Michael Pickel

Michael Pickel

Transfer student Michel Pickel self-designed a pre-physical therapy major. Seeing the demand for the field, Bluffton quickly adopted a pre-physical therapy major and incoming students can now declare it as their field of study.

Knowlton Science Center sketch

Knowlton Science Center

The Austin E. Knowlton Science Center, a 32,500 square foot building designed for 21st century teaching and learning, is projected to open in academic year 2020. 



As a student in the science department at Bluffton you will experience an intimate yet intense learning environment. The small size of the department and the university means that science students can and do pursue widely varying interests and activities including athletics and music.

Our faculty are dedicated Ph.D. professors who will work one-on-one with you from your first day on campus all the way through graduation. They will help you in your academic program and advise you along your path toward a career in science.

Bluffton students have had internships at the Cleveland Clinic and the National Institute of Health, as well as done research in Peru and India. 

The department offers majors in

Bluffton also offers majors in the health sciences of nursing, dietetics and speech-language pathology and audiology.



As a biology major, you will receive a broad education consisting of courses that focus on cells, invertebrates, plants, animals and humans. Ecology and environmental biology are stressed. Independent study opportunities exist at the Bluffton University Nature Preserve, greenhouse or in the Riley and Little Riley Creeks which flow through Bluffton.

This preparation will serve as a basis for entering fields such as teaching, biological research, medical professions, agriculture and naturalist fields. 

Students interested in pre-medicine or other health-related fields can complete a biology major, a chemistry major, both or the pre-medicine major. 

Katelyn Amstutz

Katelyn Amstutz, a junior biology major from Dalton, Ohio, spent several weeks this summer analyzing viruses found on Ohio poultry farms and the vaccines that prevent them.

"Getting to look at things like RNA and DNA is cool because it’s what makes up all of the stuff that makes anything biological work." >>>Katelyn's story

a major in biology 
a minor in biology

Complete a major in biology in four year with with the following guildlines for students beginning fall 2019 and after.




Bluffton's chemistry program closely follows the guidelines set by the American Chemical Society and includes a strong emphasis in the core areas of chemistry: analytical, inorganic, organic and physical chemistry. You will take some physics and mathematics courses and if you have an interest in computers, you can take computer courses as electives.

Students have the opportunity to work with a faculty member to design a project in your area of interest. Former students have engaged in independent studies in several ongoing environmental-chemistry projects and analytical/instrumentation projects.

Students interested in pre-medicine or other health-related fields can complete a chemistry major, a biology major, both or the pre-medicine major. A Bluffton chemistry degree is a good foundation for graduate work leading to a career in chemical engineering. 

Ethan Zaerr '20

Ethan Zaerr ’20, a chemistry and physics double major with a minor in education, is taking a unique approach to pursue his career ambitions.

"I hope I will be able to put myself in a position where I can help students become the best versions of themselves.” >>> Ethan's story

Major in chemistry
Minor in chemistry

Complete a major in chemistry in four year with the following guildlines for students beginning fall 2019 and after.



As a physics major, you will receive a core preparation in physics plus training in math, chemistry and computer science. The core includes calculus-based general physics, thermodynamics, modern physics, quantum mechanics, electronics and instrumentation.

While Bluffton does not offer an astronomy major, students who completed a physics major at Bluffton have been successful in graduate astronomy programs. The physics department owns several telescopes including computer-guided telescopes, and physics students have pursued independent studies in astronomy.

A Bluffton physics degree is a good foundation for graduate work leading to a career in engineering 
>>>career opportunities in physics

April Horton

April Horton, a physics major, participated in a summer internship at the Institute for Astromony at the University of Hawaii. While in Hawaii, she got a valuable experience further investigating different aspects that might interest her in graduate school.

"The program introduced me to a new field of astonomy that's really fascinating," Horton said. "I would really like to continue studying how galaxies evlove in really dense regions while I'm in graduate school." >> read more about April's experience

a physics major

Complete a major in physics in four year with the following guildlines for students beginning fall 2019 and after.



Pre-engineeringEngineering might be the career for you. Pre-engineering at Bluffton will allow you to explore, or prepare, for an engineering career in a liberal arts environment, while providing the opportunity to pursue other interests.

Pre-engineering majors at Bluffton will take a blend of courses from our mathematics and physics departments, focusing on the courses most suitable for general engineering preparation. Major requirements leave room for a second major, a minor or additional coursework in one of the sciences to prepare for an engineering specialization such as chemical, biomechanical, computer, etc.

