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TCNJ adds additional path for biology majors

Traditionally, biology majors have been obligated to bulk up on science courses to prepare them to pursue a path to graduate school, medical school, or another professional program.

But with a new Bachelor of Arts in Biology program, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in July and will launch in spring 2019 pending state approval, TCNJ has opened up new career paths for its biology students.

“The bachelor of science is a very traditional degree program that includes a robust set of core science courses not only in biology but also in chemistry, physics, and math,” said Keith Pecor, professor and chair of the Biology Department. “As such it is a very prescriptive program with limited options for students who may wish to pursue other interests or other areas within the field.”

The flexibility of the BA will allow students to personalize their program of study and provide greater opportunities to pursue a second major, or a minor, either within the School of Science or in other academic areas across TCNJ.

The BA will offer students the opportunity to gain technical knowledge, communication skills, and exposure to the ethical standards of science, while also gaining experience in areas such as education, business, or the humanities.

“This program gives students additional flexibility to pursue other courses to complement their interest in biology,” Pecor said.

The philosophy behind adding the BA in biology program was reinforced by a TCNJ alumni panel held last year. At that event, graduates from the Biology Department spoke about their current careers in biotech fields or on the business side as opposed to working in labs.

This BA option will also provide opportunities for additional mentoring to ensure that students chose the path that’s right for them. “As a department, we agreed that this would require some additional investment by faculty in advising students based on their interests and career goals,” Pecor said. “We are happy to put in that time to give our students the opportunity to tailor the program best fit to their short- and long-term goals.”

Luke Sacks