Woman student at microscope computer monitor display.

Medical Biology

Experience research and hands-on learning in the classroom as you prepare for a career in medicine or other biomedical fields.

Why Study Medical Biology?

As a medical biology major at USD, you will gain a broad background and excellent training in the biological sciences as you look ahead to graduate or professional degrees in medicine, biotechnology, physiology or cellular and molecular biology. You'll develop research and critical thinking skills in the classroom and beyond, gaining hands-on experience in laboratories and research facilities. From working on medical research with our nationally-recognized faculty to taking classes taught by professors in the Sanford School of Medicine, you'll find that you have access to world-class opportunities here at USD. Whether you are interested in a career in medicine, biotechnology, dentistry, optometry, pharmacology, podiatry, biomedical research or another discipline in the biological sciences, our program will set you on a path toward success.

As you prepare for a future in medicine or human health, you need an enriching education and an impressive degree from a university that knows medicine. Get your start as a medical biology major at USD.

Degrees & Offerings

Medical Biology (B.S.)

  Vermillion Main Campus

The medical biology program is designed to prepare you for admission to medical school and other health care professional programs, including dentistry, physician assistant studies, physical therapy and podiatry. The medical biology program provides you with a human-centered education in medicine and human health, and you'll find hands-on research experiences that will provide a solid foundation for your career serving others.

Biology (B.S./M.S.)

Accelerated Program
  Vermillion Main Campus

Earn a master's degree while completing your bachelor's degree. Apply to and begin the master's program after completion of 90 undergraduate credit hours. This accelerated one-year path to earning your master's does not require a thesis and is available with an optional conservation and biodiversity specialization.

View Admissions Requirements

Program Details






Known For Excellence

With qualities like small class sizes, specialized programs and incredible student opportunities, USD is not your typical university. What makes us unique is what makes your education exceptional.


As a student at USD, the opportunities available to you extend beyond the classroom. Explore your interests, find your community and experience your education to the fullest extent through the following opportunities.

The Biology Club is for all students interested in the field of biology. The purpose of the club is to make more people aware of conservation efforts, have speakers highlight jobs attainable with a biology degree and help students get connected to research projects. The club also hosts a variety of events and is involved in educating K-12 students about science and nature.
The University of South Dakota's Pre-Medical Society assists students who are interested in pursuing medical careers by increasing their knowledge of various medical professions and by helping them form valuable connections with other students of similar interests, medical students, and medical school faculty members.

A unique aspect of your USD education is incredible access to undergraduate research opportunities. Through the USD Department of Biology and in collaboration with the Sanford School of Medicine, you can work in specialized research labs under the guidance of highly active faculty.

Our research is organized into three general areas:

  • Molecular biology
  • Stress physiology
  • Conservation biology

In addition to individual labs, there are several newly renovated shared facilities, including a brand new animal care wing:

  • Genomics Facility
  • Molecular Biology Facility
  • Ecology and Conservation Facility
  • Proteomics/Neurobiology Facility
  • Collections Facility

The Department of Biology also collaborates with the Sanford School of Medicine; students frequently have access to additional instrumentation (SEM, confocal microscope, etc.).

If you are interested in getting involved in research, visit with a professor to find out how you can participate in new and exciting opportunities.

Departments & Facilities

Explore the departments, facilities and centers that contribute to your education in biology.
Biology academics standing in water holding a net


Research, explore and experience the study of life from the molecule to large biomes in the Department of Biology.

Overview of the Missouri River

Missouri River Institute

Located along the free-flowing Missouri National Recreational River, the Missouri River Institute explores the natural and cultural resources of the river through its focus on research, education and outreach.

Faculty & Staff

Get to know the faculty and staff in the Department of Biology. Our faculty are experts in their field, contributing research and scholarship in amphibian declines, physiological and biomedical systems,  landscape ecology, riparian ecosystems, geospatial analysis, environmental effects on phenotypes, fish ecology, metabolomics and more.
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jacob Kerby

Jacob Kerby

Bio Image for Faculty Member Christopher Anderson

Christopher Anderson

Associate Professor


Functional Morphology, Biomechanics, Herpetology
Bio Image for Faculty Member Hugh Britten

Hugh Britten

Associate Chair, Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Mark Dixon

Mark Dixon

Bio Image for Faculty Member Yohaan Fernandes

Yohaan Fernandes

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Cathy Ganschow

Cathy Ganschow

Program Assistant I
Bio Image for Faculty Member Ranjeet John

Ranjeet John

Assistant Professor


remote sensing, ecology, rangeland/crop monitoring
Bio Image for Faculty Member Karen Koster

Karen Koster

Chair-Anthropology & Sociology


Plant Physiology, Cell Biology
Bio Image for Faculty Member Laura Dixon

Laura Dixon

Bio Image for Faculty Member Andrea Liebl

Andrea Liebl

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Omera Matoo

Omera Matoo

Assistant Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Lynn Riley

Lynn Riley

Bio Image for Faculty Member Cliff Summers

Cliff Summers

Bio Image for Faculty Member David Swanson

David Swanson

Dir of Research-MO River Inst
Bio Image for Faculty Member Jeff Wesner

Jeff Wesner

Associate Professor
Bio Image for Faculty Member Beate Wone

Beate Wone

Bio Image for Faculty Member Bernard Wone

Bernard Wone

Associate Professor
Male and female wading in river with trap.

Incredible Research Opportunities

At USD, your education goes beyond the textbook. 

Many biology students take advantage of research experiences in our professors’ labs, exploring topics such as neurobiology, biomechanics, muscle aging, fetal alcohol syndrome and the conservation of endangered dragonflies. Several of our students assist USD medical school professors on their research. These students go on to present their findings at scientific meetings and co-author publications, and they often end up pursuing careers in research.
Students waving in front of med school building.

An Early Connection to the State's Medical School

USD is home to the Sanford School of Medicine – South Dakota's only medical school and the region's leader in health care education. This close proximity to a medical allows you the opportunity to learn in incredible facilities like our esteemed cadaver lab and helps position you for success as you apply for medical school or other professional schools. Over half of the medical students in the Sanford School of Medicine are graduates of the USD Department of Biology.
Male and female student working with breathalyzer in lab

Student Today. Practitioner Tomorrow

At USD, you will join a legacy of leaders who start as medical biology majors and go on to serve their communities in profound ways. Every year our graduates are accepted to medical, dentistry and physical therapy schools (among many other professional schools) both here in South Dakota and across the country. If you are interested in a health-related career or another area of biology, our department will set you up for success in your future.

Surprisingly Affordable

USD offers low tuition rates for in-state and out-of-state students, as well as scholarships, financial aid and employment opportunities to help make your education even more affordable.

Undergraduate Tuition & Costs

Learn more about tuition and fees for undergraduate students and see how your out-of-pocket costs at USD compare to those at other colleges and universities. Visit the Undergraduate Tuition & Costs Detailed page for program specific costs and fees. 

Financial Aid

Navigating options for how to pay for college can be challenging, but you are not alone. The Office of Financial Aid will work with you and your family to explore how you can make your college education even more affordable.


USD awards nearly $9.5 million in scholarships each year. View our scholarships to see which ones you may qualify for and how you can apply.

student success story

Success story Callie Olson smiling.
The medical biology major is perfect for someone pursuing medicine as a career. I feel as though the curriculum has prepared me extremely well for my future as a physician. The faculty create a supportive environment in which students feel comfortable seeking out help in the challenging times and celebrating with them in their success!

Callie Olson

B.S, Medical Biology '22
Student, Sanford School of Medicine

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