Genetics Overview

Do you ever wonder why you have green eyes and your sister has blue eyes? In the study of Genetics you will follow in the footsteps of that famous monk, Gregor Mendel, who discovered how physical traits were passed through observing generations of peas. He pioneered the research in genetics, how DNA works, and the four letter codes that DNA is made up of.

During your time as a Genetics major you will learn all aspects of cell growth, reproduction, and mutations. Mutations are responsible for cancer as well as a host of other diseases. You will also explore Darwin's theory of natural selection.

Some of the courses you will take are: biochemistry, populations genetics, developmental genetics, molecular genetics, evolutionary genetics, genetic data analysis, human genetics, chemistry, advanced mathematics, biology, organic chemistry.

Concentrations in this major include: Molecular Genetics; Microbial and Eukaryotic Genetics; Animal Genetics; Plant Genetics; Human and Medical Genetics; and Genome Sciences. This major is most often offered as a Master's or Ph.D. However, some schools offer it as a Bachelor's degree.

Required Skills

The study of genetics can be quite fascinating, but it also can take a lot of work and dedication. A passion for science and discovery will help you get through long hours studying math and science and memorizing formulas. You will also be studying evolution and history. Curiosity, innovation and ability to adapt to new technology will aid you. Do not get frustrated; persistence is the key to success in this major.

You will be working closely with peers and professors for a variety of group projects. Interpersonal and teamwork skills will aid you in completing these projects. Communication skills will help you write clearly when reporting your discoveries in lab, as well as complete research papers. Time management and organization will help you balance time spent in the lab with your other assignments.


Most people interested in this field will continue their education to get a minimum of a master's degree. You may also decide to focus on medicine, veterinary medicine, or biology in graduate school.

If you do not want to continue your education, genetics majors can also find work upon graduating in a number of fields. Some options include government or independent research, agricultural laboratories, botanical gardens, national parks or private research.

Graduates with a degree in Genetics average $40,354 as a starting salary with a mid-career salary of $82,182.

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Example Careers

Here is a small sample of the careers that a degree in Genetics might open up.

Biological Science Teachers, Postsecondary
Biological Scientists, All Other
Medical Scientists, Except Epidemiologists
Natural Sciences Managers
Salary data is estimated by College Factual using 2013 data provided by PayScale.
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