Toxicology Major

A roll-up-your-sleeves approach to biomedicine.

The Toxicology Major is a scientific study of the effects different chemicals have on living cells. Grads make an immediate impact in the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, in government agencies, or continue on to advanced life sciences studies, medical, and other professional schools.

Passion for poison.

In Toxicology, learning is not a spectator sport. Our faculty are conducting pioneering, life-saving undergraduate research, right now. They bring those lessons from the petri dish straight to the classroom. You get much more than a front-row seat—you have a role to play. Jump into the lab and assist with research. Discuss findings and shape the conversation. 

Toxicology is a unique way to look at health and medicine. 

Our understanding of what makes living bodies tick comes from studying cells under stress from toxic substances. The ability to derive knowledge in the lab, on your own, and collaboratively in groups translates to extraordinary success in medical school and in the professional world.

Toxicology  is the right major if you:  

  • want to go to medical school or work in the pharma industry
  • thrive in a focused, hands-on environment
  • conducting research
  • desire to make a difference in understanding and fighting diseases

A premier academic experience.

Career-Driven Curriculum

A great formula for success as a doctor or biomedical professional is a grounding in rigorous science and a unique academic vantage point. Those are the competencies we teach.

Example courses

  • Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity
  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Immunotoxicology of Drugs and Chemicals
  • Introduction to Molecular Pharmacology
  • Mammalian Physiology
  • The Science of Poisons

Independent Study

Every Toxicology student must complete an independent study. While most fulfill the requirement with a research project or internship on campus, the sky’s the limit. This is one more unique opportunity to supplement your education, and résumé, in a manner uniquely matching your talents and targeting a career.

Ag Journeys

“A lot of my love for the outdoors comes from my father. My dad’s a cancer survivor. Conserving nature and fighting cancer are two big reasons I’m in Toxicology.”

– Tricia Hojnowski

From the classroom to the four corners of the world.

Our renowned faculty insist that the syllabus is only a jumping off point for your education. We will help you find internships where you can bring your Toxicology learnings to life. There are also faculty-guided, student-led clubs, hands-on research opportunities, and study abroad opportunities for just about any area of interest you can think of.

Craft your experience. 

Related clubs and teams 

Recent internships   

  • Research assistant at pharmaceutical company
  • Research assistant at national health organization
  • Technical assistant at chemical company
Hands-on research in the lab is an integral part of the Toxicology major.

A practical, workforce-ready degree—and a college experience you’ll love.

Penn State Toxicology grads aren’t just in the top med, vet, dental, and pharmacy schools—they are excelling there. They’re also leading the workforce in biomedical companies worldwide. You can harness the awesome power of a truly unique education at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.

Our alumni out in the world

  • Academic research and education
  • Biomedical industry
  • Government laboratories
  • Graduate, medical, and professional schools
  • Pharmaceutical industry
  • Private research organizations

Toxicology Career Options

What can I do with a Toxicology degree? Here are just a few career examples:

Toxicologist

A toxicologist performs tests to identify chemicals present in the body.

What will I do?

  • Use highly sophisticated instruments, chemical reagents, and precise methodologies to determine the presence or absence of specific substances
  • Work with pharmaceutical companies to improve the safety of new drugs
  • Work on cases involving environmental contamination to determine the impact of chemical spills

Biomedical researcher

A biomedical scientist works to gain knowledge on how the human body works and to find new ways to cure or treat diseases.

What will I do?

  • Conduct lab research
  • Develop and test new therapies
  • Publish findings in medical journals

Pharmacist

Earning a Toxicology degree can give you a jump start in pharmaceutical school.

What will I do?

  • Dispense prescriptions to patients and offer expertise in the safe use of medicine
  • Compound medications and prepare special solutions
  • Provide immunizations
  • Answer health-related questions—what foods, drinks, activities, or other drugs could have an effect on medication or what to do about a missed dose

Medical doctor

Toxicology graduates may go onto medical school to become a doctor, a career focused on maintaining or restoring human health through the practice of medicine

What will I do?

  • Pursue and practice specialties like surgery and pediatrics
  • Diagnose and treat patients for all sorts of ailments and injuries
  • Refer patients to specialists when needed for specific medical opinions and advice