Majors and Minors

Meet with your advisor.

Each student's academic background is different. Be sure to meet with an academic advisor regularly to make the best choices for your individual academic record.

Introduction

Students in Lyman Briggs College can pursue nearly 40 majors in the biological, physical, environmental, and computational sciences and mathematics. For students interested in the connection between natural and social sciences, LBC offers a major and minor in History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science.

All students will have a primary major and need a minimum of 120 credits to graduate. Students can choose to complete a second degree, additional major or a minor, but it is not required.

There are four parts to every degree:

  • university requirements
  • college requirements
  • major/coordinate major requirements 
  • electives (which vary in number by degree program)

There are about 37 different graduation requirements that advisors will track. Working with an academic advisor will ensure that you meet all of them on your path to graduation.

 

Degree Requirements

All students* must complete:

  1. University Requirements in Integrative Studies in Arts and Humanities, Integrative Studies in Social Science
  2. LBC College Requirements with
    • 11 credits minimum in History, Philosophy and Sociology of Science (HPS)
    • Senior Capstone
    • 9 credits minimum in Biology/Biology Labs
    • 9 credits minimum in Chemistry/Chemistry Labs
    • 6 credits minimum in Mathematics
    • 8 credits minimum in Physics/Physics Labs
  3. Major and/or Coordinate Major Requirements. The following are majors/minors offered in Lyman Briggs College, or are shared between Briggs and another college at MSU.  They are listed by fields of study.

*Honors College students are required to complete substitutions, other students bring in transfer credit, AP or IB credits. Speaking with an academic advisor will help you understand your requirements and your individual academic record.

  • Biological Sciences

    Animal Science

    What do animal science professionals do?

    • Livestock production, marketing, public affairs, transportation, processing, research, management
    • Advance agriculture using multidisciplinary approaches
    • Generate, teach, disseminate and apply knowledge in animal biology and management
    Where are they employed?
    • Pharmaceutical organizations, food processing industry and breed associations, livestock commodity groups
    • Research facilities in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), universities and private companies
    • Education: teaching animal science at colleges and universities, vocational agriculture in high school and cooperative Extension Service

    Biology

    The Lyman Briggs College biology major is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of seminal and modern biology using a broad spectrum approach to studying biological sciences with course options from the three primary sectors: plant, animal, and microbial.

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    What do biochemists and molecular biologists do?
    • Develop and use techniques to learn about genes and proteins
    • Increase understanding of human disease processes and aging
    • Genetic engineering of plants and animals, or produce products such as drugs, foods, and fuels
    Where are they employed?
    • Environmental and pollution control companies and research
    • County, state, or federal government agencies (USDA, EPA, NIH)
    • Industry (research and development at vaccine, pharmaceutical, and other biotech companies)

    Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/Biotechnology

    What do biochemists and biotechnologists do?
    • Develop and use techniques to learn about genes and proteins
    • Increase understanding of human disease processes and aging
    • Genetic engineering of plants and animals, or produce products such as drugs, foods, and fuels
    Where are they employed?
    • Environmental and pollution control companies and research
    • County, state, or federal government agencies (USDA, EPA, NIH)
    • Industry (research and development at vaccine, pharmaceutical, and other biotech companies)

    Biomedical Laboratory Science

    What do clinical laboratory scientists do?
    • Clinical Laboratory Scientists/Medical Technologists (terms are synonymous) are scientists who apply their knowledge to perform diagnostic tests on blood and body fluids. The sub-disciplines include, but are not limited to, clinical chemistry, hematology, immunology, immunohematology and microbiology. 
    Where are they employed?
    • Hospitals or private laboratories, medical sales or education
    • Federal, state, and local health departments
    • Commercial and academic biomedical research laboratories or forensic laboratories

    Entomology

    What do entomologists do?
    • Study and manage insects and their relatives’ effects on human activities
    • Manage non-agricultural, long-term aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems
    • Study interactions of insects and their relatives with economic plants and sustainable agriculture
    Where are they employed?
    • Nature organizations and educational institutions
    • Forensic laboratories
    • Agricultural organizations

