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Purdue Science Majors

Start here to learn about the majors available in the College of Science. Dual majors, minors, honors tracks and even dual degrees may be available in some programs.

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John Fisher, In-state Recruiting Director
Anastasia Krutulis, Out-of-State Recruiting Director
Phone: 765-494-1990
Email: sciencerecruiting@purdue.edu

View individual plans of study

Purdue Honors College

Actuarial Science

An actuary is a business person who uses mathematical and statistical tools to evaluate future risk and contingent events. Purdue's Actuarial Science Program is an interdisciplinary program jointly administered by the Department of Mathematics and the Department of Statistics. Upon graduation, students receive an Actuarial Science degree as well as a Statistics degree. Most students also choose a Business Management minor. Becoming an actuary requires passing a series of professional exams set by the Society of Actuaries and the Casualty Actuarial Society. Students will be prepared for the first five exams and take the exams while still in college. Most students are recruited to careers as actuaries immediately after college working in banking, insurance, government agencies and financial services.

Atmospheric Science

Atmospheric Science majors study severe storms, climate change, and environmental impacts. Our majors gain valuable hands-on experience and have the opportunity to participate in research, from severe weather forecasting to analyzing global changes over time. Our graduates have the skills and knowledge to pursue graduate degrees or enter the work force in specialties such as weather forecasting, climate modeling, and air pollution.

Biology

A major in biology is based in a curriculum that gives students the maximum flexibility to design a plan to suit their individual needs and interests. The flexibility in course work matches the flexibility in career options. A bachelor of science degree in biology provides excellent preparation for careers in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries and is a springboard for admission to advanced degree programs or professional schools in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine.

Biochemistry (Biology)

Biochemistry investigates the chemical and molecular foundations of life processes. A student may study the transfer of genetic information into biological structures, the conversion of nutrients into cell constituents and their utilization as sources of energy, the storage of memory, and the chemical nature of neural processes. Laboratory techniques include electrophoresis, chromatography, Western blotting, protein sequence analysis, and peptide mapping. Understanding the development and application of enzymatic assays is fundamental to this field of study. This rigorous curriculum is excellent preparation for a number of careers in both academic and industrial research, including cancer and AIDS research, medicine, veterinary medicine, dentistry, structural biology, genetics, and medicinal chemistry and drug development.

Cell, Molecular and Developmental Biology

Understanding how eukaryotic cells process information from their environment and initiate programs of gene expression leading to growth, development, and functional specification is the essence of a CMD major. Students enrolled in this curriculum will take courses providing a solid foundation in the molecular biology of cells and gain a full appreciation of how molecular complexes interact to make a cell function. This fundamental knowledge in cell and molecular biology will be applied through further coursework in genetics and developmental biology to examine how eukaryotic organisms’ function and how specific aspects of that function are perturbed by disease. Within the CMD major, students have the option of focusing their studies on animal systems, plant systems, or both. Graduates with a CMD major are well-prepared to pursue careers in academic or industrial research, biotechnology, genetic engineering, medicine, veterinary medicine, and other health related professions.

Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Biology

This major investigates how organisms interact with their physical environment and other organisms, from an evolutionary perspective. Ecologists' work includes research and/or teaching involving population genetics and evolution, adaptive strategies for survival, the nature of populations, and community ecology. Ecologists also offer technical services in connection with environmental impact decisions and regional planning, and environmental education at various levels as teacher, naturalist, or journalist. Common career paths for undergraduate students include graduate study leading to academic positions (research and teaching in small colleges and major universities), technical positions in industry (mostly dealing with environmental assessment), and employment in state and federal environmental agencies.

Genetics

Genetics is the science of information transfer from one generation to another. We learn the laws of inheritance in all creatures big and small, how they evolve and how they change. On the molecular level we learn about DNA and RNA, on the cellular level we discover what makes a cell cancerous, and on an organismal level we examine the reproductive habits of various organisms. Crucial principles include the structure, function, and transmission of genes. Laboratory techniques explore genetic engineering from the "inside". Genetics is crucial to all of biology, hence a genetics major has great flexibility. This is excellent preparation for advanced study in biological sciences, law, genetic counseling, and many health-related professions.

