After Southwestern

A major in Biology from a liberal arts college such as Southwestern prepares students to develop and pursue their own interests in any number of fields. As a whole, Southwestern offers a number of options for career advising.  


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What can you do with a biology degree?

Anything you want.

Each the above emojis might represent a career direction or two!

Click Here to see some examples.


Do you have an emoji you think we should add? 

Just let us know!


as you think about careers, note that We often organize them into different sectors:


Check out our first alumni profiles:

Anisa Ishmael ’01

Brandon Boland ’06

Kerry Quinn ’16


The Biology Department seeks contact with any alumni willing to provide their contact information on this main webpage accessible by the public without a login. If willing, please fill out this Google Form or contact Dr. Romi Burks.

 For current students and alumni, check out more connections using both SU’s Pirate Connect or the SU Alumni Directory. 




No matter what shoes you wear, a biology degree from SU can lead you in any number of directions.



STEP 1: To get somewhere “After Southwestern,” Think “Before graduation I will…”




Post-graduate competitiveness starts with taking advantage of the opportunities and High Impact Experiences that a small liberal arts college like Southwestern provides. To get started, check out Engagement Opportunities for Biologists and these other SU websites:

  • Study Abroad
  • Internships (CCPD)
  • Undergraduate Research
  • BA or BS - Does it matter?

    The Department recommends the Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree for students seeking entrance into professional schools, graduate schools or technician positions in industry. The Bachelor of Arts degree allows flexibility, particularly for students wishing to obtain a minor outside of the Division of Natural Sciences. 


STEP 2: To get somewhere “After Southwestern,” Commit to networking!”



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Here are some resources to help you start networking:


Biology Faculty

Pre-Health Advising

Center for Career and Professional Development

Pirate Connect

SU Alumni Directory

Linked In

Job Databases



STEP 3: To get somewhere “After Southwestern,”  Narrow Down a Career Path”


Desire for Advanced Education: Should I go?




  • Graduate School - Do I pursue an MS or a PhD?
  • Undergraduates have the option to start with a Master’s in Biology (MS) and then decide whether to continue on with a PhD (at the same or a different institution) or seek employment after finishing their MS.  Students convinced that they want to pursue the PhD pathway can also directly enter a PhD program with an undergraduate degree, although these students usually have considerable undergraduate research experience and a clear vision for what they want to study. PhD level careers often lead teams (i.e. act as a PI - Principal Investigator) investigating a specific research area and include increased options in academia. However, getting a PhD also builds the capacity to develop research and applications across industry and lead non-profits. MS level careers include more positions “doing science” on the front-lines (i.e. at the bench or in the field) and delving into any number of research areas. 
  • Years to degree in graduate school vary with an MS varying from 1 to 3 years and a PhD from 4 to 8 (funding usually available for 5 years). In general, students competitive and ready for graduate school should qualify for financial assistance from the graduate institution, such as tuition, fees and a stipend (earned through work as a TA - Teaching Assistant - RA - Research Assistant - or Research Fellowship). Good graduate school matches depend on first determining an area of further study and finding a good adviser with whom to collaborate.


Health-related Professional Schools - Alphabetic Soup

  • MD? DO? PA? MD/PhD? DS? DVM? MS PH?
  • With the exception of MD/PhD programs and in contrast to MS and PhD graduate programs in the biological sciences, health-related graduate degrees generally require students to pay tuition and support themselves during the program. A number of options exist for future education in health-related fields - all with their own qualifications and application process. First step starts with talking through options with an adviser and then checking out the resources provided by the Pre-Health Committee.