Genetics Major (B.S.)

Genetics Major (B.S.)

Genetics Lab

What is genetics?

Genetics majors are interested in understanding how DNA, along with the environment, specifies simple traits like hair color to more complex traits like high blood pressure, diabetes and mental illness.Geneticists are also interested in how these traits are inherited and regulated. Genetics is a very broad field of study, encompassing topics such as evolution, genetic engineering, genomics, bioinformatics and the genetics of microbes, plants and animals. The faculty strongly value hands-on learning and many students conduct undergraduate research under faculty supervision in our state-of-the-art research laboratories. Graduates are prepared for successful careers in biomedical-or biotechnology-related fields or for entry into graduate school or health professional programs.

Why study genetics at UNH?

UNH has one of the few dedicated genetics majors in the United States.Students in the genetics degree program interact with faculty committed to excellence in teaching, research and student advising, and our teaching labs provide hands-on training in current research techniques. Our faculty conduct research on diverse topics including evolution, gene structure and function, host-microbe interactions, genome sequencing and analysis, heredity, and population diversity. There are many opportunities for students to work in faculty laboratories and present research at scientific conferences both on and off campus.

Potential careers

  • Research scientist (biotechnology, biomedical, agriculture, etc.)
  • Genetic counselor
  • Forensic scientist
  • Technical support assistant
  • Physician
  • Physician assistant
  • Educator

Contact

Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Biomedical Sciences
Rudman Hall
46 College Road
Durham, NH 03824
603-862-4095
mcbs.dept@unh.edu

Connect with us

MM/DD/YYYY
  • Working Hard on the COVID-19 Front Lines
    Jessica Leighton is a genetics major and Spanish minor. Along with her involvement in COVID-19 testing on campus for ConvenientMD, she recently joined the staff at the UNH COVID-19 testing and diagnostic lab as a clinical laboratory assistant.
    Working Hard on the COVID-19 Front Lines
    Jessica Leighton is a genetics major and Spanish minor. Along with her involvement in COVID-19 testing on campus for ConvenientMD, she recently joined the staff at the UNH COVID-19 testing and diagnostic lab as a clinical laboratory assistant.
  • Doing Her Part to Keep the UNH Community Safe
    Cassandra Amarello, who earned her bachelor's degree in genetics in 2018, is one of the employees working in the lab and helping keep the UNH community safe.
    Doing Her Part to Keep the UNH Community Safe
    Cassandra Amarello, who earned her bachelor's degree in genetics in 2018, is one of the employees working in the lab and helping keep the UNH community safe.
  • An Education that Spans Three Colleges at UNH
    If you are curious about how to balance the demands of one major and two minors that are all in different colleges at UNH, ask Matthew Rich ’19.
    An Education that Spans Three Colleges at UNH
    If you are curious about how to balance the demands of one major and two minors that are all in different colleges at UNH, ask Matthew Rich ’19.

Curriculum & Requirements

The Genetics program (GEN) explores the world of genetics and genomics in plants, animals, and microbes. Genetics majors are interested in understanding how DNA, along with the environment, specifies simple traits like hair color to more complex traits like high blood pressure, diabetes, and mental illness. The Genetics faculty strongly value hands-on learning and many GEN students conduct undergraduate research under the supervision of our faculty. GEN graduates are prepared for successful careers in the biotechnology fields or for entry into a variety of graduate school, genetic counseling, or health professional programs.


The Genetics program offers course work and laboratories in:

  • molecular genetics
  • bioinformatics
  • human genetics
  • comparative genomics
  • plant genetics
  • microbial genetics and evolution
  • population and evolutionary genetics

Students in the Genetics program may participate in a variety of experiential learning activities including:


GEN graduates have been successful in attaining careers as:

  • research scientists and laboratory technicians in
    • biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies
    • academic research programs
    • forensics
    • biomedical research centers & medical schools
    • government agencies
  • genetic counselors
  • educators
  • technical support associates

GEN graduates are prepared for further education in:

SAMPLE Course Sequence for Genetics

Plan of Study Grid
First Year
FallCredits
GEN 401 Professional Perspectives in Genetics 1
BIOL 411 Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular 4
ENGL 401 First-Year Writing 4
CHEM 403 General Chemistry I 4
Discovery course 4
 Credits17
Spring
BIOL 412 Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology 4
MATH 424B Calculus for Life Sciences 4
CHEM 404 General Chemistry II 4
Discovery course 4
 Credits16
Second Year
Fall
GEN 604 Principles of Genetics 4
BMCB 605 Principles of Cell Biology 4
BIOL 528 Applied Biostatistics I 4
Discovery course 4
 Credits16
Spring
GEN 606 Genetics Lab 4
BMS 503
BMS 504
General Microbiology
and General Microbiology Laboratory
5
CHEM 545
CHEM 546
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory
5
Discovery course 4
 Credits18
Third Year
Fall
BMCB 658
BMCB 659
General Biochemistry
and General Biochemistry Lab
5
PHYS 401 Introduction to Physics I 4
Discovery course 4
Elective (any course) 4
 Credits17
Spring
GEN 711 Genomics and Bioinformatics 4
PHYS 402 Introduction to Physics II 4
Major Elective (Population or Evolutionary Genetics) 4
Discovery course 4
 Credits16
Fourth Year
Fall
Genetics Core course 4
Major Elective (Laboratory based) 4-5
Major Elective (Bioscience/possible Capstone) 4-5
Elective (any course) 4
 Credits16-18
Spring
Major Elective (Bioscience) 4
Elective (any course) 4
Elective (any course) 4
 Credits12
 Total Credits128-130

Students majoring in genetics take seven Foundation courses, six Bioscience Core courses, four Genetics Core courses and four Major Elective courses. One capstone experience, supervised and approved within the major, is required of all seniors. In addition, all other University requirements must be completed, including those for the Discovery Program and the University Writing Requirement.

