Botany, a specialization in the biology major, focuses on the scientific study of plants. Modern botany is a diverse and frequently applied science.
The biology degree program and the botany option provide a strong background in plant diversity and phylogenetics; unique structure and function relationships; genetics; evolution; ecology; and plants and the environment. It also covers applied topics with application to biotechnology and agriculture, such as the genetic engineering of food crops and biomass and biofuel production.
- Strengths of the program
- Experience small classes that provide one-on-one faculty interaction.
- Learn from the best: the University's biology and plant science faculty are ranked in the top 5 in the nation for their work's influence on other scientists.
- You can join a math, science, and engineering community residence hall at WSU Pullman—share classes with your neighbors, study together, get free tutoring, and use the hall’s computer lab.
- Learn research techniques and operate advanced equipment.
- Undertake a research project of your own with a faculty mentor.
- Study under experts in such areas as cell biology, plant genetics, photosynthesis, flowering plant evolution, crop engineering, ecology, plant reproduction, and plant systematics.
- Featured courses
Biology is a very broad field, so the biology major gives you a strong scientific foundation and plenty of room to explore and focus on what interests you most.
Here's a quick look at some of the featured courses. For the full program of study, see the School of Biological Sciences website.
These courses, taken by all biology majors, give you a strong foundation in biological science and prepare you to dive deeper into any area of biology that interests you.
Introductory Biology I and II
Principles of Chemistry I and II
Math for Life Sciences -or- Calculus
Organic Chemistry and Lab
Principles of Organic Evolution
Introductory Statistics -or- Biometry
Here's where you dig deeper.
Intro to Plant Physiology
Choose at least one elective from:
Special Seminar in Biology
Intro to Cell Biology
Special Problems in Botany
Experimental Methods in Plant Physiology
Molecular Mechanisms of Plant Development
You're free to choose as many additional electives as you want, of course (and there are plenty to choose from).
See the WSU Catalog for degree requirements and talk with your academic advisor about planning and scheduling your courses. All students must meet requirements as outlined in the catalog in order to graduate.
- Scholarships and financial aid
A variety of state, federal, and university-sponsored programs are available to help students with educational costs.
For all students at WSU
Washington State University awards millions of dollars in financial aid and scholarships to students every year based on financial need, academic merit, or a combination of the two.
To get all the financial help WSU can provide, start by doing these two things:
- Complete the University's scholarship application when you apply for admission so you can be eligible for scholarship consideration.
- Complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) so WSU can consider you for aid (scholarships, grants, loans, etc.) based on financial need.
For biology majors
In addition to general university scholarships and other financial aid, WSU offers scholarships specifically for students in biology.
A number of special scholarships are available to students in various areas of biological science: The Herbert Eastlick, Fraser, Peacock, and Van Fleet scholarships; the Outstanding Biology Junior Award; the Biology Undergraduate Research Award; and Zoology and Biology Merit Awards.
The College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Biological Sciences also offer scholarships reserved only for biology majors, including scholarships in the pre-health sciences.
- Botany facilities
Biology and botany students have access to the following outstanding lab facilities:
- Owen Science and Engineering Library, the largest of its kind in the Northwest
- The Marion Ownbey Herbarium, which contains 277,000 specimens of preserved plants
- Greenhouses and plant growth chambers
- The Franceschi Electron Microscopy Center, a state-of-the-art center where students can learn electron microscopy
- The 800-acre Hudson Biological Preserve that serves as a biological field station at Smoot Hill, located just 15 miles from Pullman
- The James Entomological Collection, comprising more than a million specimens of insects
- The Mycological Herbarium, which contains more than 65,000 specimens of fungi
- The Stable Isotope Laboratory, which provides stable isotope analyses to researchers at WSU and academic, government, and private agencies around the world
- Prominent research laboratories that investigate plant systematics, photosynthesis, and genetic engineering of plants
- Careers in botany
Biology majors with a specialization in botany have wide and diverse career opportunities.
With a bachelor’s degree they may become technicians, work in testing and inspection for government, agriculture or industry or become sales or service representatives for companies that manufacture chemicals or technical products.
They may also manage parks, forests, rangelands, or wilderness areas.
Some botanists work in marketing or administration of plant-related industries such as pharmaceutical companies, seed companies, biotechnology firms, scientific publishers, and biological supply houses. Other plant biologists work in museums, herbaria, and botanical gardens.
With additional training or job experience, some botanists become scientific writers, computer programmers, or botanical illustrators.
An advanced degree can lead to work teaching at the college level or conducting basic or applied research in the government, higher education, or private industry.