ILS is the honors living-learning program centered on the life sciences, and ILS students typically choose a primary major in one of the life sciences.  ILS is committed to forming a diverse community of student scholars from a wide range of different majors. The features unifying the ILS community are our shared excitement about the life sciences and the common belief that an education in the life sciences can help each of us to reach personal and professional goals.

ILS students working together on a problem set in class.

An advantage of a life sciences major is that ILS courses are often directly applicable toward satisfying the major requirements. Some ILS students choose majors in other disciplines, for which ILS courses may also satisfy elective requirements.

The approximate distribution of ILS majors is:

70% Biological Sciences
15% Engineering
10% Chemistry and Biochemistry
5% other majors.

Common Life Science Majors of ILS Students

The most common majors of ILS students are: Biological Sciences (BSCI), Biochemistry (BCHM), and Bioengineering (BIOE). These majors are briefly described below, with more information available at their websites. Due to high student demand, these are limited enrollment programs (LEP) with two paths: 

  1. An applicant specifies that major as the intended major on the freshmen application, or 
  2. An enrolled student satisfies the gateway requirements before being allowed as an internal transfer into that major. 

Biological Sciences (BSCI) 

The BSCI major focuses on fundamental principles, cutting-edge knowledge, and modern research approaches in biology. Foundational coursework includes biology, chemistry, physics, and mathematics; upper level classes focus on major research areas in modern biology, including physiology and neurobiology, ecology and evolutionary biology. Departmental honors are available for junior and senior students who complete undergraduate research, a written thesis, and seminar presentation. The BSCI curriculum provides a broad and comprehensive education in the life sciences that prepares students to pursue a various post-baccalaureate educational, medical, and professional opportunities.

Biochemistry (BCHM) 

The BCHM major focuses on the understanding of biological processes from fundamental chemical perspectives and on chemical and molecular approaches toward investigating important questions in the life sciences. The introductory curriculum places strong emphasis on biological aspects of chemistry, with upper-level courses offered in wide range of chemistry and biochemistry subdisciplines. Strong junior and senior students can choose to carry out undergraduate research resulting in a written thesis and seminar presentation in the chemistry honors program. The BCHM curriculum is designed to provide a broad and comprehensive education to prepare students for a wide range of post-baccalaureate educational, medical, and professional opportunities. 

ILS students building a tower with uncooked spaghetti.

Bioengineering (BIOE)

The BIOE major focuses on the application of principles, approaches, and tools of engineering to address important problems in life sciences, including medicine. Initial coursework emphasizes fundamental engineering, mathematics, biology, physics, and chemistry from engineering perspectives; upper level courses focus on advanced bioengineering with an emphasis on medical applications. BIOE offers a departmental honors program for strong junior and senior students who complete undergraduate research, a written thesis, and seminar presentation. The interdisciplinary nature of the BIOE major facilitates the placement of its graduates in a wide range of post-baccalaureate educational, medical, and professional opportunities.

Other Majors

Other potential majors in the life sciences for ILS students include animal science/pre-vetenvironmental sciencepublic health, and psychology. A few ILS students major in non-science disciplines like business, history, or the arts, but use the ILS courses in conjunction with general science courses to satisfy the current course requirements for medical school. If a student enters ILS with a significant number of Advanced Placement and/or International Baccalaureate credits, it is reasonable to expect that that student can successfully pursue another major outside of the life sciences.