A grade of C-minus or better is required in Statistics and all Bioscience Core, Genetics Core, and Major Elective courses.

Foundation Courses

CHEM 403General Chemistry I 14
CHEM 404General Chemistry II4
CHEM 545
CHEM 546
Organic Chemistry
and Organic Chemistry Laboratory 2
5
MATH 424BCalculus for Life Sciences 34
BIOL 528Applied Biostatistics I4
PHYS 401Introduction to Physics I4
PHYS 402Introduction to Physics II4

Bioscience Core Courses

BIOL 411Introductory Biology: Molecular and Cellular 44
BIOL 412Introductory Biology: Evolution, Biodiversity and Ecology4
GEN 604Principles of Genetics4
BMS 503
BMS 504
General Microbiology
and General Microbiology Laboratory
5
BMCB 605Principles of Cell Biology4
BMCB 658
BMCB 659
General Biochemistry
and General Biochemistry Lab
5

Genetics Core Courses

GEN 401Professional Perspectives in Genetics1
GEN 606Genetics Lab4
GEN 711Genomics and Bioinformatics4
Select one of the following:
GEN 704Genetics of Prokaryotic Microbes 55
GEN 771Molecular Genetics4

Major Electives

A total of four unique major electives is required: one course from the Laboratory-Based Major Elective group, one course from the Population Genetics or Evolutionary Genetics major elective group, and two courses from the Bioscience Major Electives group.

Laboratory-Based Major Electives (Select One)

GEN 704Genetics of Prokaryotic Microbes 55
GEN 705
GEN 725
Population Genetics
and Population Genetics Lab 5
5
GEN 717Molecular Microbiology5
GEN 774Techniques in Plant Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology4
GEN 795Investigations in Genetics (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 795WInvestigations in Genetics (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 799Senior Thesis (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 799HHonors Senior Thesis (4-credit minimum) 61-4
BMCB 753Cell Culture5
BMCB 754Molecular Biology Research Methods5
INCO 790Advanced Research Experience (4-credit minimum) 61-4

Population or Evolutionary Genetics Major Electives (Select One)

GEN 705
GEN 725
Population Genetics
and Population Genetics Lab 5
5
GEN 715Molecular Evolution4
GEN 772Evolutionary Genetics of Plants4

Bioscience Major Electives (Select Two)

GEN 704Genetics of Prokaryotic Microbes 55
GEN 705
GEN 725
Population Genetics
and Population Genetics Lab 5
5
GEN 706Human Genetics4
GEN 712Programming for Bioinformatics5
GEN 713Microbial Ecology and Evolution4
GEN 715Molecular Evolution4
GEN 717Molecular Microbiology5
GEN 721Comparative Genomics4
GEN 771Molecular Genetics4
GEN 772Evolutionary Genetics of Plants4
GEN 774Techniques in Plant Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology4
GEN 795Investigations in Genetics (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 795WInvestigations in Genetics (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 799Senior Thesis (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 799HHonors Senior Thesis (4-credit minimum) 61-4
ANSC 602Animal Rights and Societal Issues4
ANSC 701Physiology of Reproduction4
BIOL #702Lab Techniques in Plant Physiology and Biochemistry4
BIOL 704Plant-Microbe Interactions3
BIOL 711Experimental Design & Analysis4
BMCB 750Physical Biochemistry3
BMCB 753Cell Culture5
BMCB 754Molecular Biology Research Methods5
BMCB 760Pharmacology4
BMCB 763Biochemistry of Cancer4
BMCB 794Protein Structure and Function4
BMS 650Molecular Diagnostics4
BMS 702Endocrinology4
BMS 705Immunology3
BMS 706Virology3
BMS 718Mammalian Physiology4
BMS 719Host-Microbe Interactions4
BMS 740Human Microbiome4
INCO 790Advanced Research Experience (4-credit minimum)1-4
MEFB 750Marine Ecological Genomics4
NR 706Soil Ecology4
ZOOL 625
ZOOL 626
Principles of Animal Physiology
and Animal Physiology Laboratory
5
ZOOL 690Evolution4
ZOOL 736Genes and Behavior4
ZOOL 777Neuroethology4

Approved GEN Capstone Courses

The capstone explores areas of interest based on the integration of prior learning.  The capstone requirement may be satisfied through a course, created work or product, or some form of experiential learning (e.g., honors thesis, mentored research project, or other special student activity).  Students may take more than one capstone course.  Capstone completion is never displayed on Degree Works; your advisor will certify capstone completion at the time of graduation. Students must have 90 credits or more when completing their capstone requirement.  See your advisor for questions about capstones.