    Food Science

    What do food science professionals do?
    • Combine the study of science and engineering to process, evaluate, package and distribute food
    • Seek to improve food flavor, color, texture, nutritional values, safety and cost
    Where are they employed?
    • Product development and food processing or research
    • Private industries
    • Production and operative management, regulatory agencies

    Genomics and Molecular Genetics

    What do molecular geneticists do?
    • Molecular geneticist studies the genes of living organisms and infectious agents, many of which can only be seen with a microscope. They may focus on findings critical to health, agriculture, environmental sciences, or how living systems function at the molecular level.
    Where are they employed?
    • Environmental and pollution control companies
    • County, state, or federal government agencies (NIH, USDA, EPA)
    • Industry – research in labs, vaccine companies, pharmaceutical companies. Product safety

    Human Biology

    What do human biologists do?
    • Use broad background in biological sciences to understand the interrelationships among fields.
    Where are they employed?
    • Healthcare fields
    • Health and wellness programs

    Microbiology

    What do microbiologists do?
    • A microbiologist is a scientist who studies living organisms and infectious agents, many of which can only be seen with a microscope. They may focus on findings critical to health, agriculture, environmental sciences, or how living systems function at the molecular level.
    Where are they employed?
    • Environmental and pollution control companies
    • County, state, or federal government agencies (NIH, USDA, EPA)
    • Industry – research and product safety in labs, vaccine companies, pharmaceutical companies

    Neuroscience

    What do neuroscientists do?

    • Study function, development, and structure of the central nervous system, investigate thought, behavior, emotion, cognition
    • Combine different disciplinary approaches from biology, chemistry, physics, computational science to find ways to prevent or cure neurological or psychiatric disorders
    Where are they employed?
    • Healthcare fields, pharmaceutical industry
    • Laboratory technician/administrator
    • Science Journalism, grants administration, consulting, law, lublic Policy

    Nutritional Sciences 

    What do nutritional science professionals do?
    • Explore the science of nutrition and the relationships between nutrients and human health 
    Where are they employed?
    • Food industry
    • Health and wellness programs, Healthcare fields, Pharmaceutical industry
    • Public Health, State departments and community health, U.S. Food and Drug Administration

    Physiology

    What do physiologists do?
    • Study life processes, both in the whole organism and at cellular and molecular levels 
    Where are they employed?
    • Commercial and academic biomedical research laboratories
    • Medical fields

    Plant Biology

    What do plant biologists do?
    • Study the form, function, diversity, reproduction, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. Ecologists, botanists, and taxonomists can be plant biologists, as well as plant pathologists. People working with algae and fungi are often trained as or called plant biologists (even though, technically, those groups arena’t plants).
    Where are they employed?
    • Environmental and pollution control companies
    • County, state, or federal government agencies (USDA, NRCS, Forest Service) or Secondary school teaching
    • Nature organizations, public botanical gardens, agricultural industries

    Zoology

    What do zoologists do?
    • Study life at the level of the cell, organism, population, community, and/or ecosystem. Ecologists, marine biologists, taxonomists, wildlife and fisheries biologists, and others are examples of zoologists.
    Where are they employed?
    • County, state, and federal agencies – in research or regulation and enforcement of environmental laws
    • Industry – such as monitoring effluent production and land use around a factory and measuring environmental health
    • Zoos – as animal caretakers or zookeepers
    • Nature centers and museums as environmental educators 
  • Environmental Sciences

    Environmental Biology/Microbiology

    What do microbiologists do?

    • A microbiologist is a scientist who studies living organisms and infectious agents, many of which can only be seen with a microscope. They may focus on findings critical to health, agriculture, environmental sciences, or how living systems function at the molecular level.

    Where are they employed?

    • Environmental and pollution control companies
    • County, state, or federal government agencies (NIH, USDA, EPA)
    • Industry – research in labs, vaccine companies, pharmaceutical companies. Product safety

    Environmental Biology/Plant Biology 

    What do plant biologists do?

    • Study the form, function, diversity, reproduction, and uses of plants and their interactions within the biosphere. Ecologists, botanists, and taxonomists can be plant biologists, as well as plant pathologists. People working with algae and fungi are often trained as or called plant biologists (even though, technically, those groups aren’t plants).

    Where are they employed?

