Biology, at its core, is the study of life.

From the molecular structure of organisms to the makeup of the human body, a degree in biology explores all the elements and questions surrounding the living world.

At Coker, the biology program is founded on personalized, comprehensive coursework combined with a solid foundation of research, lab work and internships where students can apply their knowledge in real-world situations. With our discussion-based round-table learning philosophy, you’ll benefit from one-on-one attention from faculty and interactive classwork to gain a thorough understanding of biology as it relates to society and the modern world.

You’ll also have the opportunity to participate in research, working directly alongside faculty members, as early as your freshman year. Many students conduct field research at Coker College’s Kalmia Gardens, a 35-acre botanical garden just minutes away from campus—and in May of 2012, three students presented their research findings at the 11th European Conference of Fungal Genetics in Marburg, Germany. Our program is founded on the belief that research experience fosters confidence and prepares you with an understanding of the direction of current and future biological research.


Coker’s biology coursework provides a thorough foundation of basic biological knowledge, from the mechanisms of evolution to interactions among organisms to the underlying molecular principles that unite all living things. With a choice of three concentrations, you can focus your studies on the topics that interest you most.

In addition, out-of-classroom learning is a key component to Coker’s biology program. Biology majors are required to participate in an internship, a senior capstone project, and an independent or directed research project—although many choose to exceed that requirement.

At the end of your four years at Coker, you’ll graduate with research, communication, teamwork and critical thinking skills—and perhaps most importantly, an understanding of the impact and responsibility of science as it relates to society.


The study of ecology provides a broad understanding of the full scale of life on earth. You might consider a concentration in ecology if you enjoy looking at the “big picture” of biology. Ecology coursework focuses on the diverse and complex relationships that exist in nature—how organisms interact with one another and their environments. You’ll study ecosystems, interactions among species, and how communities of living things function.


Molecular biology takes biology down to its core—with this concentration, you will study the basic building blocks of living things. There’s a whole world hidden at the cellular and sub-cellular levels of the organisms we see in our everyday lives. Molecular biology studies how these levels are structured, and how they function and interact. An understanding of molecular biology is a strong foundation that could easily lead into a career in medicine or a cutting-edge field such as biotechnology, genetics, or physiology.


If medical school, dental school, or veterinary school is your goal, this concentration will ensure that you are on the best track to prepare you for admissions tests (the MCATs or the DAT) and the rigors of post-grad medical studies. You will cover the courses required as a prerequisite to most medical schools, and you will work closely with an advisor who will guide you in your pursuit of acceptance to medical school—from coursework to research to a shadowing program with a medical professional.


For a more detailed explanation of requirements, including course descriptions, download the Academic Catalog.

For biology majors, the career outlook is both varied and promising. Many careers in biological science require further training, but a major in biology can be a stepping stone to medical school, graduate study, or a career with a rapidly growing field such as biotechnology and genetics. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that the field of biology will grow by 9 percent through 2016, creating 8,000 new jobs.

For more information on potential career paths, click here.

Examples of alternate career paths you can follow with your biology degree:

  • Agronomist
  • Biochemist
  • Botanist
  • Biostatistician
  • Biotechnologist
  • Ecologist
  • Crop Physiologist
  • Dentist
  • Environ. Health Educator
  • Embryologist
  • Entomologist
  • Flavor Chemist
  • Environ. Impact Analyst
  • Fisheries Biologist
  • Geneticist
  • Food & Drug Inspector
  • Forester
  • Industrial Hygienist
  • Horticulturist
  • Hospital Administrator
  • Medical Doctor
  • Laboratory Technician
  • Marine Biologist
  • Medical Social Worker
  • Medical Illustrator
  • Medical Record Technician
  • Mycologist
  • Medical Technician
  • Microbiologist
  • Parasitologist
  • Natural Resources Manager
  • Pathologist
  • Pest Control Inspector
  • Patent Specialist
  • Pharmacologist
  • Physical Therapist
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Rep.
  • Plant Geneticist
  • Plant Quarantine Specialist
  • Physician Assistant
  • Quality Control Specialist
  • Research Assistant
  • Public Health Assistant
  • Technical Writer
  • Toxicologist
  • Scientific Librarian
  • Wildlife Biologist
  • Zoologist

Graduates of Coker College have gone on to pursue a graduate degree at a number of institutions, including but not limited to:

  • Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
  • University of South Carolina
  • University of South Carolina School of Medicine
  • Purdue University
  • Medical University of South Carolina
  • Medical University of South Carolina, School of Dental Medicine
  • University of Colorado, Denver
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Trieste
  • University of Arkansas
  • Clemson University
  • Medical Technology Program at McLeod Medical Center
  • North Carolina State University
  • The Ohio State University
  • South University School of Pharmacy

Maria Valeria Avanzato

Maria Valeria Avanzato, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Biology

Paula Bailey

Paula Bailey, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology; Chair of the Department of Science & Mathematics; Coordinator of the Medical Technology Program; Pre-Health Advisor

Jennifer Raia

Jennifer Raia, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Biology, Director of the Honors Program, Chair of Science and Mathematics, and Coordinator of the Environmental Studies Minor

Joseph E. Flaherty

Joseph E. Flaherty, Ph.D.

Professor of Biology; Director of Undergraduate Research; Coordinator of the Biology Education Program