Plant Biology

Row of plants

Plant Biology

About the Major

Plant biology is the study of plants as organisms. It includes disciplines of cellular and molecular plant biology and the traditional areas of botany, such as anatomy, morphology, systematics, physiology, mycology, phycology, ecology, and evolution, along with the newer disciplines of cellular and molecular plant biology. The plant biology major consists of core courses in applied plant biology, plant anatomy, plant physiology, and plant ecology, as well as biochemistry, cell biology, and genetics. In addition, students complete a set of courses in one of the following areas: 1) general plant biology; 2) applied plant biology; 3) plant evolution and ecology; and 4) plant physiology, development, and molecular biology. The major provides breadth in diverse areas of plant biology and depth in one of several areas of specialization. Independent research opportunities in plant biology are available. Consult with an adviser.

Download the CBS Majors Diagram to compare the plant biology degree requirements to all other degrees offered in our college. For detailed information about this major, visit the Undergraduate Admissions website, or click on the link to the left.

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Describe the molecular and structural unity of all life, explain how the diversity of life is generated and perpetuated and exemplify this diversity among and within life's three domains.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how genetics and biochemistry are used to elucidate cell organization and function.
  • Demonstrate skill in communication of scientific data in standard format.
  • Demonstrate scientific quantitative skills, such as the ability to evaluate experimental design, read graphs, and use information from scientific papers.
  • Incorporating an evolutionary perspective, describe how plants develop from a single cell to a complex organism.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of how plants sense and respond to environmental cues.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the relationship between plant form and function, and apply that knowledge to issues that impact society.


A plant biology degree is an excellent credential for a wide range of career options, including domestic and international opportunities in business, research and teaching in both governmental and private sectors. Plant biologists can work in the field, in the forest, in the laboratory, in botanical gardens or nurseries, in food or seed companies, or in pharmaceutical, energy or chemical industries, and pursue rewarding careers in the areas of biotechnology, environmental protection, or agribusiness. The program is also an excellent background for students wishing to enter graduate or other professional schools, including medicine, law or journalism. 

For more information about the Department of Plant Biology within the College of Biological Sciences, visit the Department of Plant Biology website.