    • Environmental and pollution control companies
    • County, state, or federal government agencies (USDA, NRCS, Forest Service) or Secondary school teaching
    • Nature organizations and Public botanical gardens, Agricultural industries

    Environmental Biology/Zoology

    What do zoologists do?

    • Study life at the level of the cell, organism, population, community, and/or ecosystem. Ecologists, marine biologists, taxonomists, wildlife and fisheries biologists, and others are examples of zoologists.

    Where are they employed?

    • County, state, and federal agencies – in research or regulation and enforcement of environmental laws
    • Industry – such as monitoring effluent production and land use around a factory and measure environmental health
    • Zoos – as animal caretakers or zookeepers

    Environmental educators at nature centers or museums

    Environmental Geoscience

    What do geological scientists do?

    • Use their knowledge to locate water, mineral, and energy resources
    • Protect the environment, predict future geologic hazards, and offer advice on construction and land use projects
    • Disciplines are geology, paleontology, geochemistry, mineralogy, hydrology, environmental science, and soil science

    Where are they employed?

    • Environmental and pollution control companies or government (NOAA, NRCS, USGS)
    • Industry (oil, mineral, natural gas, and water exploration and mining)
    • Secondary school teaching, museums or research

    Environmental Sciences and Management

    What do environmental scientists do?

    • Improve the natural environment and address effects of human activity on the environment
    • Address soil fertility, water purity, food supply quality and safety, natural resources, pollution, plants climate change
    • Increase knowledge about the physical and biological environment and natural disasters

    Where are they employed?

    • Nature organizations, Environmental Impact Firms, pollution control companies
    • County, state, or federal government agencies, museums or teaching
    • Industry (oil, mineral, natural gas, and water exploration and mining)

    Fisheries and Wildlife

    What do fisheries and wildlife professionals do?

    • Meet the global challenges that threaten the sustainability of our ecosystems
    • Apply knowledge of socio-ecological systems to develop, implement, and evaluate natural resource management strategies
    • Understand and apply natural resource management into a science-based approach

    Where are they employed?

    • Conservation officers
    • Environmental consultants or administrators
    • Federal, state and private agencies and organizations concerned with environmental management
  • Mathematical and Computational Sciences

    Actuarial Science

    What do actuarial science professionals do?

    • Apply mathematical and statistical methods to assess risk in the insurance and finance industries
    • Provide data collection, measurement, estimating, forecasting, and evaluation tools to provide data
    • Assess the overall risk from catastrophic events in relation to its underwriting capacity or surplus

    Where are they employed?

    • Insurance companies
    • Banks and investment firms
    • Governmental organizations and hospitals

    Computer Science

    What do computer scientists do?

    • Analyze problems and select appropriate paradigms to solve them
    • Design and implement software
    • Manage system resources

    Where are they employed?

    • Companies in need of web design, computer networking, game design, cognitive science, telecommunications, etc.
    • Research facilities focusing on software engineering, biometrics, image processing, robotics, etc.
    • University, College, and Secondary school teaching, museums or research

    Computational Mathematics

    What do mathematicians do?

    • Use modeling and computational methods to formulate and solve practical

    Where are they employed?

    • Industry – process design, traffic analysis, electric power routing, inflation statistics, computer software design
    • Business – actuaries, financial analysts, insurance underwriters, budget analysts, market research
    • Federal government – cryptology, data mining, and other advanced mathematics or Secondary school teaching

    Computer Science Coordinate Major

    What do computer scientists do?

    • Analyze problems and select appropriate paradigms to solve them
    • Design and implement software
    • Manage system resources

    Where are they employed?

    • Companies in need of web design, computer networking, game design, cognitive science, telecommunications, etc.
    • Research facilities focusing on software engineering, biometrics, image processing, robotics, etc.
    • University, college, and secondary school teaching, museums or research

    Mathematics

    What do mathematicians do?

    • Use modeling and computational methods to formulate and solve practical

    Where are they employed?

    • Industry – process design, traffic analysis, electric power routing, inflation statistics, computer software design
    • Business – actuaries, financial analysts, insurance underwriters, budget analysts, market research
    • Federal government – cryptology, data mining, and other advanced mathematics or Secondary school teaching

    Mathematics, Advanced (Honors)

    What do mathematicians do?