GEN 704Genetics of Prokaryotic Microbes5
GEN 705
GEN 725
Population Genetics
and Population Genetics Lab
5
GEN 715Molecular Evolution4
GEN 717Molecular Microbiology5
GEN 790Undergraduate Teaching Experience (4 credit minimum; classroom presentation required)1-4
GEN 795Investigations in Genetics (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 795WInvestigations in Genetics (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 799Senior Thesis (4-credit minimum) 61-4
GEN 799HHonors Senior Thesis (4-credit minimum) 61-4
INCO 790Advanced Research Experience (4-credit minimum) 61-4

Explore Program Details

What types of jobs or careers do most Genetics/Genomics majors pursue?

About one-third of our majors are interested in Genetic Counseling. About an equal number are interested in going on to graduate school to get a master’s or Ph.D. or to professional school (physician assistant school, medical school, and veterinary school are the most common). The remainder are interested in getting a job immediately after receiving their Bachelor of Science degree; many of these students find work as Research Associates in biotech or biomedical research either in NH or in the Boston area, while others work in scientific sales or get jobs with science-related non-profits, to give just a few examples.

Do students have difficulty finding time to declare a minor or get involved in research, clubs, or other activities that they enjoy?

In general, no. Most students have reasonable time management and study skills by the time they get to UNH. In the 1-credit Freshman Orientation seminar (Professional Perspectives in Genetics), we provide additional resources to help students set academic goals and organize their time, so they start strong.

What minors are most popular with Genetics majors?

For students interested in genetic counseling, a career that requires a solid knowledge of genetics and skills in counseling, Psychology is a popular minor. Otherwise, students who are interested in a minor choose lots of different things, depending on their personal interests or career goals. Genetics majors have minored in Studio Art, Applied Math, German, Business, etc.

Is it possible to study abroad as a Genetics major?

Absolutely! Studying abroad takes advance planning with your advisor and with the Education Abroad office. Generally, you want to reserve some of your discovery courses (gen eds) for when you go abroad. For instance, you will get the world cultures discovery credit automatically if you do a semester abroad, so you’ll want to hold off on taking those courses at UNH. Also, it’s usually easier to find discovery courses that will transfer back to UNH than it is to find genetics courses that are equivalent, depending on the international program that you choose. Plus, discovery courses taken abroad give you an opportunity to learn more about the history, literature, and culture of the country you are visiting.

What dorm(s) are best for genetics majors?

It depends on what you are looking for. Quite a few genetics majors live in Peterson because it has a residential learning community (RLC) dedicated to the life sciences. Additionally, Lord, Williamson, Alexander, and Christianson are freshman-only dorms and that can be beneficial for meeting new people. You can also live in dorms with a mix of students, which allows you to meet juniors or seniors who can share their strategies for success. When signing up for housing as a first-year student, you will rank categories of dorms based on size and themes.

Can first-year students do research?

Yes, freshmen can do research with a faculty member. However, your first priority is your academic success, so it is often prudent to wait at least one semester to make sure that you can handle the rigor of college courses and balance your time between schoolwork and social time. Many students do not start research until their junior or senior year.

Can students get credit for doing research?

Yes. Students can enroll in courses like GEN 795, INCO 590, or INCO 790 to earn credit for the research they are conducting with a faculty member.

Can students get paid for the time that they spend doing research?

Yes, but not if you are taking research for credit, of course. There are several ways to get paid. First, a faculty member may have funding to pay you from grant funds. Second, if you have work-study as financial aid, a faculty member may have funds to pay the matching portion of your aid. Third, the Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research at UNH administers several competitive research programs (REAP, UROP, SURF, IROP) that students can apply for once they’ve identified a faculty mentor.

What kind of internship opportunities are available for students to get experience in their area of interest?

Since many UNH faculty accept multiple students in their labs each year, research with a faculty member is a very popular type of internship that enables students to develop their research and presentation skills. The St. Martin Career Exploration Office in our college serves as a central clearinghouse for off-campus internships and also helps students practice interview skills, prepare resumes and cover letters, etc.

What is the typical class size?

Class sizes vary. For example, in ENGL 401 Freshman English, the class size is 24, which is the average class size, but in BIOL 411 Introductory Biology: Molecular & Cellular, the lecture is about 200 students. However, large classes almost always have a lab or recitation each week, which has only 25-30 students.

Other than office hours, are professors open and accessible?

All instructors have scheduled office hours every week but are usually also available for meetings by appointment. In addition, many courses have teaching assistants (graduate students) who also hold weekly office hours.

What are some good clubs to get involved in if you want to meet people?

There is a club for almost anything you can think of and new ones are always starting, like the Geneology Club that formed this year. Join a club that interests you and you are sure to meet new people with similar interests. Some of the clubs relating to science and biology that are popular among COLSA students are Women in Science, Lab Science Society, American Red Cross, and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.

Click here to learn more about Capstone experiences.

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