The Insects: Incredible, Invaluable and Irreplaceable
More than 1.5 million species of insects have been described and named, and biologists believe tens of millions are waiting to be discovered. By their sheer numbers and variety of lifestyles, these amazing creatures significantly influence ecosystems throughout the world, from farms and forests to our own backyards. Their biology and behavior are the subject of the important science known as entomology.
The Major Elements
For students interested in biology, biodiversity, pest management, or traditional entomology, the Entomology major offers opportunities to study these subjects in relation to the environment, agriculture, and human activity.
Our program allows students to focus their interests in entomology against a backdrop of basic sciences. With background course work in general biology, entomology, chemistry, and ecology, students move forward to explore topics such as botany; insect identification; animal & plant genetics; and insect structure & function. Collections, field work and laboratories are included in many of our courses to give students practical experience in the discipline. There is flexibility in course selection, which allows students to focus on specialties like pest management or insect biology. An Honors Degree is also available.
A New Student Seminar, taught by faculty each fall, orients new students to the department’s faculty and to the major; teaches college survival skills; and highlights career opportunities.
To ensure breadth in the curriculum, the major requires general education courses in computers, English, mathematics, social sciences, humanities, literature and the arts. In addition, some students choose to pursue minors in areas like biology, landscape horticulture, agricultural business or Spanish to add even greater diversity to their experience.
A Place To Learn
Most Entomology classes and laboratory sections meet in the recently-renovated Townsend Hall, which is the cornerstone of our 350-acre teaching and research complex. Townsend Hall houses faculty offices; teaching and research laboratories; several classrooms; a student Commons; a library branch; and one of the best computing sites on campus. We also maintain an impressive Insect Reference Collection, containing more than 150,000 specimens, which is available for teaching, research, and student projects.
Our outdoor research center, located on-site, means easy access for field trips to our farm, botanical gardens, field plots, hedgerows, small wetlands, and 35-acre woodlot. An active apiary provides a unique resource for students interested in learning about bees and their behavior.
Nearby, DuPont Agricultural Products and the USDA Beneficial Insect Laboratory offer professional opportunities for students to do research or to gain part-time employment.
Enriching the Experience
From freshman orientation to graduation, Entomology majors enjoy close interaction with the department’s faculty who are the common thread in many experiences that make the undergraduate years meaningful.
In addition to getting to know faculty as instructors, students work with faculty advisors who assist with course selection, academic issues, and career planning. This relationship is an important one, as students often rely on faculty for recommendation letters and referrals for jobs and graduate school admissions.
Entomology majors also may work with faculty as part of the Science Scholars program, where they conduct research, present posters on their findings, and may earn publication in scientific journals. Some students take their research even farther and write and defend a thesis, which earns them a Degree with Distinction. Throughout this process, a faculty mentor guides and advises the student researcher.
For students who want to learn beyond the borders of Delaware, faculty-led programs in Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador and Tanzania give Entomology students the opportunity to study biodiversity in other ecosystems under the supervision and instruction of UD faculty.
Life After Graduation
Career paths for Entomology majors lie in research, pest management, forensics, consulting, regulation, enforcement, communication, sales, and education. These opportunities occur in government agencies, conservation organizations, nature centers, museums, consulting firms, schools, pest control firms, and agricultural businesses. Graduate degrees increase chances for advancement, and qualified students from our program go on to pursue graduate degrees in entomology, ecology, plant pathology and biological sciences.
Many career-preparation programs are held throughout the year, and cover topics such as resume writing, interviewing, networking, and graduate school. Career Fairs are held each year, allowing students to mingle with prospective employers. We encourage all students to participate in these events; to seek related experience through internships; to develop their communication skills; and to learn to network with prospective employers. This, in addition to doing well academically, greatly enhances post-graduate opportunities.