Health and Disease

Health and Disease is a specialized program of study within biology. The major provides a rigorous curriculum with an emphasis on disease-related upper level biology courses coupled with general education electives related to health. It is designed for students interested in health careers and gives students multiple career options after graduation.

Microbiology

Microbiology includes the study of viruses, bacteria, and fungi. A student can expect to study topics such as microbial growth, nutrition, metabolism, pathogenesis, morphogenesis, and production of antibiotics. Career opportunities are found in public health, medical laboratories, quality assurance, environmental toxicology, and related areas. A Microbiology major is excellent preparation for advanced study or direct employment in biological sciences, education, and many health-related professions.

Neurobiology and Physiology

Physiology is the study of the functions of living organisms and of the organ and tissue systems of which they are composed. The goal of physiology is to understand, in terms of physical and chemical principles, the mechanisms that operate in living organisms from the subcellular level to the level of the whole animal, with an emphasis on how these mechanisms are integrated to produce a viable organism. Neurobiology is the study of the structure, function, and development of the nervous system, and originated, in part, as a subdiscipline of physiology. A Neurobiology and Physiology major is excellent preparation for careers in education, research, industry, medicine, veterinary medicine, and other professions.

Chemistry

Chemistry majors can pursue one of two degrees: A bachelor of science in chemistry, accredited by the American Chemical Society (ACS); or a more flexible bachelor of science with chemistry as a field of study. Chemistry (ACS accredited) is designed primarily for students planning professional careers as chemists in industry, universities, or research institutes. This degree program fulfills the recommendations of the Committee of Professional Training of the ACS and graduates will be certified by the ACS as having fulfilled its recommended requirements. This major is designed primarily for students planning professional careers as chemists in industry, universities, or research institutes. The bachelor of science with chemistry as a field of study is designed for those who want training in chemistry and freedom to pursue minors or second majors in other areas. Common areas of interest have been forensic sciences, biology, foreign languages, management, psychology, and other liberal arts programs. The flexibility in this program adapts easily to Study Abroad semesters.

Biochemistry (Chemistry)

Biochemists study the chemical basis of life. Areas of research and study include the transfer of genetic information to biological structures, the conversion of nutrients into cell constituents and their utilization as sources of energy, the storage of memory, and the chemical nature of neural processes. Furthermore, biochemists are interested in the chemical details of important processes such as photosynthesis, blood clotting, fertilization, and other functions that may be unique to certain organisms. This program includes six credits of undergraduate research in a wide range of fields. By concentrating advanced elective credit hours in biochemistry and by taking biology courses, this degree provides an excellent preparation for medical, dental, or veterinary schools or those planning careers in medical research.

Computer Science

Computer science faculty members are shaping the future of information technology through cutting-edge research. Students can take courses that include such topics as graphics and animation, web programming, competitive programming, cryptography and security, networks, software engineering, distributed systems, information systems, artificial intelligence, and bioinformatics. The use of computing skills in every sector imaginable only continues to grow and the demand for computer scientists is high. Combine the shortage of computer scientists with the high-quality of Purdue’s computer science curriculum and the result is that our graduates enjoy a nearly 100% placement rate.

Data Science

A major in data science puts graduates at the forefront of an emerging field and prepares them for an exciting career at the intersection of computer science and statistics. Data Science is the interdisciplinary field of inquiry that uses quantitative and analytical methods to help gain insights and predictions based on big data. Students learn about key computational methods and statistical techniques and develop the deep analytical thinking skills needed to reason reliably, intelligently and creatively from data. The vast amounts of data generated every day has created a data-rich and data-driven world. The data science major will open pathways to careers in virtually every area of society, from healthcare, security and sustainability to education, business and economics.

Environmental Geoscience

The Environmental Geoscience major offers an interdisciplinary curriculum that immerses students in the fundamentals of geology, chemistry, atmospheric science, biology, and physics. This coursework prepares our students to help solve challenging environmental problems such as climate change, emerging pollutants, shrinking and shifting energy resources, and food production ecology. The Environmental Geoscience is flexible, allowing students to create a curriculum focused on their particular scientific passion: air quality, soil and sediments, or hydrology. Our graduates develop quantitative problem-solving skills that make them highly competitive for careers or further graduate school studies related to water quality and availability, air pollution and climate, and soil and sediment geochemistry.