>>> Engineering new opportunities -  students build ROV 

Daniel Piero

Before being accepted into the masters in electrical engineering program at Michigan State University, Daniel Piero '17 spent a summer at the Center for Exploration of Energy and Matter through a Research Experience for Undergraduates internship hosted by Indiana University.

"Many of my positive educational experiences can be traced back to Dr. Harnish. I am very grateful to have him as both a professor and friend." 
>>> Daniel's story

  • Graduate from Bluffton prepared to enroll in an accredited engineering program.

    Following completion of a bachelor's degree at Bluffton students have pursued a master's or Ph.D. at an engineering school. We endorse this because we believe a liberal arts education is a good foundation for all fields, including engineering.

    Although the total program is typically six years (four years at Bluffton followed by two years for a master's degree) it is common to obtain an assistantship at the graduate school. This means tuition, room and board during graduate school is covered by the assistantship. In other words, students "pay" for the master's degree by working for the engineering school as a grader, tutor, lab assistant, etc. 

  • Transfer to an accredited baccalaureate engineering program  after two or three years at Bluffton.

    Bluffton students have completed a 3-2 program in which they spend three years at Bluffton followed by two years at an engineering school. They complete two degrees: a bachelor's from Bluffton and a bachelor's in engineering from the other school. This is not an automatic program. Any student interested in this format has to work out the details with both schools.

a pre-engineering major

Complete a major in physics in four year with the following guildlines for students beginning fall 2019 and after.


A pre-medicine major will prepare you for medical school. Medical schools do not require a pre-medicine major and most Bluffton students who have entered health professions have majored in biology or chemistry or both.

Justin Kauffman

Justin Kauffman ’20, a biology major and recipient of a Summer Discovery Grant, gained vocational experience in the field of dentistry by volunteering at a free community clinic. 

“The grant allowed me to take a break from wage work to spend a plentiful amount of time near the chair and in the rooms. It allowed me to make school loan payments and pay my cost of living while not having an income throughout the experience.”  Justin’s story > 

Pre-physical therapy

Pre-Physical Therapy 2018

Physical therapists (PTs) are health care professionals who diagnose and treat individuals of all ages, from newborns to the very oldest, who have medical problems or other health-related conditions that limit their abilities to move and perform functional activities in their daily lives...

PTs examine each individual and develop a plan using treatment techniques to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, and prevent disability. In addition, PTs work with individuals to prevent the loss of mobility before it occurs by developing fitness- and wellness-oriented programs for healthier and more active lifestyles. (American Physical Therapy Association website)

Physical therapists must earn a doctorate degree and pass a licensure exam before they can practice. A bachelor's degree in pre-physical therapy can prepare you for post-graduate education opportunities.

While admission requirements to physical therapy postgraduate programs differ, Bluffton’s pre-physical therapy major, with 56 credit hours in biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, social sciences and health fitness and sport science, will be a good start. Your advisor will work closely with you to meet all prerequisites for the physical therapy program you choose.

You will also work with the Center for Career and Vocation to obtain 40-60 hours of hands-on experience through volunteer work or observation with a licensed PT. Most doctoral programs require experience and a letter of recommendation from a licensed PT.


  Major in pre-physical therapy 

Complete a pre-physical therapy major in four year with the following guildlines for students beginning fall 2019 and after.


Science teacher education


The middle childhood license: science concentration is for teaching any science subject in grades 4-9.

The middle childhood license requires concentration in two areas. Many students choose a science and math combination because there is some overlap in requirements, but science can also be combined with language arts or social studies. Middle childhood teachers are not required to complete a science major; rather, they complete a middle childhood education degree from the education department

hands-on training

Sixteen future teachers at Bluffton University recently took part in a unique training for hands-on science education. Officials from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources led a training for Project Wild, the organization’s conservation education program.

  • a major in middle childhood education
  • specific coursework for a concentration in science
  • specific coursework for a concentration in another area
  • field experience including student teaching

If the student chooses this major early and follows the recommended program, this license (including student teaching) can be completed in four academic years. For more information: visit the education department or browse the course descriptions.

Alternative Pathway to Education licensure

With the completion of the education studies minor, you will have completed course requirements for the Intensive Pedagogical Program and be eligible to teach for four years while completing the Professional Development Institute en route to professional licensure.

More about the alternative pathway to licensure

Find your greater purpose