Integrative Biology

Major Description

From genomics to global change, integrative biology seeks to discover the complex interrelationships between living organisms and the physical and biological environment in which they live. This is the new biology, with an emphasis on bringing multiple disciplines to bear on complex scientific questions. For students, this emphasis leads to a deep understanding of biology and its interrelationships.

Our curriculum provides instruction regarding principles of biology, but also emphasizes the critical thinking and analytical skills required for a successful career in STEM fields.

How does Integrative Biology differ from Molecular and Cellular Biology?

Those interested in an interdisciplinary approach focused on the complex relationships between different areas of study in biology will likely find a good match in Integrative Biology, while those interested in the detailed workings of the human immune system or structure-function relationships in proteins will likely find more relevant courses in Molecular & Cellular Biology. Students should note which aspects of biology interest them as they take the shared introductory courses to distinguish which option will be the best fit.


Integrative Biology seeks to discover the complex interrelationships between organisms and the physical and biological environment in which they live. The IB major provides students with a solid foundation in areas that include anatomy, behavior, ecology, evolution, genetics, genomics and physiology.

Molecular & Cellular Biology is focused on the fundamental structures, functions and mechanisms of living organisms. The MCB major provides students with a solid foundation in areas that include molecular genetics, microbiology, cell biology, developmental biology, biochemistry, physiology, and structural biology.

Courses That Introduce the Major:
  • IB 150—Organismal and Evolutionary Biology
  • MCB 150—Molecular and Cellular Basis of Life

Students should consult with an academic advisor regarding course selection prior to the advanced registration period

Possible Career Opportunities:

This major prepares students for careers in multiple areas in the life sciences including health professions such as medicine, dentistry, veterinary sciences, pharmaceutical sciences, and optometry. Other fields include conservation biology, sustainability, bioinformatics, forensic science, research, biotechnology, and teaching.

  • Analytical & quantitative abilities
  • Application of information technology
  • Attention to detail/detail oriented
  • Biology theory & practical knowledge
  • Critical thinking
  • Curiosity and creativity
  • Hypothesis construction
  • Independent worker
  • Information handling & organization
  • Innovative talents
  • Numerical computation
  • Operate scientific equipment
  • Oral & written communication
  • Problem solving
  • Statistical awareness
  • Teamwork
  • Technical skills
  • Aquarist
  • Arborist
  • Biological Scientist
  • Botanist
  • Consumer Products Researcher
  • Dentist
  • Doctor
  • Emergency Medical Technician
  • Ecologist
  • Fish & Game Warden
  • Forensic Scientist
  • Forester and Conservation Scientist
  • Genetic Counselor
  • High School Biology Teacher
  • Lab and Field Technician
  • Marine Scientist
  • Medical Illustrator
  • Medical Transcriptionist
  • Medical Writer
  • Microbiologist
  • Oceanographer
  • Pharmacist
  • Physician Assistant
  • Professor
  • Quality Control Specialist
  • Teacher
  • Veterinarian

Some careers may require education beyond an undergraduate degree.

Enhancing Your Academic Experience:
  • Participating in undergraduate research
  • Applying for a study abroad experience
  • Utilizing resources of The Career Center
  • Joining a Registered Student Organization (RSO) related to this major, such as:
    • Integrative Illini: provides IB majors and students in other related sciences a community in which to network, learn more about research and how to get involved, and to volunteer to give back to the Champaign Urbana community. 
    • Illinois Student Chapter of the Wildlife Disease Association: focuses on the health and disease of wild animals in relation to their biology, conservation, research, and interactions with humans, domestic animals, and zoological species.
Further Information:

There are several professional organizations dedicated to Integrative Biology. Their websites might be able to provide a glimpse in the world of Integrative Biology. These organizations include American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Institute of Biological Sciences, and American Society for Cell Biology.

To learn more about what you can do with your IB degree, visit the Alumni Mentoring Program resources page and scroll down to the “Careers In...” handouts ( or contact Christina Swanson at

To book an advising appointment with us visit