Biology at UNC Asheville

UNC Asheville is a great place to study biology. We have outstanding teaching resources and gifted biology professors who are dedicated to undergraduate education. In addition, Asheville and the surrounding areas offer an exceptional diversity of people, places, dining, entertainment, and natural beauty for those occasions when you need to take a break from your studies and chill a bit. Whether it's catching a sunset on the Blue Ridge Parkway, enjoying the music scene in Asheville, or backpacking and hiking in the southern Appalachians, there is something for everyone.


Our curriculum for biology majors provides a broad background for students who seek awareness of the living world and their role in it, as well as training preparatory to professional schools, graduate schools, or science education careers. The department, largely through its advising program, provides students with information on what they must do to qualify for admission to schools of medicine, veterinary medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy, dentistry, optometry, and nursing, as well as Master's and Ph.D. programs in basic and applied research. The department offers all of the courses that a typical undergraduate should take to gain admission to these programs.

The department encourages learning and discovery by featuring investigative class, lab and/or field experiences within all courses offered. The Department of Biology promotes critical, creative thinking and effective oral and written communication by requiring research papers and presentations as demonstrations of competency for graduation. Additionally, individual classes require demonstration of effective thinking and communication as part of the format.

Undergraduate Research

Undergraduate research projects have been used to demonstrate competency in biology, and about 30% of biology majors engage in undergraduate research projects where extensive and very high quality interactions occur with one or more professors. All students who enroll in laboratory courses interact with faculty in labs and/or field experiences where the student: faculty ratio is rarely as high as 24:1 and may be as low as 7:1.

Biology & the Liberal Arts

Biology is clearly not an isolated discipline. How humans relate to life, each other, and other organisms involves connections with essentially all other disciplines of study – philosophy, psychology, economics, sociology, political science, history, management, and the core sciences all relate to how we handle and apply our biological knowledge. In our courses it should become apparent to a biology major that knowledge from all fields relates in some way to the study of and improvement of life, from fine literature, drama, and music to technological applications. To further promote this understanding, students are encouraged to broaden their programs by taking courses outside the major requirements and electives.

Understanding the dimensions of biodiversity, including human diversity, is an important component of the broad background biology majors gain as they study at UNC Asheville. Organizing the enormous diversity in the living world is also a major focus of biology everywhere, so students in UNC Asheville biology classes learn that, while there is a great deal of biological diversity among humans, there is more diversity within socially constructed groups than between them.

About UNC Asheville

At UNC Asheville, we respond to the conditions and concerns of the contemporary world both as individuals and as a university. We incorporate economic, social and environmental sustainability into our institutional practices and curriculum. With a range of associated centers, partnerships, and initiatives, we fulfill our public responsibility to address the needs of our community through a continuum of learning. We develop a commitment to continuing service characterized by an informed, responsible, and creative engagement with the Asheville area, the southern Appalachian region, the state of North Carolina, and a diverse and increasingly connected world.