Pizza
    • Hospital for Special Surgery
    • Hospital Pathology Associates, PA
    • Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
    • Jefferson County, Colorado
    • Johns Hopkins School of Medicine – Baltimore, MD
    • Kipsu
    • Laboratory of Embryonic & Pathological Angiogenesis—INSERM
    • Leadpages
    • Managed Care Revenue Consulting Group (MCRC Group)
    • Mass General Hospital
    • Mayo Clinic
    • Mcgaw Medical Center-Northwestern University
    • McPherson College
    • Meridian
    • Minnesota AIDS Project
    • Mississippi Mushroom
    • MPCA and Anoka Conservation District
    • National Cancer Institute
    • National Ecological Observatory Network
    • National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases (NIA)
    • National Institutes of Health
    • New York Stem Cell Foundation
    • Oak Street Health
    • Optum Consulting (UnitedHealth Group)
    • Paratech Ambulance Service Inc.
    • Patients for Affordable Drugs
    • Phoenix Medical Scribes
    • Pivotal Software, Inc.
    • Planned Parenthood
    • Prime Therapeutics LLC
    • ProPharma Group
    • Public Health England
    • Public Library of Science
    • Rebiotix
    • Regenerative Medicine Minnesota
    • Regions Hospital
    • RespirTech
    • Ride Health
    • Royal Ambulance
    • Rwanda Zambia HIV Research Group
    • San Bernardino National Forest
    • San Francisco Department on the Status of Women
    • San Francisco Free Clinic
    • Science Museum of Minnesota
    • Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Univ of CA San Dieg
    • Stages Theatre Co.
    • The Hitching Co
    • Treck North
    • Tufts Medical Center
    • Twin Cities Orthopedics
    • University of Minnesota
    • University of California
    • University of Illinois
    • University of Michigan Health System
    • University of New Hampshire
    • University of Texas
    • University of Utah Huntsman Cancer Institute
    • University of Vermont Children’s Hospital
    • University of Washington Medical Center
    • US Public Health Service & USDA Food Safety Inspection Serv
    • Viewpoint Ambulance Inc
    • Voyager Outward Bound School
    • Washburn Center for Children
    • Washington Trails Association
    • Washington University
    • Western University of Health Sciences
    • Wild Scoops Handcrafted Alaskan Ice Cream
    • Wisconsin DNR
    • Yellowstone Forever Institute

Biology in the Cities

The local ecosystem also offers ample subject material for study—from native prairie gardens right here on Macalester’s campus, to the 440-million-year-old fossilized reefs just a mile down the road along the Mississippi River.

A 300-acre field study lab is only 15 minutes from campus


Student internships mentored by biology faculty recently (over 200 internship sites are within 8 miles of campus)

Access to multiple natural science museums, hospitals and health clinics, nature and wildlife centers, University of Minnesota, and public health agencies

Join our community

We won’t just introduce you to biology; our major is also designed to introduce you to your peers:

  • First-year courses bring together students who love biology
  • Intro courses that include hands-on lab sections and small upper-level classes that allow exploration of specialized topics
  • Tight-knit communities in research labs
  • Weekly biology seminar series featuring visiting scholars from across the country
  • Department tea times with students and faculty
  • A student-organized Bio Club and a chapter of TriBeta, the National Biological Honor Society


Research Review: Arachnids aren’t always spiders


60 Second Syllabus: Ecology and the Environment


Lecture Notes: Our Microbiome Jungle