Geology and Geophysics

Geology and Geophysics majors study the internal structure, chemical and physical processes, materials, and biological and physical history of the earth. Students of geology study a broad scope of science because geology involves applying principles of physics, mathematics, biology, and chemistry as well as aspects of engineering and environmental sciences. Students completing the bachelor of science curriculum are prepared to pursue graduate studies for an advanced degree or step into careers. Graduates often work in environmental consulting, the oil industry, non-profit organizations, or a government agency, such as United States Geological Survey or National Park Service.

Mathematics

A major in mathematics is more than solving differential equations. Our students acquire theoretical knowledge and apply it through collaboration with faculty, helping solve complex, real-world questions. The math curriculum is flexible and allows students to find their niche by adding a second major or minor outside of mathematics. Through our curriculum, students learn to think creatively and nimbly and develop intellectual sophistication which are important for career advancement. Our graduates work in a wide variety of jobs, including programming, software engineering, teaching, systems engineering, banking, finance, insurance and government agencies. Mathematics graduates are often admitted to professional schools, such as law school and business school.

Applied Mathematics

The scope of mathematics is widened through a bachelor of science degree in applied mathematics. A comprehensive curriculum in applied and computational mathematics lets students learn from and work with faculty conducting both fundamental research and scientific/engineering applications, often in the Center for Computational & Applied Mathematics. Research topics include mathematical biology and mathematical neuroscience, computational fluid dynamics, mathematical finance, earthquake prediction and modeling of seismicity.

Physics

A bachelor of science degree includes both a broad understanding of physics concepts and a chosen area of specialization. The core courses provide a solid foundation in classical mechanics, electricity and magnetism, waves and oscillations, quantum mechanics, thermal and statistical physics, modern physics, relativity, electronics, and computational physics. Using electives courses offered in the department, students can choose concentrations in condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, astrophysics and particle physics. Students are encouraged to participate in one or two semesters of individual research projects with a selected faculty member. While most students pursue advanced degrees, graduates have the knowledge and technical skill to succeed in careers within physics, engineering, medicine, finance, and the government.

Applied Physics

The specialties under the applied physics curriculum can range from different areas in engineering and science including geophysics and atmospheric sciences, astrophysics, computational physics, nuclear physics, material science & engineering, electrical and computer engineering and medical physics. Individually tailored specialties may be chosen by the student in consultation with a faculty advisor. In addition, many physics majors manage to complete dual or multiple major programs. This is possible because of similar requirements between physics and several other programs like computer science, chemistry and planetary sciences.

Planetary Science

Planetary Science is a multidisciplinary program that incorporates geology, astrobiology, physics, atmospheric science, and engineering. This major is for students who want to learn more about other planets, as well as study impact craters, asteroids, and meteorites. Our students have the opportunity to learn about the formation of bodies in space, geologic structures on other planets, and/or the mechanics of orbits. This program provides a strong foundation for graduate school and is a step towards careers at organizations such as NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Science Education

A degree in science education prepares future science teachers for certification at the middle and high school level. The Science Education degree ensures students are thoroughly educated in their content discipline and modern theories of learning and education. Students study within an interdisciplinary science framework and customize their focus by selecting a major area of study in mathematics, chemistry, physics and the life sciences (biology). Our graduates are in high demand as the need for STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) educators in secondary education continues to grow.

Statistics

Statistics is the mathematical and computational study of data and chance. It is a methodological discipline. The curriculum offers in fundamental statistics and probability as well as courses that focus on statistical computation for students who want to work as data scientists. Statisticians often work closely with people in other fields to design production of data, analyze data, and draw conclusions from data. The demand for statisticians is not limited to just one field or discipline but has great scope. An expert in statistics can work in fields as diverse as analytics, bioinformatics and medicine, finance and insurance, management and marketing, agriculture and forestry, economics and education, as well as communications and software design.

Applied Statistics

This option prepares students for careers in applied statistics, statistical programming, and other areas that require broad knowledge of statistical ideas and techniques.

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