Knowlton Science Center, Aug. 1, 2022

Construction webcam

Check out progress on the Austin E. Knowlton Science Center which is anticipated to open in 2023.

STEM studies

Choose Ohio First Grant

Up to four renewable grants will be awarded to first-year students  majoring in select STEM fields, with a 3.0 GPA or higher, American minority and an Ohio resident.


Knowlton Science Center rendering

The Knowlton Science Center will feature teaching labs for chemistry, biology, nutrition and dietetics.

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.


Biology major/minor

As a biology student, 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.

A major in biology 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 spent several weeks 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.


Chemistry major/minor

Green Chemistry CommitmentRequirements for Bluffton’s chemistry major 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.

Bluffton signed Beyond Benign’s Green Chemistry Commitment in 2019. A technique high in demand by the chemical industry, green chemistry seeks to on minimize toxicity of materials and reduce waste in chemical processes.

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.


Medical Laboratory Science

Prepare for a career as a scientist who conducts and reads medical tests in hematology, microbiology, immunology, pathology and blood/urine/body fluid chemistry with a major in Medical Laboratory Science.

Medical Laboratory Science is a growing field. Occupational outlook >

Medical laboratory science

The Medical Laboratory Science (MLS) program is offered in coordination with the West Central Ohio Medical Laboratory Science Program, the only National Accrediting Agency of Clinical Laboratory Sciences-accredited program run by a private school in the state of Ohio.

First three years of the MLS curriculum, as required by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Sciences, include prerequisite courses in biological sciences, chemistry and mathematics that provide the foundation for course work required in the laboratory science program. These courses are taken on Bluffton’s campus.

Senior year coursework is held on the Ohio Northern University campus. Classes will ends by 3 p.m. each weekday, allowing Bluffton students to continue participation on Bluffton sports teams their senior year.

After four years (plus one summer semester) students graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Bluffton and are eligible to sit for the American Society for Clinical Pathology Board of Certification) exam, which allows them to become a certified medical laboratory scientist

From 2015-17 WCOMLS program had a 100 percent graduate placement rate and 100 percent graduation rate. National pass rate is 75 percent.

Bluffton’s MLS four-year plan for a major in MLS recommends students take Anatomy and Physiology I and II their first year. To ensure success in these courses MSL students must have completed high school chemistry and high school biology with a B or better (or college equivalent courses with C or better.) Rare exceptions will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

For admission to senior year coursework, students must complete all prerequisite course work with a minimum of a C in each course, a minimum 2.80 cumulative GPA with a minimum 3.0 GPA in science courses (biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics) on a 4.0 scale. Admission will also be based on professionalism and an interview.

Those not accepted into the senior year program could complete a biology major at Bluffton.



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 Astronomy at the University of Hawaii. While in Hawaii, she got a valuable experience further investigating different aspects that might interest her in graduate school.

>> April's story

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 for 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.

  • Students who want to explore the fields of engineering and strengthen the math and science skill sets that they may not have been exposed to in high school
  • Students who want to double major in the sciences to have a broader academic profile to prepare for graduate school
  • Student-athletes who want to prepare for the engineering profession while still being a college athlete


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, 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

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)

Katie McClure

“The classes can be challenging, but all of the science professors are amazing. I’ve had professors who were willing to help me whenever I struggled. That’s been really important to me and is honestly a main part of my success. They don’t just care about academics. They care about you as a whole person.”
    Katie McClure
    Pre-physical therapy major
    >>Katie's story


  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.

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.


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