    • Use modeling and computational methods to formulate and solve practical

    Where are they employed?

    • Industry – process design, traffic analysis, electric power routing, inflation statistics, computer software design
    • Business – actuaries, financial analysts, insurance underwriters, budget analysts, market research
    • Federal government – cryptology, data mining, and other advanced mathematics or Secondary school teaching

    Statistics

    What do statisticians do?

    • Collect data and analyze it, looking for patterns that explain behavior or describe the world. 
    • Develop surveys and collect data
    • Ensure the validity and usefulness of data
    • Explain trends in data
    Where are they employed?
    • Public and private companies
    • Healthcare industry
    • Media
    • Government
  • Physical Sciences

    Astrophysics

    What do astrophysicists do?

    • Research the principles of light, motion, and natural forces as they pertain to the universe at large
    • Investigate the formation of stars, planets and galaxies using mathematics, computing and physics
    • Engage in theoretical physics studies in an attempt to learn more about the underlying properties of the cosmos

    Where are they employed?

    • Research facilities in universities and private companies
    • Teach in colleges and universities
    • Observatories, government agencies or Institutes or corporations with special interests in space and technology

    Chemical Physics

    What do chemists do?

    • Study the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter, especially of atomic and molecular systems

    Where are they employed?

    • Environmental and pollution control companies, forensic science, or teaching
    • County, state, or federal government agencies
    • Industry laboratory research, quality analysis, and testing (pharmaceutical and other biotech companies; food manufacturing, and materials science in paint and plastics companies)

    Chemistry

    What do chemists do?

    • Study the composition, structure, properties, and reactions of matter, especially of atomic and molecular systems

    Where are they employed?

    • Environmental and pollution control companies, forensic science, or teaching
    • County, state, or federal government agencies
    • Industry laboratory research, quality analysis, and testing (pharmaceutical and other biotech companies; food manufacturing, and materials science in paint and plastics companies)

    Earth Science

    The Earth Science-Interdepartmental major is designed for students who plan to teach earth science in middle and secondary schools.

    Geological Science

    What do geological scientists do?

    • Use their knowledge to locate water, mineral, and energy resources
    • Protect the environment, predict future geologic hazards, and offer advice on construction and land use projects
    • Disciplines are geology, paleontology, geochemistry, mineralogy, hydrology, environmental science, and soil science

    Where are they employed?

    • Environmental and pollution control companies or government (NOAA, NRCS, USGS)
    • Industry (oil, mineral, natural gas, and water exploration and mining)
    • Secondary school teaching, museums or research

    Physical Science

    The Lyman Briggs College physical science major is an approach to studying analytical sciences with foundations in physics, astrophysics, chemistry, biochemistry, and geological sciences.

    Physics

    What do physicists do?
    • Explore and identify basic principles governing the structure and behavior of matter and the interaction of matter and energy
    Where are they employed?
    • Research – government and private industries or teaching
    • Radiation monitoring, electrical power plants
    • Health - nuclear medicine, radiation therapy
  • Social Sciences

    History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Science

    What do HPS scholars do?
    • Use knowledge to improve understanding of science, technology, the environment, and medicine
    • Examine numerous empirical, conceptual, and theoretical issues related to these substantive areas
    Where are they employed?
    • Public policy agencies and law firms
    • County, state, or federal government agencies
    • Industry, education, museums and universities as research faculty

    HPS substitution form (PDF)

  • Teaching

    Biological Science-Interdisciplinary

    The Biological Science-Interdepartmental major is designed for students who plan to teach biological sciences in middle and secondary schools. The Lyman Briggs College biology major is designed to provide students with a comprehensive overview of seminal and modern biology using a broad spectrum approach to studying biological sciences with course options from the three primary sectors: plant, animal, and microbial.

    Physical Science-Interdisciplinary

    The Physical Science-Interdepartmental major is designed for students who plan to teach physical sciences in middle and secondary schools. The Lyman Briggs College physical science major is an approach to studying analytical sciences with foundations in physics, astrophysics, chemistry, biochemistry, and geological sciences.

  • Briggs Minors

Academic Advisors outside of Briggs

If you want to meet with a coordinate major advisor in another college, you can find the advisor's contact information for: