College of Science

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Departments: Chemistry and Biochemistry; Computer Science; Geology; Mathematics; Microbiology; Physics; Plant Biology; Zoology

The College of Science offers majors leading to the Bachelor of Arts and/or Bachelor of Science degrees in the following fields of study:

Biological Sciences


Computer Science






Plant Biology


Included in the curriculum of each department are foundation courses that provide an introduction to the subject matter of that discipline while fulfilling the University Core Curriculum requirements of Southern Illinois University Carbondale. These courses enable students to develop an understanding and appreciation of the impact of science on our daily lives. Introductory and advanced courses are provided to prepare students for professional employment or entrance into professional and graduate schools. Graduate training is also provided by each of the science departments leading to the M.S. or Ph.D. degree. Research interests of the faculty are extremely diverse.

Students in the College of Science may prepare for teaching at the secondary level by fulfilling the additional requirements of the College of Education and Human Services.

The Bachelor of Arts or the Bachelor of Science degree is granted to students who fulfill the University requirements for graduation, the College of Science requirements as given below, and the requirements of the departments in which the students declare their majors.

Regularly enrolled students must declare a College of Science major by the beginning of their sophomore year. Transfer students must declare a College of Science major by the beginning of their second semester following transfer. Students planning post-baccalaureate work in a professional field may designate their intention by declaring a preprofessional area as a secondary concentration, e.g., pre-medicine.

Each department has specific requirements for students to major in the selected field of interest. The College of Science has some minimum general requirements listed below.


None of these general academic requirements may be satisfied by taking the required courses on a Pass/Fail grading basis.

Biological Sciences. Six semester hours in courses offered by the biological sciences departments in the college, with the proviso that this requirement cannot be satisfied in whole or in part by the University Core Curriculum courses, but may be substituted for the latter in meeting the University Core Curriculum requirements.

Mathematics. The mathematics requirement can be met: (a) by passing Mathematics 108 and 109, or 111 or its equivalent, or Mathematics 141 or 150 or equivalent, or (b) by proficiency credit.

Physical Sciences. Six semester hours in courses offered by the physical science departments of the college, with the proviso that this requirement cannot be satisfied in whole or in part by University Core courses, but may be substituted for the latter in meeting the University Core Curriculum requirements.

Supportive Skills. Two courses, totaling at least six credit hours must be completed as supportive skills. Supportive skills courses are courses in communication or computation skills that have been approved by the major program and must be chosen from the following subject areas: (a) foreign language; (b) English composition or technical writing; (c) statistics; or (d) computer science. Because departments have different supportive skills requirements, students should consult individual program descriptions for approved courses for each major.


SIU admits students with majors in pre-chiropractic, pre- dentistry, pre-medicine, pre-occupational therapy, pre- optometry, pre-physician assistant, pre-physical therapy, pre- podiatry, and pre-veterinary. These are not degree programs, but indicate the students’ plans upon completion of the baccalaureate degree. Therefore, students are also required to declare a degree-oriented major . They will complete their degree requirements and fulfill additional professional school requirements with the guidance of a Health Care Professions Advisor (located in the College of Science). Students who choose to pursue these careers must be dedicated and have good academic ability in both the sciences and humanities.

International students should be aware that acceptance at American public professional schools is difficult. As a general rule, no financial aid is available for non-citizens. A small number of international students are accepted at private schools, which are costly.

Students pursuing a career in veterinary medicine have the option of registering in the College of Science or the College of Agricultural Sciences.Typically, students are either Zoology (Science) or Animal Science (Agriculture) majors. Pre- veterinary requirements can be met through either college.

SIU Carbondale has a collaborative nursing program with SIUE on the Carbondale campus; students desiring to obtain their Bachelor of Science in nursing must complete one year of pre-nursing (E-track), then apply to the three-year program. All four years are offered in Carbondale; however, students are awarded a nursing degree through SIUE. SIU Carbondale also has a traditional pre-nursing program for students who plan to apply to other schools of nursing besides SIU. Pre-pharmacy students may apply to pharmacy schools at SIUE and other locations after two to three years of rigorous prerequisite course work.

For a listing of SIU Carbondale Pre-Health program curricula requirements, see the corresponding link to the specific programs at the Health Professions Information Office page at: index.html.

The College of Science Repeat Policy limits the number of times that an undergraduate student may repeat a MAJOR course for the purpose of raising a grade. Students earning less than a “C” in a major course, may repeat said course one time only. As there may be reasonable exceptions to the policy, students who wish to request Dean’s permission to repeat beyond one time may do so by filling out a College of Science Repeat Petition obtained from the College of Science Advisement Office.

STEM Education Research Center

With the approval of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, SIU and the College of Science have created a Research Center of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Education. The need for such a Center flows from critical issues that have emerged or are emerging in STEM education at the national, state, and local level.

At the national level, there is a clarion call for an increase in college graduates in STEM programs to address the critical need in the very industries that will be at the center of the continuing transformation of the world economy. National reports indicate the danger of the U.S. economy losing ground internationally unless our educational system becomes more effective at producing students interested in and capable of the rigors of the educational programs in the STEM disciplines. 

In addition, once these students enter university-level STEM programs, they must be greeted with effective state-of-the-art STEM content and pedagogy.

At the state and local level, one of the key components of an increase in the effectiveness of STEM education is the implementation of the Common Core State Standards (http:// ) and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS; ) at the state level. While adopting these national standards is voluntary at the state level, Illinois has agreed to implement the Common Core and is an active lead state partner in the NGSS efforts. The implications of these decisions are just beginning to emerge and will completely transform the content and pedagogy employed in K-12 classrooms across the state. In addition, new high-stakes assessments (PARCC) have been prepared that have replaced the Prairie State Exam at the high school level. As the state research University in the Southern Illinois region, SIU has an obligation to provide as much support as possible during this important transition period to our local school districts. The structure and programs of the STEM Education Research Center will correspond to the primary areas of interest: K-12 STEM education, undergraduate STEM education, and graduate STEM education.

As indicated above, K-12 STEM education is in a period of rapid transformation. One area of emphasis of the Center will be coordination of the existing programs already implemented at SIU, many of which reside in the College of Science. STEM education at the undergraduate level is under increasing scrutiny. From finding ways to improve success rates in lower-level undergraduate STEM classes to identifying new and innovative ways to deliver undergraduate STEM content in our courses, our programs are undergoing rapid change. SIU must continue to ensure that the content and structure of undergraduate STEM courses provide the optimal preparation either for graduate school or for our students’ chosen professions. In support of our undergraduates, the Center will be the natural leader in developing internship opportunities. One important collection of current programs that will be natural candidates for continued research will be the research experience for undergraduates (REU) programs that exist in the STEM disciplines.

Graduate STEM education must also stay current with the massive technological changes that are affecting our entire educational system. While the advisor-student mentorship which is at the heart of graduate education will almost certainly be preserved, the optimal uses of technology should be explored, and this will also be included under the umbrella of research programs at the STEM Education Research Center.