Major in Genetics: Program Information and Requirements

Genetics is a sub-field within biology that is concerned with organism changes and trait transmissions. Bachelor's degree program students can focus their studies on a genetics subject, such as genomics or evolutionary or molecular genetics.

Essential Information

Programs that emphasize genetics are science-intensive, and they prepare majors for possible laboratory work after graduation. Additionally, many undergraduate programs allow genetics majors to participate in supervised scholarly research. A graduate of a bachelor's-level program with a major in genetics might immediately pursue employment. Alternatively, the program might also be a starting point for graduate study and professional degree pursuits.

A bachelor's degree in genetics typically takes four years to complete. Prerequisites are a high school diploma with courses in math, chemistry, and biology.

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Genetics Major

Genetics majors complete a biological sciences core that includes classes such as biology and biochemistry. Courses like general chemistry, organic chemistry, physics, biostatistics and calculus are also required. Afterward, students begin genetics-centered classes, which cover these topics:

  • Biology of cells
  • Bioinformatics and genomics
  • Genetics of plants
  • Evolution of molecules
  • Prokaryotes and eukaryotes
  • Genetic modeling

Popular Career Options

Individuals who've majored in genetics often find work with universities, pharmaceutical companies, health care facilities, or government agencies. Specific job titles might include:

  • Genetics laboratory assistant
  • Genetics research assistant
  • Genetics counselor
  • Pharmaceutical salesperson
  • Technical writer

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projected job growth of 5% for biological technicians from 2014 to 2024. The BLS reported a median annual salary of $41,650 as of May 2015 for those professionals. No job outlook was available for genetics counselors, but the median annual salary for that career, as of May 2015, was $72,090, the BLS reported. Technical writers could expect job growth of 10% from 2014 to 2024 and, as of May 2015, earned a median annual salary of $70,240.

Continuing Education Information

Genetics majors interested in scientific research, lab work, or university professorships may decide to pursue graduate school training in genetics, working toward Master of Science or doctoral degrees. Others seeking to become science schoolteachers may pursue master's degree-level training in education. Another option for genetics majors is to go to medical or veterinary school.

Bachelor's degrees in genetics can prepare students for a variety of jobs, depending on the student's area of focus. Advanced degrees are available in genetics or related fields.

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