The biology major provides students with extensive training and is specifically designed to prepare students for careers and graduate education in the biological sciences. In addition to its coursework, the biology department offers unique opportunities as students prepare for their specific field of study.

Biology opportunities in grad school and abroad

Marine Science

Marine science is popular at Hampden-Sydney, not only with biology, chemistry, and physics students but also with non-science (e.g., history and economics) majors. Hampden-Sydney is a full member institution of the Marine Science Education Consortium (MSEC) at the Duke University Marine Laboratory (DUML) in Beaufort, NC.

Research yacht in the Galapagos

Hampden-Sydney students enjoy streamlined admission and priority access to Duke Marine Lab courses and research opportunities in various summer sessions, for the fall or spring semester, or for an entire year. Hampden-Sydney students can also travel with "signature" study abroad courses and research opportunities offered through H-SC's MSEC connection. Course credits and grades from this cooperative program automatically transfer to Hampden-Sydney. H-SC graduates also can continue their studies at DUML or affiliated sites of Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, earning traditional graduate research degrees or professional degrees in Coastal Environmental Management or a Master's in Environmental Management.

Hampden-Sydney has strong links to the Duke Marine Lab. Dr. Bill Anderson (Chemistry) taught and worked there before coming to H-SC, and Dr. Alex Werth (Biology) studied there as a Duke undergraduate. Both professors maintain research contacts at DUML with Duke scientists.

Marine biology is also taught at Hampden-Sydney, with coursework that combines traditional classroom studies and field trips to various sites including the Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore, and Outer Banks of NC. H-SC students have opportunities to study marine biology through numerous other courses, including ecology, animal behavior, and biodiversity, plus May Term travel courses (Tropical Biology, Evolutionary Ecology) that feature marine biology study in foreign locations including the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador, Jamaica, the Virgin Islands, and Mexico. 

Pre-Health

As the birthplace of VCU School of Medicine, Hampden-Sydney has been educating future medical professionals for nearly 175 years.

The Hampden-Sydney Pre-Health Society serves as a support group for students interested in all areas of the medical/health professions: allopathic, traditional, and osteopathic medicine, dentistry, orthodontics, optometry, pharmacology, podiatry, nursing, emergency medical services, veterinary, physical therapy, and health education. 

H-SC/Centra Rotational Shadowing Program
Hampden-Sydney College and Centra Southside Community Hospital partner to bring Hampden-Sydney pre-health students the opportunity to explore the many different careers in medicine. Selected students shadow physicians in the following departments: Family Medicine, General Surgery, Cardiovascular Group, Emergency Department, ICU, Gastrointestinal, OB, Radiology, Pharmacy. Applications are solicited early in the fall semester each year.

Medical School and Other Health Science Graduate Admissions Agreements:

  • Early Assurance Agreements with Eastern Virginia Medical School, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, and George Washington University School of Medicine
  • Guaranteed Admission Agreement with Lynchburg College Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) Program

Pre-Health Society
The Pre-Health Society is a student organization that sponsors seminars by healthcare professionals and visits from graduate health program admissions representatives throughout the year.  These events are designed to make students aware of graduate and professional opportunities in the health sciences and to prepare students for pursuit of educational and career paths in these fields.

Cooperative Programs

Eastern Virginia Medical School Joint Program (BS/MD)
Through an agreement with Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS), outstanding premedical students may gain assurance early in their college careers of admission into medical school. Each year the EVMS Admissions Committee, in consultation with Hampden-Sydney's Health Sciences Committee, selects a small number of rising sophomores for a program that assures participants admission to EVMS upon satisfactory completion of their undergraduate studies at Hampden- Sydney. Although these students are assured of admission, they are not obligated to attend EVMS upon graduation from Hampden-Sydney. For more information, students should contact the Chair of the Health Sciences Committee early in their freshman year.

The George Washington University School Of Medicine Early Selection Program
Through an agreement with The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, outstanding premedical students may be selected at the end of their sophomore year to enter the medical school at The George Washington University once they have completed the requirements for graduation from Hampden-Sydney College. The early selection process allows these highly qualified premedical students greater flexibility in course selection as they complete the baccalaureate degree. Additionally, GWU waives the MCAT exam for students accepted through the early assurance program. Acceptance of any offer into this program is binding, and it is expected that students will matriculate at GWU the fall semester following graduation. For more information, students should contact the Chair of the Health Sciences Committee early in their freshman year.

Lynchburg College Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT)
Students who meet certain GPA requirements and work with Hampden-Sydney's Health Sciences Advisory Committee are eligible for guaranteed admission in the Lynchburg College's DPT program.

The Virginia Commonwealth University School Of Medicine Early Selection Program
Through an agreement with Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, two outstanding premedical students may be selected at the end of their sophomore year to enter the medical school at VCU once they have completed the requirements for graduation from Hampden-Sydney College. The program also encourages selected students to choose from among the wide variety of courses in the liberal arts and sciences offered at Hampden-Sydney and relieves them of the stress associated with application to medical school. Although these students are assured of admission, they are not obligated to attend VCU upon graduation from Hampden-Sydney. Admission to VCU Medical School is contingent on the student's receiving the national average score on the Medical College Admissions Test (MCAT). For more information, interested students should contact the Chair of the Health Sciences Committee early in their freshman year.

Biology Research

Undergraduate research is an essential component of a high-quality training program in the biological sciences, providing students with early opportunities for understanding and implementing the scientific method. Moreover, undergraduate student involvement in scientific research encourages critical thinking and problem-solving skills and fosters the development of effective communication skills and enthusiasm toward scientific inquiry. 

The Hampden-Sydney College Biology Department offers numerous opportunities for undergraduate research over the entire span of the 4-year major curriculum.  All biology students will participate in various long-term, course-based research projects in many of their major courses, from the 100-level Principles of Biology course through more advanced courses at the 200- and 300-levels. Additionally, many students participate in Independent Study and Honors Research Projects during the academic year (where they receive academic credit toward the biology major) and in the summer months (where they receive housing and stipend support from the College's Honors Council). In these independent research settings, students work closely with biology department faculty members who have active research programs in diverse areas that include cancer biology/immunology, virus prevalence/pathogenicity in reptiles, whale physiology, invasive plant species, neurobiology, and genomic characterization of bacteriophages.

Affiliations with other undergraduate institutions through research initiatives sponsored by prestigious programs such as the Howard Hughes Medical Institute also offer collaborative research opportunities for our students. Biology majors participating in these collective research experiences have delivered presentations and received awards for their work at state and national scientific research meetings, received external funding from various agencies to support their research projects, and become co-authors on peer-reviewed publications in leading scientific journals giving them a competitive edge on the job market and when applying to graduate and professional programs.

Biology Research